Thursday, February 22, 2007

Angry at Newsweek

Reading a magazine, especially one that has the word News in the title shouldn't make you angry. The current issue of Newsweek did, though. Not because of any horrid event happening in the world, of which there are many. No, this article was written by some hack named Devin Gordon and it was about the difference between tv and movies. It sounds like a pretty basic thesis and it should have been fairly interesting. What it ended up being was a piece of trash that served only to inform us that the author loves tv. Well, thanks for that, ass.

I started reading it last night and promptly threw the magazine against the wall. Why? Well, it seems that the only people looking forward to Spider-Man 3 and Pirates 3 are 12 year olds. That's a pretty broad and inaccurate statement. There's a reason why the previous movies in each series did so well. People liked them and they were good movies. Movies aren't just there to put out sappy, self-indulgent dramas bucking for Academy noms. They're there to entertain and taste is quite subjective, so deal with it. You may not like the content of the films, but each of those movies represents the best of what movies can achieve in creating a fantasy world for us to get lost in.

Then there's a statement about how Ghost Rider must be trash because no critics were given advance screenings. Sure, lots of bad movies do that, but sometimes a movie just doesn't want to bow to people who aren't going to like it just because it doesn't meet their standards of what they think a film should be. If you need someone to tell you what you should like in a movie before you see it, well, you probably shouldn't be going to see movies at all. You know what? It was an awesome movie, and not just because I liked Ghost Rider. It's because it was fun.

When I picked up the magazine again, I was reading how more film folk are going to tv, like tv was ever the red-headed stepchild. It's a steady paycheck and there's lots of talent involved in each series. The only difference in choosing between whether your work should be a movie or a tv show is the length of the story. Movies have a limited amount of time to tell their tale. It's the nature of the beast. Sure, we could make 8 hour epics but nobody would sit through them in one showing and banking on the marketability of a trilogy to tell one tale might not let you tell the rest. TV is better suited for longer tales and development. It's like the difference between a comic book and a novel, for lack of a better comparison. Novels don't have a set page length but you can only fit so many pages in a book and people probably aren't going to read them all. You can write sequels, but most of the time it's a stand alone story. Comics let you have a continuing arc and character development that spans over issues, if not years. If you have an epic scale story in mind, the serial format will be better. It's the same with movies and tv.

The author doesn't seem to get that point, instead trying to compare the Departed and the Sopranos. Both are pretty well done crime dramas; one, however, had more of a story to tell and needed the extra development. They set out to do different things.

The idea that the cost of making each is vastly different isn't as relevant either. There may be more revenue returned from advertising for tv, but the initial costs aren't that much different. The way they're filming tv these days means the budgets have skyrocketed, and over several episodes, you're going to end up with the cost of the film. Sure, you're getting more, but with cast and crew factored in, you're paying for the same big names that you were before and it's all averaging out in the end.

Briefly: TV and movies are two different animals that do similar things in different ways. And Newsweek sucks.

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