Television now stands in the foot prints of where film was once stranded
Television now stands in the foot prints of where film was once stranded. This statement is referring to television being viewed as an art. Over the last few decades film studies within universities have elevated film to that of an art. Television studies seem to be few and far between. So where does television stand in terms of art and what needs to happen to elevate its status and acceptance within the art community. Television today is produced much like film during the major studio hay day. When something works (ex. Reality TV) they run with it until it runs dry.
This is naturally part of the TV enterprise because viewers are needed to keep advertisers interested, and advertising is needed to keep the networks financially happy. Old Hollywood’s answer to the studio was the auteur. This was a filmmaker who was able to work within the heavy constraints of the studio and still add his/her artistic touch. In television today you have a handful of shows that cross this boundary (ex. X-Files etc. ) and overcome the constraints of a national broadcast. Another positive for TV is networks such as HBO which have done away with constraints altogether.
Since HBO has its own in house productions and doesn’t rely on advertising (viewers pay to have access to it) it gives its own productions much more time to develop into there potential. This is in sharp contrast to that of major networks that are on a daily basis competing for viewers and advertising dollars. Shows on major networks have been cancelled after one episode. This is a major hang up for TV as art. Composition art can only be viewed in its entirety. A film isn’t judged by individual scenes, but from its beginning to end; the sum of its parts. The upper right portion of the Mona Lisa has never undergone significant study.
A television program can only be critiqued from its “New Season” to its “Season Finally. ” The biggest hurdle in the way of TV being viewed as art is that there is nothing else in art it closely resembles. No other piece of art is as completely scattered as a television show or series. Let’s take for example the X-Files: a viewer sits down on a Sunday night to watch the season premier of the X-Files; Exposition begins for given episode; Hyundai commercial-Intel commercial-Fox Saturday Morning Cartoon Ad; Rising Action; Fox Sports World Ad-Dell Commercial-Pillsbury Doughboy Commercial; Climax; More of same; etc.
This compiled with the fact you have to wait seven days to pick up were you left off, and that’s if it is even the kind of show that picks up were it left off. It seems TV is trying to distract you from seeing it as an artistic composition. All other compositional arts; paintings, photographs, drawings, pottery, jewelry, film, and even a stretch like culinary products can be viewed in one sitting and absorbed in there intended state. A television show is far from connecting to most art in this way and finds this to be its greatest divider. This line has been transcended more commonly in recent years.
Made for TV movies have always been big, but now in there afterlife are being transported to a more permanent status on video and DVD. This allows them to remain in a much more solidified state than formerly possible. Previously it was only possible to catch these as reruns on a syndicated broadcast which was never easy to keep up with. HBO’s continual push, winning award after award has proven that even in there small market (since every home doesn’t have the channel) that they are producing more what the general public seeks when viewing television. TV is an art.
Its strongest artistic characteristics are in forms such as the art of the hook, or the catch. By this I mean getting the viewer to come back after the commercial or not walk away from the commercials in fear of missing the must see conclusion. I’m not saying it doesn’t contain compositionally artistic qualities, I’m just saying these qualities are not as strong as in painting or other studio arts. (I didn’t name film) As for Films growing acceptance as art as compared to TV, I would say that film is in more ways like traditional composition art in that it is easily seen as a complete work.
With shows like The Sopranos, X-Files, Six Feet Under, and Band of Brothers; TV is working its way in to a more artistic presents. (Notes: I didn’t mention News, PBS, or Documentaries, which all have there on cases at being art. Shows like VH1s Behind the Music are very similar to a film documentary. They have beginning middle and end, and are in completed form. I wished to include these in my argument, but found them fairly difficult to incorporate into the direction the paper was heading. )