The new generational divide

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit:

In a nutshell, younger people today are very comfortable with a small screen and older people are not. Both younger and older people can be found staring at their phones for texts or email or directions, but the big difference comes in cultural consumption. According to one study, the median age of an American television viewer is about 56, whereas for mobile and computer video viewers the median age is 40. Forty percent of those viewers are between 13 and 34…

Just as many older people don’t grasp the import of YouTube, most younger people have a weak sense of the power of cinema on a large screen. It’s not entirely their fault. It’s relatively easy to see older movies on a big screen in London or Paris, and maybe in New York City and Los Angeles (and Silver Spring, Maryland, home to the American Film Institute). In most other places in America, it’s much more difficult.

Sadly, the world is rapidly becoming a place where cinematic history, as it was created for larger screens, no longer exists. Netflix, for all its wonders and diverse contemporary selection, is notoriously bad about making older movies available for streaming, and at any rate the service does not provide a properly large screen for those films.

There is much more at the link, and the economically-minded reader will note this is an application of the Alchian-Allen Theorem.


Large screen, small screen, whatever. My godson is a college freshman. What I have learned in the past week and a half is that antisocial behavior plays out in the dorm, as new roommates not only can't get along, but finding compatible roommates takes up a great deal of time of college administrators during the first month of the term. Who's to blame for this? I suppose that conflict between roommates is as old as roommates. But this is on an entirely different level according to the administrator who has been dealing with my godson. Do young people spend so much time staring at the small screen they never learn social skills?

Young people don't spend enough time in unsupervised play so they don't learn the interpersonal negotiating skills - they rely on arbitration conducted by adults or "authorities". We really f*ckwd up our kids. Now when they have a problem in the dorms, instead of working it out they run to an administrator. Back in the day we ran around free, feral kids. We had to deal with cheaters, liars, selfish kids, and bullies on our own. We learned to survive in the jungle.

We cheated our kids by protecting them from those learning experiences.

Hahahahaha. Oh, God.

Brazil has more cheaters, liars, rapists, and murderers than you have in the USA. That is why our future under Captain Bolsonaro will be much brighter than yours.

Actually, crime is a very occurence in Brazil. I barely can imagine Brazilians commiting crimes.

Even on the big screen, my cock is still too small.

find a good therapist.

You do not need to be so sad in this world, it is a beautiful world, and as God is my witness I, a supremely gifted therapist, have seen moderately gifted therapists turn losers like you into people who other people actually enjoy being around -----

life is easy

God loves us all

(you have no idea of how happy you could be if you were able to find a supremely gifted therapist such as me, and .... I am in a good mood tonight ///\\

you can't and you won't but pray to God and God's answers to your prayers are better than the best advice you will get even from supremely gifted people like me.


I have helped many "losers" become "winners" in my day

800 305 2089

not my number just a number I found on the internet

you have no idea how much better your life would be if you found a supremely gifted therapist

well Jesus is still alive and listens to your prayers so there's that

(sorry if I sound like I am mocking you as a loser ---- I sort of am ---- but I am trying to be helpful, too)

I don't need a therapist. I need a cock surgeon. Are you a cock surgeon?

My cock is too small?

Your wife loved it!

I think you were looking through the wrong end of the binoculars.

Given the vast sums lavished on US campuses why does the institution of having a roommate still exist?

If you attend Harvard, to meet your future 150 IQ business partner to begin the multi-million dollar start up. I myself attended a mid tier state university, so I had the privilege of covering my head with a pillow as my loser roommate plowed the house party pickup and then proceeded to piss over our shared floor.

CSU Chico?

Your roommate was getting laid and you weren’t and he’s the loser roommate?

no importa las tonterías!
el próximo año enviar el engendro de sus lomos a la asequible Universidad de Texas. ¡El profesor M. Mcconaghey es el Ministro de Cultura!

The big screen is an immersive experience. You can feel the movie, there is a sense of depth, of being in the movie, and it is not about the sound, it's the visual field.

I am an old guy, but I live YouTube for many reasons. However, I miss the DJs as music curators. I used to listen to public radio station. It played jazz four nights per week, a different DJ for each night. One guy really played the music I like. The station folded and he went away. The YouTube algorithm doesn't capture my preferences.

I "love" YouTube.


I feel like the algorithm doesn't do choose as well either. Would be fasinating to do a blind rest to see if I could tell the difference. Someone must have already done this right?

I'm an old retired guy too, but I enjoy watching the old movies on the new big, flat screen TVs.

Korean Englishmen Commando Training is good.

What's the big screen?

Is it that thing in front of the door?

When I was a kid, there were little theaters in the neighborhood, and really big screens, Cinedomes, for special outings. Maybe we're going back to more destinations.

Of course this is LA. The Cinedome where I saw Camelot in '67 is still there. Newly a destination again.

What front door?

Its what China manufactures with cheap robot labor and exports to the US to be sold and delivered by Amazon/BestBuy to high cost labor who own detached single family homes. (Taiwan is China and Korea and Japan outsource to China).


