Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Infernal TV vs. Cinema Debate

Gah, this thing drives me crazy. A recent article by playwright/screenwriter David Hare for the London Guardian finds him praising Mad Men for its complex characters and stories, and hailing that the "future of American film is television." I buy that about a much as I bought the notion last year that "3D is the future of film.
The thing is, as Nathaniel R over at The Film Experience blog said a while back, we're asking the wrong questions in this debate. Television and film are two different mediums, and to compare them is almost irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that when comes down to original ideas, television is more open than film. But even that argument is unfair: most critical darlings and original ideas on television have small audiences (comparatively, at least; no matter how much Mad Men is discussed, viewership pales in comparison to Two and a Half Men), just like in film, where a film like The Kids are All Right will never make as much money as, say, a Transformers movie. The mainstream doesn't have much room for "good" stories (another crappy argument), no matter what medium you're in.
I don't know why, but there's something about film lovers that make us constantly prognosticate its demise. But that's ridiculous. Even if television were to be considered better than film, that doesn't mean that movies will stop being made. Nor will it mean that only bad movies will be made. There will always be good and bad movies, just like there will always be good and bad television. Television is not the new cinema; cinema is the new cinema, and television is its own entity. And no matter what trends come and go, these institutions will continue to exist and evolve in their own ways.


Jose said...

What remains true is that TV is going through a Golden age of sorts despite crap like Jersey Shore and those Kardashian ladies being so popular. I guess they are the Transformers of TV huh?

Jason H. said...

Oh yeah! And this is definitely for TV what the '70s were for film.