Our attention span as a culture is reaching new lows. Our tv screens have continuous scrolling of news events, logos, and clever animated inserts. A recent confirmand critiqued my preaching as OK, but needing some "commercial breaks" so she could stay focussed. A L.A. music producer is trying to market music clips of no more than 3 minutes, declaring that in 3 minutes he can edit the essence of the number: classical, jazz, rock, alternative to keep the audience from drifting.
Now today Sony corporation is introducing "Minisode Network". These are 3 minute distillations of the essence of a 30 minute show geared for My-Space and cell-phones. The premier show will be none-other-than Charlies' Angel, the original version with Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Jaclyn Smith. A recorded voice, some gun shots, a chase, the catch, all in 3 minutes.
What's shocking is that it's not really shocking. We all knew that the shows like that we watched (including A-Team) had about 3 minutes of content to 26 minutes of fluff (or swim suits).
The question is: is this necessarily bad? Does it not reflect the core of our formulaic culture? Is not Sony really declaring that the king has no clothes in the TV culture? We think 24, Survivor, Lost, Sopranos are new media-literary creativity. But coldn't they too be distilled down to their own 3 minute essence?
The complex use of language and plot has been long traded in for flash and dash. Special effects and computer graphics dominate over character development and pursuit of truth. Now, how about worship? Could a Sunday morning worship time be editted and distilled into 3 minutes? A call, a shot, a chase, a catch? Could this innauguarate a sermon genre specially tooled for My-Space? And, seriously, is that necessarily wrong? How long does it take to read one of Jesus' parables?