A New Age, New Thinking
This article is a really good example of how Hollywood thinks. It’s filled with all sorts of completely ridiculous guesses about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to online video. Every person quoted in the article as an ‘authority’ is currently the head of their own uniquely incredible failure, from SuperDeluxe to Prom Queen to 60 Frames. And yet they’ve all got advice on ‘the way it has to be done.’
Hollywood is searching for the magic ratio that will allow them to transfer their old infrastructure right on over to the new – like Ford shifting from making cars to tanks during WWII. Because really that would be the ideal situation for the entrenched – they’re totally fine with cutting off some fat, but they can’t get rid of everything, that would destroy what they worked so hard to build.
It’s really difficult to explain how people in Hollywood think, but if I could cut open the insides and show them to you, it probably wouldn’t get much better than this piece. They have, as Umair says, a massive DNA problem. Deeply infused in the model is a sense of superiority, of obligation and an insistence on structure. That’s why they want to know the “formula” for online video – is it 3 minutes, 9 minutes or twenty two? Pre-roll or post-roll ads? Who’s name should go above the title?
The reality is that there is no ‘way’ to do digital because there are no constraints. The model of Hollywood at its very core is of commoditizing the production of popular art – creating a replicable process to amortize costs. That’s why everything turns out exactly the same. But on the internet, a daily discussion of economics and a series about a kid who might be retarded are both equally viable forms of expression. It doesn’t matter whether the peg is square or round because there is no hole.
That is a very different way of thinking about things – it runs counter to almost all of human history. For some of us, that comes very natural and it’s why we never really fit in at places where it doesn’t. Now is our time. And fortunately, the opposite is what used to attract people to the big city lights of Los Angeles. As executives they could finally prove that artists don’t know anything about business and the first thing to do to prove it would be to shit all over them.
So today, in a world where there are no rules, where the middlemen have little control, where ‘quality’ and ‘do people like it or not’ are the main contributors to success, Hollywood’s way of thinking is utterly outdated. That’s why Quarterlife failed, and FunnyorDie is tanking, and record sales hit new lows every single week. The first step for people my age, I think, is to wipe that slate clean and to start thinking about what art is in a totally new way.
Good post. Entirely true. Fuck them all, they are afraid. I’m not though.
Have you read “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing our Culture”? It has an admittedly extreme perspective, but I think it tables several issues that you would find particularly interesting. Also, if you haven’t already, you should check out Charles Leadbeater’s website regarding “We-Think: The power of mass creativity”.
What issues were those? I thought it was one of the most ignorant books I’ve ever read.
I’ll read “We-Think”
“This blurring of lines between the audience and the author, between fact and fiction, between invention and reality further obscures objectivity. The cult of the amateur has made it increasingly difficult to determine the difference between reader and writer, between artist and spin doctor, between art and advertisement, between amateur and expert. The result? The decline of the quality and reliability of the information we receive…”
You don’t find the web’s lack of filter to be a poignant issue? It’s clear that evolution of the internet is natural, and you are right, Keen’s sharp condemnation of web 2.0 is ignorant, but that does not lessen the fact that there are practical downfalls to the burgeoning informational flow appropriated by the superhighway. I’d like to believe that this natural progression will culminate in some sort of equilibrium, but this won’t occur with a positive outcome without high levels of intellectual innovation. Creative and responsible filters have to be stationed in order for reliable and productive information to float to the top. Most of the population is ignorant, and quite frankly, stupid. The web allows you to educate yourself in completely novel ways, but you don’t want people reading just any asshole who is believable because he/she is well-written and writes on a subject with confidence. Currently, popularity is the only real filter for the general public, and that system isn’t the most conducive to funneling quality information or even art. Sure things like wiki’s are successful in producing solid information, but for example, I took several philosophy courses from respected professors who all condemned the interpretations of texts expounded on wikipedia.
I don’t agree with Keen that it’s an issue of maintaining culture…culture rightfully develops and we are evolving into a culture increasingly based around the web in a gamut of ways. The exact repercussions (which are really the intriguing “issues” I was referring to) of this development are unknown; the book, for me, just brought to mind difficulties for which I’m excited to see proposed and implemented solutions.
I’m interested to hear what you think of we-think.
I’ve hung with Andrew Keen, I think he’s a smart guy and basically correct in his assumptions in broad terms.