Infantilization of everything

Yesterday’s collapsing-values, fall-of-the- Roman-empire statement came from former DreamWorks marketing ace Terry Press: “Everybody knows that culturally, kids rule the roost. The numbers for kids and the age they adopt things like iPods (and) cell phones…all show that kids are growing up faster. If you make records or something you want consumed in the culture, you have to resonate with kids.” She’s right, of course, but an entertainment culture that caters first and foremost to toddlers, tweeners and young teens has opted for dilution and marginalization and essentially removed itself from the hallowed circle. This is a tired old gripe. I know I need to grow up and embrace the infantilization process. Please forgive the foot-dragging.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    I think so much of this is driven by TV advertising as the primary marketing vehicle for media, though. Studios make movies for teenagers because the one thing it’s well known you can do pretty reliably is advertise the hell out of something sensational-looking and have one good opening weekend with teenagers. Where anything else is less reliable because adults are more discriminating and don’t jump to see the latest thing this instant. It then becomes a feedback loop (only TV advertising works, so only movies that work for TV advertising get made, etc.) But if TV advertising stops working, as it mostly is, everything could change.

  • JD

    As marketing aces are wont to do, Press is attempting to validate her morally questionable profession by deliberately confusing commerce with culture. Just because something is seen/heard/bought by many people doesn’t mean it has any effect on them or the culture at large. Wild Hogs was forgotten by most people while they were watching it and I don’t think anyone even remembers Norbit at this point. Meanwhile, Zodiac crashed and burned at the box office, but is likely to be imitated and studied for decades to come. Most of the American culture that has lasted and had real impact has never been particularly popular at its time of release (with some significant exceptions, obviously). Disco, on the other hand…

  • p.Vice

    You need to accept the infantilization process, Jeffrey? Just about every movie you’ve gone to bat for in the last five or six years, Reign Over Me being only the most recent example, shows that you’ve not just accepted, but embraced, the continual dumbing-down of entertainment. You need to give yourself a hearty pat on the back, because you are of the times, no doubt.

  • erniesouchak

    Don’t embrace it, Wells! Fight the good fight!

  • Seppo Igloo

    Come on p. Vice! While attacking Wells seems to be this forum’s chief goal, the man cannot be attacked for catering to the movies responsible for the decline of American cinema. Pirates of the Carribean, Lord Of The Rings, Dreamgirls, 300, etc, are all movies taken to task for having little substance.

    Hollywood Elsewhere has been greatly responsible for turning me into a much more discerning viewer, and was entirely responsible for me catching early shows for Volver, Children Of Men, and Babel.

    Keep up the great work Jeff!

  • Craig Kennedy

    Yeah I agree with Wells on this one. The continued retardation of our culture frustrates the hell out of me.

    The thing is though, there’s always been an uneasy tension between commerce and culture. Though there is often some overlap, the stuff that’s primarily commercially oriented is frequently junk regardless of the demographic. The fact that I’m older and the commercial demographic is getting younger magnifies the divide, but it’s really nothing new.

    On the other hand, people who are interested in the artistic possibilities of cinema need to keep up the fight so the bean counting stooges don’t completely take over. This is another reason the elite critics should continue reviewing movies like 300 and Wild Hogs and Norbit.

  • christian

    where’s giantman?

    fuck these marketing aces and their pathetic rationals for pushing baby shit on their culture.

    i’m fairly over this town and its creative death spiral into the jaws of ad men.

  • Hallick

    “The numbers for kids and the age they adopt things like iPods (and) cell phones…all show that kids are growing up faster.”

    I thought growing up faster meant acquiring a decent amount of maturity, responsibility and self-discipline – not the ability to film your drunken, tweener ass-to-mouth orgies with a meth-encrusted cellphone playing “Smack That”.

  • Mgmax

    I think so much of this is driven by TV advertising as the primary marketing vehicle for media, though. Studios make movies for teenagers because the one thing it’s well known you can do pretty reliably is advertise the hell out of something sensational-looking and have one good opening weekend with teenagers. Where anything else is less reliable because adults are more discriminating and don’t jump to see the latest thing this instant. It then becomes a feedback loop (only TV advertising works, so only movies that work for TV advertising get made, etc.) But if TV advertising stops working, as it mostly is, everything could change.

  • christian

    if any of you have had to spend one day listening to marketing people blow themselves with their own barbarous terminology…i feel.

  • RoyBatty

    Talk about dangerously misconstrued oversimplification –

    In the world of music sales, yes kids rule. Music helps construct the reality of their world. With the exception of serious audiophiles like Nick Hornby, do you know any adult who continues to buy and listen to the sheer volumn of music that anyone under 30 or 20 does?

    But over the last couple of years, there’s been plenty of consumer evidence that the whole “it has to appeal to kids” theory has holes in it. With TV, one only has to look at the sales of DVDs to see that the old ratings models are full of holes (& full of crap). Just who do you think is buying pricey box sets of 24, SOPRANOS, DEADWOOD and the like? It wasn’t the under 25 year olds that bought so many sets of “The Family Guy” that it went back into production.

    People make way too much of films like WILD HOGS and NORBIT just barely making over $100M. That represents only about, what, 12 million tickets? That’s around 3.6% of the population (of both the US and Canada, FYI, which is about 334M at the moment).

    However, Press is right about pop culture, which is what she is actually talking about. When has it ever been different in the last 50 years? This isn’t some new trend of infantilization. They rule the pop culture roost simply because its easier to target them the fragmented adult markets. But is this reality or simply the mistaken impression born of lazy journalism?

  • http://thelongshot.livejournal.com TheLongshot

    If you want substance, read a book.

    Movies barely have time to create much of substance in 2 hours. At their best, a movie is a good short story.

  • cjKennedy

    Yeah I agree with Wells on this one. The continued retardation of our culture frustrates the hell out of me.

    The thing is though, there’s always been an uneasy tension between commerce and culture. Though there is often some overlap, the stuff that’s primarily commercially oriented is frequently junk regardless of the demographic. The fact that I’m older and the commercial demographic is getting younger magnifies the divide, but it’s really nothing new.

    On the other hand, people who are interested in the artistic possibilities of cinema need to keep up the fight so the bean counting stooges don’t completely take over. This is another reason the elite critics should continue reviewing movies like 300 and Wild Hogs and Norbit.

  • Cadavra

    Judd Hirsch’s comment from the pilot of STUDIO 60 bears repeating here: “We cater to 14-year-olds. And not the smart ones.”

  • grener