Remember Borders and B. Dalton’s? They were chain bookstores that are no longer with us. Barnes & Noble struggles to survive, slashing book inventory, turning more and more floor space over to toys, collectibles, DVDs, and games. New DVDs cost anywhere from twenty to fifty dollars. While there are fans who are happy to pay that amount to see a new movie, I’m not one of them. Anyone with internet access can order those films from Amazon, a lot cheaper. Amazon is the elephant in the room, and it’s sucking up all the oxygen. It’s past time for the Justice Department to investigate them for unfair labor practices, but while Amazon must bear the much of the onus for declining book stores, they are not solely at fault.
A lot of young folks ain’t readin’. Just ain’t readin’. Weren’t raised that way. Video games have taken a huge bite out of the comics market, and anyone who’s conversant with modern video games can see why. They are designed with a great deal more thought and characterization than most comics. They’re the other elephant in the room. It doesn’t help that many comics are unreadable, but so what? Many movies are unwatchable. Gryphon’s, a prominent local comic shop, advertises games and comics. They carry the Big Two, a selection of second-tier publishers, and will special order whatever, but many titles don’t make the cut. Gryphon’s can’t afford to pay for inventory that doesn’t move.
Humans gotta innovate. Technology marches on. The internet is a mixed bag. It enables us to reach millions, research anything, send manuscripts without the mail, but it has a coarsening effect on communications, of what we say and how we conduct ourselves. I once posted Lady Gaga had killed it in reference to her singing the national anthem, and within ten posts it was “FUCK YOU!” and “NO! FUCK YOU!”
Then there’s “HOW R U?” “ROLF!” “C U BIATCH.”
Words intended as ironic are interpreted as dismissive or offensive. Facebook encourages bold declarations of virtue often accompanied by vulgar language, gratuitous insults, and death wishes.
This collapse of manners is partly due to the collapse of literacy. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury posed a future in which the only printed periodicals consisted of pictures only. We may have reached that point.