Friday Links: Redbox, JFK, and Tricky Dick

My first sets of papers and other projects are starting to trickle in, so blog time may be curtailed once again, but I am hoping to see Shutter Island again and may even have time to weigh in with a review.  For now, here are a few links:

  • Via the Inside Redbox blog, a discussion from Home Media Magazine of what is now being called the “retail window” that Warner and other studios have instituted in order to protect themselves against perceived losses caused by Redbox and other rental services.  I’ve been speculating for a while that the “retail window” probably won’t do very much to increase DVD sales.  People who are looking to shell out $1 to pass the time on a Friday night aren’t the same ones who will buy a DVD for their collection.  I realize that dollar rentals drive down prices across the board, but are the people who use Redbox kiosks really going to be so driven by the demand for one specific film that they’ll purchase it?
  • I’m hoping to write a longer post about the much-discussed History Channel JFK documentary to be made by conservative activist Joel Surnow (best known for his work on the TV show 24), but Jeffrey Jones has an interesting read of the debate over the documentary and how it comments on the contemporary politics of images.  As Jeffrey observes, “With a distrust of elites, a delegitimized news media, a populist-paranoic rise in anti-intellectualism, and a hyper-ideological political culture, what constitutes historical truth (and even contemporary reality) is and will be hotly contested in the foreseeable future.”  And a big part of this conflict is the variety of media platforms where these debates will play themselves out.  Documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald has been spearheading one of the most visible responses in attempting to depict the Surnow documentary as nothing more than tabloid fodder.
  • And if you wanted more evidence that the 60s will never die, even after most of the politicians and many of cultural figures have faded away, Jim Emerson points to Adam Curtis’s six-minute documentary that argues that we have all become Richard Nixon, thus turning us into “increasingly paranoid weirdos.”  The film is at its most powerful in tracing out the extent to which a “culture of fear” (to use Glassner’s phrase) permeates public discourse as well as the degree to which that has accompanied an increasing mistrust of institutions, especially political ones, to make a difference in our lives.  Although compelling, I found it a bit reductive in a few places.  After all, didn’t 52% of us (more or less) vote for a guy who promised to restore hope and to bring change to government?  That being said, as a diagnosis of how “we” have become atomized and skeptical of any public officials, it raises some powerful points.
  • I haven’t yet jumped into the Film Preservation blogathon (organized in part by the Self Styled Siren) yet, but I will point to Catherine Grant’s contribution, which starts with one of my favorite meditations on the materiality of film: Bill Morrison’s Decasia.

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