Years ago, I had a professor who was fairly young, and was around on campus as Facebook was popping up. About a year into Facebook infiltrating campus life (mid 2005, maybe?), I remember him observing that social media is a great tool, but it is hurting the way that young people interact with each other. I totally agreed. I’ll be honest, writing a funny one-liner on a friend’s wall was waaaay easier than a 45-minute phone call about whether they should break up with their boyfriend (if it’s someone I really don’t care about — I’m not completely callous).
Fast forward a few years later; 2009ish. My husband and I were talking about media consumption, and he says “We’re losing the water cooler in our society.” The grander society no longer shares collective experiences in everyday media.
And, for better or worse, it’s definitely true, along nearly all major forms of media: music, movies, television, web, and books.
Everything now is highly niched. As highlighted in the NPR series, Fractured Culture, nothing can be targeted toward the greater society. There are so many great scripted television shows on prime time right now, but only small fragments of America watch them. While you can say that’s partially because of cable, it goes beyond that. There are so many options. You don’t even have to have a television. You can just have DVDs and a Netflix account streaming to your TV, and maybe access to Hulu Plus. And then, of course, there’s YouTube. Right there is access to TONS (literally) of hours of nearly anything you could possibly want to watch. And music videos. So why sit in front of the television and watch the shows they are force-feeding down your throat, when you can watching a hilarious web show with a disgusting, crass sense of humor that you can’t find on television, but is so well targeted toward you?
Music may be the most emblematic of this — the first industry really hit hard by this shift in the way we consume media. People stopped paying money for music years ago, unless it was truly meaningful now. No one watches MTV for videos — firstly MTV hasn’t played music videos since the days of Jesse Camp, and secondly, music videos are basically an online-only venture (aside from BET, really). Why watch a bunch of random videos hoping they’ll play the one you want to watch, when you can just go online and play the one you want to watch at that moment? Also, do you notice that your favorite television shows and movies don’t use overwrought music that you’re already sick of because they play it on the radio constantly anymore — they play the “indie” stuff. It’s cheap, and it caters to an appreciation of the “underground.” It’s catering to the fact that people love to be the first of their friends to have heard of a band, and then be pleasantly surprised to hear it on Grey’s Anatomy.
And etc. and so-forth. But is this nichefying a completely bad thing? I don’t know. I think there is good to this, because, as the NPR series points out on many platforms, audiences who have not been engaged before on television can enjoy niche TV on cable (106 & Park and its teenage fan base); Asian people don’t really have soooo few images on television, but can find some well produced series’ online featuring people of Asian descent doing stuff other than being nerds or weird little businessmen.
So to me, as I’ve written about before, I don’t think it’s necessarily a terrible thing. In fact, I’m hoping to one day capitalize on it…
For my birthday, the hubster and I went to see Tron and eat wings. As far as Tron goes, I had a few problems with the movie itself but there were some amazing elements to it:
– The music. I really like Daft Punk ever since since my friend and former roommate Katie introduced me to them in college. The soundtrack is spot-on and just damn good. Daft Punk even makes an appearance, so that was fun.
– The costume design. Now, I’m not going to be really studying costume design here on SGFS until the summer, but I HAD to note the beauty in Tron’s costume design. I came across an interview with Tron’s costume designer. First of all, Michael Wilkinson and Christine Clark, the film’s costume designers, had a lot to look up to. The first film led to Oscar nods for costuming (and sound, which are both probably warranted this year, as well). Clark told the LA Times they used nothing organic, even for Jeff Bridge’s character who was all Mr. Zen-ish. Everything was made of some sort of synthetic fiber a la leisure suit.
I was insane about the shoes. All of them. And I’m not a necessarily a shoe freak. I mean I can admire a great pair of shoes, but I wear sneakers about 90% of the time. But the boots on Olivia Wilde mirror boots that I had a dream about in 2005, and can’t find them anywhere. But since Disney (the studio behind the original and he sequel) is looking to launch a fashion/accessory line based on the film, my dream may come somewhat true. The original dream included almost the exact same boots she’s wearing (shown above), but in brown suede, and without the fancy light-em-ups. If those go to market, I’m getting them, and no one is going to stop me.
Other than that, the story was a little too weak (eh, it’s a Disney movie), and predictable (again, it’s a Disney movie). Jeff Bridges-but-younger didn’t look too bad, except around the mouth, which looked a little sluggish and ghosty. That’s when you know he’s got a CGI face. The “climax” was more like a loud whimper, and the resolution could have happened like 15-20 minutes earlier than it should have.
Still, highly enjoyable, visually stunning, and incredibly fun.