Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Golden Age Of Television

The Iron Age of everything else.

This is a longish article about how TV is currently churning out the best product in its history (at least in terms of drama) by filling small niches.  It's also about why this model doesn't work for music and movies.

The article laments the death of the indie films of the '90s.  As Hollywood chases the global market, a film like Pulp Fiction or Before Sunrise could never be made.  That sense of place and unique cultural context isn't going to translate into Mandarin (goes the theory).  Whereas when I was watching Battleship last night there was literally not a creative or unique thought on screen.  Everyone knows who Superman is, but who really knows the people who populated the off beat films of Richard Linklater, Hal Hartley or Steven Soderburgh?

And that's true.  Those films used to be around.  And they are hard to find.

But I think if you are looking for that sort of storytelling, it's still there.  It's there in TV.  It's there in precisely the foreign cinema that Iron Man 3 is reputedly replacing.  Film-making is both becoming more expensive  and less expensive.  Witness Joss Whedon making Dr. Horrible or Much Ado About Nothing.

And who knows what the future of Netflix type series holds?

As for music, the writer sort of glides over satellite radio as not paying much in royalties.  While I don't doubt that's true, anyone who has experienced Sirius/XM radio (and loves music) has a great deal of trouble going back to regular radio.  And when you select a few radio stations, you are exposed to artists that you just won't find on regular radio.  Maybe Mumford and Sons would have made it big without the Spectrum and iTunes, but I kind of doubt it.  And maybe it's the bias of my own experience, but I've never been more in synch with cutting edge music.

Most interesting was a suggestion that maybe the way newspapers and magazines survive is by bundling the way cable TV does.  Currently, my Insider subscription to ESPN gets me access to their premium web-based writing AND their magazine.

Why shouldn't the NY Times pair up with Frontline and NPR with a subscription based service?  I won't pay the Times to read Krugman, because I can find it easily enough.  But if a similar price got me access to other material?  Interesting...

Cultural trends are hard to see because they are all around you all the time.  Who could have predicted the trend from The Sopranos to The Walking Dead?

All I know is that if I was 23 again and moving to LA to write, I'd like my odds better today than 25 years ago.

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