Proliferation of Technology

Criterion Files

David Cronenberg’s Videodrome is the Network of participatory media. Where Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky’s celebrated 1976 masterpiece rather accurately predicted televised sensationalism and infotainment, Videodrome’s ideas about media’s dissemination and our relationship with it continues to reveal its incredible foresight nearly thirty years after its initial release. Just as Network is now hardly satire, Videodrome seems less and less a work of science fiction. Sure, digital technology has brought many of Videodrome’s ideas into stark realization more so than the analog technology depicted throughout the film (a disconnect literalized by Criterion’s clever faux-Beta DVD packaging of the film), but the film’s many astute (and foreboding) observations about our evolving relationship to media technology is nothing short of profound.

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On Charlie Rose last night, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes explained his desire to shorten the time between theatrical releases and home entertainment availability. His reason? It’s great for everyone ever. It makes sense that Time Warner (which owns New Line, Warner Bros., HBO, DC Comics, Castle Rock Entertainment, and other media ventures) would want to shorten the window. Bewkes evoked the dreaded P-word in his initial rationale for getting movies to television screens sooner, but he also recognized that there’s an audience beyond pirates that wants to have home-viewing options. “Everyone in the business, including theater owners, has an interest,” said Bewkes. But what exactly is in the theater owners’ best interest? And what will broadband bundled with shorter waiting periods mean for DVD and Blu-ray?

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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