Mark Hurrell.


Afrofuturism and the heart of content

28 November 2017

'Not all science fiction has the same ancestral bloodline, that line being Western-rooted science fiction, which is mostly white and male' Nnedi Okorafor notes. Indeed, although extremely popular by most Western standards, the average sci-fi tale could never possibly resonate with a non-Western audience given that they ignored the culture and history of said audience.

Afrofuturism isn't just an imaginative rocket launch into a better future, it's also a portal into the past and a mirror which reflects our present day. It doesn't attempt to create utopia by scaring people with speculative future dystopias; rather, it offers a framework for a better tomorrow by exposing its readers to a harsh (albeit sober) reintroduction of our dystopian past.

Gray Scott, Afrofuturism and the need for more inclusive science fiction

In the marketplace, positioned as the pulse of the culture, something was off. It was a room dripping with desired capital, buzzing with commerce, but few traces of what I'd long considered to be culture. It felt wrong, and it felt bad, until I realized maybe I was the one who'd lost track of what mattered in 2017, or if the dizzying word 'culture' even still had meaning.

As a company, Complex is representative of this media era, in which brief moments of relevance, and ideally virality, are more attractive than long-term sustainability. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's important to call it what it is, and ComplexCon was an embodiment of that ethos. It was Complex, the business, doing exactly what it should be doing: turning their highly-capable homegrown talent into stars, giving platforms to once-relevant stars of yesteryear who will say anything if filmed, and aggregating all things that might be considered as cool – even some things that just in no ways are – and aiming it at those who aspire to be cool. It's all very democratic, kind of—the low barrier to entry and the underlying belief that if you can fake it here, you can fake it anywhere.

The hyperactive nature of this media ecosystem takes people from obscurity to ubiquity in what feels like a heartbeat, often due more to a quirk of fate (or algorithm) than any really distinctive talent. It's a system that seems like it can be gamed, which leads to people spending more time trying to be good at social media than on the organic grind necessary to hone their chosen craft. It's a cultural shift – the desire to do and create things that become cool has been overtaken by the desire to simply be cool. The Supreme box logo-branded cart has been placed before the horse. ComplexCon was like watching both sides of the social media-fueled internet come to life – this was a weekend for the final product of content creation.

Rembert Browne, Journey Into the Heart of Content

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