It’s all part of the commoditization of art, says USC Annenberg Innovation Lab Director Jonathan Taplin. “Think about these platforms, whether it’s Amazon or Facebook or Google. They don’t care about content at all. It’s just one more piece.”
Apologizing for doing an interview from his car on the freeway in Los Angeles, Taplin navigates his material with precision:
“You used to actually invest yourself with a critic. I was lucky enough when I was making movies that [the late New Yorker film critic] Pauline Kael used to like some of the movies I made. And I had a personal investment in her view of the world.
“But think about online reviews. It’s an algorithm, a computer program that’s averaging 50,000 people who happen to make some off-hand comment.
“There’s no point of view. It’s a very different function.
“Just a commodity. ‘How many likes did it get?'”
Taplin is a man whose theme all but chases him down the highway as he talks. He’s surrounded by examples of how, in his purview, creative content is being devalued by the commercial overdrive of the digital dynamic.
A mention of the “Wall of Content” looming over the books industry today sends him straight to video: “YouTube has 400 hours of video uploaded every minute to that platform. What could possibly be found there? Even if there was some miracle Martin Scorcese among them, you could never find that person.”
The same problem is happening, Taplin says, in the television business. Some observers in publishing today talk of the glut of books in the market.
“And John Landgraf at FX says we’re at ‘peak TV.’ There’s just too much damn stuff. It doesn’t make any sense when you think about how a television show in 1985 could get an audience of 40 or 50 million, and maybe the best, highest-rated show on cable last year, Mad Men, could get an audience of 1.5 million. They both cost the same amount of money, but the audience was 50 times higher before we had this incredible diffusion of too much media.”
Read the rest of Porter Anderson's piece here.
Read Telereads recent Q&A with Taplin here.
Contact Heidi Carreon .