Great job, class. Everyone did very well on last week’s “state of the entertainment industry” pop quiz – no completely dropped balls, but man your spelling is terrible, Nick. Let’s go over the answer key:
1.) True or false: The final American Pie installment means an end to high school movie franchises.
False. The freebie. Built on the relationships and ambitions of the characters’ former selves, this last movie focuses not on high school directly but the eventual reunion. Nonetheless, the marriage of post-pubescent teens and the silver screen will endure. High school settings have much to offer this relationship: intense romances, cross-class drama, cross-clique action, and crude humor among other mass appeals. To assume the passing of one successful eight-film saga (yes, there were eight) will create a rift between these multi-generational entertainment partners is shortsighted and baseless. Teenagers sell, we buy. Expect movies and high school to renew their vows upon the emergence of the next teen starlet.
2.) True or false: High school stories resonate with audiences because audiences remember high school fondly.
False. Many viewers do not think highly of their experiences in high school. We watch because not only do sensationalized presentations of high school make for compelling stories, but TV, movies, and popular fiction present characters to whom we relate. We relate to the firsts, to the lasts, and to the pressures that drove us
3.) Multiple Choice: Within the television and film industry’s coveted 18-49 year old target market, the most underrepresented demographic actually on TV and in movies is:
a. The college student
b. The twentysomething
c. The young parent
d. The mid-lifer
A. A mystery of modern popular culture: the dearth of high quality university-set programming and movies. Certainly the undergraduate experience has been chronicled before, but most forays into college life appear as part of a larger series (think American Pie or Scream) or a “Whoops-I’m-hilariously-out-of-place” farce (think Old School, The House Bunny, or White Chicks). In television it’s much the same – the college years were a worn-out epilogue to Saved By the Bell and Boy Meets World, and NBC’s Community, an underrated comedic treat, features mostly adults. The real question
is why, in either a comedic or dramatic form, can’t the entertainment industry mount a serious portrayal of college?
4.) Multiple Choice: The most likely reason so few programs or movies are set in college is that:
a. Too small an audience can relate with the subject matter
b. College lacks drama
c. College lacks comedy
d. None of the above
D. Most college graduates consider college, not high school, the best four years of their lives, and a majority of Americans go to college. Rich plotlines and emotional firsts pervade the university campus – instances of naive decision making, antagonistic authority, heightened sexual awareness, and creative mischief make for funny or serious subtexts. Regardless of their school’s size or reputation, college students of all backgrounds undergo myriad entertaining experiences between 18 and 22 years old: introspective discoveries and interpersonal bonding are the very basis of what makes college worthwhile. They also makes for good stories, and good stories deserve to be told.
5.) Free Response: To what extent is a mature depiction of college life more desirable to our generation than another take on high school?
Answers will vary, but in a society for which a college education is increasingly important, the essence of campus life deserves a place in our television lineup and movie theaters. For production companies, quality output of this nature will lure the educated middle- to upper-class target audience they desire while viewers will revel in the nostalgia and realism of a far less hackneyed (and ultimately more interesting) setting than high school. It’s time to move past the young and give us more adult in our TV and movie fiction.
Next class we’ll discuss Kim, Kanye, and just how much God is trying to punish mankind.
The college remains outside the Hollywood spotlight, but at least women are finally getting a shot at it.
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