Overload on the (large & small) screen

Last week i read an article regarding an opinion about the just released image stills from the upcoming movie Dune. The title contained the word ‘underwhelming’. I felt irritated and it was mindboggling that someone formed an opinion based on a few images. Also because i just watched a vlog from Quinn’s Ideas with his opinion about the costumes and he, as i, was positively impressed.

But it got me wondering about how it is that certain people who either have a job reviewing movies and tv-shows or do it as a hobby seem to be so harsh or critical in their reviews.

Another exampe about the movie Underwater:

“The Abyss meets Aliens with a bit of The Poseidon Adventure, a lot of Pacific Rim and a dash of The Meg in this subaquatic sci-fi that offers nothing more than the sum of its references.”

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/underwater_2020

I’ve seen this movie and i thought it was quite a good movie, but it also gave me a sense of deja vu. And i have that with other movies or tv-shows sometimes as well. Have you ever noticed sometimes that a certain storyline keeps popping up in movies or shows, or certain monologues or jokes. Why is that? And then it sort of (obviously) hit me. I’ve watched so many movies and tv-shows in my life that it’s very hard to surprise me with originality, even with original shows.

Basics of any story

Any story has a few basic elements:

  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Resolution

The ‘hero’ always has to conquer something somewhere to get to the prize. It’s as simple as that, so any tv-show or movie in essence is composed of the same elements. So it’s only normal that if you watch enough they can seem similair.

Growing up in the eigthees

When growing up we had 1 tv and i remember wanting to watch the A-team which my parents wouldn’t allow because at that time it was percieved as violent. Later i got to watch it. And together with Knight Rider, cartoons on sunday morning, the Bill Cosby show, etc. i started my tv journey. But there weren’t a whole lot of tv-shows and the availability of screen-time was very limited to a few shows. We played more outside then.

Only in the ninetees when we got a second (small) tv i started watching some more tv-shows. And when i moved to live on my own it increased some more. Not so much in hours a day but more in accumulated tv/movie time. It was where i think in retrospective i already started noticing some similarities.

Golden age of tv

Now with the dominance of companies such as Netflix and Disney+ and the quality shows that they produce it’s very easy to spend an entire evening watching 4 or 5 episodes. Thus racking up more accumulative hours of tv-experience which means it gets harder to find shows that are worthwhile. Especially if you’re getting older.

Statistics

I started looking up some statistics and found the following sources

Infographic: The Golden Age of TV Fiction | Statista

The above graph shows that from 2010 untill 2017 over 2000 shows were made. That has not decreased the past few years, i can assure you.

Above is a screenshot of IMDB and shows that it has information of over 1.2mln titles which most likely is not complete by a long shot.

There have been made so many shows (incl. cartoons) and movies that anyone with a few years of screen-exposure will at some point get a deja-vu.

My trackrecord

So thinking about my own screen-time exposure i can only guess. I wrote two previous blogs [1][2] which already contain for over 60 to 70k minutes of screentime. I would not be surprised that with all the movies and shows i’ve watched i’ve racked up more than a few million minutes (which is about very roughly 80-90k hours).

So it is inevitable that you would come across dialogue, scenes, characters, plot, etc…, that sounds and looks familair. But this also means that your standard of being surprised becomes higher and higher.

Critics Beware

And this goes for move/tv critics as well, whom, i pressume, have watched way more tv-shows and movies than i have (and many of us). Of course they are often quite right in their critique. I follow rottentomaties.com and most of the critique is valid up to a point. The very bad movies are often bad, the good are mostly good.

But they have to understand that when they watch a movie or episode they will always compare them with others, even subconsiously. This is not always fare, because in their eyes it might be repetitive or boring or ‘been-there-done-that’. And for people with (much less) screentime it might be a new experience that they will miss just because someone wrote a not-so positive review.

So my advice is to not be put off my bad critics for something that you think is good. See for yourself and make up your own mind.

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