Last week Andrew O’Hehir over at Salon incited plenty of discussion and rebuttals across the blogosphere with his editorial entitled, “Is Movie Culture Dead?” He suggested that film had fallen out of vogue with critics and academics in terms of providing meaningful material for cultural debate, and while I’m not overly interested in that part of his argument, I’m a little more intrigued by the other insinuation he makes. He believes that it has been replaced by TV instead. This is something I had been thinking about for a while now, and indeed so have many others, including James Wolcott over at Vanity Fair who wrote a piece in July entitled “Primetime’s Graduation”. But are today’s television shows actually superior to film or is it all just smoke and mirrors?
It’s definitely true that networks like HBO, Showtime and AMC have elevated television to an art form that at times rivals the best that cinema has to offer. And some days it seems like more people are talking about latest episode of The Walking Dead than whatever hit theatres that weekend. However, whenever someone points out how many bad movies there are in theatres, they usually fail to mention all the terrible stuff that is also on network TV. Cable TV may be more cost effective and reliable than your average mainstream movie, but I still think a lot of the best TV shows largely consist of soap opera-esque filler. What do you think? Do you prefer to stay home and watch TV rather than going out to the theatre? Is it better to have an entire season to invest in characters, or is there something special about keeping things contained to a two-hour run-time? Is TV actually better than film? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.