Blurring the lines between film and television: a changing culture

For most of us, movies and television have played a substantial role in our lives and make up a large portion of our cultural preferences.

Moving picture shows on the silver screen were the entertainment standard for years, until television began to rapidly populate homes in the 1950s. There are similarities and difference in the two mediums, and over time they have affected each other and changed with advancements in technology.


Technology in particular has played the biggest part in shaping television and films in recent years. As a kid born in the mid-90s and raised in the early 2000s, I still remember having to memorize the times my favorite shows or movies were on Disney Channel, and the agony of waiting months for “Mulan” to be released on VHS so I could watch it all the time. It’s hard to believe that now parents can give their kids a tablet with thousands of programs available at their literal fingertips.

Sometimes I still stop and marvel at the fact that we all have this ability, and I wonder whether it is good for industry and society.

Technology is out-competing itself. Originally, rentals from stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video were the most popular method of seeing films. Starting around 2007, Redbox became increasingly popular and have now eclipsed other physical rental stores.

As we speak, I (along with many others, I’m sure) am marathoning “Friends.” I am distracted from the homework I need to be completing and the article in front of me. Because of technology like Netflix, Hulu and On Demand services, I have the ability to watch thousands of shows from beginning to end whenever, wherever I want, and it’s much harder to stop than I’d like to admit.

It’s a huge time-waster, and unless it’s during a break, I often feel extremely guilty for watching. I’m sure many of you have this problem too, and it is one of the worst problems with the advent of instant gratification entertainment.

A smaller, yet still significant downside to these services is the decline in movie theatre ticket sales. Many traditionalists are highly disappointed that people are no longer going to experience a collective viewing in the cinema.

It can cost up to $30 for two people to go to the movies and get concessions, whereas you pay $96 for an entire year of Netflix and its unlimited programming, and $20 for a 28-count box of Pop Secret. If you were to only watch four films on Netflix, it would already be cheaper than that average cost of going to the theater.

There are, of course, many positives these services as well, especially for independent productions.

Without Netflix, we would have no “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black.”

There would be countless independent films that would not have gained nearly as much momentum without video on demand services. For instance, Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut “Lost River” will be released April 10, and thanks to The Weinstein Company, it will not be confined to small, specialized theaters. Viewers will be able to view it OnDemand the same day as its theatrical release, opening the film up to a much wider audience.


It seems as though the line between television and film is becoming blurred. The production quality of television shows like “Game of Thrones” are of theatrical quality and are even being shown in theaters, while films are being shown in theaters and OnDemand simultaneously.

Like most technological advancements, this change is both good and bad, and it will be interesting to see where we will be in the coming years.

Collegian A&E Writer Aubrey Shanahan can be reached at or on Twitter @aubs926.