Corporations are the fucking worst. We all know this. The majority of mainstream media we adore is produced by capitalist organisations helmed by overpaid executives who are more than happy to pay artists, writers, animators, and other such creatives a fraction of the salary they deserve to bring these ideas to life. The world is bitterly unfair, and cartoons are little more than a temporary distraction as the planet approaches its inevitable death.
As I’ve written about time and time again, animation is having a hard time right now. Netflix is scaling back its efforts to focus on more predictable demographics, Disney is busy cancelling shows long before reaching their full potential, and the medium continues to be viewed as a lesser art form compared to its live-action counterpart. This is a lot of nonsense to deal with, and I haven’t even touched on the recent behaviour of Warner Discovery. As part of a recent merger, the company has removed countless shows from HBO Max to save on its taxes.
Final Space creator Olan Rogers confirmed last week that Final Space was indeed taken off HBO Max due to tax purposes, and won’t be available to view anywhere once Netflix takes the show down from international platforms. Physical copies are now out of print, and they also weren’t produced for all seasons of the show and thus aren’t a reliable way to watch it anyway. Five years of Olan’s life, and those of the production crew, are being thrown into the ether because some greedy network assholes want to save themselves money to host it on their platform and pay royalties.
Warner Discovery doesn’t view Final Space as a work of art worthy of preservation, but a product with a limited shelf life to be wiped from existence at the earliest convenience. There is no way for it to be preserved by those who made it, or fans who fell in love with its world and characters over the years. Not legal anyway, with piracy now being the only possible way to watch these shows and preserve them for future audiences once the official release is wiped away. This isn’t hypothetical fearmongering about the dangers of an all digital future, that day is coming, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.
Rogers notes this is a stark business decision, and that in itself is understandable, but also doesn’t change how spiteful and short-sighted this erasure of art happens to be. Putting five years of your life into anything would see you form an emotional connection, let alone a show you concepted, pitched, brought to life, and saw reach an audience while never knowing if it stood a chance at achieving success. Final Space did all of this, and is still being given the finger because it happened to be on the wrong platform at the wrong time.
The modern world is one filled with streaming services and corporate monopolies where the majority of properties fall under fewer umbrellas than ever. While physical media still exists, companies are far more keen to have us sign up for streaming services and bask in their growing ecosystems instead of indulging in a one-off purchase where retention isn’t always guaranteed. Unfortunately for us, we are powerless when content is pulled off said platforms even if it was made for it in the first place. Warner Discovery saw its stock price plummet upon wiping away content from HBO Max, with creators distancing themselves from the company in fear of losing money, rights, or something more. Animated projects that were in the works for years were shuttered, and those working on these things will never have a chance to share their hard work because of ironclad NDAs and a bunch of legal rubbish.
As we walk towards our dystopian future, preservation of media becomes more crucial than ever as corporations make it abundantly clear that the only thing that matters is profit, and the actual products being created are little more than economic necessities as opposed to acts of human creativity that define who we are as people and where the world was at the time of their creation. Final Space was one such show, and now its fate has been written as its creator mourns the loss of his passion. He’s been robbed, and so have others after being promised a platform to do something special only to have it selfishly torn away.
I don’t want to pirate things, and will do everything I can to support the people I believe in, but when companies aren’t willing to give me a choice, there is no other recourse. You take away the productions I’ve tried to invest myself in because they aren’t capable of turning a profit anymore, so why should I care if you care that I’m pilfering them from a Discord server somewhere? Corporations can’t be trusted to tell these stories or support creators who want to push the medium forward, at least not without compromise, and we’ve seen time and time again how much bullshit they are forced to deal with to even make a living, let alone bring something to life that matters. Final Space deserved better. Animation deserves better. We deserve better. Until things change, all we can do is keep shouting from the rooftops.
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