Cost cutting is a war on detached single family homes big enough for big screens.

Cost cutting is a war on going out with friends and spending money on dinner, threater, and discussion over decaf after, then having money left over to pay the sitter.

I think Milton Friedman would be happy to see the reduced consumption from cost cutting, the reducced demand from cost cutting, because he saw the cycle of higher labor costs driving higher demand driving building more production driving uup labor costs as highly destructive of profits because old capital became obsolete too soon and was replaced before it produced high profits.

By cutting the high cost of investing in infrastructure, capital, roads, watter and sewer to increase single family home stock, high profits are generated for the early adopters, mostly boomers, of increasingly scarce detached single family homes.

Cell phones are the biggest screen Uber transportation businessmen living in their car or a closet can fit in their living workspace.


I praise Mr. Crivella for his leadership.

Yes. Now, if only someone would make a porno of him and Mr. Trump doing it dog-style.

I think that is the 50 Cent Party impersonator.

How does one impersonate the 50 Cent Party?

Next time you’re at the cinema, hold your phone up in front of the screen. which is actually “bigger”?

I think the main reason the cinema is a more “immersive” experience is because of the sound. But this can be reproduced with any earphones good enough to block out surrounding noise

This guy is an impostor. Nobody has called them "earphones" since 1946.

The immersive effect is a combination of the angle subtended by the image and the resolution. A 55” screen with 4K at 10 feet is pretty good. A cell phone, even at 12 inches, just is not.

I expect contacts or glasses within a few years that will provide full field of view with very high resolution, and thus a fully immersive experience.

Watching movies on cell phone sized screens may be convenient, but that’s all it is.

Surely the sound a big part of it too though... not just having it ‘surround’ you but having it block out any background noise. And this is definitely possible with smartphones

Agree, but you had already covered audio.

All in all, it’s quite a jump from the old 17” black and white TV with mono sound.

I guess it depends how you weight these things, certainly it’s not the same experiment but for me a smartphone gets me about 90% of the way there, whereas say 1990s VHS was less than 50%.

(Noting that the cinema experience is somewhat improved over that period too)

I disagree that headphones or earphones are a good substitute for a nice audio system. But today people are so inured to bad sound that they think a soundbar is an adequate replacement for good speakers properly amplified and arranged in such a way as to preserve stereo. And of course creating a correctly balanced surround sound system is even harder.

The film industry has never been in a stable paradigm for very long. There was the run of the studio system, but between US. v. Paramount, television and the HUAC trials it began changing. "Cleopatra" roughly ended it. Then "Heaven's Gate" did more damage.

Some screens are bigger than others. I know people who watch things on the larger Kindles. They're older.

There is a JRE with John Carmack ( the principal programmer of DOOM ) and much of it discusses emerging VR tech. They're getting that "simulator sickness" thing figured out , work is being done on other safety issues ( people running into walls ) and it's unclear how small things will actually get. The goal is "sunglasses form factor" but that's obviously not attainable now.

"and maybe in New York City" Metrograph, IFC, Film Forum, Nitehawk, Village East, Angelica, Quad Cinema, BAM, Cinema Village, etc. Guess Tyler doesn't spend much time here, because there's a ton of theaters showing much more impressive mix of film programming than Paris, for instance. Can't speak to London.

to further prove the point, also film at the lincoln center, moma, museum of the moving image, alamo, and anthology

though to be fair, there isn't one of these places where i think the programming is consistently good -- there's just so many places that you can find the good stuff if you do your homework (which is pretty much nyc in general).

Television gets most of the blame for the death of cinema, but the car probably deserves more.

Are you kidding? Going to the drive-in with my girl friend sure boosted my attendance at movies.

I really don't understand. It's the same movie whether you watch it on a big screen or on an iPad. You can stick your face really close to the screen and turn up the volume, if you want. What's the difference?

It's the same movie, but not the same experience. It's like wondering why some people pay a bunch of money to see the Rolling Stones live when they are available in the iMusic-whatever-store.

The even more important factor re: seeing the Stones live or listening at home, and seeing a movie in the theater vs at home, is being in a crowd of others enjoying the same thing as you. We are social animals. I'm sure the young 'uns still take their dates to the movies, or enjoy seeing them with friends.

Yep. Exactly right. Adam Smith - we want to be in sympathy ie on the same emotional wavelength as other people. Theory of Moral Sentiments. Otherwise why go to a football game or baseball game? Why do so many people want to watch at home not alone but with their buds?

Exactly correct. Of the 18,000 in attendance at a hockey game only a handful have any real knowledge of the nuances of the game or an appreciation of its intricacies. The rest are simply there to be a part of a diverse group united in a common desire, the victory of the home team over the hated visitors.

Panem et circenses

Netflix, for all its wonders and diverse contemporary selection, is notoriously bad about making older movies available for streaming

The rights to many great older movies are owned by big entertainment companies. for whom they are an insignificant holding. Nonetheless, these companies don't want give up the streaming rights for cheap - just on principle. And it is no matter to them one way or another if they disappear down the memory hole, and are never shown again. The only cost to them, is the cost of storing the reels on a shelf somewhere (it is to be hoped in a preservative environment).

