All entries for Monday 26 September 2005

September 26, 2005

What Kind Of Audience Are You?

I was having a conversation with a friend, which ranged across economics and sociology and philosophy and eventually, as conversations with me invariably do, end up in film. And from the conversation I realised something that seems trivial, but is something that hasn't been thought about, as far as I know.

There are two kinds of audiences.

The kind that I belong to, are the escapists. We love Hollywood movies – they way Hollywood tell stories that are above us, in the skies, stories that can only exist in our imaginations, or in the historical past, or of people who are bigger than us, who did extraordinary things. When we watch the movies we join the characters. We are inside the screen.

I don't know whether I can generalise this – I probably can't so I'll just say this of myself. The reason why I enjoy such movies is because the world I live in, reality, is boring. My friend says I'm a nihilist. Anyways, I find that my life is mundane. Routine. Nothing eventful happens. Whenever something does – something that isn't exactly significant, like when Malaysia was plunged into a complete blackout due to the failings of one major electric grid a decade ago and the whole family had to sleep in the living room – it excites me tremendously. In movies, life is always eventful. Black Hawk Down. Apollo 13. Terminator 2. Collateral. And so on. Life in movies is much more interesting than life in reality.

Then, there's the other type of audience, the kind my friend belongs to. The kind Yasmin Ahmad belongs to. Many Asian films belong in this category, as do quite a lot of European productions. These are movies about the mundane. Everyday life. As my friend puts it, while we as men dream of building the tallest buildings or going to the moon, movies like these bring us down to the level of everyday life. We are reminded of everyday life, by the camera focussing on small details like the way we pick our nose when no one's watching, the sound water makes when we wash our hands which we think about at a subconscious level, that when we wake up from sleep our face form pillow-crease patterns, and so on.

To me, such films are boring. I'm already living in reality – why do I need to be reminded by it?

It then occurred to me – that what this means is that, my audience is effectively halved. (Assuming half the audiences of the world belong to one kind.) That whatever movies I choose to make, I don't need to bother with those who are not like me anymore.

That is an interesting thought.


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