The Future of Film: Will Television Kill the Cinema Star?

(Roundtable)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Rebecca Romanow (University of Rhode Island)

There were many iconic American cultural moments in the late 20th century, but perhaps August 1, 1981 laid down a marker when MTV premiered the airing of the first music video broadcast by the new cable channel: The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” In retrospect, in fact, radio did survive, but its format, structure, delivery, and audience were re-purposed and re-defined. In the 21st century, this crisis of media transformation is centered on the confluence of film and television, and the ways in which the nexus of television—or episodic content—completes an ouroboric function: it becomes more filmic than film, more cinematic than movies themselves.

This Roundtable will explore this conversation concerning film and television and the usurpation of production values, means of production, narrative form and style, and the modes in which this content is consumed, reviewed, funded, and awarded. As Uricchio points out in discussing film and TV in the 21st century, "While by and large ignored in the theoretical framings of each medium, these interdependencies necessarily [impinge] upon the cultural form and understanding of both."

In its convergence with film, Murphy explains that, for film and television, “it is increasingly difficult to separate or define where one medium stops and another starts.” When he does try to define what “television” is, he tells us that “Television is, in fact, more a set of connected ideas, beliefs, and technologies than it is any one thing that can be reduced to a home electronic device with a screen . . . the word has become an abstraction.” He concludes that television is “a figure . . . in the cultural imagination.” This Roundtable, then, will focus on film, television, and streaming content, and the places that they will inhabit and occupy in the future of the “cultural imagination.”

Works Cited:

Murphy, Sheila. How Television InventedNew Media. New York: Rutgers UP, 2011.

Uricchio, Film, cinema, television . . . media?” New Review of Film and Television Studies. 12:3, 2014.

VanDerWerff, Todd. “Netflix is accidentally inventing a new art form--not quite TV and not quite film.” Vox. 30 Jul 2015.

This roundtable explores the collapsing of the separate media concepts of film and television and the confluence of production values, means of production, narrative form and style, and the modes in which this content is consumed, reviewed, funded, and awarded. As the two media have seemingly become synchronous, simultaneous and equal, television has become more filmic than film, more cinematic than movies themselves. This conversation will focus on film, television, and streaming content, and the places that they will inhabit and occupy in the future of media and the cultural imagination.