Vikram Tatineni

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Is commercializing cinema good?

Some of us believe that the whole basis of life is to seek and share knowledge. What is knowledge after all? It is what we see, hear, feel and propagate. Doesn't cinema in a broader sense follow the above ways to put across a point? If you think it does, then should filmmakers be making the kind the cinema they are?

Should cinema be contained to being a source of fast and easy entertainment? Don't drugs and brothels serve the same purpose?

Should filmmakers start acting more responsibly? What are your thoughts?

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    Jan 19 2012: Commercializing cinema, is good, if you have a good culture. One of the things many people forget about capitalism, is that it relys entirely on the competence of it's consumers...

    So, I would argue that commercializing cinema, would be good, if it meant that to this day "The Seven Samurai", "Ikiru", and "Record of a Living Being", were the three highest grossing films of all time... and capitalism, suggests, that the three most artful, and progressive films of its time, would make the most money... So, what are we doing wrong, as free capitalist consumers? Are we refusing to pay for artful and intelligent films? Is that our fault, or capitalisms? I tend to blame us.

    I chose three Japanese films that I happen to adore, to make my point... but, to be fair, Kurosawa, is regarded as the primary influence on all modern film makers that have had success... Kubrick, Lucas, Spielberg, and Coppolla, all loved Kurosawa films, despite their mediocre commercial success...

    Thus, the man who influenced all great film makers of the last 30 or 40 years, has, through capitalism, been reduced to an average box office director... Is that the fault of culture? Of parents not teaching their children what great film is? Or, is it the fault of capitalism?

    Adam Smith, the founder of capitalism, would say, that it is our fault. He would say that we are all crappy consumers. Most neo-cons, who call themselves capitalists, would try to argue that the series about the girl who fell in love with a werewolf and a vampire at the same time, was more relevant to modern culture, and it deserved more money than Kurosawa films. This is where I disagree with them.

    We need to make a market for classic cinema. We need to encourage our children to watch Kurosawa and Hitchcock films... Or else, we have failed them. We have failed to give them a knowledgable perspective, and prove that it is more desirable than "Twilight"... We're shitty parents, and that's our fault, not commercialism.
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    Jan 18 2012: Basically it comes to the argument whether for-profit professions (i.e commercialization) guarantee quality of any product and professional satisfaction of the person involved. That can be extrapolated to many different profession - from performing arts ("artists") to practice of science ("scientists").
    Some time ago I wrote an article- "How important money is to decide which profession to join?" http://jaychatterjee.blogspot.com/2009/09/how-important-money-is-to-decide-which.html . I mainly wrote that for education and research in India. But it is equally applicable to any other creative profession- where individual talent/creativity is more important, as in film making.
    There I argued that higher remuneration improves performance only for mechanical or routine jobs while reduce performance when, even, rudimentary cognitive skill is needed. It suggest, "just offer a minimum but enough salary and then take money out of the equation to improve both motivation and performance". There is an excellent youtube presentation from Khan Academy.
    In case of movies, I like to say that technology is not movie per se. Huge investment and use of "great" technology does not necessarily make great movies. India and US are the two main movie making countries that have "hero" culture and huge industry, massive corporatization. But the average quality of movies (not technology or money involved to make the movie) are not that (proportionally) great as compared to less known film industries from countries like Cuba, Iran, Japan, UK, France etc.
    On top f that, propaganda can boost sales and bring awards to films, but can never make a great movie. there are so many examples-e.g. "Slum Dog Millionaire". It won several Oscars but very average movie, even in Bollywood standard. Danny Boyle hardly know Indian society, his portraying of that excellent novel (Q & A) by Vikas Swarup (one of my favorite novels) is simply pathetic, so as the music and script.
  • Jan 17 2012: I had a similar topic to this a while ago, but directed at the entertainment industry as a whole.
    The general consensus concluded that the industry is entirely for-profit and what it makes is solely determined by what people will most likely watch (thus more income and placing any issues of quality squarely at general society).
    How accurate the second part of that is I'm not sure, but I assume that you will get a somewhat similar response here.
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      Jan 17 2012: Hi Xavier, do you think the entertainment industry and media should be accountable to a government body? My point is that a present day Hitchcock does exist but only is harder to find as he is lost in the midst of this ever commercializing industry.
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        Jan 19 2012: Vikram - there are more filmmakers, musicians, and other artists now than ever because:

        1) Commercialziation has brought more attention to newer forms of art and has driven technology to become more affordable which has inspired more artists
        2) People have created their own incomes (either through independent revenue streams or from working with distributors)

        I don't think any industry should be regulated by the government because there's danger in state run media but there are certainly laws throughout the industry already in place that proect works. Furthermore, there are public grants available in many countries for aspiring artists to receive direct support from the government in arts initiatives.
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          Jan 20 2012: Hi Simon,
          Sure commercialization has done a lot of good to the arts economically. But the darker side of it has given us an unbearable loads of mediocrity.
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        Jan 20 2012: There's always been great as well as poor forms of art, that's the nature of things, regardless of commercialization. The only difference is that the money has aided in distribution of some of it. However, the same can be said of the good too. If it wasn't globalization and the funding that the film industry has provided, we wouldn't know about the great works around the world. Directors like War Kar Wai and John Woo would have never had the chance to do a major Hollywood film.
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      Jan 19 2012: Hi,

      Coming from the point of view of someone who has been working in the entertainment industry for almost 20 years, I can say that many artists aren't driven by the idea of what is most profitable vs. what is done for the sake of art itself. There's nothing wrong with getting paid for one's art; in fact, having a living allows said artist/creator to be able to do more creating. It's usually the large studios/production companies/record labels that like to support more projected profitable films but that doesn't mean that there isn't a huge undercurrent of independent filmmakers/musicians/entertainers or that being supported from a major label/production company compromises an artist's integrity.
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    Jan 18 2012: Hey man, you got a cell phone, you got a laptop, you are now a filmmaker! Make your own movies, overthrow the hierarchy of media, it's a laterally connected world, we teach each other, starting here on TED.