Comic book companies: Value your fans, not their gender

In my inbox, among the more “serious” of my newsletter subscriptions such as Vox Sentences or AdWeek’s BrandWeek Report, you’ll also find the daily digest from Comic Book Resources.

That’s because in addition to trying to stay smart for my day job, I’m also a huge fan of pop culture and comics.

So when I opened the newsletter last week to find an article about the new DC Comics cartoon Justice League Action, I clicked on it immediately. The original DC Animated Universe, after all, is what ignited my love for comics to begin with.

However, this excitement quickly turned to frustration as I came across the following quote in the interview:

“We wanted to do a show for kids, to appeal to boys in particular,” [Producer Alan] Burnett added.

This quote made my heart sink to my stomach. Why? Because it reminded me of the very reason Young Justice, another great DC animated series, was cancelled: Because executives on these networks don’t want young female audiences.

Is it pure sexism? Not exactly. They didn’t want a female audience because girls don’t buy toys. This is what Young Justice creator Paul Dini said in an interview citing the network’s reason for cancellation.

That logic seems a little silly in retrospect, given the backlash Disney has faced for excluding Rey from Star Wars sets, Black Widow from Avengerssets and Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy sets.

Evidently, girls are buying toys. Or, at least trying to.

But evidently networks airing cartoons are still using the same old logic when it comes to young female audiences.

What’s worse to me is not just the gender issue. It’s the fact that the show’s creators are saying they’re not dedicated to making the best show possible, regardless of what gender audience that would bring. Ideally a great show, I should think, would get the attention of boys and girls.

Going back to the DC Animated Universe example of Justice League andJustice League Unlimited, those were great shows that have stood the test of time.

And they weren’t great shows despite the fact they had story lines that featured strong, interesting women. No, they were great shows because of it.

Because they were dedicated to telling the best stories possible

Hell, they even have an episode where Vixen and Hawkgirl worked together to defeat an enemy despite both being in love with the same guy. Wow, women can work together instead of tearing each other down. What a novel idea.

I could cite more recent examples like the fact that Jessica Jones won a Peabody Award or that The Force Awakens had a female protagonist and was a massive box office success.

But I shouldn’t have to.

I get that companies want to make money. I too, after all, have a job.

But my job in public relations also had taught me that consumers value brands that are transparent and authentic, not just money-grubbers who don’t believe in what they’re selling.

Comic book companies: Commit yourselves to making the best product despite what the networks or marketing department might say. Regardless of whether that product is a comic, TV show or film.

Make the best products, and they will attract the right audience. Because the right audience is an audience of loyal fans who appreciate your work, not just an audience made up of a specific gender.

This post originally appeared on Medium

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Sound City (Review)

If you watched the Grammy Awards on Sunday you probably saw this:

What you might not have seen yet is this:

Sound City: Reel to Real took home Grammys  for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media and Best Rock Song, with “Cut Me Some Slack”. The collaborations are enough to make the soundtrack great as a stand alone, but I’d also recommend checking out the documentary Sound City.

Released in February 2013 and directed by Dave Grohl, the documentary tells the story of Sound City Studios. The name might not sound familiar but Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog, Nirvana’s Never Mind and Weezer’s Pinkerton probably do. All were recorded at Sound City.

Sound-City-poster

Sound City is part documentary, part memorial.

It starts with the studio’s founding in 1969 and works it way through several decades of music up until the studio’s closing in 2011. Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty and Rick Springfield are just a few of the musicians who talk about their time at Sound City. But instead of stopping at a retrospective of who’s who in the music industry, the documentary also tells the stories of the people working behind the glass: the producers, receptionists, studio managers and owners.

The film closes out by showing the making of Real to Reel, which was recorded on the same custom analog Neve console used at Sound City for all of those many years. It now resides in Grohl’s personal studio where Sound City almuni gathered to record all new songs.

Sound City  presents a layered narrative about the artists, the staff of the studio and the music industry as a whole.  The stories of the individuals are woven into the fabric of  Sound City’s history just as Sound City’s story has been woven into the history of music. Sound City’s story parallels an industry struggling to maintain itself  during its transition to the digital world and provides a rallying point for a movement of artists trying to preserve the days when cutting tape didn’t involve the click of a mouse.

Although the actual studio has gone away, the documentary and soundtrack are proof that Sound City never really died and neither will good music.

What Prince George and Lord Stanley have in common

If there is one thing in life that never fails to put a smile on my face it’s a picture of a baby.

Well, this has been an important week for babies because of the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. And today it was announced that Jimmy Fallon and his wife welcomed their first child.

But the baby that stole the spotlight for me this week was this little girl:

Via Puck Daddy taken by a gent named Michael Singer.

You can check out the Puck Daddy post, but the gist of it is that the parents stuffed this little girl into the cup at a Chicago bar and someone caught a candid shot of her looking very grumpy.

