By: Sean Mc., Teen Blogger
TV has been a medium that has fascinated the nation since the 50’s when people really started to make their way out to the suburbs and start new lives there. With the advent of this new technology, people in the storytelling business found a whole new way to get their products to the public at large, and began filling every American home with shows of all kinds, although the number of channels has seen a decent increase since then, as well as the kinds of shows and the subjects they cover.
One of the big issues in television has been that more and more people want to stay home and watch things there, rather than go to the movies, where they have to pay to go see something once and sit in (formerly) not-too-comfortable chairs. Especially with channels like HBO and Starz, people are becoming more and more likely to stay home, and wait until a movie comes out on a channel like this or on Netflix, where they can then watch it at their own leisure, and for a much better price (especially in regards to the food served).
The question has risen in some circles of whether movies are a thing of the past, and whether TV will replace them, or even become the only place that they are shown, because companies could make more off advertisements rather than huge productions and marketing campaigns to get people to go out to the theatres. In response, this has led to campaigns to get people to go to the movies and support the production companies, even having a little video by one of the actors in the film you are about to see thank you for going to the movies. These campaigns, as well as a rise in popularity of the dine-in theatre and the new design for chairs, have helped to increase attendance, especially for movies with less of a fan following.
Movies overall do not seem to be suffering, save for those that absolutely bomb on the openings (Batman v. Superman, I am looking at you), yet people still think that TV is the new way to go. Nobody has to have a campaign to make people watch more TV, and it is much more accessible to the general public.
However, there is a very important comparison to make, one that can be looked at through something which also began to gain a lot of popularity a bit before TV was invented. Comics were something that had rarely been seen before the 1930’s in America, although serial stories were not unheard of (see: Great Expectations). These short and colorful tales were enough to capture the reader’s attention, especially in the younger generations, who leaned towards comics instead of full length novels.
TV is much like this in the sense that they are short issues that come out every week or so and give the reader a short amount of time to travel to another place, without losing those with shorter attention spans. In fact, many of the TV shows that fared best were those that, like comics, could still create a following, but required less time to make than a full movie, and could be marketed to the public as a simpler alternative to movies.
Classic shows like The Simpsons, Star Trek, and Batman, featured a bright and colorful show but still tackled themes in society and politics that movies simply did not have the reaction time to deal with. This allowed TV to be a more versatile medium, still moving, but more available, and very different from movies. Movies still excel in areas like moving people and telling beautiful stories, allowing them to be a much better place to demonstrate the new technical capabilities of film-making, rather than on the TV or even phone screen.
Movies even tried to copy TV in creating series, some more successful (such as the widely followed Marvel movies), some were less successful (such as Jaws, which, on its own was a masterpiece, yet by the third movie, the audience lost interest). It was here that the movie industry found its weakness. It had great stories to tell, but when those stories went well once, the tendency to tell the same thing over and over created an air of repetitiveness that has led to a general distrust of sequels to critically acclaimed movies, in fear that they might ruin the experience that was gained from the original.
Books and comics are two very different mediums that both captured the attention of the nation, over and over. As time has gone on, they have changed forms, from long novels to short online stories written by fans, and from comic strips in the newspaper to web comics followed more for the author than the story, yet neither has faded. Neither has taken a hold of the culture completely, although they have fought for it constantly. TV and movies are much the same. They will fight for the spotlight until we can stream both directly to our brains, and even then will never relent in their struggle to be the best.
The one issue with this is that neither truly can be “better” than the other. For every James Bond film, there will be another season of Law and Order. For every Star Trek movie, there will be another season of The Simpsons. The two are so fundamentally different, it is almost impossible to truly compare the two under the same light. Some studios, like Marvel and DC, have even accepted this, and have worked on creating a world in both, doing shorter stories in TV more like individual issues, yet also doing larger projects in the movies, more like novels. This has helped both companies greatly (save for the latest attempt at movies from DC’s end) yet both have realized how different the mediums are. This is a realization that seems like more common sense than anything, but it really truly is something new to many people.
TV and movies cannot replace one another, and other mediums are coming into view as well, such as in video games, which have a long way to go until they are critically recognized at the same level as TV and movies, but it shows that consumers are more than willing to accept these stories in more than one way, and that is something that will never change. They may fight, but in the meantime, we can still go out to midnight premiers of our favorite movies, and then relax at home and binge-watch a whole season of our favorite show, and in the end, both can be just as amazing.