While I sympathize with Scorsese’s sadness concerning the absence of artistic merit on the big screen as of late, I am left to wonder whether Hollywood execs and accountants are solely–or even primarily–to blame. Isn’t it possible that technology has modified the market beyond any individuals’ control? Streaming has given the introverted population an excuse to avoid rubbing shoulders with noisy strangers or paying $20.00 for popcorn and soda. Consequently, the films shown upon the big-screen are increasingly those that lack the–shall we say, nuance?–that this portion of the populace demands. Now one need only cater to moviegoers who are contented with shaky-cam explosions, car chases, etc., because they are the only ones who actually go to the movies. Scorsese recalls a tribal cinema which had to tickle the fancy of intellectual and salt-of-the-earth types. Not only does this no longer exist–it is never coming back.
Of course, this cannot entirely account for the Idiocracy-esque dumbing down that mainstream entertainment is experiencing. No one is watching Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead on the big screen, yet the recent story decisions of both confirm that some of the world’s best-paid writers have entirely forgotten how to conclude a tale. This is probably due more-so to the influence of postmodernism than the free market. Today’s writers increasingly feel that they must subvert classical narratives to avoid being associated with the icky ancients (by ancients, I mean Jung & Campbell) who crafted them. Simultaneously, the temptation to “do something new” is overwhelming, and like any experimentation is bound to fail spectacularly many times before it produces a single success.
Scorsese fears the art of cinema turning into a theme park. But with no one buying admission to abominations like Terminator: Dark Fate, perhaps the cinematic imbalance between brain-food and nervous-system-candy is slowly but surely self-correcting. As for coaxing introverts away from streaming and back into theaters–short of burly bouncers who are legally allowed to pluck moviegoers’ intrusive smart phones from their hands and snap them in half, I just don’t see it.