Personally I believe that the problems faced by avant-garde film began a while ago, and I've come to suspect that these problems began during the 1980s. This quote is from a book called Privatizing Culture by Chin-tao Wu. It seems to sum up the problem, and explains how Hollywood films have managed to annex terms like "independent."
"commercial films are as much art as non-commercial ones.... We've got to bring the two together." (1983) said Frank Hodsoll, NEA chairman during the 1980s.
Interesting to consider since all too often the "experimental category" in festivals is just a euphemism for inept attempts at narrative cinema.
Shari Anne Brill, director of programming at media buyer Carat USA describes it this way: "There will be stricter self-regulatory guidelines because it seems that in this climate, everyone is afraid to cross the line." In other words, there is a definite chilling effect happening. It would be trite to say this is Janet Jackson's fault, since it was underway before she made herself an easy example for the would-be restrictors.
This suggests there is a developing culture war much like we had in the early 1990s. I guess we should all be ready for all sorts of new, unsubstantianted claims of "harm" and the consequent witch-hunts. Anyone making media with unpopoular ideas, or taboo content, caveat lector.
Choice quote from Bill Aho, chief executive officer of ClearPlay Inc.: "It's against the First Amendment to stop the media from providing content that's edgier and edgier. It's up to technology,'' In other words, they are going to build DVD players that have a "don't show" listing. I have to wonder how this doesn't qualify as some kind of censoring, even though I know it *technically* isn't...
I live in Miami, FL, and we've hosted a branch show of Art Basel for the past two years with the predictable result that we've now got more galleries opening up here. Generally speaking, this is a good thing: more galleries means more support for artists, etc. in the long run.