Grey matters

Communication Breakdown? What do the public really want?

The last two weeks saw the release of Tim Burton’s ‘Dark Shadows’ and Mark Zuckerberg’s selling of shares on Facebook. The link between the two may seem tenuous – or even non-existent – but I think there is one.

Both Burton and Zuckerberg have desperately tried to accommodate what they think the public wants, but might be getting onto the wrong track.

Let’s start with Burton. In the last few years, we’ve become fanatical about fantasy realms. A quick-fix of blood for dinner or the ability to metamorphose into a werewolf appear to be key ingredients on the virtual checklist for making a successful series or film. Burton has observed our seemingly insatiable obsession for these half-human, half-animalistic characters, and logically assumed that this is what the public wants. Is it though?

Given the phenomenal success of Harry Potter, Twilight’s influence over anything vampire/werewolf related, and the fact that ‘The Avengers’ tied the record for the fastest film to gross 1 billion dollars worldwide, you would have thought so.  So what better idea than for our much loved Johnny Depp to be cast as a revived and witty vampire, alongside the stunning Eva Green as the most influential businesswoman in town / resident witch? Yes, this combination aims to quench our thirst for yet another vampire themed film, but has it? Reviews imply not, with critics awarding the film between merely 2 and 3 stars out of 5. So what did Burton get so wrong?

Maybe the ingredients need to change. Maybe we have had our fill of the fight between good and evil between half-human characters.

Maybe our constant expecting of the unexpected in fantasy characters has left us to feel unsurprised, and bored

We can’t blame Burton for trying, but perhaps it’s time to change tack…

Onto Zuckerberg. The ‘Social Network’s’ initial premise was exactly that; for Facebook to be an online communication space. And if we look at the huge success of the site, it’s clear that – as with our love of fantasy characters – this was what people wanted. But isn’t the natural progression for a simple and effective concept always that it becomes overcomplicated and exploited by the opportunity for making more money? We took the idea of vampires, made lots money from it, and continued on this thread until the point of exhaustion. We took a networking site, made lots of money out of it, and now the basic principal is becoming over-complicated in the face of making even more. When will we learn when to stop?

What started out as being for ‘the people’ is now equally for the businessmen and women who are desperate for a slice of the action. Advertisers saw the window and jumped right into it. We are no longer solely seeing what our friends are up to or letting people know what we’ve been doing – the glossy adverts on the side of the page are always there.

Zuckerberg is only too aware of this knife edge between servicing users and pleasing investors; eventually, one side will override the other.

Zuckerberg is only too aware of this knife edge between servicing users and pleasing investors; eventually, one side will override the other. Which will that be?

I think the key issue is that the public always wants to be entertained, but we are fickle. If it’s shiny and new, we want to play with it, before most probably moving onto the next craze thrown our way.

Give us site where we can chat to our friends online, give us a boy who discovers he is in fact a wizard/vampire/werewolf…Give us anything that seems slightly out of the norm. And either keep it simple and accessible, or realise when we’ve got bored and think of something new to excite us.

Written by Hannah Franklin

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