Happy 2014 - Five Hopes for a Better Media World

WHETHER  you celebrate on January 1 or another date (Chinese New Year is just around the corner) - New Year’s is a reflection of new beginnings, new hopes, and new commitments to change.  

In 2013, media achieved some amazing milestones and shed some of the trappings of tradition that has held it back from fully embracing the digital age.  Among those milestones, the mythology of film’s presumed hierarchy over television gave way, talent and money crossed freely between film and TV, media companies posted record earnings as a result of changes brought on by the Golden Age of Television, and Netflix taught us in more ways than one that embracing the digital age can only spur more creativity and more revenues.

So how can we top 2013?  Here are a few suggestions for a new and better 2014 media world.

*WOMEN AND CREATIVITY – It’s wonderful to see that Jane Campion has been named the jury president of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival but hard to believe that we still live in a world where most of the stories told in film and television are directed by men.  Not that we don’t love you but let’s be fair. This is just good old-fashioned prejudice from the top down and happily, we can do something about that. Campion is the only woman to have ever received the Palm d’Or, the grand prize, in the 65-year history of the festival. Katheryn Bigelow is the only woman to ever have received the Oscar for directing in the 85-year history of the awards ceremony. Let’s change this silliness and honour creativity at its fullest measure, and that includes letting the women play in your sandbox, guys. 

*COOPERATION is the key-- between players, between countries, in languages, in cultures. We no longer live in an “either or world” where stomping the competition is the best course of action. We no longer live in a world where it is polite to say one intends to rule the world, and it is surprising how many media releases imply that very thing. The very competition you’d like to stomp out today may be your best next partner tomorrow.

*STOP THINKING BOXES. There is no box to think inside of or outside of in the new digital environment. There is a continuous stream of content and creativity generated across the media world that flows to relevant multiple screens, uses relevant multiple tools and survives through multiple distribution channels. Anything else is archaic.

*KING, CONTENT AND CLICHES --Stop using expressions that are seriously outdated. My favourite is “content is king”, a silly cliche that has been used about three billion times in the last few years.  In a world where there are very few kings, very few queens as it happens as well, and most of them have little or no power, the expression is antithetical at best.

*MALICE AFORETHOUGHT - Last but not least, let’s take a serious look at the kinds of worlds we create in our content. We live in a world that can be violent and dangerous and to ignore it in the visual arts would be ridiculous but to continue to pump out violent films or TV series whose only merits are that they keep the adrenaline rush going is something that begs two questions: as an industry, are we losing track of our moral compass and, more to the point, as creative people, can’t we do better?

 Happy 2014. Be good.