When’s the last time you saw a good movie? No, I mean a good movie. Yeah, and once you got that down, let me eliminate it to a good movie. Not a musical, or book.
We live in an age of horrible movies. We live in a world of remakes and sequels. The question is why and the answer is simple: Risk-aversion. Giant studios spend so much money on one flick that they want to make sure it’s a success. So, they see that if one movie has worked, they better make a sequel. Even though we all know the sequel is always worse than the original, we all see it anyway, otherwise they wouldn’t keep making sequels. It’s because we all know that movie studios keep putting out shit, so we watch the sequels because they’re a lesser evil.
The giant studios, increasingly consolidated, stifle creativity, put out commercial movies that no one likes, and is bewildered when we don’t like them. Instead of encouraging creativity, they’ve learned to further crush it by making sequels, remakes, and basing movies off books and, a recent trend, musicals.
What’s happening with movies is symptomatic of a larger trend in America. Risk-aversion and the consolidation of companies. And it’s destroying America just like it has destroyed the movie experience. Movie audiences decline more and more each year.
How many tries did it take for Edison to get the lightbulb right? Hundreds. What if he had just been a cog in a large multi-national corporation and they told him it wasn’t worth it to pursue this lightbulb business?
Granted, this example is quite a stretch. Companies still spend money on AIDS research, for example. However, I believe that we need a modern day trust-buster, like Theodore Roosevelt. Instead, we have theories of neo-liberalism that say globalization is good for everyone. Giant corporations are proponents of the status quo. The gas companies have every stake in maintaining our current infrastructure and no real reason to invest in petroleum alternatives. And, they have the money, because they’re so big, to seduce the government into doing its bidding. Look where it has got us: Leading to a major energy crisis. Large corporations won’t give us radical change.
What we need are small businesses. Small businesses that have flexibility. Small businesses that have the possibility to fail. Yes, that’s what we want. We need market pressures to put out wide varieties of products, and we need the losers to fail. There’s no such thing as competition is no one loses. What it does do is keep people on their toes, and it forces further innovation, instead of maintaining the status quo, as we saw with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Before IE had totally dominated the browser market, innovation was occuring, and Netscape and IE were updating their software. After IE won the browser wars, we still are waiting on IE 7. If the browser market consisted of competition between small businesses instead of one giant company using its might to maintain the status quo, imagine the innovations we could’ve seen.
We also need colleges to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, and, most importantly, risk. Instead, we are given an environment where students have little opportunity and time to experiment. They’re lectured at and forced to memorize material, instead of being taught and learning anything. Or (not in college) when they are given an opportunity to do something, it’s something dumb like an egg-drop that doesn’t have anything to actually do with applying the material.
All students experiment with in college are sex, drugs, and alcohol. You know why? Because you’re not teaching us anything useful! We learn not to learn. We learn to game the system and skid by without putting forth any effort. We’ll do the exact same things in our jobs. We’ll be inefficient lawyers and doctors. This is the future, America!
We’re learning that money is everything! You go to college to get a good job and there are only certain types of jobs you should have. Whatever happened to the American Dream? It’s become “be upper middle-class,” and the corporations helped do it to us. Most Americans would like to be their own boss, but entrepreneurship is not encouraged anymore. And whatever happened to the day and age when parents would’ve liked to have seen their kids become president? What weak aspirations have they for their children now?
We look at China and wonder how they’re doing so well. We think our kids would learn more in such a harsh school environment. Our education lags, and we think, “Oh, it would be nice to do that, but our kids would hate it and it would stifle creativity.” Let America be America! Truly encourage creativity and individualism, not this facsimile of it where all kids get is more free time to waste. They have nowhere else to put their creative energy except into their vacuous Xanga’s and MySpace’s. Internships/apprenticeships have become playgrounds for the rich and privileged… just another thing for their college application.
America has kept its edge in the global market because of constant innovation. If other countries catch up in manufacturing, well, then, we can’t have a manufacturing economy anymore, can we? And so, we’ve strayed from that. Unfortunately, the edge in innovation is going away. We’ll see our schools become more like other countries, and yet we’ll still be behind. You know why? Because we’re not other countries! We’re America! We have our values and our values work, when they’re allowed to flourish. Our children needn’t become automatons to succeed in the global market. Our children need to be taught that risk is okay (grading needs to be completely overhauled), or else all we’ll see the next (my) generation produce are commercial equivalents of sequels and remakes, and watch other countries speed by as they make better sequels and better remakes.
Some people may say the issue is more complicated than this, but you’re missing the point. Innovation is what will keep America ahead in the global market, and that can only occur when children are taught that risk is okay. And if you disagree, tell me, when’s the last time you saw a good movie?