New Media in the Movies

This week I finally started House of Cards, a whole year behind everyone else, but I’ll be caught up pretty soon if today was any indication of what the future holds for my Netflix Recently Watched category. The show is of course, amazing and addictive and every other two-dollar adjective you can throw at it but more so it represents a shift in the cultural dialogue surrounding our consumption of art and paves the way for the future of new media in a way as of yet unprecedented by any other art form.

Countless words have already been written on the subject of new media, so let’s skip ahead a little bit. House of Cards is not the first show to integrate texting and other forms of social media directly into its narrative, but it might be the most effective. Consider entire sequences consisting simply of reaction shots to unseen (to the actor) text messages that pop up in the corner of the screen. This is a whole new venue of acting, one that comes after motion capture performances and will likely continue on in a trend that will redefine Hollywood.

We now live in an era where real world technology is catching up to the imaginations of science fiction, but even that isn’t the point. Now, real world technology is accurately reflected in the movies just as the movies create technology to inform real world application. It is no longer a case of one inspiring the other, but a mutual information-collaboration between what is real and what is not. The advent of technologies like Google Glass further prove this point, we are increasingly hurtling toward a world where technology and fantasy are not mutually exclusive.

I think this is a good thing, although to be certain there are drawbacks, and I don’t think most of us are oblivious to what those are. Issues of privacy, of copyright, of identity are more important than ever and the abuse of privileges carries far more terrifying implications than it used to, but these are not apocalyptic warning signs, so long as we educate ourselves. I believe we need to establish more programs teaching social media and its implementation in every day usage. I think we need more people working in online security, more web developers, and so on. At the same time, let’s not neglect those of us who chose not to live in the ever-connected cyberspace, but that’s a different topic.

Which brings me back to the movies and media arts. What does it mean now, to watch a character in a TV show have a meaningful and dramatic conversation via text messages? This is something brand new. How do we respond to this?

Is it really so inappropriate now to be on your phone during a movie? How about at home watching TV? I don’t think it’s a matter of appropriateness anymore, I think it’s a matter of time management. The truth is, if you’re paying attention to your phone, you’re not paying attention to the movie. That’s okay, I probably stop listening every five minutes even though I’m still staring at the screen, maybe thinking about the dimples in the actor’s chin, more likely thinking about donuts. Wouldn’t I be more productive if I was ordering donuts instead?

I’m just pointing out, our way of using media is completely changing and is changing rapidly. Let’s look to the future.

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