Do movies matter? Perhaps not, in the long run.
In an earlier post, I summarized some of the difficulties faced by filmmakers in the Long Tail Era. Musicians, the first caste of artists to be blind-sided by the economics of free, actually have it better than actors and filmmakers, in this regard. I know, 'cause I are one. We musos can actually sell not just CDs from the stage and stores, but also live concert tickets, the bread-and-butter of most acts, and of course, the ubiquitous T-shirt. Much harder to do with films.
But what if Hollywood blockbusters and millionaire movie stars were to be replaced with, say, piano-playing cats or skateboarding dogs, filmed on low-res camera phones by high schoolers? What if the next great art form is YouTube?
Paul Oskar Kristeller published an article in the Journal of the History of Ideas in 1952, explaining that other forms of "high art" had come and gone: opera, canvas painting, bas relief, book illustration, instrumental music, epic and sonnet poetry, gardening, tapestry, pottery, sculpture, and many more artistic mediums once considered the epitome of sophistication, and whose masters were wealthy artisans in their day, have all but disappeared, relegated to a small subset of the arts, or even "hobbies". Are movies next?
The money-machines of Hollywood studios are keeping a death-grip on their old business model, built on artificial scarcity, but it's too late- the horse has bolted. Just like the music, movies will be free in the near future, like it or not. The question is not if, but when? After that, the question is, "What is the T-shirt equivalent that filmmakers will sell, when they are not selling plastic discs (DVDs)?"
Or perhaps, like opera and other dinosaur arts, the Hollywood blockbuster's time has come and gone. I wonder what the next visual "high art form" will look like?
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