Poor Virginia Heffernan. The Times’ very serious TV critic has the unenviable task today of reviewing the latest iteration of the Disney über-juggernaut High School Musical. And like so many in our business when confronted with content that’s clearly not aimed at them, she makes the mistake of reviewing it from her point of view.
So rather than an thoughtful explanation of why a 9 year-old might be enthralled with the production, we get a long-winded explanation of why a childless 30something hipstress is not.
Now Disney’s marketing machine has all but ensured that this evening’s premiere of High School Musical 2 is a seminal event in the lives of elementary school students across America, if not the world. (The Tadpoles are actually attending a party one of their friends is having where they can watch the show in all its 60 inch screen glory.) But Heffernan is only concerned with how she and her friends can enjoy the show via ironic karaoke experiences and doesn’t try and examine its popularity other than to express her complete bafflement.
The only positive note from her review is that all across Brooklyn the sort of hipster fathers who ban the Wiggles and force-feed their toddlers Death Cab For Cutie are vowing to themselves that their little Oscars and Esmés (and every hipster either has or knows a toddler named Oscar or Esmé) will never ever watch something this banal. (Fat chance.)
But for marketers and ad folk, the lesson here is that content-- whether it's a movie, a show, a website or a TV commercial-- needs to be judged using the aesthetics of the community it's targeted at. Because something aimed at old ladies-- or elementary school kids-- is not necessarily going to have universal appeal.
Nor should it.