Have you ever wondered why so much popular music, movies, television, books and so on are so terrible? I began thinking about it as I read James Joyner’s post on media convergence and the reinvention of television.
One reason might be Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of everything is crud”. That’s comforting in a way but I’m not sure that it’s the whole explanation.
I think part of the reason is that it’s so much easier and cheaper to produce bad music, bad movies, bad television, etc. than it is to produce good music, good movies, and good television. To produce the good requires thought, effort, and talent—all in short supply and, consequently, costly. Any no-talent schlub can write, direct, or act in a lousy movie. And, fortunately, there’s an enormous supply of no-talent schlubs who want to write, direct, or act in movies, television, music, etc.
And there’s a sort of Gresham’s Law involved—the bad drives out the good. You promote the living daylights out of the bad, there’s only so much eyeball time or eardrum time, you control access to the eyeballs and eardrums through copyrights, franchises, and licensing agreements, and the talented go do something else.
Will the Internet overwhelm this strategy and break through the folks without notable talent of their own but who control the access to the eyeballs and eardrums? Could be. I have my doubts.
What do you think?