My copy of Survival of Soap Opera… arrived on Friday. Of course, my first step, after reading through the full text of my essay, was to look for my name in the index. Most were footnotes referencing my essay. But nothing could have delighted me more than the footnote in C. Lee Harrington’s essay, “Constructing the Older Audience: Age and Aging in Soaps,” describing me as a “former contributor to SOW (Soap Opera Weekly) and well known online soap personage.” If I ever get around to getting business cards, that’s what’s going on them.
In “Age and Aging…,” Harrington (a professor of sociology at Miami University, Ohio, who co-edited Survival, and co-authored Soap Fans), and coauthor, Denise Brothers, talked to eleven soap actors who played the same role for at least fifteen years, thirty-four soap viewers who watched the same soap for at least twenty years (I’m number nine), and five outside soap experts – including one “well known online soap personage:)”
Harrington and Brothers give voice to the general consensus that soaps’ relentless pursuit of younger viewers at the expense of inter-generational storytelling has serious damaged the genre. Their conclusion includes a reference to 2003’s Ageless Marketing , in which David Wolfe and Robert Snyder argue for “the abandonment of age-based marketing practices in favor of ‘ageless marketing’ based on ‘values and desires’ that span traditional generational divides.”
The recent news that, following CBS’s lead, “NBC Throws Spotlight on Older Demos, Hopes for Shift in Attitude, Spending, is encouraging – even if the networks are simply bowing the demographic reality and following the baby boomer money.. It may be that "ageless marketing" based on "values and desires" will be fully realized only in the digital future.
© 2010 Lynn Liccardo
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