Vivek Haldar

Medium Shear

Roger Ebert makes a rational, compelling case against 3D cinema

3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. Hollywood’s current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal. It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience. For some, it is an annoying distraction. For others, it creates nausea and headaches. It is driven largely to sell expensive projection equipment and add a $5 to $7.50 surcharge on already expensive movie tickets. Its image is noticeably darker than standard 2-D. It is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness. It limits the freedom of directors to make films as they choose. For moviegoers in the PG-13 and R ranges, it only rarely provides an experience worth paying a premium for.
History gives us a long list of a new medium displacing an older one. Some of the more prominent ones: books replaced the spoken word, TV replaced radio, the Internet replaced (or will replace) TV.

Socrates disdained the written word as a tool for the mentally weak and for its lack of dialectic. The earliest books were verbatim stores for knowledge and hymns that people had memorized. Fiction came later.

The earliest TV shows were radio shows pasted onto the new medium, many consisting of people sitting around and talking, but with the audience now able to see them. It took decades to develop and exercise the full palette of visual expression the new medium allowed.

A new medium never loses. It might have supporters and naysayers, but once it reaches a point where there is serious debate about it, it’s already too late. Can you think of a single example where the tide of a new medium was turned back? This is not to say that the debate is useless. It’s true purpose should not be to influence the uptake of the medium, but to point out it’s strengths and weaknesses, and in doing so, pave the way for the full range of expression it allows.