Enjoy the Best, Not The Latest, Media

Tried and tested beats new and marketed

A while back I watched a mediocre film and complained to a friend, who told me, “Well, they need to make something to satisfy the crowd of summer moviegoers”. While I understood, I didn’t agree.

Such content is so common there’s even a name for it — potboiler. This is a book written not for a creative or literary or otherwise worthwhile purpose, but only to make money, literally to boil the pot to cook food for the author.

Don’t watch the next film or other marketing-driven content. Enjoy the best, irrespective of when it was made. In my opinion, the best film is Mulholland Drive from 2001. The best TV series is Star Trek: The Next Generation from the 90s. The best album is Entheogenic’s Spontaneous Illumination from 2003:

The best music video is Pink Floyd’s High Hopes, from 2003:

All of this is more than a decade old, but that doesn’t make it worse.

Last year, I watched Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, which was made in 1959, but it was fresh and gripping. Media doesn’t rot the way a dosa does.

So, seek out the best, not the newest. Ignore marketing noise, which is basically someone paying for you to notice something, whether an ad or a promotion like certain books displayed prominently when you enter a bookshop. Those who pay the piper control the tune. They’re promoting what they want, not what’s best for you. In fact, that’s the whole point of marketing. So, ignore marketing spam.

In fact, tried and tested is the best. Here’s a list of the top TV series, for example. Notice that the #1, Breaking Bad, ended in 2013. If people are still talking about it after so many years, it must be really good. Whatever effect marketing or “coolness” have has dissipated after some years.

Go by the average rating, not popularity. It’s better to watch something a million people love than something 10 million people watched and consider okay.

In the days before the Internet, we had limited space in bookshops, limited TV channels, etc. If you wanted to buy an audiotape, you could buy only what a nearby music shop offered. In those days, you got what was new, whether you liked it or not. Now technology has changed, but habits take a long time to adjust. Society’s norms with media and culture are stuck in the pre-Internet days. That doesn’t mean you have to be.