Saturday, February 23, 2008

Re-Make: The Death of Television and Film

Lately there have been a lot of re-hashed stories pulled from years back and made up with prettier colors and fancier animations and a complete lack of any kind of imagination. Terminator is now a TV series, so is Knight Rider and if you look around you can find more coming up. Transformers was a movie, GI-Joe will be one soon as well. Lost In Space, The Fog, King Kong, The Manchurian Candidate, Oceans Eleven, Planet of the Apes, Solaris, War of the Worlds, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Dukes of Hazzard, Bewitched and on and on we can go. And come on, how many Invasion of the Body Snatcheresque type movies do we really need...the latest one of those was Invasion staring Nichole Kidman on the big screen and the failed TV series of the same name in 2005. We just aren't scared of or even mildly entertained by alien invasions any more...its been done before.

There seems to be several things going on here. First of all, Hollywood and Television is selling us our youth by making the kick-ass movies we always dreamed of as kids, namely Transformers. The second thing that seems to be going on and is more visible in Television is the lack of imagination by the writers and directors. This is most notable in the influx of "reality" shows on the "little big screen" and the ever growing popularity of the low resolution "mini screen" of YouTube. People are thirsting for something new and real or at least something unique.

The "something unique" is why "Lost" on ABC has done so well. Lost provides a story that envelopes the viewer and engages their minds. Unfortunately for the viewers it appears as if the "Lost" producers have written themselves into several corners by not explaining things and dropping a lot of key portions of the story (the black smoke, the numbers, several side stories of characters that left too early). Many fear that "Lost" will end up being a big let down like the rest of television. It may be beyond the scope of television to provide long term complex stories in the manner that they are required so viewers opt for the other part they desire which is the reality. Reality TV is able to provide quick satisfaction, but is itself becoming boring and predictable. There's only so many times you can watch someone ridiculed in front of millions because they can't sing or watch someone become friends with someone else so they can stab them in the back for money before you realize that you are wasting your time on filth and becoming shallower because of it.

Predictability and lack of imagination are killing the passive viewing industry. It seems that the stories have all been told before. The only way to make it in the industry is to have highly complex characters like that played by Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" or to deliver something mind bending like "The Matrix" or "Lost". Then the key is to follow through with the promises you make to the customer. In regards to "The Matrix" trilogy the fans had highly complex theories that were far better than what was created. The same can be said about "Lost". It seems if the fans in the chat rooms are saying anything near to what the writer were thinking then the writers feel the need to go into a totally different direction which in the end just ruins things and makes fans disgruntled.

All this ranting to say that people, especially the younger ones, see the traditional movies and television as old fashioned and boring. They would rather spend their time playing video games or watching someone's home videos on-line. We are about to lose the silver screen and the one-eyed-god and they won't be going down in a blaze of glory, they will just wither away and die. Then maybe we can get off our couches more or at least be more involved in our entertainment.

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