Media

The Cat Video And The Essence Of Art

Cat Video And The Essence Of Art

“Cats have purposiveness without a knowable purpose (Immanuel Kant’s much-cited criterion for true art). Cats are mysteries; their agendas, beyond food and sleep and sunlight, may constitute a kind of knowledge endlessly deferred. (They are born aesthetes, but also born deconstructionists.)”

Why The BBC Needs To Be Saved

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“When the media, communications and information industries make up nearly 8% our GDP, larger than the car and oil and gas industries put together, we need to be heard, as those industries are heard. But when I see the panel of experts who’ve been asked by the culture secretary to take a root and branch look at the BBC, I don’t see anyone who is a part of that cast and crew list. I see executives, media owners, industry gurus, all talented people – but not a single person who’s made a classic and enduring television show.”

Is A Career Making Independent Feature Films Even Possible Anymore, Even For Well-Known Directors?

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“It’s not just that the likes of Spike Lee and Hal Hartley have had to go to Kickstarter to fund their projects: Frederick Wiseman and Abel Ferrara have seen their recent crowdfunding campaigns fail. “Having lived and worked in an era with fewer players and a lot more money, many of these artists are now faced with shrinking budgets and crowded release windows … If they want to continue making features, it seems they’ll have to get used to it. Which begs the question, is it still worth it?”

Why Cinema Came of Age In 1915

Why Cinema Came of Age In 1915

“In the first of a new series on early cinema, we celebrate the landmark year … when the industry as we know it was born. Plus, five films from 1915 to watch (which aren’t Birth of a Nation).” (includes video clips, of course)

Netflix Goes Off-Device And Into The Venice Film Festival

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“Netflix’s move into the film — and film festival — business has proved controversial. At Cannes in May, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos was lambasted by French reporters. One accused him and his company of destroying Europe’s ‘film ecosystem’ by drawing audiences away from theaters.”

Television Isn’t Actually That Diverse Right Now

Morris Chestnut and Jaina Lee Ortiz in Fox's Rosewood, coming this fall.

“Diversity isn’t one thing; it’s a lot of things. It’s in front of the camera and behind it, in writers’ rooms and executive offices. It’s not exclusively about race and gender and sexuality, but about other things as well. It’s about the bland and unremarked-upon affluence of almost all television families, and the fact that TV doesn’t incorporate very many people who go to church, and all the other ways that it historically looks at the population through a keyhole. And it’s about what stories you tell.”

There’s Just So Much TV To Watch (Is It OK To Skip Some?)

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“Binge-watching isn’t just the new sex — it’s the new workout, the new book club, the new cocktail hour. Where once most new shows premiered in the fall, now they drop all the time, some in complete seasons. Announcements of new programming from clever upstarts Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Acorn feel like pop-culture air-raid sirens: ‘Citizens, seek shelter: ‘The Man in the High Castle’ is descending.’ Of course, we want to see it, but, oh, my God, who has the time?”

Gaming While Gay

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“The characters matter. As we become the story’s protagonist, the companions represent the other players. In a way, they bring a sense of humanity into the plot. Their personalities may attract or repel us, their motivations may or may not align with our own. They become our point of reference, our guides, our rivals or friends. They give us decisions to make and show us the consequences. Sometimes, through them we see our community. Sometimes, they are extensions of ourselves.”

The New TV Golden Age Is Letting Stars Break Out Of Their Typecasting Boxes

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“Midcareer actors took note of Bryan Cranston’s transition from the goofy sitcom dad on Malcolm in the Middle to the megalomaniac drug lord in Breaking Bad (and the four Emmys it earned him).” Now, for instance, Katie “Dawson’s Creek” Holmes is playing a scheming sports agent, controversial comic Sarah Silverman a sad and struggling 1950s lesbian, Patrick “Capt. Picard” Stewart a skirt-chasing, coke-snorting TV pundit.

How The Buckley-Vidal Debate Changed The Media (And Maybe Paved The Way For Fox News)

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“Where a debate between two urbane intellectuals ought to have ushered in a golden age of elevated, rational discussion, it instead – due to the personal enmity to which the combatants gave voice – sparked the worst aspects of modern media, a debased version of political talk, the gladiatorial mudslinging that prevails in broadcasting today.”

Sesame Street And A Business Model That No Longer Works

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“Sesame’s migration to cable begs to be understood as a failure in public funding, and it is in part. In a kinder society, PBS would have more funding, and it could rush in to support a struggling flagship. But what changed Sesame Workshop’s financial situation wasn’t a PBS funding cut but the media environment itself. The same economics that have hurt musicians—the transition from physical ownership to digital ownership to streaming—are what threatened Sesame Workshop’s budget and sent it running to HBO. In a world with less media ownership, even widely beloved, publicly funded media need a premium patron.”

The Swiss Movie Fest That Gives Life To Indie Chinese Filmmakers

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“Locarno has emerged as one of the most important Western festivals to support Asian film, particularly works without big box-office prospects. For mainland Chinese filmmakers, that kind of affirmation from foreign industry insiders has become more crucial in recent years, as various levels of government under President Xi Jinping carry out the broadest crackdown on free expression since 1989.”

“Sesame Street” Move Makes Some Wonder About Future Of PBS

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“For Sesame Street in particular, the shift toward streaming has meant a sharp decline in DVD sales, one of the key sources of revenue for the program (which only got about 10% of its funding from PBS). In 2014, Sesame Workshop lost $11 million, and its operating revenues were down by close to 14%. That trend meant it essentially had no choice but to do the deal with HBO.”

What HBO Acquiring “Sesame Street” Means For The Future Of TV

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 27:  Sesame Street Muppets 'Grover' and 'Elmo' attends the Sesame Workshop's 13th Annual Benefit Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on May 27, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)

“Sesame Street will still air on PBS—after a nine-month delay—so it’s not as if the program is vanishing entirely behind a paywall. But today’s announcement is a harbinger. The streaming model won’t just be for re-runs and specialized content. It’s coming for all of us.”

Research: Children’s Educational TV Doesn’t Reduce Prejudice

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“Despite our vigorous attempts to unearth associations between children’s racial attitudes and their exposure to these types of programs, there were no significant direct effects of exposure to intergroup friendship shows such as Sesame Street, and minority hero shows such as Dora the Explorer,” the researchers write in the journal American Behavioral Scientist.

The Worst Best Picture Decade: How ‘Crash’ Capped Off The Strange Crossover Years When The Academy Lost Its Collective Mind

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Scott Timberg: “The Oscars have never had a perfect batting average, but go back 20 years to the 1995 Oscars and work your way up through 2005 – the era in which the independent film movement crossed over into the mainstream – and time and again, the Academy it failed to acknowledge the best films and tended to fall for faux-profound piety. (Okay, it’s not the only time it’s done that.)”

Why Old-Media Companies Are Buying New-Media Sites

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2014 file photo, Comcast Corporation chairman & CEO Brian Roberts speaks at a Comcast presentation at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. After regulators from the FCC and Justice Department signaled that they wouldn’t approve the deal, Comcast in April 2015 said goodbye to Time Warner Cable.  (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

“What these new-media entities need most is money (and perhaps a bit of old-media prestige). Comcast has plenty of that, thanks to its cable TV, ISP, and movie businesses. Getting that cash also gives Vox and Buzzfeed a broader reach—and it allows them to brag about being “unicorns” for passing the $1 billion mark. So what does Comcast/NBCUniversal get out of these kinds of deals? For the most part, it means they get a hedge against the future.”