i was on the phone with my mom the other day and i said something along the lines of, "i still have a hard time believing i'm 30; i forget my age sometimes." my 60-plus-year-old mom replied, "oh, that doesn't stop. i do that to this day."
sure, we all know the common signifiers of Bona Fide Adulthood, like child-rearing or homeownership, but nobody tells you whether Adults should enjoy bacon'd! (which i did. immensely. and felt kind of guilty about it afterward) or watch gossip girl (which i do not, only bc i feel a little lech watching such young-looking guys, but i think i'm alone in this). bc y'know, this stuff isn't productive. Adults belong to kiwanis clubs, know how to fold fitted sheets, make their own kimchi, figure out tax deductions, etc.
anyway, do marketers know any better? we all know we're being manipulated even though we'd like to think we can rise above it. the new yorker this week has a detailed and sometimes unnerving article about the marketing of movies. i think the studios' mantra is,
“If we weren’t making decisions based on marketability, John Malkovich would be in every movie,” a top studio marketer says. “Great actor, but not someone you want to see half-naked in the sheets next to Angelina Jolie.”
yowza. they don't have to be so mean about it. i'm sure some people would love to see that.
and man, they've got all of us pegged:
Marketers segment the audience in a variety of ways, but the most common form of partition is the four quadrants: men under twenty-five; older men; women under twenty-five; older women. A studio rarely makes a film that it doesn’t expect will succeed with at least two quadrants, and a film’s budget is usually directly related to the number of quadrants it is anticipated to reach. The most expensive tent-pole movies, such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, are aimed at all four quadrants.
women above twenty-five are automatically OLDER WOMEN? dear lord. well, i'm game. let's see whether they can put baby in a quadrant. here's what young women like, according to marketing experts:
friendship - check
pop music - check
fashion - check
sarcasm - duh-really?
sensitive boys who think with their hearts - omg check!
and romance—but not sex (though they like to hear the naughty girl telling her friends about it) - it's like they interviewed me for this shit.
They go to horror films as much as young men, but they hate gore; you lure them by having the ingénue take her time walking down the dark hall. yeah i hate gore, but i also hate horror movies. i'll pretend this is me, though, since who doesn't like dark halls?
whew. so it appears that i'm not a total hag as of yet. but what about the OLDER WOMEN? what do they (we?) like?
feel-good films and Nicholas Sparks-style weepies - hell no
they are the core audience for stories of doomed love - maybe?
triumphs of the human spirit - ugh, no again
They enjoy seeing an older woman having her pick of men - who doesn't?
they hate seeing a child in danger - i can take or leave this one.
but just when i'm feeling good about myself, i read this:
Particularly once they reach thirty, these women are the most “review-sensitive”: a chorus of critical praise for a movie aimed at older women can increase the opening weekend’s gross by five million dollars. In other words, older women are discriminating, which is why so few films are made for them.
maybe this is why i've been hating so many movies of late. bring on the Form 1040.