Speaker: Dubourg Edgar, Mogoutov Andrei and Baumard Nicolas
Affiliation: Institut Jean Nicod, Département d’études cognitives, Ecole normale supérieure, Université PSL, EHESS, CNRS, 75005 Paris, France
Title: Is Cinema Becoming Less and Less Innovative With Time? Using neural network text embedding model to measure cultural innovation
Abstract: Current discourse reflects a growing skepticism towards contemporary popular culture, specifically the realm of cinema, with an emerging consensus that its creative capacity is on a waning trajectory. This study introduces a novel approach which employs natural language processing techniques and embedding methods to measure semantic novelty of cultural items’ descriptions. We apply this methodology to cinema, analyzing plot summaries of over 19,000 movies from the United-States spanning more than a century. Our measure’s robustness is validated through a series of tests, including a fit with a genre-based novelty score, a manual inspection of films identified as highly innovative, and correlations with award recognitions. The application of our Innovation Score reveals a compelling pattern: an increase in the rate of cinematic innovation throughout the 20th century, followed by a stabilization in the rate of innovation in the 21st, despite an ever-growing production of films. Contrary to the often-voiced lament that cinema is losing its innovative edge, our study suggests that the level of innovativeness in cinema is not in decline.