I have a very short attention span. Just ask any of my frustrated friends and family members. When it comes to listening, reading and deciding what I want to be when I grow up, I just can't focus. But I can say this: when it comes to visual stimuli, I can look at the same image for a long time. Whether it's a painting, photograph or shot in a movie, I don't easily grow bored and need something else to occupy my vision. In some ways this can be a bad thing -- I tend to stare at people for too long, making them uncomfortable. But as far as my cinephilia is concerned, I just don't buy the idea that people with short attention spans need a lot of quick cutting in movies to keep them interested. In fact, I have more of a problem paying attention to a movie that has a lot of edits.

This confession is in response to a study reported on by New Scientist (via Variety) about Hollywood (unintentionally) having "hit upon a mathematical way to capitalise on our fickle attention spans." I'm not going to pretend I understand the math or science in this story, which involves a property called the 1/f fluctuation. And I realize it's not merely stating that fast cuts are aligned to modern attention spans. But it did remind me that this is a common defense made about films edited in the "MTV style" more and more to keep modern and young audiences attentive. Hey, maybe I'm an exception to the rule, but I don't think so.
categories Cinematical