It Finally Happened, Someone Made a TV Miniseries for Instagram

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In a development that sounds like something out of Infinite Jest (currently celebrating its twentieth anniversary!), it finally happened, someone has made a miniseries to be distributed via the popular photo-sharing social media platform Instagram. The grand history of narrative, having begun in the primordial ooze of fireside oral traditions, moved on to the advent of the written word and later, the novel, has now arrived at its logical conclusion. Stories will now be told in twenty-eight fifteen-second bursts that will be staggered over the course of a month, and in case the digital subsumption of art was not crystal clear, it shall be called “social cinema.”

Deadline reports today that the first episode of a new series from Anthony Wilcox called Shield 5 has already debuted on the Instagram for your incredibly brief viewing pleasure. The Deadline item notes that each of these fifteen-second installments will be bundled with a photo post that may or may not contain clues or additional material enriching the story.

The mini-miniseries revolves around John Swift (perhaps a subtle allusion to noted satirist Jonathan Swift and a tacit admission that this is all some deranged post-modern joke), a security driver wrongfully accused of involvement with a diamond heist who must prove his innocence if he hopes to avoid the clink. But he’ll face challenges on two fronts, both from the police trying to recapture him and the no-goodniks responsible for framing Swift in the first place. Here’s the first installment, which feels more like a teaser for a trailer:

If the film medium wants to remain vital, of course it has to welcome new mutations, experiments, and deviations of the form. Something about this, though, feels a bit too Orwellian for my liking. Off in the distance, the rumblings of Snapchat’s newly minted content acquisition arm raise dust on a barren desert wasteland. At what point does entertainment become indistinguishable from a commercial? I, for one, cannot wait to find out!

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