Early Cinema Hated Sound And Assumed It Was A Passing Fad
The worst thing Hollywood does is push new gimmicks on us in place of good storytelling. Slap on your 3D glasses, folks, because it's time for Avatar 2: Avatarded. But this complaint goes all the way back. The first film innovation to earn the ire of audiences and filmmakers alike was sound. It took decades for people to warm up to the idea of hearing actors talk. As far back as the 1890s, inventors like Thomas Edison were trying to make a camera that incorporated audio, but nobody would pay for it because it was thought to be such a stupid idea.
Library of Congress
Edison turning his sound films into whatever the hell this is probably didn't help, either.
When filmmakers finally started experimenting with "talkies," it was a nightmare for the studios. For one thing, before sound, there was no reason whatsoever to be quiet on set. The crew talked amongst themselves, the director shouted his commands during the scene, and multiple films could be shot in the same room simultaneously. When sound was introduced, the entire on-set culture had to change. To say nothing of how actors now had to remember lines and deliver them -- two things they never learned how to do in acting school.
"So, you never want to buy hookers at the same place you get your cocaine--"
Audiences weren't impressed, either. People complained about headaches, just as they did when 3D became mainstream. And being quiet in the theater was an alien concept, too, since you could carry on a conversation with the person next to you without worrying about missing any plot points. Now you had to shut up at the movies, which nobody wanted to do. (Wasn't the cinema supposed to be a social occasion?)
Some actors' careers were ruined by talkies. When John Gilbert, the famed romantic lead of the Silent Era, uttered the line "I love you," audiences burst out laughing. Other actors were ruined by their silly accents, which was career poison back in the days before a certain musclebound Austrian gun-stabbed the xenophobia right out of us.
Gilbert was a total buttervoice.
According to at least one critic, talkies were an annoying fad that was doomed to failure. He suggested that they should be called "dummies" instead, and that "The majority of films in the future will be made stupidly for stupid people."
Huh. That attitude sounds strangely familiar ...
Ben Veatch makes films for his own production comedy, Postmodern Palooza, and with his college media group, Feng Shuad. Follow his Twitter here, please -- he's desperate for attention. Lesley Wesley had an existential crisis while writing this bio. Follow her descent into madness on Twitter at @fuzzyChub.
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