Common knowledge (lite)

Are cultural reference points once provided by books and films (complex narratives consumed in one sitting) being replaced by reference points provided by shorter bursts of information: blogs, celebrity gossip, and TV shows? This op-ed piece by Neil Gabler in the LA Times (pointed out here in the Good Morning Silicon Valley blog) confirms my suspicions that this is indeed the trend. Gabler focuses his analysis on the impact of this trend on the movie industry:

“In this culture, the intrinsic value of a movie, or of most conventional entertainments, has diminished. Their job now is essentially to provide stars for People, Us, “Entertainment Tonight” and the supermarket tabloids, which exhibit the new “movies” — the stars’ life sagas.

“Traditional movies have a very difficult time competing against these real-life stories, whether it is the shenanigans of TomKat or Brangelina, Anna Nicole Smith’s death or Britney Spears’ latest breakdown. These are the features that now dominate water-cooler chat. There may have been a time when these stories generated publicity for the movies. Now, however, the movies are more likely to generate publicity for the stories, which have a life, and an entertainment value, of their own.”