Smart TV needs to Dumb Down

Posting in reaction to SOPA and PIPA, tech writer and dev Paul Graham calls for us to kill Hollywood and posit alternative modes of entertainment. Among the ideas he flings out there are games and interactive TV shows and things that “look a lot like shows but are more interactive”.

Paul, welcome to 1992.

Reading futurists getting linear media wrong has been a hobby of mine for a quarter of a decade…

Paul begins by saying that it shouldn’t take much to kill Hollywood, as it’s already dying.

“Hollywood appears to have peaked,” says Graham, “If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline.’

But Hollywood is not dying. It is merely adapting to becoming a category.

Calling for the development of “new forms” of entertainment won’t contain the stranglehold of Hollywood. New forms of entertainment eat into the pie… but the idea that everyone will gladly and gleefully switch to RPG style, immersive movie narratives is specious. It’s predicated on the logical fallacy that – if only they could – people would prefer to author their own content.

If people craved interaction so much, choose your own ending novels would have taken over in Dicken’s time. But they didn’t, because there’s still a market for linear, authored entertainment – and there always will be. As long as people want to be surprised and entertained or moved or manipulated – they will put their trust in the hidden and skilled hand of the director or author who can do it for them. Just as – now – there will always will be a market for games and interactive entertainment, and user generated content.

Different strokes, different folks.

Killing Hollywood is cutting off our noses with Freddy Krueger’s five bladed glove. What Hollywood truly needs to learn is how to do digital distribution. It’s not the content that’s outmoded – it’s Hollywood’s delivery systems. Don’t mix ’em up.

In the meantime, we have an uneasy truce. They keep making awesome content, we keep stealing it – until they find a better way to get it to us.

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