Saturday, November 12, 2005

 

It's a Small World Afterall

This just released. The Television Academy now plans to create Emmy Award categories to officially honor original podcasts and materials originally created for such portable display devices as the Video iPod and Playstation. This comes on the heels of reports that the porn industry has also christened the Video iPod with original material to download. And all of this follows years and years and years of downsizing the once great movie palaces into multiplexs with rooms, sometimes no bigger than a large walk-in closet. And cars equipped with miniature screens for viewing DVDs and VHS tapes. Now don't get me wrong. I used to think the Dick Tracy two-way wrist TV was a cool device as well. (Remember those?) But Lawrence of Arabia or Saving Private Ryan just doesn't make sense at one square inch. Am I alone in this thought? Is smaller better? Or is it just a novelty that will fade away? I mean, should the works of the great filmmakers of our time be allowed to fit in your pocket? Storing this data digitally on smaller and smaller devices is cool. But displaying them is a completely different story. Don't you think?

Comments:
I think what you have been referring to over time in your blog is not just the downsizing of a film but the demise of the overall movie going experience. This distillation of art as an multi-faceted experience down to art as entertainment is not only a problem for film. How many people (myself included) take the time to visit art museums or galleries to experience to fullness of color or implications of subtle shading? For most of us experiencing great art is when we see reprints hanging on the walls of our Doctors' offices.

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.
 
I think Ohio girl has distilled the problem nicely: is a film a piece of art or a product?
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?
 
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