Badass Digest‘s Devin Faraci has posted a lively, defiant and probably necessary response to Andrew O’Hehir‘s 9.28 Salon piece titled “Is Movie Culture Dead?” and subtitled “The era when movies ruled the culture is long over. Film culture is dead, and TV is to blame.”
“I think what’s bugging O’Hehir is that the ‘chattering class’ isn’t made up of the same people as in 1977 ],” Faraci writes at midpoint. “I get the mourning for a lost niche, for a specialization democratized out of existence. It’s happening with geek culture right this very minute. All of a sudden liking the third highest-grossing movie of all time makes you ‘a geek.’ That sucks. It sucks seeing the doorman overwhelmed and losing your special place in the world.
“What O’Hehir is missing on a larger scale, though, is that the era of big, centralized culture is over. The culture is fragmented in a zillion pieces, and there’s nobody leading the way anymore. There’s very little that unites us around the water cooler. Even the biggest TV hits bring in a fraction of the ratings of old shows. The same goes for movies.
“I’m not sure that there ever will be another driving cultural force the way that movies were in the 1970s. So yes, I’ll give O’Hehir the point that film was more culturally central in the 70s than it is now. Yes, to be intellectually hip you had to see the smart movies, the foreign movies, the interesting movies. But unless you long for a culture of poseurs, who cares? And beyond that, there is no cultural center anymore.
“The fracturing of the culture comes as a result of the digital revolution; now we’re living a la carte entertainment lifestyles.
“I complain about the internet a lot, and I’m not the biggest proponent of virtual democratization, but I like the way the web has taken the conversation out of the hands of the elite and let everybody have a say. Not everybody’s say is worth listening to, but just because someone was at the right cocktail parties in Manhattan also doesn’t make their say worth hearing. I think that maybe O’Hehir should try listening to those outside of the New York Film Festival crowd, though, before writing them off as ‘fanboys.’
Another worthwhile Faraci observation: “Frankly, any year that has Holy Motors and Cloud Atlas in it is the wrong year to call time of death on film culture. I know we’re going to see thrilling discussion coming from those films. I can’t even find a mention of The Master in [O’Hehir’s] piece.”
Wells to Faraci: I don’t want to hear any bitching about how I’ve excerpted too much of your piece. I’ve posted maybe 25% of what you wrote, if that.