Redemption Essay Reincarnate

Back in the 1980’s the increasing popularity of VCR’s really shook up the movie industry. Many of you either remember hearing about it back then or have read of it as it’s often included as background in copyleft arguments. As someone making simple, Super 8 movies with friends, reading niche magazines like Cinemagic, and occasionally wondering how this relatively new technology might affect me as someone dreaming of a possible career in film, the emergence of this technology didn’t really concern me. It was just another tool, and I was too busy creating to be overly concerned with the politics surrounding it. I suppose like many musicians today, the mere hint of some easier method to distribute something I created trumped whatever some industry lobbying group representative had to say. Except as someone dreaming of breaking into that industry, I did pay some attention and I did feel some empathy for the industry; not difficult to do if joining it is one of your dreams.

After receiving a hard lesson in critical thinking from my freshman literature professor (translation: she painted my previous essay with red ink), that particular controversy seemed as good as any on which to write my next “redemption” essay. A lot of thought went into that piece. It was only three or four pages long; about the size of a long blog entry, but the resulting work both saved my professor’s red pen from going dry and earned me the highest praise I ever received in all my nine years as an undergrad. I don’t know if I still have that bit of writing (I probably do… somewhere), but if you want to know what conclusion I came to in the “VCRs vs Theaters” debate, just head over to Mark Cuban’s blog and read something quite a bit like it (Link). Here’s one bit that most sounds like something I wrote 20+ years ago:

Going to a restaurant. Going to a sporting event. Going shopping. Cabin Fever is alive and well. Wanting to get away from your parents, your kids, your job, your apartment, your house, your problems will never, ever go out of style. For the next thousand years the question will be asked…

What do you want to do tonight ? For the next thousand years, people will want to get the heck out of the house. The question is where to and why.

Further, if you read an earlier post of mine titled “Selling the Experience” (Link), then this part will also sound familiar:

It didnt take me long to realize that the business of the Mavericks was not selling basketball, it was selling a fun night out and creating a favorable brand identification with our team and our players, with the hope that people would be excited to buy merchandise , products and services from us.

Now here’s the thing: if I could figure this out as a wet-behind-the-ears, 19 year-old college kid, does anyone believe that industry insiders don’t understand? It’s obviously not a difficult concept and they’re not stupid. The reasonable answer is that they’re feigning stupidity because they simply don’t want to change. The cushy, status quo life is good for some people, I suppose. Give me interesting times.