Diller vs. idiot savants

“I’m not damning content by ordinary folk,” says Barry Diller on this Financial Times q & a, as posted by Nikki Finke. “I’m just saying, if you want to reach large audiences then rely on professionals, meaning people who are in the industry and are trained for it, rather than just idiot savants.


Barry Diller

“If you have your little photos of your really darling tiny children, they’re interesting to you and your family and a few others, but not that interesting to that many people. Things that resonate widely — that make successful television shows, successful movies and like that — will be done by people who are really good at it.”

Reaction: This statement is basically true, but it’s also one of the first seriously- behind-the-curve views attributed to Diller that I’ve ever read. The era of the passive viewer doing nothing but soaking up the genius of elite artists is over, and idiot savants — cyber douchebags, jackasses, chatroom big-mouths, YouTube mashers, and various obnoxious mamas and braying babas — are as big as the professionals in our entertainment universe these days.

Sometimes I think that the dribblings and droppings of idiot savants might one day constitute the bulk of the ballgame. I shudder at the thought — who wants to live in a world undefined and unmarked by impassioned artist-confessors and gifted ivory- tower iconoclasts? — but Diller’s statement makes it sound like he’s not seeing what’s really going on these days. We are living right now in an age of file-shar- ing, opinion-sharing democracy like nothing this country has ever seen or dreamt of. Honed creations and practiced performances will always provide the greatest nutritional benefits, but one good result of the general downward swirl of things is that the inmates are running the asylum, and Bedlam Is Us.