widescreen.org - The Letterbox and Widescreen Advocacy page Defending the visions and intentions of filmmakers

2008     2007     2006     2005     2004     2003     2002     2001     2000     1999     1998     1997



Counter

I'M JUST GLAD THAT IT'S OVER ... FOR NOW

November 2004


Well, the past few months were fun, weren't they? (Not.) After months of anticipation, we finally were able to make our choice. It's clear that the majority of people in the U.S. have spoken and that there truly is a mandate from us on what we want from the future.

I'm sure that you know what I'm talking about, but bear with me. This needs to be said and it's critical (really critical) that you read all of the way through so that you can understand where I'm coming from.

When given such a choice as we Americans recently had, there are only two sides, which I shall from this point on refer to as the "right" or "winning" camp and the "wrong" or "losing" camp. (And when I say "camp" I mean the collective whole of the leaders of each group and their supporters.)

In this case I can happily say that the winning camp was victorious. (Well, duh! The losing side obviously can't be victorious.) I'm sure that a great many people are not happy with that fact, but at this point it's still the truth, although a bitter truth for those on the losing side.

Let's look at the differences between the two camps.

The winning side is one with a clear vision. There was no doubt where the winning side stood because their aims and intentions were straightforward and in our face, right where they should have been. We knew what the winning side stood for.

The losing side, however, had no clarity. Did you see any kind of clear vision in what the losing side supported and still supports to this day, hoping for a slim chance of victory in the future? I certainly didn't. All that the losing side supported was a narrow vision that was constantly shifting back and forth in an attempt to be all things to all people. Sorry, but in this particular arena the continual shifting of positions is unacceptable.

The losing side did everything that they could to distort the truth of how things should be. Their camp was full of lies, deceptions, and denial. Whenever the losing side could come up with some outrageous claim, regardless of how ridiculous and improbable it was, they did everything that they could to push that lie. As frightening as it might seem, they also started to believe their own deceit.

The winning side had the truth. Oh, sure, there might have been some conjecture, but for the most part there was proof of what they said. The proof was not totally irrefutable, but a vast majority of what the winning side claimed could be proven with only some moderate investigation.

The winning side fought against ignorance. So many Americans were (and still are) apathetic and angry at what they see. Fortunately, the winning side was able to educate enough people to make them realize that deciding in favor of the winning camp was the right thing.

The losing side thrived on the ignorance of the American public and the fear that such ignorance brings forth. By continually censoring vital information, by continually squashing information that would shed a positive light on the issues, by relying on scare tactics, and by living off of the selfishness of the American public, the losing side right now hopes to gain dominance when the American citizenry goes to make their choices again in the future.

The winning side supports clarity in the scope of a greater whole. The reasons for why the winning side supports what it does are clear, concise, and make perfect sense to anyone who is willing to really think through what is being said. I'm sure that some of what they say is exaggerated, but there is mostly a greater truth than embellishment.

Those on the losing side don't care about anything but emotion. Just ask the people who support the losing side why they made their particular decision. You'll almost never hear support for their side, but you'll hear a lot of hatred for the other side. Sorry, but that is not an appropriate reason to make any kind of decision. I can respect someone who makes a decision that is the opposite of mine as long as they show genuine support for their decision. I cannot respect any decision that is made mostly (or in some cases totally) out of hatred for the opposition.

In fact, the attitude of "anything but…" is horribly ignorant at best and terrifyingly dangerous as worst, depending on the subject of the decision. There are exceptions to that, of course. Statements like, "You can get anything but a cat because I'm allergic to cats" are obviously valid.

To make matters even worse, the most popular media outlets did (and still do) their best to hide the truth, as they have unethically done for decades. They irresponsibly withheld information that supported the winning side; they continually pushed forth their own agenda, thus going against any miniscule ethics of objectivity that they might have; and they refused to show the views of the winning camp in any kind of positive light at any time.

Yet if any network outlets dared to show the side that the major outlets refused to show, they were condemned as being biased, intolerant, liars, deceivers, hateful, and any other ridiculous adjective that the losing camp could conceive. Even now, those same network outlets are condemned as being unfair and extremist even though those making the condemnation have not had the decency and dignity to actually watch those channels!

Fortunately, it's all over for now, and America has spoken.

