Algo-Robots Predict The Bland Tastes of Predictable Markets.
The film industry has finally, completely commodified and financialised what used to be a collaborative storytelling art and what’s worse, they’ve done the same thing to the audience. Filmgoers get no respect.
We use complex algorithms now to predict what combination of this and that will make the best comic book story that will appeal to the Chinese so we can justify spending hundreds of millions of dollars turning out formulaic crap to huge international audiences. Most people don’t know what it’s like to see a movie these days. These days, experiencing the novel joy of seeing a film inspired by the hearts of artists and craftspeople struggling to interpret human emotions requires a trip to an international film festival where you can watch a movie made in Albania, eastern Turkey or Tajikistan. A story that makes you feel something other than the giggles and hiccups you might experience at Disney Land are becoming harder to find because you can’t get rich making those kinds of films.
Look, every trip to the cinema doesn’t have to be a profound, life changing event. Films are entertainment, I know that. I’m just yearning to be surprised more often. Perhaps I’m just hobbled a bit by my old fartiness.
The Internet as a distribution platform has made great strides in allowing more original work to be seen by die hard fans, but our marketing and sales models are still limited by our dreamy greediness. The advent and rapid evolution of fantastic digital tools once gave filmmakers hope that they would be able to make films with fewer resources freeing up their ability to create. Filmmakers once hoped digital distribution would democratize the business and make it easier to connect to niche audiences. Filmmakers hoped to produce unique, individual, creative works of storytelling that could be introduced to a community of buffs in a more direct way. And to a certain degree, this is happening. However, every time a decent digital distribution and marketing model has been developed its potency has been curtailed by our dwindling understanding and appreciation of art. The absence of barriers has only allowed more people to dabble at producing experiments given out for free to friends and family.
Movies have always been big business, it requires a lot of resources to make a flick. Now big biz is picking apart our predictable tastes with big data and fancy computer code. The audience is just a predictable commodity with a wallet and filmmakers are tapped to churn out candy wrapped claptrap.
There are so many good stories out there. We need to develop a FILM CULTURE again. Going to a repertory movie house with a friend a couple of times a week and sharing a coffee and a conversation at intermission was such a pleasure. Now we sit in a corner of Starbucks watching superheroes or venal fat butted babes talking about how popular they are on our iPhones. If the flick is over 3 minutes it had better be predictable or you’ll lose your audience because, you know, we are all a bunch of predictable, dumbed down, sad sacks who need our formula to distract us from our thumb sucking. I can almost hear the ENRON like conversations Hollywood executives are having at SOHO HOUSE during their power lunch, “Our preferred audience is a mob of idiots Dave, just use the algo-robots to figure out how to get them off their fat asses and into the fucking multiplex and stop fretting about the focus group.”
I’m going to go watch TV now.