What is it about hockey that always produces such great adorable little kid moments? Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of the “mean” sport of hockey with innocent little kids. Who knows, but there is plenty of adorbz to go around.

Here are a few more of my favorite adorable hockey kid moments:

1)  Joey the Junior Reporter in his debut for Blackhawks TV. I hope the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism  has offered him a scholarship already.

It’s hard to pick a favorite edition of Joey the Junior Reporter. I’d recommend you watch them all.

2) Four-year-old boy  recites the Herb Brooks speech from Miracle.

3) Jonathan Quick’s daughter interrupts Stanley Cup press conference. There were many people who criticized allowing the daughter to be there. Those people have no souls. A very humanizing moment in sports.

The Other “F” Word Documentary Review

Fatherhood.

That’s the other  F word in Andrea Blaugrund Nevins’ 2011 documentary that follows punk rockers struggling to balance  their careers with the demands of being a parent.

Focusing  on Jim Lindberg, author of  Punk Rock Dad and lead singer of punk staple  Pennywise, the documentary bounces around covering topics including how to be a role model and a performer, putting food on the table in the age of digital music and how much touring is too much.

Interviewees include blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, Red Hot Chili Peppers’  Flea, Bad Religion/ Epitaph Records’ Brett Gurewitz  and even skateboarder/mogul Tony Hawk.

What most of these fathers have in common is a rocky relationship with their own fathers and a desire to be a better dad to their own children. There are jokes and swear words, but there are also tears and deeply emotional stories of abuse and loss.

Those without a background in the punk scene might be feeling a little lost with the references, but any parent can relate to the dads’ desire to make a better life for their children. What sets these men apart from many parents is the outside pressures they deal with from their bandmates, fans and the punk rock community’s obsession with “not selling out.”

Hearing their children talk about not knowing where their dads are or the times they miss their dads  puts  the argument of selling out into a better perspective than most dialogues about the music industry. There are many ways to humanize a subject, but none more so than seeing someone interact with those that they love dearly.

The documentary ends with Jim Lindberg deciding to quit Pennywise. Although we now know that he would later rejoin the band, the emotional poignancy is no less stunning.  Deciding to leave the band to spend more time with his family is a decision that may cost him friendships and the livelihood of his friends.

But Lindberg ends the documentary with the conclusion that maybe the way to make the world better isn’t necessarily through music.

Maybe the way is to raise better kids.

Released in 2011 and recognized at South by Southwest, this documentary is still worth watching. Just as the punk scene hasn’t gone away, neither will the dilemma of the punk rock dad.

“If this song was about D.C., it would be called Adams Morgan, right?”

That title is a quote from Theo Katzman when introducing his song “Brooklyn” to a sold-out crowd at the Filmore in Silver Spring (ed.- For those of you not from the DMV, Silver Spring is on the outskirts of D.C.).

This past Sunday I saw Theo Katzman at the last stop of the Listen Up Tour, which is musician/actor Darren Criss’ first solo tour.

But let me start from the begininning…

Two months ago my friend approached me about seeing the Darren Criss show in D.C. She is a huge Darren fan and since I knew my sister would be in D.C. this summer, I agreed to go along. Also, I can’t lie,  I’ve been following Darren’s career since he was still a student at the University of Michigan. So yes, I’m also a fan.

The show was absolutely incredible. Theo Katzman opened with a great set that the editor in chief of Mother Jones described as:

theokatzman

Yes, I’m not making that up. The EIC of Mother Jones was at the Darren Criss show with his daughters. This is what he had to say about the main act:

Darren Criss Twwet

Really, what more do I need to write? I could gush about Darren for paragraphs and paragraphs and profess my new love for Theo and talk about how amazing he is live. But instead I will let the tweets of a middle-aged, serious journalist do the talking for me.

In addition to the performances being killer, the show itself was well designed. The lights were amazing. Rarely do I leave a show going, “Wow, those lights were great weren’t they?” But, they really were.

Despite the weather (torrential downpour while waiting in line) and the poor customer service of The Filmore (which opened the doors late despite the aforementioned torrential downpour), the show was worth every penny and every hour I spent traveling to D.C. on the Megabus.

I want to dedicate this blog post to my very wonderful sister for hosting us at her sublet. I’m so glad she was able to enjoy the show with me and my friend.

I’m going to go listen to Theo Katzman’s “Romance without Finance” on repeat now, so here are some  pictures/ evidence I need to get a better camera before I study abroad:

Theo

Listen Up Tour 2013-Silver Spring 008 Listen Up Tour 2013-Silver Spring 012

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Darren Criss playing drums with Theo Katzman

 Listen Up Tour 2013-Silver Spring 037 Listen Up Tour 2013-Silver Spring 033 Listen Up Tour 2013-Silver Spring 030Listen Up Tour 2013-Silver Spring 040 Listen Up Tour 2013-Silver Spring 061 Listen Up Tour 2013-Silver Spring 063 Listen Up Tour 2013-Silver Spring 075