Usually this blog space will be used for my own writing critiques. A small section of the internet carved out for me to figure out my style and skills, and learn from them. Today, I’m gonna break down someone else’s because gosh darn it all it’s the internet and that’s what it’s supposed to do.
“Titans,” the new series from the upcoming DC Universe app, created by Greg Berlanti, Akiva Goldsman, and personal writing hero, Geoff Johns, had it’s trailer premiere yesterday at San Diego Comic Con, and it is….definitely a thing that happened….
Upon watching this on my phone in the middle of lunch which I promptly spit out in complete and utter shock (at the fact that they included green apples in my Açaí bowl, not at the trailer. Seriously, what a treat!) I had to ask: WHO IS THIS FOR?
There’s an old adage in publishing called the “Myth of the Everyreader.” (you can read a more detailed breakdown here on Jane Friedman’s blog here). The myth goes that the product you’ve made, be it a book, film, video game, cartoon show, whatever, can reach people of multiple demographics. A pitch might sound something like, “This show would be perfect between the ages of 18-45 and has ever been afraid,” or, “My book will attract readers of ages 13-38 and are fans of baseball games.”
Now, that’s not say people of all ages cannot enjoy what you’ve written, but it has to be made for someone. Series like “Harry Potter” and all of the Pixar films have kind of gotten it into creators’ heads that they too can create something that the entire family can enjoy, right alongside college students, folks from the elderly homes, and people of all creeds and colors.
Let’s remember, it’s called “Myth of the Everyreader.” Those properties I listed above are the exception, not the norm. Taken from the Friedman post: “When I take a project on,” says agent Emma Patterson of Brandt & Hochman, “it’s crucial that I can see who the audience will be. I have to determine which editors at houses tend to work on books for that audience, and convince those editors the audience is fully apparent. If I can’t see that audience or the voice is inauthentic in some way, there’s no way I’m going to be able to convince an editor to see things differently.”
Which, again, WHO IS “TITANS” FOR?
As a casual observer, this show definitely would fit into the darker DC film motif they’ve released (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of the Ridiculous Titles and Justice League). However, as someone who’s read comic books since he was 8 and is well versed in these properties as they stood, I see no difference between this and their supposed foray into the extremely-dark-and-meant-to-be gritty “Suicide Squad.”
This just SCREAMS Teen Titans….wait?
Referring back to what Emma Patterson said above, stories need to have a designated audience. Something made for adults, something for kids, something for hormonally charged teens, whatever. Harry Potter and Pixar helped the Everyreader myth spread, but, to repeat, that should not be considered the norm.
Even the series that helped start this tirade, Titans, based off the DC comic book “Teen Titans,” was made for your little siblings. It featured sidekicks, learning the ropes on their own and hopefully growing into their capes a bit more.
Justice League, Superman, Batman, were for older kids spanning into teenagers, while books like Suicide Squad were definitely targeted at adults who had grown out of favor with the “clean” and “righteous” superheroics. If your “Titans” property and “Suicide” property look completely interchangeable then we have what could be a terminal problem.
I don’t want to say genres can’t mix, because they absolutely can, but a property shouldn’t cross that many barriers to try and appear “edgy” and “new” and “realistic” when you have the figurehead of your series say “F*** Batman!” Stories need definition and this series’ definition is, “We don’t know who this is for! Kids? Kids like the Teen Titans, right? WATCH ROBIN TOTALLY CAP A GUY.”
This show isn’t made for kids. It isn’t made for adults. It’s made for no one but the Everyreader.
I definitely wouldn’t show this to my hypothetical kids. If anything, THIS has more connection with the Titans than anything the live-action trite is attempting to do.
Thanks for the read!
Major H/T: The Myth of the Everyreader
See you guys Friday.