Sunday, October 28, 2012

A not so great side effect of instant streaming (a personal account)

Whether or not this is good for my own rep, I have to start by admitting that the idea for this post came to me when I recently realized that I haven’t been to a movie in a pretty long time—a long time for me anyway. The last thing I caught in the theater was The Master, and before that was The Dark Knight Rises. Between the craziness of my classes, my jobs, and my attempts at keeping up a decent social life, movies seem to have taken a bit of a backseat lately. It’s too bad too, because I’ve missed a couple that I really wanted to check out: Looper, Samsura, Killer Joe, Premium Rush, Dredd, Seven Psychopaths, Argo. I realized this recently and thought to myself, I suppose I can still catch some of them while they are still in theaters for the next couple of weeks, and the others I can get on Netflix in a couple of months. No problem… and that’s when this post was conceived.

I realized that at this point, regardless of the fact that I haven’t seen any of these movies, I know which ones were supposedly good, which were supposedly bad, and in a lot of cases, I know why. I’ve had access to reviews and a complex social network of people reporting back to their friends on what they saw and what they thought. I haven’t seen any movies lately, but at the same time, I still sort of kept up. Some people would probably find some comfort in that, see the positive side of it, and there is a positive side to it, but I think it can be a problem.

It’s a problem that I didn’t see any of these in the theater, and telling myself that I can just catch them on Netflix later on is a problem as well. I love movies, and I love seeing movies in the theater. I really enjoy having a communal experience with friends and strangers alike. Instant streaming services and channels can be great, but at the same time, they can be a real drawback for film and T.V. lovers. It seems so easy to fall into the habit of just catching something later on, but that definitely affects the experience of the viewer, and sometimes it can affect the actual work that we’re catching later.

Based on sales and ratings, films do or do not get sequels, television shows get cancelled, DVDs and Blurays don’t come with awesome extras that we all want, directors, producers and actors get discouraged, and in the end, we all get less good stuff. On top of that, we miss out on the collective experience that comes with film and television—which is a pretty key component to the entire thing. So, I’m going to try to right some wrongs, and catch whatever I can that’s still showing over the next few weeks, and get back into the game. More than that, I hope this post works as food for thought for a handful of people that may come across it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fandom is changing (part1)

I'm going to present this idea here, and come back to it in the next few days.

I just read through this really interesting post by Devin Faraci on Badass Digest. It’s a reaction piece to another article, and mostly deals with the question of whether or not “television is where all of the smart, culturally important narrative stuff happens, leaving the cinema behind in an infantile wash of superheroes and sequels.” I won’t get into that argument though (not in this post anyway) as there is a specific excerpt that really caught my eye:

I get the mourning for a lost niche, for a specialization democratized out of existence. It’s happening with geek culture right this very minute. All of a sudden liking the third highest grossing movie of all time makes you ‘a geek.’ That sucks. It sucks seeing the doorman overwhelmed and losing your special place in the world.”

This small piece of the article probably says more than Faraci even expected. It works on a lot of different levels. He’s talking about geek culture, but the funny thing is that geek culture and movie culture (even T.V. culture) have become almost synonymous.

The Internet is the reason why this is happening. If you want to see fandom in action, just take a look at Tumblr. It’s pretty mind-blowing just how many people lose their minds at the thought of a new Tarantino trailer, or the latest episode of Dr. Who. The thing is that nowadays it seems like everyone is a fanboy. I think that the surge of social networking has done a lot of great things as far as bringing people of similar interests together, but at the same time, it’s also had a real “Look at me!” effect on a lot of other people.
You probably know who I’m talking about. Those people you see walking around the mall or around campus sporting their Iron Man shirts. Not the ones that look the part, but the ones you have to double-take at just before thinking “You’re not supposed to be wearing that…
Yes. That’s totally judging a book by its cover, and it’s probably not fair, but the point I’m trying to make is that the state of fandom is definitely changing. Everyone likes Batman now. It’s not just guys like me that watched the cartoon in the ‘90s that are now shaking their head at the ‘00s kids for simply jumping on the Nolan Batman bandwagon, or the guys who read the comics in the ‘80s who eventually grew up to witness the horror of the ‘90s kids watching Batman cartoons instead of reading comics. (See what I’m getting at?)