The Death of Traditional Storytelling?

In a New York Times article published on Monday entitled “Saving the Story (the Film version),” Michael Cieply chronicles a new media lab at MIT that “will examine whether the old way of telling stories — particularly those delivered to the millions on screen, with a beginning, a middle and an end — is in serious trouble.”  I highly suggest you read the article (linked above), but to summarize:

“A common gripe is that gamelike, open-ended series like “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Spider-Man” have eroded filmmakers’ ability to wrap up their movies in the third act. Another is that a preference for proven, outside stories like the Harry Potter books is killing Hollywood’s appetite for original storytelling.”

This assertion prompts an interesting (even frightening) question: is the proliferation of narration across media at large killing narration of certain media?

I’m not sure I have an answer to that question. To be honest, I have never really considered the issue before, so I’m not sure if this is even a valid question. According to the article, some executives in the industry blame the audience for this detrimental shift. Are we, the audience, to blame for “killing” Hollywood’s traditional modes for original storytelling?

I’m sorry to leave this post so open-ended, but I just wanted to draw everyone’s attention to the article and I’m genuinely curious – what do you guys think?

  1. Jason Mittell’s avatar

    I saw that article – it’s got some crazy claims & quotes, such as: “Mr. Farrelly spoke from his home in Massachusetts, where he is working on the script for a Three Stooges picture, and said he missed complex stories like that of “The Graduate.”” But it does raise some good questions…


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