Published on: November 12, 2009Now available on iTunes…
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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this week by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.
There was an interesting piece in the Boston Globe recently about generational differences and how they are reflected in the television programs we watch. The simplistic presentations of teenagers, and even teen angst, that ruled when many of us were kids no longer is credible; stereotyping isn’t just inappropriate, but dangerous. Many in this generation see only possibilities, and they don’t want to hear the word “can’t.” I ran into this the other day when my 15-year-old daughter expressed an interest in playing high school football...on the boys’ team. I may not be thrilled about it, but I love the idea that she believes that this option should and will be open to her.
This perspective is reflected on television, where wide screens and high definition aren’t just technological advances, but metaphors for a complex and multi-layered group of people. It is archaic, the Globe writes, “to define young TV characters at a glance, to merely stamp them with shorthand labels such as ‘popular kid’ or ‘jock.’ Young lead characters such as Finn on ‘Glee’ and Chuck Bass on ‘Gossip Girl’ aren’t any one thing anymore; likewise kids who occupy the peripheries of the action, such as Marshall, the well-adjusted 14-year-old gay son on ‘United States of Tara’ or Damon, the possibly-gay possibly-depressed goth son on ‘Hung’. To know who they are, you have to experience them, plain and simple.”
Not only are these characters complex, but they reflect a generation that does not want to be hemmed in by traditional labels or rules, and that is far less concerned with the cultural battles of previous generations. If the Globe and the experts with which it spoke are right about this - and I think they are - then that could mean that much of the hullaballoo and debate in Washington on a wide variety of contentious issues could be irrelevant to how many in the Millennial generation live their lives. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the head if the arguments and fights being waged by mostly old guys ended up being trivial or at least inconsequential to the priorities of the next generation?
That’s something we all have to keep in mind when it comes to the conduct of business. There will be folks who write in saying that e-commerce isn;t a good thing because it detracts from traditional retail. There will be people who will send me emails saying that social networking actually has a depersonalizing influence. Some will suggest that this is a lazy and entitled generation. The debate will go on and on, and the topics will stretch out as far as the eye can see.
But we have to remember that many of the biases and preconceptions that we bring to these discussions simply don’t matter. Some of them will, of course, but the prize for relevance will go to those companies and executives able to tell the difference...who can cater to a generation unburdened by our prejudices and mistakes, the members of which have their own distinct and complex set of values.
Not easy to market to these people. Not easy to govern them. But worth it, in the long run.
Besides, what choice do we have?
For MNB Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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