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In Q4 2022, PARQOR will be focusing on four trends. This essay focuses on the theme, "Hollywood’s future lies in the creator economy, what happens next?"
I have been thinking about something I’m calling “The Linklater Problem”. I mentioned it in my recent Hollywood Breaks podcast interview: “one of the challenges for Hollywood is we’ve gone from the storytellers talking about the heroes or the characters in their neighborhood or being inspired them…. All those characters have a smartphone and a TikTok account in 2022. If you want to meet those characters, you don’t need Richard Linklater, you need a TikTok account and a little bit of know-how”.
I call it the “Linklater problem” because indie films director Richard Linklater based many of the characters in his movies on people he grew up with or who he knew in the creative community in Austin, TX. “Slacker” (1990) is about bohemians in Austin, TX. “Dazed and Confused” (1993) is a coming-of-age movie in Austin, TX based on people he grew up with (and some of whom later sued him for defamation, and lost). “Everybody Wants Some!!” (2016) is a teen comedy based on his experiences as a college baseball player at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX.
And that’s only a small sampling of his movies, which are generally plotless and more conversation-based. Linklater’s characters are now all Zeitgeist-y famous: Matthew McConaughey’s Wooderson from Dazed, Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Celine from his “Before” trilogy, and Glen Powell’s Finnegan from “Everybody Wants Some!!”.
And, I think in 2022 the modern version of these characters would be active creators on social media, but especially the teenagers in “Dazed and Confused”. I don’t know if they would be among the 2MM or so creators in YouTube’s Partner Program or among TikTok’s paid creators. Odds are probably not.
The question at the end of 2022 is whether we still need an auteur like Richard Linklater to serve as the storytelling medium between us and them. Because teenagers now have agency and control over their own stories, and if/when they hit the right cultural moment on a platform, they will have the attention of millions of users, too.
I think the Linklater Problem is a powerful lens: it may be both the simplest and also most dynamic way to explain why the creator economy has been so disruptive to Hollywood, and why it is poised to be even more disruptive in 2023.
In the attention economy, there's no longer a line between us and the giant screen and these people we may never meet or encounter. The "universal" characters who might inspire a future Richard Linklater can now disintermediate the storyteller via YouTube and TikTok, and make money from it.
Total words: 2,700
Total time reading: 11 minutes
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