The ‘Secret’ Formula

Those who are in power often use strategies and formulas to exert and keep their power.  Normally this would only include kings, or presidents, or Führers.  But in today’s society and the importance of a weapon like the media this can now include the six governing bodies of today’s media in America. Only six companies control a huge majority in America’s media.  They control everything that we see but unlike these examples I’ve mentioned above these people are in it for one such reason: money. These companies have no preference of what turns popular, or a bias of who does it, as long as the end result is about money.

However while I claim of a lack of bias of who makes money there IS a bias of how they make money.  The media under these corporations are artificial and formulaic. They study trends of their demographics, acquire and research statistics and numbers in order to try and control and manipulate of how and how people absorb media.  Unfortunately one of these trends is the predominance of Caucasian males in media.  Since inception of television or the cinema, the only characters on the big screen or at the screen at home were white males.  This was a product of the times however as prejudice was an inherent trait of America rather than it being a consequence of new forms of media.  Regardless media took off rapidly to where we have it today.

Today’s society has less vitriol and less inherent prejudice.  However the formulas used back in the 1930s or 40s or 50s are still applied today.  To have a critically acclaimed film with a female lead or a minority lead is very much possible and has been done many times.  However it requires a lot of work and talent to make it happen.  Flip it in contrast where today’s society can have comic books turned into movies and gross hundreds of millions of dollars for stories we’ve heard for decades.  The big comic books, Superman, Batman, Spiderman for example have had their origins traced to the 1960s. But their stories are successful and thus there is a formula in the making of these movies. Lead role has to be a white man.   The big media companies don’t invest a lot of money to projects that deviate from this formula.  What’s astounding that even if there’s success away from these artificial creations, media companies are still deathly scared.  One such example comes from two Caucasian men who fought against these formulaic notions.

These two writers/directors/animators aren’t that well known or distinguished. While they have broken into the mainstream they are clearly their own people without any strings attached to their literary and animated work.  Despite having success in the mainstream media, the actions and desires of these two men are to be lauded for as they clearly aren’t apart of typical mainstream agendas.  These two will always be known, and appreciated for their animated show, Avatar: The Last Airbender.  By drawing on Asian mythology, themes, culture and style of storytelling, these two men have created one of Nickelodeon’s beloved and wildly popular programs.  The creators and writers of this show have originally intended to end their intellectual property with the end of the story arc of their man character, a young boy named Aang.

However Nickelodeon begged for a second series to Avatar based on its incredible popularity.  After a few years of a break these two men have agreed.  This second series however is a brand new story arc with brand new characters.  Among this change is form the main character Aang, to a female protagonist by the name of Korra.  The two creators were asked by Nick to go make a sequel so their interest was clearly high.  However this interest turned into fear over one petty notion: the lead character was a girl. It generated enough fear that Nickelodeon suspended the creation of the show because they feared it wouldn’t appeal to mainstream audiences.  The producers demanded that the creators change their minds but they wouldn’t budge.  After testing the show with young children it was determined there was no correlation between the gender of protagonist vs enjoyment from the show.  The children still loved it.  To further prove this point, the sequels series was one of Nickelodeon’s most watched programs.

These two men aren’t by any means struggling independent artists.  They have a huge amount of success.  Regardless they too have fought against mainstream media companies and have won.  They have shown not only that it’s petty nitpicking genders but the pettiness of these companies.  This sequel was made in 2012 and we still have debates on whether or not a female lead is “damaging.”  Again this isn’t some inherent hatred of women, it’s an inherent sense of greed that causes these petty notions. Once the sequel got running Nickelodeon offered full support of it. The good news out of all this is that the people has a chance to have the power.  The power of money.  If we can dictate what we want to see and how we can see it, the media companies will slowly but surely budge.  They don’t care if women are in the lead or if minorities are in the lead as long as they profit out of it.  While it hurts to see them prosper just remember the alternative is that they still prosper…but with an artificial and formulaic view of the world.


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