Crisis of creativity in the cinema: blame for streaming?

“The movies of now are not like the ones they used to be.” Many times we hear this phrase and, although it may seem like a kind of claim on the part of our elders, it is a statement that is not entirely wrong.

Of course today’s movies are different and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What yes, this motivates us to adopt a more demanding attitude regarding the content that is produced at this time, and that is where criticism can arise.

A brief review of the films that are going to be released this year is enough, how many of them can be considered an original, fresh or novel proposal?

By 2021, the large number of productions that are part of a saga or constitute a new version of a film already released is striking.

Thus, this year we will see – if the pandemic allows it – the return of Petter Rabitt, The Boss Baby, Mortal Kombat, A Quiet Place, No Time to Die (James Bond), Fast and Furious (part nine), Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Minions, Top Gun, Space Jam… and we are just in July on the release schedule.

It is very likely that these films will end up becoming the highest grossing films of 2021 and that will motivate directors and screenwriters to opt for these low-risk bets in the coming years.

Nomadland, for example, it is a beautiful film, but it is not for mass consumption. Even so, there are people who took a risk and allowed that title to exist at a time full of superhero movies, plots for teenagers and productions that speak – once again – about the end of the world.

What of Nomadland today it is an exception and there are authorized voices that warn about this crisis of originality in today’s cinema.

Frances McDormand in Nomadland.

Cinema in the age of streaming

In an extensive essay on Federico Fellini in Harper’s Magazine, Martin Scorsese returned to criticize the current film industry.

For the renowned director, the problem starts with the adoption of certain terms such as “content”, “users” and “consumption”, typical of this time and that would operate in favor of a business logic.

“Now ‘content’ has become a commercial term that includes all moving images: a David Lean movie, a cat video, a Super Bowl ad, a superhero sequel, an episode of a series” Scorsese notes.

It should be remembered that the American has always been critical of Marvel productions by stating that they are not movies, but rather “amusement parks.”

He has also been pessimistic towards the platforms of streaming, in particular due to the use of algorithms.

Regarding this point, he writes in his essay: “If the algorithms ‘suggest’ more visualization based on what you have already seen, and the suggestions are based only on theme or genre, what effect does that have on the art of the movie theater”.

Thus, as these companies operate under a commercial logic, they will always end up delving into those contents that generate more profits, betting on the same style of productions and leaving less and less space for the most original proposals or those that escape the norm.

In this the consumer (formerly the spectator) plays a key role. For this reason, only the adoption of a more critical and demanding attitude regarding what you see could change part of the proposal offered by the platforms and thus, who knows, perhaps at some point this could mark the return of art and creativity to the movie theater.

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