Literature: The Content Wars
The Color Purple, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye – classics of American literature, and books some political and parent groups continually try to pull off library shelves. To draw attention to our freedom to read, a freedom that (surprisingly) some would challenge, the American Library Association and other groups have declared this Banned Books Week. You’ll find “banned book read-outs” going on at local bookstores.
What would be worse than banned books? How about works you didn’t even know were banned – works that never made it onto the shelves or screens or downloads in the first place, so you were not aware they were being censored.
That’s exactly what may be happening with all forms of creative content as digital delivery systems ramp up. Digital delivery, for those who still have difficulty understanding Twitter, is how books arrive on your Kindle or how movies are starting to show up at theatres. For movies, gone, soon, will be the days of celluloid and heavy film canisters. Not only will movies be digital, but they will be delivered to the theatres via satellite or high-speed internet connection: just like an e-book. They’ll just exist as data files on a cinema’s server.
Once movies are delivered this way, it will become easy to change them quickly, and to change their content for specific purposes. An R-rated movie in New York might have a PG version playing in Louisville. The abortion reference in a film in Los Angeles might not appear in the version shown in Tucson. The pro-Glenn Beck T-shirt worn by a main character on a Kansas City movie screen might be swapped out for a Rachel Maddow T-shirt in San Francisco.
The same could easily be true of the books we read electronically (publishers are already exploring custom editions), and the television shows we watch.
Soon it would no longer even be news that some content was being proactively censored. All of this would play into the narrowing of the American mind and the increasing polarization of our common attempts at dialogue. If you never come across new ideas that might challenge your thoughts, your thoughts will never change.
In Ray Bradbury’s classic novel, 451 degrees Fahrenheit was the temperature at which books burned. Soon, it may happen, easily, with little notice and at room temperature, with the click of a mouse.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam Leipzig is the founder and CEO of MediaU, online career acceleration. MediaU opens the doors of access for content creation, filmmaking and television. Adam, Cultural Daily’s founder and publisher, has worked with more than 10,000 creatives in film, theatre, television, music, dance, poetry, literature, performance, photography, and design. He has been a producer, distributor or supervising executive on more than 30 films that have disrupted expectations, including A Plastic Ocean, March of the Penguins, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Dead Poets Society, Titus and A Plastic Ocean. His movies have won or been nominated for 10 Academy Awards, 11 BAFTA Awards, 2 Golden Globes, 2 Emmys, 2 Directors Guild Awards, 4 Sundance Awards and 4 Independent Spirit Awards. Adam teaches at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. Adam began his career in theatre; he was the first professional dramaturg in the United States outside of New York City, and he was one of the founders of the Los Angeles Theatre Center, where he produced more than 300 plays, music, dance, and other events. Adam is CEO of Entertainment Media Partners, a company that navigates creative entrepreneurs through the Hollywood system and beyond, and a keynote speaker. Adam is the former president of National Geographic Films and senior Walt Disney Studios executive. He has also served in senior capacities at CreativeFuture, a non-profit organization that advocates for the creative community. Adam is is the author of ‘Inside Track for Independent Filmmakers ’ and co-author of the all-in-one resource for college students and emerging filmmakers 'Filmmaking in Action: Your Guide to the Skills and Craft' (Macmillan). (Photo by Jordan Ancel)