September 19, 2018

Watch: Martin Scorsese on Why You Shouldn't Use the Word 'Content' to Describe Cinema

The legendary filmmaker and film preservationist makes his case.

While the 2018 Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival took place in Hollywood earlier this spring, one particular award presentation has only now been released online.

The recipient of the first-ever Robert Osborne Award (named after the instantly familiar long-time host of TCM programming), Martin Scorsese was on hand at the festival to accept the award from his frequent collaborator Leonard DiCaprio and in his acceptance speech, Scorsese made sure to reflect on the amazing resources we have available to us today as filmmakers and cinephiles, and how we should be careful of how we're contextualizing our work for future generations to value and experience. 

"There's a more insidious threat," Scorsese noted from the podium as he stressed the importance of his lifelong journey of preserving celluloid and now digital cinema, "the devaluation of cinema itself. It can all be summed up in the word that's being used now: content..." Let's talk about that word for a moment. 

The word content can certainly be an overused buzzword these days due to its frequent use and blanket definition. If content is all-encompassing, then anything can certainly be labeled as content. The word, as Scorsese sees it, makes cinema just another piece of the vast media puzzle.

"Now [people can watch films whenever and wherever they want], on laptops, on tablets, on phones, even watches," Scorsese continued, "and we don't want people to see film this way, but they do. And in so doing, they can also turn a picture off and go straight to the next piece of content." If cinema is just another mere distraction meant to momentarily entertain us, why should future generations take it seriously as a prosperous artform? It's a good question to ask and one that should seriously make those in the film industry realize the power of the words they use to describe their most beloved art.

Do you agree with Scorsese's comments? Let us know in the comments below.      

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