Although “The Long Tail” proclaimed a coming revolution, [Chris] Anderson was careful never to predict the demise of blockbusters. “Hits, like it or not, are here to stay,” he wrote. But he believed that the cultural power of hits was fading, and he presented his economic analysis as a moral crusade. “For too long,” he wrote, “we’ve been suffering the tyranny of lowest-common-denominator fare, subjected to brain-dead summer blockbusters and manufactured pop.”ADDED: The article says "Elberse's book is is written in the upbeat, anecdotal, gently exhortative style of an airport best-seller...." That's a way to say "Malcolm Gladwell" without saying it, right? But Gladwell's writing originated in The New Yorker, so it's a tad incoherent to tweak it as "airport best-seller" in The New Yorker.
The language reflected his own tastes, which were self-consciously hip. (He was vexed by the popularity of boy bands and excited about a retro-futurist electronic genre known as “chip music,” which achieved micro-success in the aughts.) He hoped that more of us would discover “smaller artists who speak more authentically to their audience,” and that all of us might, at last, perceive “the true shape of demand in our culture.” He was flattering his readers by inviting them to be part of his community of connoisseurs. Long-tail economics would make good on the promise of the Internet, turning more people into experts on topics fewer people had heard of. Elberse flatters her readers, too. In her book ["Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment"], the old ethos of the Internet has given way to the new ethos of social media; while Anderson predicted the end of the “watercooler era,” Elberse sees the water cooler reborn, as fans track the progress of the latest cultural juggernaut across their Twitter timelines. “Because people are inherently social, they generally find value in reading the same books and watching the same television shows and movies that others do,” she writes, recasting our taste for hits as proof of our common humanity. Lurking behind her blockbuster thesis is the suggestion that being sociable matters more than being hip.
November 29, 2013
Nicely analyzed in The New Yorker. Excerpt: