So, okay. I’ll admit it. I’ve never seen The Godfather. There, I said it. Don’t all unsubscribe at once. Neither have I seen Part Two (I hate coming in on the middle of a story) nor Part Three (although from what I hear, that one’s not such a loss). This is despite the fact that for years I could have rented them all from Blockbuster for five bucks. They have been on television a number of times, but I always seemed to be out that night, or the VCR ate the tape. Even now with a DVR, they have been sitting on my hard drive for months, waiting to be seen.
A part of me is afraid they won’t live up to expectations. (I’ve had whole relationships like that.) It’s kind of the same as meeting your heroes; there’s always the possibility that they’ll turn out to be huge dicks. If and when they are, it can ruin a cherished memory.
The biggest problem, though, is not seeing it when it was made. Take a movie like Forbidden Planet. If you saw that movie in the theatre, you remember a great sci-fi flick with cutting edge special effects (and Leslie Nielson was awesome). But for some kid of today, they would see it as quaint, at best. We as a society lose the subtleties of the artist’s intent as we move farther away from the time of creation. Cultural memories fade like old photographs.
Indeed, today’s audiences are absolutely spoiled when it comes to style. Substance, however…not so much. As anyone in the business will tell you, it’s a miracle that any movie gets made. There are a million things that can go wrong, and any one of them can ruin a film, it it doesn’t scuttle it all together. But it seems we are moving farther and farther away the days when a single vision could tell a moving story. Today’s studios are more concerned about focus groups and figuring out how long until they can reboot Batman again.
Not that I have any illusions there ever was or will be a “golden age” of cinema where artists are freely allowed to make their art. But if the experience of AMC has taught us anything it’s that if you give creative people a long leash, they can take you far. Their award winning shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad are testimony to this. Oh yeah, and they brought us walkers, too. If anyone will save us from mediocrity it will be the smaller players and independents, who have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
On the horizon, too, are web channels like Nerdist and Geek & Sundry, who are challenging the mold of the old networks and studios with quality, targeted entertainment. This is possibly the most exciting thing to happen to media in a generation. As the cost of production falls, we will see more and more of the artists on our screens, and less of the accountants and lawyers. Yes, a lot of it will be crap too, but it will be earnest, well-intentioned crap. And that’s an offer I can’t refuse.
All right, all right. Stop your badgering. I’ll go and watch The Godfather now.
Also, now that I blogged about it, I can write off my DVR on my taxes. That’s how it works, right?