Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Dating Films

I've been watching a number of older films recently, and wonder if many of the great films of the past would be successful in modern times in the United States. I've often heard from people that the lowest common denominator in films (and perhaps other areas of culture) has steadily sunk - is this accurate? I've complained that modern video games have more presentation and less substance - if I could conclude that modern blockbuster films similarly have less substance and more style, that might be enough to make a conclusion -- the focus on the most popular films is important because artsy films always exist but don't measure the heartbeat of the public. Maybe even considering that it's a difficult analysis - if there are systematic differences in the relation of the moviegoing public to the public at large over the years (e.g. more kids see films now than then, access to films is available to a broader class range in modern times, etc), then understanding if films represent a change in American tastes in general from this becomes difficult. Especially if initially the film public was derived from people who saw theatre (which I assume, perhaps incorrectly, to have largely been an upper-middle class and up affair as it largely is today), it'd be easy to understand how films which would be artsy today were hits then... at the same time, my intuition is that with the volume of experimentation in films today, the possibility for new lows is greater - I hope that increased education will eventually provide a higher cultural level to the entire public to counteract that.

When I was younger, I sometimes imagined that sometime in the future there would be ways of looking back in time at every moment in history, to track everyone. I was amused to find later on that Arthur Clarke had written some scifi exploring that idea, although I was also a bit disappointed, as always, that my idea wasn't unique (in later years, the vanity of uniqueness has largely left me). As much as our current (and likely future) understanding of physics makes such things unlikely, some part of me still hangs onto it as an amusing fantasy, and another reminds me that while it's important to continue to push down pseudoscience, any absolute belief in anything about the nature of things, even things in alignment of present science, is a danger to any new enlightenment we hope to see.

I spent a good amount of time trying to debug an application at work today, eventually posting trimmed-down minimal failed testcases to an IRC area, before determining that the problem was a bug in the version of Perl/Tk I have installed. It's usually a mistake to blame one's programming environment - it makes it all the more irritating when it's actually at fault. Amusingly, the deployment environment lacks the bug, but it's severe enough that my laptop isn't usable to develop for it. Gotta love that...


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