March 10, 2016

I WOULD, IF THERE WERE SUFFICIENT NUMBERS OF DECENT NEW MOVIES TO WATCH: Would You Spend $50 to Watch New Movies at Home Instead of the Theater? A new startup company wants to give you the chance.

On the one hand, I like seeing a movie with an audience that’s in-tune with its atmosphere and pacing. Star Wars: The Force Awakens wouldn’t have been anywhere near as much fun without the audience cheering as each old friend first emerged on the screen. But watching a new movie at home would eliminate the downside of the movie experience these days, such as glowing – and ringing! — cell phones, and the growing number of emotional support service animals joining their owners inside the movie theater.

But is Hollywood really interested in the people in the theater anymore?

Every few decades, one medium or another decides that the audience is no longer required. After World War I, the art word tossed realism aside and lost the layman who wasn’t willing to learn the modernist codes behind what Tom Wolfe dubbed “The Painted Word.” After World War II, jazz went from swing bands playing relatively simple melodies for packed crowds across the country, to the complex harmonies and improvisations of bebop, and became an insular style for the cognoscenti – to the point where having a popular record is considered “selling out.” In journalism, once Obama was inaugurated, the news media decided it was basically “closed circuit TV for the ruling class,”  as I wrote in October of 2010.

And now that Hollywood has gone full SJW, I’m pretty sure the audience is similarly optional. It certainly was based on the anemic ratings of the last Academy Awards presentation.