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July 1996, Week 4


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"Randy A. Riddle" <[log in to unmask]>
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Sat, 27 Jul 1996 08:48:00 +0000
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This whole thread has brought up a few thoughts on my own personal
theory about escalation/hyper-reality in film and television over the
past few years.
Consider what it was like for the typical American consumer of media
around 1950.  Single screen theaters were the norm.  There were few
choices in television or radio -- they were truely "mass" media,
and had to appeal to a broad audience.
That all changed throughout the late 70's and early 80's.  With
multi-screen theater complexes, cable television offering dozens of
channels, and now the Internet, entertainment has become a business
of target marketing.  A film such as "True Lies", although perceived
as a "mass market" film, is really targeted to a particular
socio-economic group of entertainment consumers.
If you have one movie theater in town playing "Pulp Fiction", with few
other choices for entertainment, a broader range of people are going
to check out the film simply for the entertainment value and some of
those people are going to be offended by what they see.
However, marketing the film to a particular audience with certian
values and taste makes it easier for Hollywood films, at least, to be
more violent, more offensive, and more of everything.  It also
works to differentiate the film from other forms of entertainment
(like cable television) that can't offer it's level of violence,
"hyper realism", "unreality", what have you.  Of course, when that
film is ciruclated to video and television, something even "bigger"
and "more" has to come along in the theatre to distract audiences
once again -- thus the escalation process.
People who would have enjoyed a "Pulp Fiction" or "Natural Born
Killers" have always been around.  The internationl conglomerates
that have brought you *gasp* choice in entertainment have made it
possible for these films to be made and find an audience -- to be
economically feasible in a larger marketplace.
So, it really makes me wonder how far the entertainment industry will
go and if this is a good thing for society.  Hollywood seems to be
giving the child all the candy it wants and it will probably wind up
with a tummy ache.
Randy A. Riddle, Winston-Salem, NC
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