#4 – Kramer on Keaton “at the Crossroads”

One thing I found oddly comforting about this article was seeing that there were needless, snobby, hierarchical relationships between different media at the beginning of the century, just as there are now.  The judgments flung around, especially by recalcitrant old-school academics, about the absolute value of certain media above others (usually with the oldest being the most “valuable”) irks me to no end.  And it especially bothers me when people dismiss an entire medium as artistically baseless, never capable of aesthetic greatness.  I think television has received less and less of this shabby over the last, say, fifteen years, but video games still often get the shaft.  It seems obvious to me that any medium is capable of aesthetic greatness if the right people just get their hands on it.

Anyway, what I mean about this article being strangely comforting was that it is proof that this is not a new phenomenon – it’s simply the way things are, and people will always be resistant to new technologies.  Because let’s face it, people will always be resistant to new things – first of all, it means they will have to work to adapt, and people are lazy – but new things mean change, and change reminds them of the passage of time, and this reminds them that they will eventually die…or something.

So many people were as resistant and snobbish towards film in the 1910s as they are now towards, say, the New Internet Technology of the Week, but that eventually faded away.  And what’s more, this article traced out how the more adaptive people allow different media to interweave with each other and bolster each other’s success, in a way (because while cinema caused trouble for vaudeville as a whole, it was a boon to vaudevillians like Keaton).  And I think not much has changed in that respect.