AO Scott in The New York Times goes long on what I was trying to get at with my Question of the Weekend from July 3rd, when I asked, “What are movies for anymore?” (He doesn’t seem to know, either.) Choice excerpts from Scott’s essay, “The Movies Are Back. But What Are Movies Now?”:
Franchised blockbusters sucking up the theatrical oxygen as smaller, more idiosyncratic films fought over a dwindling share of the market; daring movies from festivals buried in Netflix algorithms or marooned in the video-on-demand hinterlands; a shrinking cultural footprint for art in an expanding universe of content: Is that the normal we want?
Global blockbusters, engineered to appeal to the widest possible mass audience, are conversation-stoppers by definition, offering vague themes and superficially complex plots rather than food for thought. The franchises are in the business of fan recruitment and brand extension. And the logic of fan culture — the strenuous defense of favorites, the shaming and shunning of haters, the ascendancy of feeling over argument — extends into the most esoteric reaches of online cinephilia.
Meanwhile, the broad middle ground that defined popular cinema’s glory and potential — the pop-cultural amusements that are worth taking seriously, the things everyone at work or online seems to be talking about — continues its migration to television. If that’s the right word.
And perhaps most importantly, this:
As art becomes content, content is transmuted into data, which it is your job, as a consumer, to give back to the companies that sold you access to the art.
The whole thing is worth a read. It’s simultaneously incredibly depressing and a bit exciting: where is this all going?