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December 20 at 4:00pm

How Are We Supposed to Make Exciting Content when “Content” is Such a Boring Word?

By Ted Hope

By Reid Rosefelt

Content-Graphic 1Who was the person who decided that the plain vanilla word “content” was going to stand for all the stuff that gets put up on social media?

Whoever it was should hang their head in shame.

If the history of human experience is an empty vessel, I suppose if you were a dullard you could opine that “content” is what fills it up: literature, music, movies, religion, politics, sex, joke-telling, criticism, talk show hosting, blogging, Power Point presentations, tweeting, posting, and pinteresting–it’s all content.

But I don’t think that Steven Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow, Steve McQueen, Lorde, Vince Gilligan, Banksy, Jim Jarmusch, Louis C.K., Jane Campion, Jay-Z, Guillermo del Toro, Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, Jony Ive, Park Chan-wook and Sara Bareilles, woke up this morning and said, “I can’t wait to start making content!” There is no poetry in “content.” There is no transcendence in “content.” There is no glory in a life devoted to content.

People who live to make beautiful things know that language is a glorious stew–spicy, subtle, sweet, sour, creamy, crunchy, familiar and foreign–so they aren’t aroused by the bland mush of words like “content.”

Perhaps a good rule of thumb would be: if it’s mediocre, then it’s okay to call it content; if it’s beautiful, moving or funny enough to touch you in a profound way–then is really not okay to call it content. If you think a joke by Louis C.K. is “content,” then, no offense, but I don’t want to know you.

Art-vs-ContentThe Grandmeisters of Social Media–and “Social Media” is equally egregious word sewage conjunction–are already whipping our behinds to churn out “content” all the dingdong day. Must they further torture us with an irritating word to describe an activity we’re doing too much of?

You may think I’m being facetious, but I am dead serious when I say that the corruption of language cuts into our spirit. It diminishes us. As artists we can’t allow ourselves to let our sensibilities erode. Our language belongs to us and we are obliged to let it breathe and make it sing.

Recently I read an article with a headline about how Xbox was going to have original content. It turned out that Microsoft was producing some original TV shows. Why didn’t they put that in the headline? Wouldn’t it have been stronger? This isn’t something that anybody every considers. Everybody uses “content” all the time because everybody else uses “content” all the time. It doesn’t matter that it was probably thought up by the guy in “Office Space” who was always fussing about his red stapler.

This post is my announcement that I’m going on a “content” diet. This will involve exercise, eating better and not using that damned word. Join me.

TFFReid Rosefelt blogs and coaches filmmakers & artists about how to market their films using social media, and lectures frequently on the topic. His credits as a film publicist include “Stranger Than Paradise,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and “Precious.”

His blog is reidrosefelt.com and his Pinterest Page Social Media for Filmmakers was named first on IndieWire’s list of “10 Pinterest Boards Filmmakers Should be Following.”

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