Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Toronto, Canada
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My god, some posters here need to get off the soapbox and just go watch some TV. If you like the SOE, good for you; but the world really doesn't need another pedantic, libertarian-esque rant on the subject. If you despise the SOE, again, good for you. There is no right or wrong here, no superior or inferior, no better or worse. There's simply no accounting for taste.
It's a matter of which aesthetic you prefer, and what your mind is geared to accept. Generally, I consider myself a supporter of technological advancement in almost all areas; but I've never been able to stomach the SOE, if advancement it is (although I'm highly suspicious of all consumer-tier digital signal processing techniques). To my eye (but perhaps not to everyone's), it tends to make a theatrical film look like someone's home video, or a made-for-TV movie from the 1990s. My mind immediately associates that with one word: "cheap". It may not be the case, but that's still the first word that always comes to mind when I view the SOE (or, indeed, any member of the genre which is its namesake).
I don't particularly care whether major studio films are "art" or not (and I care even less for the discussion point). The 24fps aesthetic is one I've become accustomed to in the cinema, and it's something I prefer to retain at home. Perhaps others want a movie to look more like a view out of their living room window; so be it, and that's perfectly acceptable. One preference or the other; that's all it boils down to. Neither look is objectively superior to the other, regardless of what some may wish to pontificate on the subject, but both can be said to have advantages and disadvantages. But it's not about director's intent (though all filmmakers, whether you want to call their work "art" or not, have as much right to have an intent as anyone else has to their preference), "OMG, it's 2012 already, down with film" (aka technological advancement), or any other silly notions someone may want to bring up in a discussion on this subject.
It certainly is the right of us all to watch movies however we please, but that doesn't require a soapbox defense of something that never needed to be defended in the first place; nor criticism of something else that never warranted any criticism. Hell, if someone is in love with MPEG-2 artifact and feels said artifact enhances his viewing experience, then by all means let him transcode a movie to hell and back before he watches it; and more power to him. Nothing is stopping any of us from watching movies however we please, nor will anything stop us in the future. Manufacturers of HDTVs know that there are many people in both camps on the SOE issue, and none are foolish enough to alienate either camp.
My justification for my own preference (though a justification is hardly required) is fairly easy to explain. My preferred aesthetic may not look as "real-world" as something processed with motion interpolation, but personally I find that desirable as far as films go (or any fictional material, really). For me, making films look as if they're being viewed through a window is incredibly jarring and completely destroys any suspension of disbelief, along with any immersion I had in the story. I literally can't make it through a movie such as Iron Man with motion interpolation processing in effect, as it ends up looking more like cut-scenes from a video game or footage from the evening news. Call me nostalgic or (more likely, as I'm not nearly old enough to have experienced this first-hand) a throwback if you wish, but there was a time when the cinema was likened to immersing oneself in a completely different world. I'm not usually much for romanticism, but that notion is appealing to me, and I find (in my own experience) that it holds true even with modern films; particularly those with plots that veer into the fantastical.