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October 31, 2005



Hmm if we were to move away from a world of broadcasting as the main method of delivery, the most notable change, IMHO, would be length of the shows. 'Seasons' of TV shows are fitted around broadcasting schedules, whilst if you are selling it direct to customers, this restriction is removed. They'll prolly become more like eposodic movies, or direct to video movie series.


"but the stodgy and heavily subsidised public broadcasters of Europe,"
Hmm I believe the European movie industries also recieve a level of subsidies, so without a change in the overall philosophy of subsidising cultural works, the subsidies will just shift from the broadcast industries.

Abiola Lapite

"Hmm I believe the European movie industries also recieve a level of subsidies"

Yes, and look how many Europeans voluntarily go to watch the damn things; if there weren't so many pretentious film-school types about, I doubt most of Europe's subsidized fare would have any audience whatsoever ...

One has only to compare the virtually nonexistent presence of French cinema and TV in the English-speaking world ("Amelie" notwithstanding) with the longstanding success of Hong Kong's movie industry to see what a difference an atmosphere of free competition can make - no government underwrote the success of John Woo, Jackie Chan or Chow Yun-Fat, and Hong Kong's domestic market is tiny (the Chinese mainland is a free-piracy zone which doesn't count).


"virtually nonexistent presence of French cinema"

Arguably, most French product reaches the american public through remakes, sometimes comparable to the original: Three Men and a Baby, usually not as good: Point of No Return (Nikita), Sommersby (Le Retour de Martin Guerre) and sometimes disastrous : Pure Luck (La Chevre).

Abiola Lapite

Although that would suggest France isn't entirely devoid of creative talent on the conceptual/writing side, it hardly speaks well of native French production quality that Americans see the need to remake everything they do where they don't for other foreign content: "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" raked in $60 million [actually, make that $100 million] in the US box-office despite being subtitled, and Benigni's "Life is Beautiful" did nearly as well, while subtitled Hong Kong movies and Japanese anime do well routinely enough that it's no longer worth noting; one would think France with its much greater cultural similarity to the United States would be able to do at least as well as Hong Kong or Japan in the entertainment export business, but evidently state subsidies and quotas have so dulled the local talent's ability to create material audiences find universally appealing that the only way worthy ideas from France reach the outside world is through remakes.

The saddest thing about this whole mess is that France actually once used to be a contender in the global film business, second only to the United States, before politicians animated by statist paternalism and cultural xenophobia began handing out quotas and subsidies like so many sweets at a kid's party.


Actually, the American remake fetish extends to all foreign films, not just the French:

Abiola Lapite

I'm not saying other foreign films and TV shows never get remade - "Survivor" and "American Idol" are hardly original US inventions, after all - the point is that apart from "Amelie", there aren't *any* French films which have done well in America in recent years without being remade.

Let's get real here: why would anybody in his right mind wish to suffer through a typical item of French cinematic fare like the following?

At least with "dumb" Hollywood movies, Japanese anime, Bollywood song-and-dance numbers or Hong-Kong wuxia flicks there's always some discernable effort at an attempt to entertain. If I want to see dull, aimless people doing pointless and irrational things all I have to do is go outside and stand on any busy street.


"If I want to see dull, aimless people doing pointless and irrational things all I have to do is go outside and stand on any busy street."

That is a priceless account of French cinema!

I would also guess that the concept of making people pay for endless repeats will fall by the wayside as once a program is out on the file sharing networks, as a high quality recording, people are not likely to keep paying to watch what they can get for free.

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