Call Girl TV and Cultural Change

We live in a very feminized world. This is primarily due to marketing, as consumerism dominates most of our culture. Marketers believe (young) women both form brand preferences for life early, and make most lifetime purchasing decisions. Thus the constant, and ever-present marketing emphasis on catering to young, hip women. Despite their small numbers, young women wield enormous cultural influence. That influence, however, may be in for a big change.

The marketing realities in strange opposition to demographic reality accounts for “Call Girl TV” on Showtime. The returning series “Weeds” about a suburban widow selling pot, and the new series “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” with “Dr. Who’s” Billie Piper.

Going just by the numbers, women don’t outnumber men until middle age, and don’t significantly outnumber men until over 65. Once again, the US Census Bureau has the relevant statistics here.

You can see by the graph below, created from the 2007 Census Estimate, that men slightly outnumber women in late childhood and early adulthood. Theoretically, marketers would allocate ads (and favor TV programs) just slightly more towards men, excepting Seniors where women are more numerous.

But that’s not the case. Of course, Showtime is a pay-TV service. No ads. So what’s going on? Brent Bozell of the Culture and Media Institute thinks that the two series are “soft core porn” aimed at men, but that’s laughable. Real porn is freely available on the internet, you don’t have to sign up for Showtime’s “soft core” version when the real thing is available elsewhere.

Nope. These series are aimed squarely at women, ages 18-34, and their success tells us who our entertainment is aimed at (for the most part).

There is very little to attract men to the female characters in either “Weeds” or “Secret Diary of a Call Girl.” The suburban widow in “Weeds” is played by 43 year old Mary Louise Parker. A beautiful and talented actress, but too old to be the subject of young men’s fantasies. “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” concerns the “glamorous” life of a young call girl. There’s lots of soft-core sex, but little romance. More importantly, the story lines and characters are aimed at women in a consumerism fantasy.

With “Weeds” the story is all about how the formerly staid and stay-at-home Mom becomes, hip, cool, and sexy dealing marijuana to keep the family afloat. It’s a very personal way of breaking the rules, and in an age where there’s very little to rebel against, most of society’s strictures having been thrown out the window decades before, appeals to the desire of women to be a “rebel.” Not in the typically masculine way of achieving a result in way contradicting the conventional wisdom, but rather in living an unconventional life. Suburbia is “boring and stifling” while Parker’s character Nancy Botwin experiences thrills and excitement (personal and sexual) in her anti-suburban criminal career.AMC’s “Breaking Bad” about a suburban High School Chemistry teacher dying of lung cancer who becomes a meth cook to provide cash for his family probes much of the same territory.

“Secret Diary of a Call Girl” might as well be about the romance between Piper’s character Belle and the life of consumerist luxury and fake rebellion, than the sexual exploits of the character. Again the object of rebellion is conventional, middle class life. Neither “Belle” nor “Nancy” would be the object of young men’s fantasies, one is an older widow wrapped up in her own struggle to maintain her standard of living while exploring her wild side, the other an out-and-out prostitute. They don’t bring romance to mind.

What they do provide is a fantasy vehicle for pretend rebellion against social mores that are already dead and gone. The sort of “exciting” and “glamorous” lives of female celebrities, who often form the basis for junk reality shows: E’s “Denise Richards: It’s Complicate” and (mother of Lindsay) Dina Lohan in “Living Lohan.” Limousines, personal assistants, personal trainers, manufactured personal melodramas, and stints at luxury spas form the landscape of these fantasies.

This is the logical extension of fake rebellion as a mass-market consumer item.

Of course, lots of people get left out. Older women, who have the maturity and experience to offer advice to younger women and men, are invisible on TV and in movies. They have money too, and form the largest part of the population (see my post “Senior Nation”). They resent being invisible, not having a place in America’s Cultural Landscape, and this resentment forms the undercurrent of American culture. Young men, and older ones too are left out. Neither tween-teen female shows like “Gossip Girl” or older skewing ones like “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” are attractive to them. One of the untold stories in entertainment is how quickly men bailed out of watching TV, in favor of the internet or video games. Both older women and men are under-served in entertainment. The exception being of course, “blockbuster” type summer popcorn movies aimed squarely at young men.

Marketing dogma has made US Culture and Entertainment rest almost entirely on young women. Taking the data from the US Census Bureau 2007 estimates, and using the age ranges of 10-34 years, that’s about 16% of the population.

Amazing, and likely a product of decades-long economic expansion making both marketers and entertainment purveyors fat and lazy. With hard times on the foreseeable future, America may be on the cusp of a Cultural change, as the marketing/entertainment strategy based on only 16% of the population is simply unsustainable.

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About whiskeysplace

Conservative blogger focusing on culture, business, technology, and how they intersect.
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2 Responses to Call Girl TV and Cultural Change

  1. Who would have ever thought 200 years ago that people would rebel against prosperity and tranquility. You know what young women need? A harsh dose of reality, a la Rambo, The Killing Fields, Hotel Rwanda, Tears of the Sun, and any movie about the Holocaust. Every single day I think about what it means to live in a time and place where I don’t have to worry about this year’s meager crop dying, government soldiers coming to rape me and take my children away, getting my limbs hacked off in some pointless tribal war, dying of malaria, having my genitals mutilated, being married against my will to some strange man, or living in a government-provided concrete cube and hoping my toilet paper ration doesn’t run out. The vast majority of the rest of the world would gladly trade places with these bored suburban ingrates. And I agree about the underserved segments of the population. I’m only 37, but already there ain’t much in entertainment that speaks to me. Thank goodness for Turner Classic Movies.

  2. Whiskey says:

    Thanks Stickwick!Yes it’s sad we don’t appreciate our prosperity or it’s fragility.

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