I’ve often heard the phrase “things were so much simpler back then” passed through conversations among older generations reminiscing upon their lifestyles growing up. I do see this to be true, the variety of technologies, brands, models, developers and resources of today certainly initiate some degree of complication against what was once a simple ‘black and white experience’. Through the ‘black and white experience’ I describe the literal black and white tradition of film and newspaper in the simple, black and white way in which it was delivered to audiences. But I also use the term to describe the black and white experience of having a general product that was generalised as to be delivered to a common audience i.e. a supermarket supplying one common brand of milk or bread. That was what was made generally available to consumers, so that was what they consumed.
I liken this kind of experience to the experiences my mother describes of her growing up in the 1970’s. In regards to what was made available, consumers were limited in this sense. The fact that my mother and her siblings had to drive into the city to see a film at the cinema says just this. I think that now we take for granted the fact that we have access to a range of Hoyts and Greater Union franchises that are present within most Westfields.
My mother describes cinematic experiences as a rarity growing up- the family couldn’t afford to visit the cinemas every week, thus it was often an annual event which mostly took place within the summer holidays. The Herbie films were among my mothers favourites growing up. Advertisments catered to a more general audience, rather than being tailored to each individual genre and market segment.
In the 21st century we enter a more colourful world of option and variety in relation to what is made available to us. This in turn influences what we then expect as consumers and what producers and developers aim for when marketing to us. The greater the increase in quantitative masses of audiences, the greater the options that can be made readily available.
As more people invest in a product, brand or platform, taking the Apple iphone as a prime example of this with a huge movement of supporters- more can then be done to improve future models, ranges can be extended and greater research can be undertaken in regards to finding out what audiences desire and are looking to acquire. The very same goes for cinematic experiences. Industry professionals now analyse audiences of film and can segregate them to develop and innovate new film categories and distribution outlets ranging from 3D films, moonlight cinemas, drive-in’s, and my favourite- gold class. Greater Union also initiates specialised events such as Chicks at the flicks, Fathers and Mothers day events, Valentines day events and ‘bring your baby’ events. Audiences are molded into more specific fragments rather than a generalised mass of individuals whom the producer assumes all enjoy the same tastes and genres.
The introduction of new markets within cinema makes for the introduction of new audiences and new media spaces as an effect of this. It makes me wonder if my mother, whilst seated in the drive-in viewing Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo in black and white, knew what was ahead of her. We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.
Armstrong L, 2013. Personal Communication, 18 August 2013