So, I’m a teensy bit of a business wonk. Sort of the way Big Ben is a teensy bit of a clock.
I find this stuff fascinating and I hope you will too.
Recently Ramit Sethi had a post on what he calls the D-to-C principle. What it boils down to is the idea that instead of disparaging a decision one should instead take a moment to figure out *why* the person made the decision. This is especially salient when analysing the decisions of people who are more successful than we are. (Be that a better weight-lifter, a multi-billion dollar company, or a pie crust recipe. <– so much the last. It makes no *sense* why I can’t make a pie crust come out right. I’m missing something.)
Go ahead and read it here, I’ll wait.
Are you back? Great. If you watched the video, you know that Ramit challenged his followers to write down three things which they disparage and instead become curious about them.
I’m going to try that. It will hurt.
Fifty Shades of Grey
– Okay, so what makes this so successful? It builds off of a known success. Yeah, that book right below us. That’s what 50 Shades is part of. (It’s fan fiction with find and replace.) Therefore, the author knew that there’d be a ready and willing audience. She’d even had it up on-line and gotten comments on it. Her decision to have her husband’s company publish it was also smart. When 50 Shades came out, the sheer idea that an S&M based porn book for women would go mad was insane. Still, she knew she could sell it to the people who were her natural fan base. The people who encouraged her originally. That’s a smart idea. So, she started small and built. Then, she made a deal with one of the big six when she’d already established her idea was profitable. The movies built on that success.
- So what she did really right was building off of something she knew was successful, but did it with her own twist.
- She established a fan base and sold to them initially.
- Her fan base was chatty and extroverted and sold her book for her.
- She did something that no one else seemed to have the balls to do and tried to take S&M mainstream.
(And I quietly weep for humanity and all of the women who have BAD S&M role models now. Ladies, there’s p*rn on the internet. There’s lots of primers on S&M. Search “safe, sane, and consensual.”)
– Gulp. Okay, so vampire who gives up his bitey ways. Girl who falls for him and turns out to be part of a prophecy. Overblown teenage angst and… wait a minute. Got it! Twilight is Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction. It hits a lot of the Buffy-Angel beats with very little of the depth. But, I am reliably assured that 80% of the population can’t follow the cons on Leverage or the plots on Mission:Impossible. That means they’re probably only reading the top-level of the show anyway. Thus, Bella and Edward scratch the Buffy & Angel itch without the deep commitment.
- Bella’s flat affect is much like a video game character’s making it easier for people to project themselves onto her.
- The deep, over-powering romance and emotional connections between people appeal to a large audience who are either having or remember their own teenage years and drama-prone and overwhelming.
- She chose one part of the vampire mythos and made it her own.
- She made it a happily ever after instead of killing off a lot of characters. (*Shakes fist at Joss Wheadon*)
None of this means I enjoy the books. I’m not her target. Still, it depresses me when the domestic violence checklist gets filled out and no-one calls the main characters on how creepy it is. (“I watch you when you sleep,” says Angel. “That’s creepy,” says Buffy.) What I need to consider, is can I take the basic building blocks from something familiar and weave them into a story that’s similar enough to be appealing, but original enough to have its own legs.
– *Flames* *Flames creeping up my face* Right. Taking a breath here. I am not Fox’s target market. Straight up, not. I am not conservative. I think Rupert Murdoch is an evil spider and I hate that he has his fingers so deeply in my country’s politics and media. That being said, this is about figuring out their success formula. Fox News sells fear. Fear of the other. Fear of the government. Fear of disease. Fear of violence. And it offers salvation in the conservative parties in the US.
- Fear is an easy sell because human beings are programmed to attend to the dangerous.
- Conservative mindset makes up about 50% of the population. And people get more conservative through exposure.
- People are lazy. They assume that the media fact-checks to they don’t have to. Therefore, they don’t verify Fox-facts. Or if they do, they assume that the other sources are biased and they have access to the real truth through Fox. (<– observational study of the many Fox-lovers in my office.)
- They have researched the best ways to get and keep attention.
(Fair and balanced my assets. Fox is consistently wrong. Persistently racist. And heavily biased towards the conservative mindset. Go watch the BBC for awhile to balance you out if you watch Fox. Seriously. Multiple news streams kids. I read The Wall Street Journal. They’re conservative too. Be aware of your sources. )
That’s about all of that I can stomach tonight. Wow, that got heavier than I thought it would too. Still hate ’em all, but I do understand them a little more because I’ve had to put my thinking down in writing.