Saturday, November 12, 2005
It's a Small World Afterall
Really, your dilemma comes down to this: is film art or is film industry? When it is produced as and experienced as a whole it probably has a different effect on people then when it is mass produced and mass consumed. It seems to me it is all about money.
If it's a product, then 'allowed' isn't part of the equation; consumers will get the kinds of stories, themes and ideas they want to see presented however they're willing to pay to see them. If there's a market for postage stamp displays and stories with 16 alternate endings, then that's what will be manufactured. If people want to pay money to be convinced that love conquers all, that good always trumps evil, that wanting something bad enough will make it come true, then that's what will be manufactured. If filmmakers want to convey different views of reality, their product will go the way of New Coke.
If, however, film is a pure artform like painting or poetry, then filmmakers should be able to dictate the form and content and say 'fuck anybody who wants to watch my film on a newfangled mood ring display or who wants me to tell a story that ends happily ever after, when I don't believe there is such a thing.'
Of course, films cost millions -- tens of millions -- to make and they're the product of many talented artists, so is it ever realistic to talk about film in the same terms you'd talk about painting or poetry? Can anybody expect a company to provide millions of dollars to create art? And, should a company be expected to do so? Should a government do so with tax dollars as many do? If so, why? If not, why not?
I don't think you can really ask questions about how films should be made or seen without addressing the larger issue: Is film an artform or a consumer product. If it's the former, who should be expected to invest in films and if it's the latter who, besides the consumer, should get to veto production of something desired by a significant market sector?