This past week, I have been slaving over a paper for a film history class, While this experience was not particularly enjoyable, it did bring a few questions to my mind (questioning being something I rather DO enjoy), and one of them, I've realized pertains to this class quite well, really.
Reading Postman's book throughout the past ten weeks or so, the main point I've taken from it (and I believe everyone else has as well) is that the form of media controls the content that it portrays. One of the side points that he makes, however (I believe in the "Typographic America" chapter), is that the form can also have an effect on the way that people think. He uses the example of the Lincoln debates, citing that each ranged from 4 to 7 hours, and that their audiences sat (presumably) patiently through the entire thing each time. Now, I don't remember if he contrasts this with today's audience, or if that was a result of discussion in class, but the sad truth is, not many nowadays would show up for such a lengthy debate, and among those who did, many would probably not stay til the end. I would attribute this to our have-it-now culture, one that allows us to purchase items at the click of a button and have them delivered to our homes the next day if we only pay an arm and a leg, one that gives us instant information also at the click of a button online, one that is loathe to give us any television programming over two hours when even the two hour programs are lacerated with blips of advertisement every five minutes.
Now, the prevailing opinion I've heard in class is that this switch is the result of moving from a print culture to a media culture. They function differently, and our way of thinking changes to match that. My question is: do you think this switch can occur within a single form of media?
Let me explain. Have any of you ever watched any old films? I don't mean films from the 90s either, I mean ones from the 30s, 40's 50's, etc. They're a little more difficult to sit through than Die Hard, am I right? Yet, these films are the same form of media as the movies that we pay obscene amounts of money to go see today. We pay so much to see modern film, we must love it. It must be incredibly entertaining. Why do we not always feel the same about older cinema? Is it the quality of the picture? That certainly has changed. Is it the CGI? We certainly didn't have that in the early-mid 1900s. Perhaps it is the very stories themselves. Are they drastically different?
It seems to me that the change in structure of thinking has occurred within the form of film, not from a switch to another, in this case. What do you all think, and why?