Kyle Smith ‘16 – In the same way you tell your parents what they want to hear instead of the truth, sacrificing artistic integrity for giving people what they want is becoming a common trend in the movie and music industries.
If Star Wars: The Force Awakens had been an essay, J. J. Abrams would have failed and been suspended for plagiarism. The script felt less nostalgic and more like a copy of the old movies. Why did it get an 8.4 on IMDb and a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes then?
Because everyone can appreciate special effects and CGI aesthetics. However, not everyone can appreciate the complex plots of movies such as Interstellar or Inception; most people just want to walk out of the theater with all the answers, instead of be challenged to think. Not everyone wants a surprise twist, instead preferring that typical make-out session in the usual spot, comic relief one-liners at the same right times, and a happy ending to wrap it all up.
Look, I get it. Sometimes we just want to relax and see dinosaurs on the big screen, not contemplate the man vs. nature conflict of Jurassic Park, for example. And at the end of the day, if one wants a great story, you probably aren’t going to find it in a one to two hour film anyway. There’s a reason for the old adage that says the book was better than the movie.
“It’s all a representation of our culture,” Liam O’Curran ‘16 said. “Simple Michael Bay films, for example, appeal to an already existing audience who want to be easily entertained. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy Transformers. If I was to waste time watching a movie, I would prefer something that has some value to it, but more mainstream entertainment still has its merit.”
Appealing to a niche audience and/or demographic is a risk. What do businesses hate most? Risks. It could cost them revenue, so they often choose to play it safe and appeal to as many people as they possibly can.
This mentality isn’t just restricted to movies though, but applies to entertainment as a whole, including the music industry.
“There’s two sides to music: there’s the creative arts and then there’s business,” Gerald Gillum, better known as G-Eazy, explained in an interview on YouTube. “It’s important to have both, but it’s important to never let one control the other. The big-hit single is the missile that puts the rest of the [creative] message on its back and carries it. You have to have this condensed version of your message to travel the farthest to reach the most people, because not everybody has the attention-span to digest the whole album instantly. So the single is the catalyst for the rest of the record.”
Quality of entertainment is a very broad topic, and is difficult to discuss for a number of reasons, the most obvious one being it’s highly subjective. Everybody has their own opinion.
Music specifically is constantly evolving. You could argue that before the technology of today came along, artists weren’t auto-tuning their voice, or worrying about their lip-syncing being off by a few seconds. It was pure talent.
That being said, what exactly does, “entertainment is losing quality,” mean? It means entertainment is becoming more about the money and less about the craft. It means taking superficiality over depth. It means trading unique ideas for the same old recipe we’ve been fed for years now.
All we can do to not contribute to this cultural decay is raise our standards. Demand better. Our appreciation should be more than skin-deep. The first time we see a new movie or listen to a new album, let’s go swimming; wash away the make-up and judge what it really looks like.