There is a forever picture in my head of a young Judy Garland, playing Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, sitting on a rail fence and singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” She has a pensive look as she gazes at the clear Midwestern sky, not knowing that her world is soon to be twisted and turned in a new direction. The lesson of the time was to appreciate what you have.
That’s a real-life lesson, but one people seem to never learn. Garland herself had trouble accepting her life as it was—and who can blame her. We see reports of a difficult childhood, of addiction, of depression. For all we know, immersing herself in fantasy was a coping mechanism. As a matter of fact, we all do it—Harry Potter, anyone? But the entertainment world just may be taking us in a new direction.
Instead of creating new worlds, some of the recent content—particularly on the small screens—includes interpretations of real life. Turns out real life isn’t as much fun as fantasy, but it is still watchable…even mesmerizing.
Our Q1 Report recently called out how brands are looking to monetize biographies, everyday events, and true stories. We’re seeing this occur both in blockbuster entertainment and digital content. For example:
- Netflix has announced a new series about the life of legendary Mexican singer Selena Quintanilla. The series highlights how a Mexican-American could transcend genres to become a global star, in a time before the current Hispanic cultural influence.
- Rocketman is a just-released biographical drama about the life of musician Elton John. The movie, found in theaters now, follows the rise of his fame as well as the early glory days of his music and his stage shows.
- Two different documentaries surrounding the Frye Festival have launched respectively on Hulu and Netflix, giving firsthand accounts of the music-festival-turned-scam.
Since the release of our report, we’re seeing additional examples, such as HBO’s Chernobyl mini-series, which reveals what really happened during the nuclear disaster. In fact, the show, which is co-produced by the British network Sky, is reportedly the all-time top rated TV show on IMDb.
Finally, we’re back to Judy Garland and the upcoming biopic of her life that will, reportedly, give more perspective on what it was like to be a woman in the entertainment business in her era. It should be noted that Garland’s daughter, Liza Minnelli, has issued a statement that she does not sanction the biopic, so there may yet be more discussion about what really went on behind the scenes. It’s all part of what’s happening in entertainment, fueled, perhaps, by our own need for transparency and to understand the difference between truth and fiction.
While we may mourn the innocence of the young Garland, we are in an era when we should celebrate how far we have come. Women now have a voice in Hollywood, growing stronger each day. There are new, open source ways for people to demonstrate their talents and engage with an audience. People are self-reporting when things go wrong, meaning there are fewer opportunities for cover-ups and misrepresentations.
At least that’s the hope. And the lesson of the time is still to appreciate what you have, particularly when you can see it more clearly.
See more about this movement toward “Monetizing Reality,” and more, in our Quarterly Report. If you’d like to see the full Q1 Report, just link to our newsletter:
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