What could this be saying about selling entertainment - or, in a more general sense, all types of communications?
Plenty. Here are just three pieces of it that public speakers and authors of articles, books, and even Congressional testimony might take note of.
- As Shakespeare proved out years ago, audiences are interested in the human heart, dreams, determination and strategies. "Hustle & Flow," with its story of an aging, highly flawed pimp with a longing for something better, has all of this. "The Island," about clones being bred for spare body parts, doesn't. We're all ears for the hard-edged (just right for these times of terror) communications of the Rudy Giulianis, not for the predictable platitudes of the Hillary Clintons.
- Authentic creativity gets and keeps attention. What's merely clever, think special effects, bizarre story lines, one-liners, is downright wearing us out. Ellen DeGeneres weaves her talk show together with bite-size bits of real imagination. Dave Letterman is boring us with stupid rhetorical tricks. Oprah's clever formula of non-stop confessional talk could get old too, sooner than later.
- Be of the times. These times (as I mentioned above) are filled with struggle, fear, and yet with expectations about better times and second and third chances. Communicators have to drill down to those emotions and that eternal force of hope. Anything less demeans what we're going through financially, militarily, and in morphing social values.
Advice to all the Dreamworks of the communications world: Stop relying on formulas, what used to sell, being so smug with your past success and consider helping us mortals sort out this complex entity we call the 21st century. Do that and we'll reward you with buying what you're selling.