Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: The "Average" Reader, and What Should Be Done to Them

Date: 15 Nov 2007

Kat wrote:

"But on the whole, I'd rather be writing for the readers who want more sophisticated, challenging material than is found in the average TV sitcom."

Some, particularly Steve Johnson (in Everything Bad is Good for You), argue that the average sitcom has become endangered because of its simplicity, that more and more of today's viewers, particularly in the younger demographics that advertisers want, are seeking out denser narratives. They get intratextual jokes like Art Vandalay on Seinfeld, follow all of the threads in Sopranos, Lost or Wire, etc. Or try to catch all of the "borrowings" in Tarantino films. Yes, Johnson is sometimes guilty of comparing the current best to the past worst, but that best is far more complicated narratively and visually than ever before. Of course, whether or not that also applies to readers of print is a whole other question.

But I find it very hard to accept that the average reader, even the average TV viewer is a passive consumer. For instance, Virginia Radway's studies of readers of romance novels proved they were very active in their reading, from their choices of what to read to their discussions with other fans, etc. And that was before the internet. Think of all of the fan sites and fan forums for any kind of entertainment, from sports to TV to comics to us here. Hardly seems passive to me.


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