My comment on W(a/o)ndering Filmmaking’s blog post about digital projection as a harbinger of the death of cinema—that presentation dictates form—prompted the blogger to ponder whether the abundance of content in this new Digital Age will ultimately lead to an overall devaluation of content. My two cents:
Yes, there is more media competing for our attention now than ever. Digital distribution platforms—for movies/TV, books, music, video games—have certainly democratized the process, and that’s something to celebrate, but they have also opened the floodgates: There’s seemingly infinite content from which to choose! Now—does abundance of material devalue content in general? As a consumer, it certainly makes quality content that much harder to find; as a screenwriter and author, I can tell you that it’s also harder than ever to find an audience and make a living as an artist (no less than the legendary Sammy Hagar, in discussing his endangered supergroup Chickenfoot, recently addressed the sorry state of the record business). But, as you noted, it’s all in flux right now—no one’s definitively figured out how to effectively monetize the emerging paradigm just yet—so we’ll have to wait and see. If artists can’t make a living, though, they’ll stop producing art, and that will force some manner of cosmic self-correction, as there will always be an appetite for good content (life simply isn’t worth living without art).
As for how said content reaches a broader audience, I have to trust that social media will play a part in getting the word out—even over the ample noise it generates—in the uncertain years ahead. Again, the universe seems to have a built-in self-corrective mechanism: If the Internet opens the door for slathers of new content, it will also play a part in seeing the cream rise to the top. To be sure, that will require artists to become savvy marketers of their own work/brand, which renders the process rather Darwinian, doesn’t it? Darwinism ensures that the strongest and savviest endure (filmmakers like young George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino were as shrewd as they were talented), and there should actually be something reassuring about that principle as it applies to new modes of creative expression in an overcrowded media landscape. Visual storytelling is not only here to stay, it will find a way to prosper. Stay tuned.