Pop Culture
Aug 19, 2008, 10:59AM

The Internet's Killing Entertainment

The music and movie industries in the U.S. are hemoraghing money right now. Bringing new products to market isn't profitable, and there's no new revenue in sight. If we don't figure out a way to make sure talent, entertainment, and intellectual property get rewarded, the U.S. might loose the most powerful weapons we've ever had: our culture.

Pete yorn.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Pete Yorn can barely afford to be a professionally developing musician. Should he make enough money to be a rock star?

The one thing the United States exports with serious success is our popular culture. We have conquered the world not with our weaponry, but with our music and movies. If these industries suffer, so does our economy. We are already in trouble abroad as a producer of raw materials, light and heavy industry, and most manufacturing. But people still clamor for our imaginative inventions, our artistic output. Internationally, American culture outsells our aircraft, chemicals, food and motor vehicles.

Entertainment is such a crucial part of the American way of life -- because of the jobs it generates, the fun it engenders, the goodwill it creates world-wide -- that the potential for its undoing is a national emergency that ought to at least merit a congressional panel or governmental alarm. The U.S. was meant to be a nation of commercial creativity. It is our birthright. It's what we do.

The one creative area hardly affected by the encroachments of technology, at least insofar as its market has not caved, are fine arts like painting and sculpture.

You cannot, after all, download a painting or a sculpture. The thingness of the thing itself -- all that stuff Heidegger talked about when you read him in college -- cannot be translated, even if an exhibit poster will do for poor college students and poverty-stricken bohemians looking for kitchen decorations.

  • I think, instead of fretting over the old economic models of the entertainment industry, we should be focusing on new models, how to leverage the Internet to support culture. ITunes is one effort, but the music and movie industries have been slow to adapt.

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