Monday, February 26th, 2007

Movies lose their status at the top of the cultural heap


Movies, once lauded as the dominant art form of the twentieth century, are being usurped by all manner of other media. It’s not that the movies are any worse than they were (or better, for that matter), they just aren’t held up as the cultural totem they once were.

Partly that’s because there’s a surfeit of other media out there, a bunch of different ways to watch movies, and a democratization of movie production that’s taken it down a peg or two. And partly it’s because a new generation of consumers is more interested in connecting with their network of friends and virtual acquaintances than what Hollywood has to say.

On the one hand, I love movies, and it’s kind of sad to see them lose their primacy. But on the other hand, this was a change that was bound to happen. As the media goes from one to many to many to many, the the dictatorial nature of the movie screen loses out to a thousand text messages.

But at the same time our culture is more obsessed with celebrity and entertainment than ever, which requires the movie industry to fuel the ever churning rumour and hype mill. But then again, a whole new tier of Internet “stars” spring up at a lower level to feed the mill.

What’s essentially happening is that we’re witnessing a similar change in media consumption from when radio lost out the the movies, an the movies slipped a little in the face of TV. The difference this time is that the pubic is in control. What they’ll do with this shiny media beast is uncertain, but it’ll be fun to watch.

Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

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