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Response to MADem (Reply #24)

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 05:26 AM

52. Your post reminds me of something...

 

Up in Canada, in the Maritime provinces, a lot of people made their living by fishing - cod, mostly. And it was profitable businesses, subsidied by the government , and with a seeming never-ending demand. More people fished, took bigger catches, more frequently. In 1970, the take was eight hundred thousand tons of north atlantic cod. If you're unfamiliar with cod, they're a large coldwater predator fish - they're slow-growing, live to be thirteen years old, and in warmer waters (relatively speaking) reach sexual maturity at four years.

What happens when you're sucking eight hundred thousand tons of a slow-growing, late-maturing fish out of the water annually?

By 1992, the biomass of cod in the Atlantic Northwest had crashed to less than 1% of its previous levels. The Canadian government declared a moratorium on cod fishing until the fisheries could rejuvenate. It was supposed to last only two years. Now, twenty years later... the fishery is still collapsed. And you know who or what gets the blame?

Seals. That's right, the governments of Labrador and Newfoundland both opened up seal hunting with the claim that it was necessary to prevent the seals from eating all those damned cod and crashing the fisheries again. That's right, it was those fucking seals that caused the problem. Of course there were dissident voices, blaming everything from disease to global warming to some sort of cod migration... but there was never an official voice pointing out that the fishing industry of Canada had demolished its own stock, and that Canadian subsidization of the industry had helped lead to that result. Blame the seals, blame the warmer water, blame mystery causes, blame UFO's if you have to, just don't blame the fact that we were trawling in a third of the species' biomass in the North Atlantic every two years.

Now, what the fuck does a codfish have to do with the film industry? Well, for one I'm pretty sure that a codfish would be a better comedy lead than Vince Vaughn. But that's not my point.

The point is that the film industry is currently destroying itself, and blaming some meager pissant outside force with next to no practical impact for all its woes. Am I going to watch a pirated copy of "The Internship?" Fuck no. Am I going to watch a pirated copy of "After earth?" Fuck no. Am I going to watch a pirated copy of "The Lone Ranger?" Fuck no. And it's not that I have some ethical qualm against it, I'm looking at a site right now where I could click a link and watch any of these filmed for my convenience from within a theater, as I type.

I'm not going to watch pirated copies of these films because I already know they are shit. And if I won't watch them for free, what force on earth is going to get me to plunk down money - and lots of money, at that - to watch them once in a theater full of assholes who can't shut the fuck up? Am I going to fork over the dough to watch another installment of licensing hackery trying to remind me that I was born in the 80's? Or to watch another sad, sad attempt at an "epic" film, like the travesty that was Clash of the Titans? (though that one did bring us "Release the kraken!" which was good for a lol or two...) I admit i did get suckered into a theater showing of World War Z... but only because I wanted to know exactly how fucking abysmal it really was (as it turns out? Very. )

Hollywood is churning out formulaic drek with every turn of the reel. It imagines that the market is wowed by star power - that putting Brad Pitt or Will Smith on the poster will make us forgive that we're watching a celluloid version of amoebic dysentery. It imagines that we're frightened and unsure of original ideas - that we're uncomfortable with something hat isn't exactly like the last film we watched. The industry keeps selling us different-colored version of That Movie You Love - and doesn't notice we caught on to that trick back in the 90's and haven't been falling for it very often since.

Essentially, the market is responding to a low-quality product at a high price by not purchasing. That's what's giving the pinch to the industry - It's not those dastardly priates, it's not video rental businesses, and it's not the VCR. It's the industry's own inability to respond to the market.

Take for instance, "Avatar." Avatar, though it had a trite story, was still a good movie. It was well-sculpted, explored several concepts that, while not especially unique (it's sci-fi Pocahontas, or an environmentalist version of The Matrix, take your pick) happened to hit the right buttons, at the right time, and through use of a largely-unexplored medium. That is, while it didn't invent, it did innovate, and it managed to mesh with the audience's own desires and immerse them.. As a result, it's the highest-grossing film of all time. How did the industry respond?

By re-releasing movies that had been dolled up for 3-D glasses, and funding sweeping CGI "epics" one after the other, in such profusion that 2010 kind of felt like a year without actors. That is, Hollywood missed the whole fucking point of what made Avatar work, and simply took bits and pieces and glued them on to other scripts in the hope that it would "catch."

it didn't work. It hasn't worked since, and I'll bet you that it won't work in the future. And the self-inflicted blindness isn't helping any. By flailing around like a one-eyed goatherd after meeting Odysseus, blaming absolutely everyone except itself for its shitty sales, Hollywood is just further alienating the customer base. Most people would be perfectly happy to pay some money for a theater entry, or for a DVD, if we felt we were getting our money's worth - and given the current state of the economy, we value the money we have more than we used to. People who won't watch a shitty product on the silver screen probably aren't going to watch a shitty product that looks like it was filmed by a potato, even if it's offered for free.

If your friends and family are feeling the pinch, I assure you it's more due to the problems of the industry itself, than the seals nibbling around the net's fringes.

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