The AFI Awards always manage to recognize the best in film and television, but they’ve also noted the most significant historical changes in the medium. In 2009 we saw a lot of important events happen that changed the landscape of the entertainment world forever. AFI has released their list of Eight Significant Moments in Film, TV and the Web from 2009 that have changed the industry’s future for better and for worse…
AFI Moments of Significance include accomplishments of considerable merit; influences with either a positive or negative impression; trends, either new or re-emerging; anniversaries or memorials of special note; and/or movements in new technologies, education, preservation, government or other areas that impact the art film, television and digital media.
Here’s who made waves this year…
AVATAR – JAMES CAMERON’S MILEPOST IN THE EVOLUTION OF THE ART FORM
- The magic of the motion picture – and the transfer of its power to television and now video games – has always found its truest power in its immersive qualities, and with Cameron’s advances in CGI (computer-generated images) and 3-D, Avatar enters AFI’s almanac as an achievement that will have profound effects on the future of the art form.
TWITTER: THE NEW WATERCOOLER
- Twitter, the Internet platform for messages of up to 140 characters, has become a powerful force in the worlds of film and television. It has long been proven that the most effective way to attract an audience is through “word of mouth,” and Twitter allows for these influential conversations to be immediate and international.
THE LENO EXPERIMENT AND THE LOSS OF DRAMA
- On September 14, 2009, NBC premiered “The Jay Leno Show,” a reformatted version of “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” to run Monday through Friday at 10:00 p.m. As a result, five hours traditionally reserved for episodic drama were dropped from the broadcast television landscape. The move had a harsh effect in job losses for the creative ensembles whose stories were told at that time, and also among national affiliate stations whose ratings for 11:00 p.m. local news programs dropped significantly.
REALITY TV AND THE LOSS OF BOUNDARIES
- Reality television crossed a line in 2009 as the cultural craving for celebrity moved in a dangerous new direction. Most significantly, the “characters” now referred to as “Balloon Boy” and “Octomom,” in addition to a couple who allegedly infiltrated the White House to attend a state dinner, have marked the year as one in which the health and welfare of our citizens should be considered before the standards and practices of television.
THE END OF ANALOG AND OTHER SIGNS OF SEA CHANGE
- On June 12, 2009, analog television switched off, and the digital revolution saw a new day. This moment is mostly symbolic, but signaled further change across many former television traditions: Several long-running soap operas were cancelled in 2009 including “Guiding Light” and “As The World Turns,” plus the television mini-series became more scarce. Other notable moments in the sea of change include Comcast’s bid to acquire NBC Universal to ensure content for distribution to its more than 23 million subscribers, as well as the continued rise in the reliance of DVRs (digital video recorders) so that audiences have shows when and where they wish to view them.
2009 – A YEAR OF EXTRAORDINARY ANIMATION
- Though animation has been a genre of great impact since the dawn of the moving image, 2009 marked a year that saw a dazzling explosion of noteworthy work from many of the nation’s finest artists, and in forms vast and varied – from classic hand-drawn stories like The Princess And The Frog; to stop-motion splendors like Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox; to computer-generated creations like 9, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs and Monsters Vs. Aliens.
THIS IS IT – DEATH OF MICHAEL JACKSON
- Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009. In the months that followed his death, Jackson’s talents were celebrated on-line, with a renewed interest in the musical and video gifts he had given the world over five decades; on television, as millions tuned in for his memorial and funeral services; and, most notably, in theatres, with the film THIS IS IT, a documentary crafted from the rehearsal footage for an upcoming concert tour. The film proved an unprecedented global eulogy for fans and friends of the “King of Pop.”
RECESSION – THE MOVIES AGAIN PROVE A TONIC FOR ECONOMIC AILS
- Just as Americans flocked to musicals and screwball comedies during the Great Depression of the 1930s, audiences in 2009 escaped their worries by going to the movies. Though total admissions do not compare, it is worthy to note that in the world’s darkest economic time since the Depression, American films grossed more money than any time in the history of the art form. Aliens, vampires and wizards may have replaced Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on the silver screen, but the movies still provide joy and refuge in a story well told.
What do you think of AFI’s most significant moments of 2009? Who or what do you think changed entertainment the most this year?