Sunday, November 25, 2007

Diversity and Niche Marketing...and My Old Screenwriter Friends

I originally wrote this posting for my Cliff Osmond Unedited blog. For some inexplicable reason, I also want to post it on this Acting blog. Why? I really don't know...except I want to...and I can; both are my blogs, aren't they?!!

"My older writer friends can't figure out why they can't sell...and other writers (mostly younger) whom they consider inferior--or boring--CAN sell. A possible reason: the writers in the past (my old friends) are looking for and writing about universal themes...ideas and feelings and forms that will resonate with a mass audience.

Today, there is no mass market; no audience seeking general depth and consensus and agreement. Today's audience has accepted..and are seeking...only their specific small group certainty.

Consider it the Balkanization of culture. Successful writers...and more importantly the producers and executives who fund them...are filming stories to please only primarily niche markets. Same in television. No more ABC, CBS and NBC able to dominate the market...they are losing viewers daily. On the other hand, look at the options in today's TV Guide: the History Channel, the Cooking Channel, Turner Movie Classics, ESPN...niche channels appealing to isolated and diverse markets.

Deconstruction has dominated the culture...there is no longer one truth...there are many's all according to your point of view. There is no more general public. Polarization in politics is nothing compared to multi-polarization in culture...and audiences.'

Successful niche marketing today preaches to the choir...not a general US choir, but to the choir(s) of a multiplicity of social and political churches.

Preaching to the choir appeals to prejudice. It does not to seek general affirmation of consensus. There is no new universal knowledge to be sought; just 'my opinion/truth' vying with 'your opinion/truth'; to separate congregations--separate audiences--generally all nodding in silent self-contented assent.

Little wonder that films today seem repetitious...or absolutely my old writer friends; filled with story/character cliches (a cliche is a truth so known and accepted that it seems superficial and mind-numbingly obvious). I remember I remember the great writer/director Billy Wilder telling me, late in his career, about a meeting he had had with a young movie producer who was kindly listening to Billy's new script ideas. Suddenly Billy arose and said: "Never mind, Thank you for your time." the producer stopped him: "Please, Mr. Wilder. Continue." "No, Billy said, "I don't think you want to hear what I have to say. And, more to the point, I don't want to say what you want to hear."

Perhaps my old friends can't write (or appreciate) OR SUCCEED in today's niche choir affirming film script market because they shoot too high. They...and their scripts...are coming of age too late; their creative minds/ideas were fashioned in a time when there was a belief in the search for THE TRUTH, some universal theme that resonated beyond the limitations of gender, politics, race, the earlier age of Einstein, when everyone sought a Unified Field Theory.

Today, the search for one truth is passe. It is old fashioned. Today the predominant cultural cry is for post-modern subjectivity and diversity: a world where all opinions are valid...and niche marketable. Today's audience doesn't wantnewer, more profound universal knowledge; it just wants a safe and slow balloon ride confirming their successful and necessary point of view downward toward earth; and my silly friends want dangerously and excitingly to shoot-the-moon into heaven-knows-where in a rocket fueled by one truth.

No wonder they fail."


Right after I wrote the above article, I was surfing through my e-mail and came across this report on Levine Breaking News.

NEW BUCHANAN BOOK DECLARES 'END OF AMERICA': "America is coming apart, decomposing, and...the likelihood of her survival as one improbable -- and impossible if America continues on her current course," declares Pat Buchanan. "For we are on a path to national suicide." The best-selling author and former presidential candidate is on the eve of launching his new epic book, according to The Drudge Report: DAY OF RECKONING: HOW HUBRIS, IDEOLOGY AND GREED ARE TEARING AMERICA APART. This time, Buchanan goes all the way: "America is in an existential crisis from which the nation may not survive." The U.S. Army is breaking and is too small to meet America's global commitments. The dollar has sunk to historic lows and is being abandoned by foreign governments. U.S. manufacturing is being hollowed out. The greatest invasion in history, from the Third World, is swamping the ethno-cultural core of the country, leading to Balkanization and the loss of the Southwest to Mexico. The culture is collapsing and the nation is being deconstructed along the lines of race and class. A fiscal crisis looms as the unfunded mandates of Social Security and Medicare remain unaddressed. All these crises are hitting America at once -- a perfect storm of crises."

Pat Buchanan and I are poles apart politically...or so I thought...but...(and I swear I wrote mine before I read this) makes me wonder...


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