For the most part I try not to get hung up on words. That may sound odd as I’m an English major with few “real world” skills, so getting hung up on words should be my jam. But, hey, context is everything. Phrases can mean different things, intentions can be re-interpreted.
But, as an indie filmmaker and freelance video producer/motion designer, there’s one word I’ve come to hate: content.
“But…but…you’re a content creator!”, you say. “You have a portfolio full of shiny content!”
F-ck you. No, I’m not.
Content didn’t used to be a dirty word, but it has become one. You see, with a now endless amount of video outlets, streaming services, and social media pages, companies are in a constant search for content (shudders) for their various platforms. They have to keep their coffers full. And, in order to do that, they need to have a sack full of stuff at the ready to shove down the feeding tubes of their Wall-E chair floating audience. We live in a culture that values consumption. Our food portions are too big and it’s an achievement to binge an entire season of television in a weekend. The very act of consuming is considered, by many, to be an accomplishment.
Well, frankly, this sucks. Like an addict in search of the next high, we gobble things up and spit them right back out, begging for the next fix.
And, companies know this. They readily give us our content. Ugh…there’s that crummy word again.
The problem with calling films/media/art content is it assumes that it’s all just a blanket “thing.” It’s empty filler. It assumes that just having a thing—anything—is more important than having a good thing or something with meaning. It’s essentially the byproduct of clickbait culture: the click is more important than what it actually connects to.
And, so, like the term storyteller before it, content means nothing. It’s a buzzword.
And, I hate buzzwords. When I was working full time at a large government contractor, buzzwords were everywhere. It was amazing how much could be written to essentially say nothing. We are a world that loves a generic platitude, but hates actual substance. In other words, we love content!
So, what do we say instead? Instead of “content creator.” How about just be specific about what you do? No blanket terms. Say what you mean: “I’m a filmmaker. I make films.” Easy, right?
Do more than one thing? Fine. Say that. I’m a photographer and filmmaker. If that gets too cumbersome, use the right thing at the right time. You’re smart. You’ll know when it’s best to say that you re-build vintage harmoniums or you’re a web designer.
Be a maker of things. A creator. But, you sure as hell don’t just create content.