Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sony Entertainment, or How apparently the Gender War is not over

I sometimes wonder (never outloud of course) what ‘television studies’ in my discipline entails. Sure I have browsed the TV section at local bookstores (where else is one supposed to find 'Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer'?) but I do wonder whether studies that go beyond the particularity of television shows and/or television personalities are plausible given the elusive, ephemeral and here-now, not-here-tomorrow atmosphere of television.

I am actually very drawn to the ways shows are marketed and sold to audiences on a weekly basis – here are some thoughts on the subject:

I have been living in North America for over four years now. Which is why it throws me off balance when I go back home (Latin America) and start watching TV shows on different networks. Gone are ABC, NBC and CBS and we have instead ‘Warner Bros,’ Fox, FX & FoxLife, and more importantly Sony Entertainment Television. The marketing of the latter has been fascinating to watch these past weeks.

Example Numero Uno: The ad for Ghost Whisperer actually sounds something like ‘This new season, Ghost Whisperer has more spooky cases, and the same bad Jennifer Love Hewitt acting’ – I am quite certain J-LoHew’s agents have not been briefed on this particular ad but they should; is this really a way to promote a show?

But what I found more interesting was the Monday and the Friday schedules. Monday is a ‘feminine’ themed night called ‘Mentes Peligrosas’ (Dangerous Minds) and Friday is a ‘masculine’ themed night called ‘Macho Que Se Respeta’ (Man Worthy of Respect – it has a nicer ring in Spanish, you'll have to trust me on that one). One doesn’t need to go far away to see the gender politics at work: women have ‘dangerous minds’ that need to be fed with fluffy (albeit better) shows which can only be marketed as such while men need to be treated as the beer-drinking football watching men that they should be-ahem are. I would actually love to get my hands on the statistical ratings divided by gender for each night to see how the marketing pays off.

Samantha Who?
Grey’s Anatomy
Big Day
Rules of Engagement
My Boys

Es cierto, nada más peligroso que la mente de una mujer, seducimos, confundimos y manipulamos, como sólo nosotras sabemos hacerlo y siempre funciona… pensamos mal de todos y especialmente de todas, por eso siempre tenemos la razón. Es mi naturaleza, mi sexto sentido… mi lengua es afilada con todas las que miro, lo qué no dicen mis palabras, lo digo con la mirada… y mi príncipe azul es aquel que domino. Soy así, sensual, semi diosa, es parte del perfecto plan de mi mente peligrosa.

Translation: It's true, there's nothing more dangerous than the mind of a woman, we seduce, counfound and manipulate, like only we know how and it always works... Need I continue?

Til Death
The Game
Everybody Hates Chris

Friday Night Lights

Porque el mundo es de los machos, para orinar no hay que sentarnos. Escupimos, eructamos… cerveza y tequila… las mujeres sólo van de la cama a la cocina. Fútbol y testosterona, mejor que el sexo es un gol de Maradona. Macho que se respeta: el nuevo espacio de Sony, dedicado a los héroes como nosotros, porque Macho que se respeta no llora, no pide direcciones, no se complica y siempre tiene la última palabra. La gente come para vivir, pero nosotros vivimos para comer. Los niños algún día serán hombres, nosotros siempre seremos niños. Unos descansan en el medio tiempo, nosotros descansamos a tiempo completo. Hay quienes ven deportes que apestan, nosotros apestamos viendo deportes.

Translation: Because the world is of/for men, to pee we don't need to sit down. We spit, burp... beer and tequila... women only go from the bed to the kitchen. Soccer and testosterone... Need I continue?

Now, I'm not adverse to gender-geared marketing, but I do think that when your scheduling and marketing pivots solely on age-old gender stereotypes (including monologues by females whining about their men on Mondays and voiceovers narrating what 'Men' should/do on Fridays) you should really sit back and try and cook up a fresh and maybe more of a 21st Century take on selling these worthy shows to a market that, despite what the guys (and girls) at Sony Entertainment Latin America might think, will connect with these shows on more grounds than the gender-war theme they got going on.


Vance said...

I've only been to South America three times (and I know Argentina, Brazil and Chile are not the same as Columbia) but it's so neat seeing what TV they have and what American TV they bring in. I'm in Hong Kong a lot and it's interesting to see what they import. (I'm actually surprised they brought in Friday Night Lights but I have a feeling because it's cheap cause it's not a huge hit).

Anonymous said...