Friday, July 9, 2010

The Return on Your Cultural Investment

Many years ago, when I was a sound editor on The Inspector Gadget Show, I enjoyed a unique experience. As my wife and I walked past a schoolyard, we heard one of the kids call out, "Go Go Gadget Penis!" When we finished laughing, I said that was one sound effect we never got around to making...

The point is that for the first time, I got to see my work enter the public consciousness. It wasn't a case where people, being polite, mentioned my show. These were complete strangers who were oblivious to me and my part in its production.

Similar things happened during my work on The Magic School Bus and later, on Freaky Stories. I would hear complete strangers referencing my work. And believe me, that is a strange experience. It continues today where Freaky Stories has almost 8,000 fans on FaceBook. EIGHT THOUSAND people (!!!) signed up to get notices about Freaky Stories. Complete strangers. It must be absolutely mind boggling to the creators and production team of major hit series to get millions of fans liking your work.

So what is the "cultural investment" in a show? I really don't know. You do your work. You be creative - but the one thing that you have to keep in mind, something that most people forget during the hustle of production: The show that you're working on, is somebody's favorite show. Ever.

I think there's a responsibility that comes with that. The thing that you've created touches someone's life. Maybe they go on to a career in film, TV or the arts. Maybe "House" inspires someone to become a doctor. Maybe that doctor finds the cure for a terrible disease - all because of a prime-time TV show.

Often the creators of a show don't realize what it is that they're working with. Case in point, this New Yorker article on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers mogul Haim Saban - in which he smirkingly refers to the Power Rangers as "Five retards in spandex".

I guess they were - and those "Five retards in spandex" made him a billionaire. Who knew?

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