About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Unplanned Obsolescence

There's nothing like the internet to make me feel obsolete sometimes.

As an example, I used to plan to see movies on opening weekend.  There would be an ad in the Sunday paper or in the Village Voice on Wednesday telling me that a movie was opening on Friday.  It might even have told me which theater it was opening at.  I'd have days to anticipate going to the Astor Plaza or the Ziegfeld or some other particularly nice theatre.  Now, maybe, I'll check the NY Times home page on Thursday night and there will be reviews of movies opening the next day, and I'll finally know what's opening.  Many of the movies won't even have ads in the paper on the day they open, or they'll have ads without theatre listings.  If it weren't for the movie clocks in newspapers, the only damned way I'd know where to see a movie would be to scroll through 12 pages of listings, two theatres or three theatres to a page, on the internet.  It would almost make me not want to go to the movies any more.  I feel old.

Now, Variety is migrating.

Like a lot of print media, Variety has been in trouble.  It's lost ads and readers, it's lost relevance to websites like Deadline.com, which is owned by the new owners of Variety.  25 years ago I could remember special issues like for the 25th anniversary of James Bond movies that would go on for 50 pages full of ads from anyone who had ever so much as supplied an ashtray to the plot department of a James Bond movie.  Now special sections have two pages or two columns or two column inches of ads from somebody's mother.

A few years ago Variety decided to hide its content behind a pay wall, which only hastened the migration of readers to other Hollywood sites.

So now, the pay wall is down.  Daily Variety will be gone in two weeks.  There will be one weekly issue like what the Hollywood Reporter has been doing.

And this totally sucks.

Because, first, the Variety web site sucks.

Please, click here, look at it.  Am I missing something?  Am I so old that I don't know a sucky website when it stares me in the face?  To me, this is just a random bunch of garbage strewn randomly down a web page with no grouping of any information in any discernible form or fashion.  Where is my eye supposed to go?

Clicking a link to an individual section header isn't much better.  Any better.  Let's look at the film section.  If you want to find anything in the section, you've got to go scrolling down and down and down and down because there's no "there" there.  Wherever you go, you have to just scroll down and down and down and down and down and down and down and down for 1 little headline after another with a very big picture.  My life isn't long enough to go scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.

There are no RSS feeds.  You can sign up for newsletters, and maybe the new owners will be better than the old ones who couldn't keep track of what newsletters you did or didn't want and who felt they could send you new newsletters you hadn't asked for until you begged them to stop.

As frustrating as the fact that I'm now not sure where to go to keep up with Hollywood is the absence of having somebody tell me what news was important for me to read.

The internet makes it too easy to discover only what you want to discover, to visit only the websites you want to visit and follow on Twitter of friend on Facebook only the people you want.  It closes out different views, different perspectives, puts blinders on to things that might be important but which aren't on your radar.

But getting a mass communication product, even for a small community like Hollywood with Daily Variety, means that you are forced to turn the pages and find on those pages not just what you already know you want to know, but other things beyond.  It provides a forced path to learning about the world beyond your own immediate and narrow horizons.

Even if I find some Hollywood news site that I'll visit in order to find what Variety will no longer provide, the temptation will be to focus only on those things I want to focus on, to lose depth and breadth of seeing a headline for something else and being tempted to explore.

I don't think this is an improvement.  I feel old, outdated, like yesterday's model, because I'm not seeing this as a step forward.

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