The decline of movies

The+decline+of+movies

Sam Dunham

BY SAM DUNHAM (’17)

A new age is coming. Not in our politics, beliefs or social thought, but in something considerably more important: our TV.

While it may not be quite the gravitas of the age of Enlightenment, I guarantee this current phenomenon of the 21st century will affect readers more than any 1700s religious movement.

Simply put, the medium of television is on the rise and movies are quickly moving towards irrelevance. No bias, simply reality. No one is more disappointed in the downward spiral of movies than I.

Without cable TV as a kid, VCR and DVDs quickly became my childhood. From VHS tapes of Disney classics to R-rated movies behind my parents back, I soon became a student of Hollywood film. However, the current state of movies is far from the Golden Age it once was.

The sad truth is that like any popular ideal in American culture, the movie industry has been exploited and become more about money than creating art. Soon, the Hollywood we knew will be a completely dissipated, corrupted and devalued business.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the current state of movies. Ever since the turn of the century, the world of cinema has become infatuated with the craze of remakes, reboots, and sequels. While not inherently bad, the remake revolution has now devolved into desperate cash grabs, a desire to grab people’s attention with recognizable stories and characters. Every year, the top 10 highest grossing movies is listed. Since 2010, of the 60 possible movies, only four have been original, non-sequels/remakes (And two of those four were based off of novels). Only four.

The main issue is with movie studios capitalizing off of whatever is popular. The incredible success of films like The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Avengers (all good films in their own respect) have ushered in the comic book craze. In the whole of the 1900s, around 80 to 85 superhero movies were released, around 1 a year on average. Since 2000, over 90 superhero movies have already been released, an astounding 5-6 movies a year.

The remaking of Disney classics has had a similar effect, with Mickey Mouse looking to tap into our childhood nostalgia with pointless upcoming remakes of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, Dumbo, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Snow White, and, perhaps worst of all, Aladdin. In modern Hollywood, name recognition has truly come to the forefront.

The over-saturation of this genre is only one of cause of the downfall of movies. Product placement is another sin (see any Transformers movie for reference). Often times, in-movie advertisements can be so gratuitous that it momentarily takes one out of the movie (see World War Z, Transformers 4, Cat in the Hat).

The self-destruction of modern horror movies is yet another serious issue. The over-reliance on meaningless jump-scares and low production value has created a class of tension-less, poorly acted, and laughably written horror movies (see Paranormal Activity franchise, Saw franchise, almost all found footage movies save for a select few).

Conversely, the quality of television has begun to improve dramatically. Gone are the days of trashy reality shows (for the most part-I’m looking at you, Bachelor-) and overrated, low budget sitcoms (try watching Full House nowadays). Since TV is episodic and requires week-by-week retention, creators work hard to make truly unique and innovative material.

Shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have redefined television with their huge-budget episodes and vast plot lines and characters. The thrilling drama Breaking Bad delivered incredible performances, The Wire and True Detective built compelling stories and inspirational film-making. Not to mention the enthralling political thrillers like House of Cards, Homeland, and The Americans. Even comedy, with well-crafted shows like Silicon Valley, West Wing, and Casual have pushed the limits of what we consider humor and provide a fresh take on American culture.

I could go on and on about the various TV shows and miniseries that are absolutely worth watching, but instead I encourage readers to go out and explore this great labyrinth for themselves. With the sheer amount of great shows, there is sure to be one for everyone. I also am not condoning the abandonment of all movies. Every year there is still fantastic and original film to be enjoyed; however their number is getting smaller each year.

The easiest way to protest this is to simply stop going to unoriginal, cash-grab movies. We as the consumer have all the power in the world, and if you don’t want to see the Genie played by anyone not named Robin Williams, then take a stand and do what we all should’ve done before seeing Ghost Rider 2 or Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: Don’t watch it.

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