Fandom-esque is a bi-weekly blog about fandoms from the pop culture sphere and their latest happenings in TV, movies and more.
Have you ever met one of those guys who proudly wears his thousand-dollar entertainment system, complete with a towering stack of Blu-ray discs? He insists having them is worth it, even if you can’t remember the last time you put a disc in a machine to watch your favorite show. Turns out, those enthusiasts might be right.
These days, it’s better to own a physical copy of your favorite show, than to lose it to the mercy of streaming services like HBO Max. HBO’s streaming platform has come under intense scrutiny over the past few months, most recently for removing more than 37 of its titles, especially the animated ones.
Shows like “Aquaman: King of Atlantis,” “Infinity Train,” “Tig N’ Seek,” “Summer Camp Island,” “Esme and Roy,” “The Fungies!” and others have been cancelled. Some of these shows, like “Tig N’ Seek,” an animated children’s show featuring an 8-year-old detective, were not only canceled but removed from the platform overnight and without warning on August 18.
“Tig N’ Seek” artistic director Levon Jihanian made a distressed tweet early the next morning after finding the show gone. He pointed out that the show could not be found anywhere else, not in physical form like a DVD, but on illegal pirated sites.
Let’s go. They all left.
— Levon Jihanian (@ForkFrenzy) August 19, 2022
The risk of streaming services is not new to members of the industry. While Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and what seems like 10,000 other streaming options have made TV and film more accessible, many of their original titles are only accessible digitally.
Alena Smith, creator of “Dickinson” tweeted on August 3 about her last day on set, where she begged the Apple TV+ studio manager for a physical copy of her show. She said she owned the only physical copy in the world, and if the platform ever went down, no one else would ever be able to see it.
The question remains, why did HBO remove these titles? The answer is what you expect from any big business: money.
Parent company AT&T merged HBO and Discovery, which has its own streaming platform called Discovery+. Following the announcement in April, progress has begun in merging the companies, as well as their streaming platforms.
As part of this merger, HBO and Discovery took stock of their upcoming and ongoing projects and decided to cancel movies like “Batgirl” for tax benefits. According to The Hollywood Reporter, new WarnerBros Discovery CEO David Zaslac will prioritize theatrical releases. “Batgirl,” which was to be released online, had acquired an additional $90 million in COVID-19 charges.
“Batgirl” was going to be another entry in the DC Extended Universe with Leslie Grace in the lead role. Michael Keaton, who held the role of Batman in the late 1980s, was returning to the film role, setting the stage for future appearances in movies like “The Flash.”
If things couldn’t get any darker for the film’s creators, “Batgirl” was almost completely done. And the cut of the film that existed was completely erased from Warner Bros. computer servers, according to director Billal Fallah.
The film no longer exists in any accessible form.
While I can logically recognize the executive’s decision to cut movies like “Batgirl” or the plethora of other animated shows that HBO Max has recently dumped – money makes the world go round is a saying that never loses. never its shine – that doesn’t make the impact on the creations any less heartbreaking.
Streaming platforms pose many problems, but the fact that they allow creators to be more inventive with their stories may outweigh the disadvantages. The reality is that more diverse and groundbreaking shows often find their way onto these platforms when they’re not squeezed by prime-time cable TV slots.
These shows include HBO Max’s “Our Flag Means Death,” a fictional romantic comedy about the life of Stede Bonnet, also known as the “Gentleman Pirate.” The show is explicitly queer and BIPOC-friendly and has amassed a dedicated fandom online in just a few months.
Fans of the show expressed their fear and concern on Twitter’s trending section after HBO began cutting the shows. Thankfully, “Our Flag Means Death” remains in production and will return next year for Season 2.
For bewildered fans, Warner Bros. Discovery provided some insight, besides monetary value, into why those shows were canceled. According to pop culture news site The Mary Sue, during Warner Bros. Discovery on August 4, the company included digital slides that showcased the platforms’ supposed “biases.”
I’m sorry that the HBO Max bullet point “male skew” is my fucking enemy pic.twitter.com/oitAvlY239
– it was rachaha from the start (@RachelLeishman) August 4, 2022
Apparently HBO Max is for “boys” and Discovery is for “girls”. Guess I’ll have to take all my Game of Thrones posters off the wall and replace them with the House Hunters logo.
The sad truth is that there’s not much fans can really do to fight blatant misogyny or money-driven cancellations, but there are creatives like the folks at Sesame Street who have put all the shows in the series episodes on youtube for free in response to HBO.
Not everything can be saved – the internet is a black hole that gnaws, spits out and swallows what it wants. But if a show or movie you love is coming out on DVD, you should splurge, even if you don’t have a DVD player – it could be a worthwhile purchase.