The Digital Future: What Is Really Killing Cinema?

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about the decline of Hollywood and how I believe the way we perceive and think about celebrities and the films industry in general is on course to rapidly change over the next few decades.

To break this down into two distinct sections, it will be changes to cinema as a whole first and then celebrities and stardom.

There is nothing I can say about the changing nature of the industry that hasn’t already been said. People, thanks to streaming and the pandemic, have become more and more accustomed to watching films at home, not just that but also having access to big screen releases immediately after they have come out in cinemas on VOD services. This won’t change, if anything the current 30- 45 days release window will likely shrink further, and though studios will still bring out big films in cinemas they can see the writing on the wall hence why they have all, except Sony, gone in on streaming services. There will always be big filmmakers who will work out different agreements with studios to get their films in cinemas but even then it won’t be for as long as it was in the past. You can give me all the piracy figures or say how this is killing cinema, but frankly piracy will always happen and is accounted for and these changes in release are not killing cinema just changing it in a more consumer friendly direction.

If you want to know what is actually killing cinema it is the bloated chains that think they can get away with charging close to 20 pounds for a single ticket, and that don’t care a lick about the cinema going experience.

As of the day of writing this the news is that Netflix is losing subscribers, and cinema purists are lording this as a win, it is not. Netflix’s loss of subscribers will have been accounted for, they knew people were angry at the price hikes and the cracking down on sharing passwords, they also knew that big series like Daredevil were leaving. This is not the loss for them that some people think it is, more shows will be cut and the infamous policy of greenlighting everything will most likely end.

Now onto celebrities, the old guard of movie stars are on their way out and those who are replacing them in the public eye aren’t really the same as classic movie stars, more often than not they are either influencers or activists. The latter of those two types is another reason I think that cinema has not bounced back to pre-covid levels, people are tired of millionaire actors telling them how to live their lives, or how to think. People want to be entertained by the films they watch not be lectured to. The reason why Marvel films and more broadly superhero films are able to keep cinema afloat, and make no mistake that is the case, is because for the most part they are apolitical. I know this won’t be a new take but many films now are more focused on delivering a social message and virtue signalling then they are on telling a story or actually being good- this is being picked up by audiences. Moreover, films that preach on American specific politics always lose interest with the rest of the world because though Americans think they are the centre of the world they really aren’t, and a lot of people turn off for a film that spends its time bashing either side of the American political spectrum.

I think due to this disillusionment towards the attitudes and statements of some celebrities more and more people are looking elsewhere for entertainment, this can be to classic shows on streaming services or to YouTube, Twitch or more widely social media, as such I don’t think Hollywood will ever bounce back to the pre-covid days.

This is a new era and like it or not there is no going back.    

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The Johnny Depp/Amber Heard Trial: The Criminal Neglect Of Male Victims Of Domestic Abuse

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about the ongoing legal battles between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, I am fully aware that any day my views could be entirely changed if there was a smoking gun piece of evidence, and that not everyone will agree with what I am going to say but hey this is my take and it might later change.

As those of you who follow me on Twitter will know I have been team Depp for quite a while now, I think with the things Heard has done and said there is a lot of troublesome things that don’t quite add up. Moreover, I think there is a large amount of evidence to support her also being violent, if Johnny was, I remain mixed on that, and also having lied to police and various other legal professionals within the various trails after this all became public.

I do admit that I have been a fan of Depp since I was very young and this might all just be influenced by a hope that he isn’t the monster he is being made out to be as that would be hard to come to terms with. Maybe I am wrong and he is a vile abuser, it would upset me a lot but it is a possibility. However, I think regardless of that there is enough to suggest that Heard is not as innocent as she claims.

Moreover, I think it is very telling how a lot of the media are covering this story, despite numerous shady things done by Heard the focus is always on Depp as being the monster. This is done to propagate the harmful and frankly toxic view that men can’t be abused physically by women, and that in these situations it always has to be a male abuser, which is not only untrue but is frankly quite an outdated view. This can also be seen reflected by the fact that Depp lost most offers of work yet Heard gets to keep her role in the DCEU, this looks set to keep happening even if both of them are shown to be abusive towards one another- highlighting a double standard. If Depp is to lose all work so should Heard.

As I write this piece for you all the latest liable trial is still ongoing and it looks unlikely that this situation will change anytime soon, but all we can hope is that justice is served and that in terms of broader society male victims of domestic abuse are treated with more care and less sexist contempt.  

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The Will Smith Smack: The Leading Man’s Reckoning With Toxic Masculinity

Written by Luke Barnes

I am writing this piece in response to the events that took place on Oscars night, regarding Will Smith and Chris Rock so I can better explain my thoughts on the matter. To look ahead, Smith comes across as bad in various different dimensions.

I read somewhere after the fact that the biggest loser at the Oscars was Jada Pickett Smith, now what that article meant was that by getting up there and smacking Chris Rock her husband Will Smith made the whole thing about himself, he took her struggle and her power and made it about his own ego. I think, as I have said to some people, it would have been more effective for Smith to have said nothing and to have picked his moment, such as during his acceptance speech, to talk about his wife and her struggles and how proud he is of her, not only would this have shown him to be the bigger person but it would have also vastly eclipsed Rock’s comments. As it stands all Smith has done for his wife is simply amplify the issue and subjected them both to the Streisand effect, which for those unaware is when one’s actions to get people to stop  talking about a thing in fact make them talk about it more.

Moreover, by physically assaulting Chris Rock Smith has proven himself to be classless, which in turn will effect how not just the industry sees him but also those who go to watch his films. There is a good reason his publicist immediately went to talk to him; he has damaged his image. Now do I think he will lose his Oscar, no, probably not, but I do think in the battle for hearts and minds he has shot himself in the foot. Why? Well, because violence is never the answer, certainly not in this context wherein Smith’s actions upstaged the whole night and stole the limelight away from everyone else-his wife included.  

Lastly, consider this: some look towards celebrities to set an example for how they should behave and in that regard Smith’s actions are especially dangerous. Who is to say next week someone who watched the Oscars won’t go to a comedy set and hear a joke they don’t like and then walk up on stage, or more likely wait around afterwards, to hit the comic just like Smith did. Now in such a case I am not saying Smith would be responsible, but I am saying that as someone with a fanbase and as someone with influence he should think about the example he is setting and not behave in such an unprofessional manner.

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