One of the rare useful classes in film school was “Culture and the Moving Image” where we talked about this very idea. Less films are being produced by the major studio system than ever. Hollywood used to make tons of movies, (most terrible, but some truly great). Now they put all their money into something that the maximum amount of people will deem satisfactory. It’s too risky to do anything that isn’t a sequeal to a successful film, a remake of a successful film, or an adaptation of a successful book. They need a built-in audience. While blockbusters are a nice way of seeing the latest advances in Computer Graphics, the plot will never be anything more than just adequate.
TV is in a golden age; something that would have been presumptuous to say five years ago, but now it’s just fact.
Take this scene from the latest season of Mad Men where Betty jokes about raping a 15 year old girl. WTF?! As shocking as it is, it’s also steeped in subtext. The viewer ponders about its meaning long after the show is over.
This post-pondering is becoming extremely rare in our current homogenized Fast and the Furian landscape. It’s just too risky.