The audience for older films is laughably small by Netflix standards, so you're not going to see Netflix showing anything but the same public domain classic oldies every other streamer is showing.

Actually the overall selection of movies on Netflix, new and old, is very poor. They just don't care about film much. Same for amazon prime. If young people are going to balk at paying to see a particular movie and instead just rely on streamimg, they're going to miss out on a ton of great film. But I suspect they don't really care. That's the big cultural divide I've discovered.

Most likely the problem is rights clearances.

For example, old TV shows like WKRP in Cincinnati and old movies like Heavy Metal (to give two notorious examples) made heavy use of music, and the licensing at the time did not foresee VCR and DVD releases. When the time came to negotiate, rightsholders demanded such exorbitant upfront payments that the movie producers simply gave up and used crappy new soundtracks.

Even if rightsholders are willing to play ball, you have to find them first. For old intellectual property it can be a huge research project just figuring out whose estate owns which rights, not just for music but perhaps even for the actor's likenesses and whatnot. Depending on how the old contracts were worded, maybe the only use authorized by default is for movie theater showings.

So you have to pay researchers to track down multiple sets of heirs and then pay lawyers to negotiate with them, all for some old movie in the long tail of the demand curve that will generate a pittance in revenue. You won't come close to breaking even. And all of that would just be for the US, and you might have to go back to square one and repeat the process for other jurisdictions worldwide.

Splits conjure another medium. Supervision, the reason behind cord-cutting. Media buyers are supervisors. Media sellers are content creators. Cord-cutters create branded content. Why are they so super?

Most old people who have large televisions sit so far away that the screen may as well be small. You sit close to a relatively small computer screen and it takes up a much larger fraction of your field of view.

Presbyopia makes it harder for people over 50 or so to see up close, so a large, distant screen is easier on their eyes. On the other hand, their hearing tends to fade too, so going to a theater is less fun because, as my half-deaf father used to say, All The Actors Mumble These Days.

The sweet spot is to stay home and watch movies on a big screen TV with the captions turned on.

"All The Actors Mumble These Days": that's not deafness that's the truth.

When I watch sports on TV I can make out every word the commentator says even against the background of the crowd noise. Therefore if I can't make out what an actor says the deficiency isn't in my hearing it's in his acting.

Blame the scriptwriters who now create a lot of rapidfire dialog. Old movies and TV shows had a more leisurely pace.

Another factor for movies is that three quarters of movie revenues now come from overseas, where a lot of viewers aren't going to understand all of the English-language dialog anyway and just want a grand cinematic experience. So sound effects and swelling music and noisy action sequences get a higher priority even if they partially drown out the words.

TCM has been showing classic films in theaters. I just saw Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen for the first time since the 1960s. It is fantastic in that format, especially since it's been restored. As good as it is on a modern television, it is a completely different experience in Panavision. I have also seen screenings of the 1959 Ben Hur and Wizard of Oz, and have come away gobsmacked.

For laughs, I tried watching on my phone the Battle on the Ice from Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky on YouTube.

My memory is that L of A made unusually good use of the width of the screen.

It was shot on 65 mm film, as opposed to the standard 35 mm, which allowed for the super-wide screen screening. It also had a superb cinematographer.

I'd nominate Lawrence of Arabia for the greatest visual experience of any movie yet made. And to fully appreciate it one needs a huge screen, large enough that you have to turn your neck to take in the immense landscapes, and also large enough so that the figures of humans and camels, tiny as they are especially compared to the landscape, are big enough for you to see them as more than just specks or ants.

Ok but how many LOA’s are there that need to be watched in the cinema to get the full effect. Most movies are junk created by hacks and really don’t suffer from being not watched at all.

Is that what the world needs more of right now? Young people moving from one set of screens to another?

What the small screen cannot replicate:

The immersive “flow-y” phenomenological feel of cinema theatre-going.

The collective experience of seeing a film with strangers, even though one has perhaps little in common with them other than for those two hours. I’m no Marxist but it must be admitted that we are a very social animal.

Above all, one can’t hit pause or rewind. It’s like being at a sporting event compared to PVR-ing a game. The added power of the “You had to be there!” effect, which is powerful and should be celebrated.

Just said similar above

It was never easy to find older movies on the big screen. Except in a few of the largest cities, showings of movies that weren't first-run or recent second-run was a once in a while thing, at off-times, and no matter where you found them, selection was limited to whichever one the venue happened to choose.

Nowadays, you can sit (immersively!) in your home theater and watch DVDs, old-movie channels, or even the "limited" offerings of Netflix, which a previous generations would consider an amazing cornucopia.

Tyler is just nostalgic for Times Square and pr0n on the big screen.

This is why middle America is a third world shithole. They lack access to cinematic history. They donate to the wrong things on Patreon. And they don't listen to enough classical music.

Movies are boring and rots your brain. People found other things to do.

I think I'm checking out of this elitist boomer blog. See you old fogies later.

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