Movies and MTV, they’re both in the dumper. Statistically and emotionally.
We heard for a decade that digital photography was going to kill film, that Kodak was not prepared. But it never seemed to happen. Then, seemingly overnight, everyone had a digital camera and Kodak filed for bankruptcy. Just because the future isn’t here yet doesn’t mean it’s not coming. And what’s most fascinating is how the whole paradigm shifts. Photographs used to be for professionals and hobbyists. With the former earning a good living and the latter shooting little, because of the cost, and displaying few. Now pros and hobbyists have merged, the old pros don’t stop bitching, and people shoot thousands of photos a year, posting them online, e-mailing them to friends. Only the most spectacular professional photographers earn a handsome living today. It’s just like music. Now it’s easy to make, but only the supremely talented get rich while everybody else bitches the paradigm shift has killed them.
But the paradigm shift comes anyway.
MTV’s ratings dropped 32% in the four weeks ending October 21st.
Now they’re never going to show videos during prime time on MTV ever again. Videos are on demand items, for the Web. But MTV got so far from its mission statement, clouded its identity to such a point, that now it’s just another TV outlet. Competing for viewers. Hell, it’s not even the young person’s clubhouse, that’s the Web. Or the smart phone. MTV removed “Music” from its name and didn’t even celebrate its thirtieth anniversary. By chasing dollars today, it cratered tomorrow. It ran from music to the point even the VMA ratings tanked. And MTV never had a good Web strategy. And finally, just like with digital photography, youngsters are finally spending hours online, with Web video, as opposed to traditional TV. MTV is in trouble. It may never recover.
Once upon a time you went to the movies because they were good, they drove the culture. Then you went for commonality, so you could have something to talk about at parties. Then you realized they all sucked and stopped going and everybody said the problem was you, look at the grosses…
Finally the newspaper is reporting what we all know. The movies are toast. Made for adolescents or foreign markets, they don’t speak to us, they don’t drive the culture, if you want story, watch TV.
Furthermore, movie studios aren’t what they used to be. They’re part of giant conglomerates, barely moving the needle of profits and losses. Sure, everybody knows what was number one at the box office, but very few know who runs these studios. And few care.
In order to survive, movies have to shoot lower financially, but straight at the hearts of the audience. Studios have to retool. Instead, they’re probably gonna chase the instant success dream just like MTV and descend into obsolescence.
It’s kind of like that old Leonard Cohen song, “Everybody Knows.” Everybody knew that the movies were toast before they finally cratered financially and the “New York Times” wrote this story.
Everybody knows if you chase trends, your musical career is over.
You’ve got to stay the course, you’ve got to stand for something, or else you stand for nothing. That’s what killed MTV and the movies, they’re meaningless, just profit centers without a cultural mission statement.
Things change. Technology accelerates the pace.
You can’t hold back the future.
Instead, you must keep your eyes open and adjust.
And this might mean you lose in the short run.
But you’re playing for the long haul, right?