We need an audience of explorers

Why blame spectators for a lack in quality of films, when people are essentially told what to watch all the time by the industry and the media?

Francois-Truffaut-400-Blows

Time and time again, we are told that a death of cinema is imminent and inevitable. some even celebrate it. The fact that cinema is one of the world’s newest and youngest artforms seems to never enterĀ the argument.

It is, indeed, an argument that is proliferated in film trade papers and at industry strands of film festivals. While other websites still carry such headlines as “Good Movies Are Overrated,” that call out to audiences to head outside your comfort zone rather than watching films that are deemed good by film social media, such websites as IndieWire and The Hollywood Reporter love (and live for) the controversy of a good article structured around shareable moral outrage.

Truth is, this is practice is not new. In fact, the love of cinema is hard to associate with academics and journalists. The former group has a long history of vocally criticizing cinema for turning us all into brainwashed monkeys; the latter is piloted by the fundamental concern of generating enough revenue to carry on.

Both seem to, directly or indirectly, blame the audiences for their ignorance and naivety. Whether viewers are violently persuaded to criticize each other’s sexist, racist tastes, or blamed for not watching the right films and encouraging the production of “bad” movies, spectators always more or less appear to be the guilty ones.

And yet, the love of cinema is far more likely to lie with the spectator who feels no need nor nurtures any particular desire to make money from its industry. Indeed, it is without spectators that cinema would die, while it would, no doubt, carry on just fine without academics and journalists, many of whom have long lost their love of cinema – or perhaps lost their desire to be a part of the mythologized “film elite.”

For example, the industry and press tellĀ us that the audience does not want to watch subtitled movies; yet, the successes of such films as Life Is Beautiful, The Passion of the Christ, and Dances with Wolves have, for decades, not been affected by the prominence of subtitles.

Likewise, while most cinemas feature the same program, many people do not know that countless new films of all kinds are made every year all over the world that they will never see, whether because they are not distributed or they are left to rot at the backend of a VOD catalogue.

When it all comes down to it, it’ll most likely be the everyday cinephile spectators, who have, for some unknown reason, become infatuated with the art despite the vicious discourses around it and despite it being driven by braindead moronic decision-makers with a lack of concern for long-term business plans, who are most likely to venture out and find those hidden gems that we would otherwise never know existed.

Whether at film festivals and events worldwide, or from their living room couches, it is they who are the true explorers of the greatest artform of the modern age – and it is they who are the ones I want to hear from!

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