Saturday, April 08, 2006

Our Own Private Paradises


Do you remember the movie What Dreams May Come?

This 1998 film certainly was no blockbuster with only a 15 million dollar domestic box office gross. But who was really interested in a heavy handed movie after suicide, the death of children, and the afterlife?

It was heralded with an Academy Award for its cutting edge and unique visual effects (and an art direction nomination.)

Yet I remember watching it for the first time and thinking it was so cool. Upon rewatching this film with teenagers in my film class recently I was amazed at how much they loved this film. I think this film was ahead of the curve because it enforced an idea of "Private Paradises."

I have realized recently that this generation has become very interested in creating their own private world that they have created. Why else have iPods, MySpace, Facebook, blogging and private Yahoo radio stations become so popular. No more do we want to listen collectively with others to music on the radio, we want our own music, chosen and arranged by us. And we want our own spaces in our life. We are quite content to plug in our earphones and listen to music while being in the same room as someone else.

And in the same way that Robin Williams in "What Dreams May Come" what excited to be joined by his family and dog in his afterlife heaven, he certainly didn't think about being apart of his children's paradise or anyone else's. Because we want everyone to partake in the perfect world we create. That's why we want people to visit our blogs and post our preference, likes, and dislikes and even what songs we're listening to today.

And movie theaters are wondering why we just want to watch the DVD...Can't the see it's not a problem with the movie theater, it's just that we want to enter our own perfect environment for enjoying media...We want our own movie snacks, and to sit on our own coach and press pause when all the diet cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper catches up with us.

And what about TiVo and recordable television...It's not about commercials, it's about being in control and creating our individualized world.

Will there ever be a point where the pendulum swings back and we once again look for collective experiences? Or will we continue on this trajectory of creating our own private paradises?

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9 comments:

nicole said...

Hey there! Very nice blog!

Thanks for commenting on my post. :)

ben sternke said...

This explains the ending of the third Matrix movie, where the "peace" Neo won was simply the ability for everyone to create their own little reality (that wasn't actually reality, but everyone was okay with that). A great ending for those who want their own private realities, but I didn't like it at all.

Great insight, by the way, about how blogs (myspace, anyone?) are a reflection of this reality.

AWG said...

Great post. I've always meant to see "What Dreams May Come." I was just reading a Wash Times interview with former Monkee Michael Nesmith, who helped invent the modern music video. He has a new album out, "Rays," and when asked about current technology trends, said, "I'm already seeing kids playing with video cameras and coming up with fascinating stuff. The music video thing may have been a false dawn," says Mr. Nesmith, who often visits the Web site www.youtube.com, which features a variety of short video clips.
Contrasting the new-look videos to the one he made for his song "Rio" in the '70s, he says, "It's just a few seconds long, some morsel. I find it really fascinating. People are going to start working that form."
Mr. Nesmith embraces current technology as eagerly as he accepts his own advancing years.
"For me the process of growing older is getting better, expanding your reach, getting a wider area of interests," he says. "I see things I've never seen before and I'm fascinated by them."

Nesmith, a Texan who really paved the way for country-rock and whose mother invented Liquid Paper, is always ahead of the curve. He's usually right, too.

Ramification said...

I loved that film when I saw it, the colour pallette and the way Robin Williams' paradise world manifested itself was awe-inspiring. Thanks for reminding me of this film I will have to go seek it out this week and re-watch it.

Sheri Ann said...

I have to disagree with the TiVo comment. It IS about the commercials. If I see an interesting one, I stop it and watch. However, I'm sick of watching the Old Navy people dance around, the little Geico gecko, and all of the car dealership commercials.

Up with tivo...down with commercials! I'd rather see print advertising any day!!! Because if you can sell it in print, you can sell it! Anyone can make a commercial! (That's just my personal opinion though!)

beth said...

Interesting post! I'll have to ponder, but it definitely resonates with me. (Though I also kinda agree with Sheri Ann above - I do love getting to skip commercials, though that, again, is about me controlling my environment and not so much (for me at least) about not watching commercials.)

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