Cultural observations

I’m invading the Domain of Culture.

People close to the movie industry sometimes complain the lack of original plots together with the dominance of comic adaptations (hey there, Marvel!), sequels (who said “Fast and Furious”?), and other secondary content. Book adaptations occur in this list, too, but I prefer to consider them a different case since books are, in general, original content (I said “in general”, there are some counterexamples). While this is not bad as such, this has the obvious drawback that plots become unimportant and predictable. The extreme case are horror movies, there, you just have the same scary flick with adrenaline and naked bodies. Unimportant and predictable plots are, in my opinion, a bad thing since I have a preconception that I should get out from a movie with a feeling that I have seen something interesting. Something interesting means interesting characters, however, a predictable character is not really interesting.

It is, however, an understandable tendency. From the perspective of big studios, a movie is good if it earns money, and money is easily earned with another sequel of some well-known franchise. Sometimes, it even has an interesting plot, but this does not have to be the general case. Sometimes, it works out if Disney/Pixar is bringing out another tale, but, other than that, the conservative policy seems to work well. From the perspective of the customer, it is safe to go to a movie with known qualities, especially if you liked the last installments in the same cinematic universe and would like to see the same, but in a different colour.

This has happened in human history at least once, a couple of hundred years ago. Before the Enlightenment, the art market was completely dominated by the church and the upper class. So, what we see in the art of thhe early Middle Ages, is the Bible, in different settings, but still, the Bible. A fixed number of themes, with little variation. However, at some point, art moved to different topics. Why?

I’d argue it has to do something with the new citizen class that could afford some bread and butter and there still was something left for entertainment. And since they were not church, they probably wanted to see on the paintings in their homes something that was closer and more concrete, like a scene from their (or possibly their) lives. Which, in turn, was a perfect incentive for artists to draw for profit in industrial capacities. The Netherlands were particularly famous for industrializing art.

This is probably the key to my question. Whenever a new class, with its own cultural context, and some ability to pay, appears on stage, art will react and generate something that appeals to the new audience. So, probably, the Chinese will somehow stir up the movie market. Or the Russians. Or LatAm. Someone will, eventually.

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