Plus: A Memorial Day assignment!
Come on Sonny, you really think that future generations should suffer the fate of not understanding "Not the Momma!" (Dinosaurs was really amazingly bad; not even good enough for super late night freshman year in college viewing, unlike "The Munsters Today")
All art is ephemeral. Even that which is not commercial. Even ideas are ephemeral.
If you want to see this in the flesh, go to a Good Will and look through the used books usually along a back wall. From fiction to books deemed important at the time, few last.
I shop at a used book store that is a resource for history buffs. I have even sold a few books to them. Once a person came in with several boxed of books - all fiction, all with dust jackets and in good condition. The owners took a look and said they were not interested. The disappointed man said... but they are all first editions. One of the owners responded that most books are first editions.
Maybe copyright duration is too long. "It's a wonderful life" bombed during its initial release, and only became popular after its copyright expired, after which it was shown incessantly at Christmas. Even great art may not get popular without exposure at the right time. And you're never going to get exposure without people showing it, discussing it, even criticizing or mocking it. With such long copyright terms, most art are just going to be lost unless they are championed by some deep pocketed organization, whose ultimate motive is profit, not love of the art form. You may argue that most art deserves to be lost, but along with the dregs, some treasures will be lost.
It's worth noting that even Shakespeare spent several decades during the Restoration being dismissed and defiled. (Those butchers even gave King Lear a happy ending.) And a lot of Roman and Greek work, (most stuff, really) spent centuries known only to monks copying and recopying it. Surviving to shape the future is rarely a matter of being handed down generation to generation. It's much more often a matter of cycles of relevance and disinterest. As long as it's somewhere accessible and protected, that's really all that matters.
I'm not bothered by the dreck disappearing but that so much of it exists at all. Thumbing through the offerings on Netflix and Prime I keep asking myself how did some of this crap ever get greenlit. Even something not worth watching costs a lot of money to produce. Sometimes I spend a half-hour or forty-five minutes just trying to find a ninety-minute film that doesn't make me yawn or feel like throwing up.
Sonny this is very thought-provoking, and I have to admit it changed my mind on the subject. I think it helps that you played to my base belief that most art just sucks.
Long live the Munsters! For years, I've been hollering for a re-release of Bob Roberts for streaming. Perfect satire for this political era, and it's been tossed in the ashbin. How can a brilliant movie with dozens of cameos just vanish permanently? When I saw it in the 90's, it only lasted like 4 days in the theatre. So it's slightly esoteric......F%#$ the plebs and their Fast & Furious/MCU/Bachelorette/etc. simple taste.
Speaking of streaming: we can pre order To Live and Die in LA in 4k from Kino Lorber.
I will not miss "Willow"
If you really want a creative work to reach the next generation, get a hard copy and hand it down yourself. Otherwise, no guarantees.
I hate this take. Also, part of the problem is the list of unstreamable anywhere movies includes great films of all kinds. PCU, Cannonball Run, Il Postino, Dogma, Better Off Dead, etc.
One of the benefits of streaming, as opposed to buying shows on DVD, is that there are shows that only a few people are interested in but nevertheless a subset of people may want to see. Such niche cases would not be available to buy on DVD (or books would be out of print), but digital could still grant access.
There are a bunch of early TV shows that people wish we still had access to, but did not survive because tapes got recorded over because of cost, now regretted.
Having said that, if shows just move to other platforms that's OK. And there is also lots of junk especially broadcast/cable TV that is probably OK to drop.
No one is saying that every piece of film or TV needs to be preserved forever. What worries people is that much of it may be vanishing well before public interest in it is lost, solely as a result of how copyright treats digital (as opposed to physical) distribution.
Does it need to be available on Hulu for the next 20 years? No, of course not. But everything should survive: it's history, and humanity needs archives. Data storage is cheap and the idea of a canon is decades past us.