Published: Aug 23, 2017 12:00:00 PM

rakka-oats-studios-monster.pngI've been systematically informing the YouTube recommendation algorithm that I never want to watch any video posted by anyone with the word "angry" in their username. You can imagine how neckbeards have fallen to my sword of disinterest. You can imagine a little harder, and figure there's not a drill-bit sharp enough to bore through all that toxic content. Sunlight will never find these deserving motherfuckers.

Too much content is created out of a desire to be heard, instead of a desire to know and be known. Too much content is about other content, this very post of mine included (which is why I write free books to read online during my nights and weekends).

To be blunt, the internet's content, the perpetual doggo chasing its tail, has now deep-throated the thing and is molars-deep into its own ass, ignorant to the ashy flavor. The dominant moods on the most popular content platforms are psychosis, shrieking, and self-preservation.

But with a little class, we can push beyond the slick, post-content Netflix alternative environment into something more honest and weird. So, how did Blomkamp do...?

And that's making the audience crazy. The gap between corporate-created content, which includes the blockbuster movie studio system and the prestige-television / Netflix alternative-streaming sphere, and the 'content-creator' / YouTuber industry is widening. To my surprise, the big guys, the Star Wars and Avengers shared universe worlds, are increasingly-inclusive in their content, crafting offerings for all types, not just white dudes in America. Elsewhere, the "content-creator" jackbags making $10,000 a month publishing Minecraft videos on YouTube are cruel nerve-balls without taste or talent. It isn't their fault, and I'd explain why, but I don't have three hours and enough construction paper.

How does an independent content outfit like Oats Studios work?

This is mainly a staging device to present Neill Blomkamp's Oats Studios: the weird in-between of big-budget auteur content things. Blomkamp and his crew of professional weirdos have been publishing science fiction short films on YouTube since the start of the summer of 2017. The fourth film, Zygote was recently posted. They're ultra-slick and artfully thorough in design.

Who is Neill Blomkamp? He directed District 9 in 2009 under the supervision of Peter Jackson, netting an Academy Award best picture nomination. A remarkable achievement for not only a first-time feature film, but a science-fiction genre movie addressing South African apartheid.

It's the sort of movie that shows up on Netflix or some Netflix alternative platform these days.

But why is this dude nominated for an Oscar in his late 20's making shit on YouTube not 10 years later? Because his next films, Elysium and Chappie under-performed, and he was sent to movie-jail.



This could not have worked out better.

All of Blomkamp's movies have a handheld filthiness to them that's more befitting for a YouTube / streaming environment and audience. He outpaced his ideal audience's gestation period. His design aesthetic for world-building, vehicles, and weapons are a harder, oilier military-future, another snuggly fit for the folks already familiar in streaming esports. His ideas are satirical, and heady, and a bit-too-obvious sci-fi, perfect for snacking over a 4G LTE network.

Consider Netflix's original films: Okja, War Machine, or I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore. Like Blomkamp's Hollywood feature films, they're blunt, obvious, and much too weird for theaters. But they're art and they're creative ideas that deserve to be witnessed, like Blomkamp's.

Blomkamp was making Netflix alternative content before Netflix had even matured. Thankfully, he want around one platform and went straight for another: YouTube.

I recall seeing Blomkamp's Elysium in the theater years ago. I was sick as a dog with both mono and strep throat. Walking out, I joked aloud about the movie, "So, uh, was that movie about universal healthcare, or what?"



(HINT: Elysium is about universal healthcare, where the rich live forever in space and the poor die in garbage dumps on earth.)

Now we have Oats Studios' first volume of short films.

Rakka is an alien invasion movie where the aliens are exterminating the human population with every cruelty imaginable.

Firebase (image above) is a Vietnam story with a supernatural blood-god running around the jungle pursued by the CIA.

Zygote is intimate science-fiction horror with one of the most terrifying creature designs I've seen from western culture since John Carpenter was doing work.

They're all free on YouTube. Go get 'em.

What's the future of content look like now?

Blomkamp's preference for high-concept trash means his current manifestation as the Roger Corman of YouTube is well-earned. In an ideal world, he'd make a billion quick-hit ideas with workable special effects. If Zygote is any indication, we would be so lucky. Some of his might become features. Some might land on a streaming service, again, Netflix or a Netflix alternative (Hulu, Amazon, HBO).

Maybe others short films develop cult followings. Maybe Oat Studios will expand and become the incubator for artists? Just as we say in hushed tones that the likes of David Fincher got his first work directing music videos and James Gunn was a product of Troma studios, there might be a generation of visionaries produced from an institution like Blomkamp's.



We need increased professionalism in content produced for online platforms. It's a new, living medium, just as film went from moving pictures, to talkies, to its own craft. But the internet platform, and the content on it, needs to be watched carefully. It's too easy for artless psychopaths to scream into a camera about how the world is changing and it isn't what they're used to, and then mouthed fungus in the comments section all jerk each other off in agreed congratulations.

We deserve better. We deserve some true creativity, and Oats Stuios is a sign of what's to come.

-- Alex Crumb
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