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The Language of Hollywood

With the movie industry continuing to churn out remake after remake, and adding further installments to pre-existing franchises instead of finding new stories to tell, we could be forgiven for thinking that there is very little new left to come from Hollywood.

Nothing highlights this further for us as language lovers than the decline of the language used within and to describe the movie industry. Here are why neologisms seem to be a thing of the past for the big screen, and what this means for the future of what we choose to watch.

Hollywood big screen

The Silver Screen

Any movie history buff will tell you that as the industry expanded and grew with advances in technology and bigger budgets, new words related to that world—or re-imaginings of them—began to crop up all the time. Cut, edit, fade, dissolve, close-up, splice, talkie, studio, and screenplay became a part of our language when we dreamed of being the next John Fords or Steven Spielbergs. Our scripts and pitches became part of many a pipe dream that only a lucky few of us ever got to truly pursue.

The next wave of neologisms that the movie world brought us also can be attributed to technological advances (and money), with things like split screen, wide-screen, zoom, 3D, and blockbuster. And towards the end of the 20th century came the additions of the idea of movie franchises, with Marvel, Mission: Impossible, and Terminator to name but a few examples constantly seeming to churn out new stuff. But since then, there have barely been any new words to describe the world of Hollywood at all.


GIF via Giphy

A different world

These days we have additions to the way we describe our small screen experiences, with bingeing and streaming being part of our typical vocabulary for what we choose to view. We watch movies on our phones, laptops and tablets as much as, or possibly even more than we do on our TVs. But even for TV, language like series and prime time tell us nothing newer than they did when we first coined these phrases. Our experiences with our media have and continue to evolve at a rapid pace, but the language to describe it doesn’t seem to have kept up.

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Is it wrong to imagine a constant stream of new words to describe this movie industry that has us in a grip? Should we be happy with our premieres and advance viewings, our press tours and our panels, or are we right to expect something entirely new? After all, the price we pay for watching our movies in movie theaters, and our monthly subscriptions to services like Netflix for original movie content, these things continue to go up and up. So surely for all that we’re paying we right to demand something a little new?

Hollywood reality

GIF via Giphy

Changing times

We know that technology will continue to change our viewing experiences. In a few years from now who knows what advances there will be in 3D; perhaps it will be replaced entirely with virtual reality! Will this bring a world of new words or just a few introductions to the vocabulary we already use?

Should we even be worried that the movie industry is becoming stagnant, and that in a few years the cinematic experience so many of us have grown up with will be dead? Will everything move over to the small screen, with beloved celebrities vying for roles on streaming service originals instead of making red carpet appearances with every new release? It’s hard to know, and while it’s possible that our expectations for newness from the movie industry are part of our culture of more, now, everything, is it really too much to ask for a little more when we invest so much of our time, money, and energy in these things that we love?

Maybe it’s up to us, the generation that worships all things celebrity and lives its life online inventing new words for everything whether we really need them or not. Maybe we need to be the ones to apply and create new words to our movies and the experiences we have when watching them. All is not yet lost! What words do you think we need?