A Second Life On Video

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018-04-21 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

An interesting piece from Vulture about the 1983 Scarface, mainly about the difficult production and the controversy surrounding the movie. But the last part of the piece reminded me of how home video — everything from aftermarket DVDs sold at Redbox, to streaming both legal and illegal — is both the best and worst thing that happened to movies.

Scarface had something of the same fate as Blade Runner. It garnered mostly negative attention and lukewarm business when it first came out, but it found a massive second life on home video. (Full disclosure: I have proudly owned a copy of Blade Runner in every home video format, save for 8MM tape and Betamax.)

Back in the Nineties, Roger Ebert was twigging to how this kind of dynamic was changing the movies. It was great that you can find things that haven't seen release in decades, or only existed in mangled TV edits. But it was also bad that audiences had become that much more atomized, that much more made up of individual people watching in their living rooms or on their phones. Movies have second, third, and even fourth lives now, but only because nothing else ever goes out of print anymore.

Another thing that has not been figured into this picture until very recently, though, was the way movies have long been slowly losing market share and attention to other entertainments: video games, quirky indie podcasts, some of the best TV ever created. There's just that much more to do, and that many more places to do it. Heading out into a theater and throwing down $12 a head for the privilege of having the back of your seat kicked by the kids sitting behind you just doesn't cut it anymore. There's no reason anymore to make it into a special thing. Everyone goes their own way now.

The way we consume media now, everything can have a second life (and a third, and a fourth). But even less things ever get a first life now. On the other hand, I'm cottoning all the more to the idea that whatever Big Tent Of Media existed was an illusion to begin with, and the last few years have ripped its mask off for keeps.

Tags: audiences entertainment media movies