Tad Friend's fascinating, engrossing, and thoroughly depressing article about modern movie marketing in this week's New Yorker described how movies today won't get made without a specific audience in mind. But as it turns out, the most common way that studios and marketers divide the population in search of that audience is into broad fourths: women under 25; "older" women; men under 25; "older" men.
According to marketers, here's what those broad slices of the population will pay for, movie-wise.
From the New Yorker:
The collective wisdom is that young males like explosions, blood, cars flying through the air, pratfalls, poop jokes, “you’re so gay” banter, and sex—but not romance. Young women like friendship, pop music, fashion, sarcasm, sensitive boys who think with their hearts, and romance—but not sex (though they like to hear the naughty girl telling her friends about it)…
Older women like feel-good films and Nicholas Sparks-style weepies: they are the core audience for stories of doomed love and triumphs of the human spirit. They enjoy seeing an older woman having her pick of men; they hate seeing a child in danger. 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.
Older men like darker films, classic genres such as Westerns and war movies, men protecting their homes, and men behaving like idiots. Older men are easy to please, particularly if a film stars Clint Eastwood and is about guys just like them, but they’re hard to motivate. “Guys only get off their couches twice a year, to go to ‘Wild Hogs’ or ‘3:10 to Yuma,’ ” the marketing consultant Terry Press says. “If all you have is older males, it’s time to take a pill.”
The trick, though, is that most movies won't get made unless they can appeal to two or more of these terrible quadrants. Which is how you get the following video trying to sell He's Just Not That Into You (aka Love, Actually Is Sex & The City) to young males, when the movie was clearly made with young, totally non-discriminating women in mind. In the New Yorker article, one marketer describes marketing to women through emotion as finding "the stuff that tugs on the ovary.” Well, then this video starring Smug Mac Guy, Bradley Cooper, and Entourage Nugget is clearly an attempt to tug on guys' testicles—but ,like, not really because that'd be gay, bro.
Dudes, are you not entertained? Isn't it hilarious how they're counting down the only ten movie cliches that aren't in a movie that is (judging by its trailer) built on a shaky tower of shallow cliches? He's Just Not Into You is a movie for the walking braindead of both genders!
But that's not all they've done for the bros. There's also a handy quiz on the He's Just Not Into You website, and it's just for men!
Oh, man. Relationships are so complex. It's like why can't men ask for directions when they're lost, and why does the planet Mars sit in the sky like a glowing red siren that only men can hear? Be honest: is your romantic relationship only gettng to the intimite level? Because then she's definitely not into you, and apparently one or both of you can't spell.
Also, you don't need an 8 question quiz on a movie website to tell you if a girl is into you: Just dangle a dried locust carcass on a string over her head while she's sleeping. If it swings left to right, she's totally into you. That's science.