So, I'm very pleased to announce that the widescreen releases for the Star Wars trilogy and many other movies continue to sell and rent far more than their pan-and-scan counterparts. Every week I check the sales and rental numbers. It's clear that widescreen continued to gain the confidence of the majority of American movie watchers. In fact, the pan-and-scan - sorry - full-frame version of the Star Wars trilogy was consistently ten places behind its widescreen counterpart.

As long as we on the right side of the widescreen debate keep buying and renting more widescreen DVDs ... as long as we who fight for truth continue to defend the intentions of the movie makers, we can safely say that the majority of Americans have made and will continue to make the right choice for the right reasons at the right time.

Yes, there will always be people on the losing side who continue to think that a full screen is some sort of acceptable compromise. But based on the e-mails that I've received over the years, the majority of such people don't actually support pan-and-scan. They simply hate having the dreaded "black bars" on their screen and make their purchasing decision based on that. Believe what you want, but there is a major difference between supporting pan-and-scan and hating widescreen.

They also enjoy twisting the truth. Just look at our favorite troll of widescreen history, Bernard Farber. "Widescreen is censorship." "Widescreen violates the Americans with Disabilities Act." "You don't really lose anything with a full screen." It's sad, but these are arguments that have been used many times even though they are devoid of any concrete fact, open matte presentations not withstanding.

Our side is completely logical: all movies should be presented in the way that they were intended to be shown. That's it. Cut and dry; logical; unemotional. It's not our movie just because we hand over twenty dollars for it, and that's that.

But as soon as you present that to someone on the losing side, the emotional whining starts about how they should have the right to see a movie the way that they want. No, sorry. If you want a movie to be shown the way you want, then feel free to go out and make your own movie in your preferred aspect ratio. Alternately, you can use the zoom feature that is prevalent on just about all modern TVs and DVD players. That's why those options are there. Use them.

Of course, we have the major channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, etc) that refuse to show any theatrical movie in widescreen. Oh, sure, they'll let a few shows like E.R. and Enterprise be shown in widescreen, but that's only because those shows are their cash cows and they would not be wise to go cow tipping. But when any of these stations dare to show a movie in widescreen, they get flooded with complaints - or they at least claim that they do. Thus continues the trend of skewing public perception to believe that a full TV screen is the way that movies should be shown. "Forget education about widescreen. Let's keep pandoring to the ignorant masses just so we don't have to deal with their complaints."

Sometimes the whining against widescreen makes the pan-and-scan camp sound like they want three Purple Hearts, one for each decade (this one included, of course) that they've had to deal with widescreen as a proper presentation of a movie maker's vision at home. After all, widescreen-in-the-home really started its journey in the 1980s with laserdiscs. 1980s, 1990s, first decade of the 2000s (the "twenty-aughts", perhaps?) - yes, we're in our third decade of widescreen.

The world is watching us, although it's not as though that's any different from any other day. We need to be the beacon that the rest of the world needs in the fight for widescreen. We need to be the leaders of the widescreen world. This is a fight that won't be won with weapons, either conventional or noocyooler ... er ... newcewlar ... uh ... nukyulre ... Phooey. (I can't say "nuclear". That really scares me.) The only weapon that we can use is the weapon of education, something that the losing side, particularly the major media outlets, apparently fears for whatever reason.

Educate people about the black bars? How dreadful! Tell the truth about widescreen? You'd think that they'd rather move to Canada instead. Show any kind of initiative to bring widescreen to the major networks? Speak not of it!

But it's abundantly clear that the strength of widescreen derives from the mandate from the masses (not from some farcical aquatic ceremony). Very infrequently do pan-and-scan editions of movies beat their widescreen counterparts when each version is offered separately, and even then it's usually by a very slim margin - often less than 10%, sometimes less than 5%.

Fortunately, there's only one month until the release of The Return of the King: Extended Edition -- and at least that's widescreen only.

Hey, what are you groaning about? I've been talking about widescreen DVDs this whole time! That should have been evident from the start!

Why? What did you think I was talking about?

Boy, some of you need to stop reading things that aren't there.

And for my American counterparts, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Don't eat too much, though. Christmas is right around the corner and that means even more food. What a sad revelation it is to know that this year is almost over already. Then again, after the past few months, maybe that's a good thing.

Until next time...!