Out of the Ghetto
"[The critics] will not have a pigeon-hole neatly labeled for it."Ah, the ghettos of fiction. We're all familiar with them: Cartoons are for kids, (and Comic Books are for slightly older kids,) SpecFic is for nerds, Romance novels (and soaps) are for single women and housewives, Rap is for gangstas, Classical Music is for snobs, New Media, especially Video Games, are for unproductive deviants, Printed works are for people with one foot in the grave, etc. In short, the medium, and to a lesser extent the genre, define the target audience. Entire classes of works are "pigeonholed" into "target" demographics, and woe unto any fan who happens to fall one day, dollar, chromosome, or lateral inch outside of these appointed bounds. Some works surrender and even embrace these holes, falling into unoriginality and Flanderization, so long as the money keeps rolling in. Then, you get something which blows away the conventional notions. A work that dares to challenge a genre's or medium's natural order, or even, dare we say it, threatens to expand its demographic! (Even if it's to retain viewers it already had.) If it changes perceptions of the genre as a whole, then it could even be a Genre Turning Point. Often a work that breaks out of the ghetto (and its fans) will attract its own hatedom due to outsiders rigidly holding the ghetto lines while upholding their personal "definitions" of "True Art"; along with the genre's/medium's "normal" target audience saying that the work makes their (ghetto-compliant/sustaining) favorites "look bad" and/or employing No True Scotsman. In the case of a deviation to a long-running franchise, They Changed It, Now It Sucks often comes into play. Contrast It's Popular, Now It Sucks, wherein a work/creator who previously challenged established conventions accepts them to grow its fanbase or pocketbook.
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Anime & Manga
- Star Wars is rather cyclical. In the late 1970s and 1980s, it was cool, then nobody remembered it. In the mid-1990s, Shadows of the Empire and the Dark Forces Saga introduced the world to the Expanded Universe. Then came cries of They Changed It, Now It Sucks for the Special Edition and the prequels. On the other hand, the romantic subplot attracted a significant female fandom. And the Mandalorians have attracted a significant following in the military. Of course, Star Wars fans make fun of their own Fan Dumb.
- Star Trek has Narm, Green Skinned Space Babes, an Anvilicious group of morally superior beings, and a Mary Suetopia. The fanfic coined the term Mary Sue. The spinoffs use physics terms but have no idea what they mean, if they mean anything. Of course, it's going to attract a lot of hate. Then came the 2009 Star Trek movie.
- If you like gay romance, then you're either gay or a hormonal Yaoi Fangirl. And then came Brokeback Mountain.
- Although the Turn of the Millennium saw superhero movies becoming more consistently popular and well-received by critics, they were still generally seen as escapist fantasies that primarily appealed to comic book fans and younger demographics. Then came The Dark Knight, which offered a psychologically complex world and cast, and Heath Ledger portraying The Joker with such depth and menace that he managed to become the first person to win an acting Oscar for a role in a superhero movie.
- If you like romance, you're a desperate housewife. Then came Twilight. Of course, Twilight has its own Squick, especially Breaking Dawn. Yeah, it went right back to the ghetto.
- Who would want to be seen reading a fantasy novel in public? Grow up, you hopeless nerd. Though Harry Potter and Discworld don't seem to count, even before they were republished with sombre covers to hide your shame.
- Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the first openly erotic novels to break into the mainstream and to be marketed as upmarket populist literature, occupying the top shelves of high street bookshops.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: Voyager tried to do this. It ended up with Magical Native Americans, a serious case of Ship Tease that ended with Chakotay choosing another girl out of the blue, and using physics terms whose meaning the writers either didn't know or made up as they went along.
- True Blood has successfully become the most popular thing on HBO, and has almost unanimous critical praise.
- White rappers attract only suburban wannabe gangsters...except Eminem.
- On a more traditional note, Gershwin seemed to have been hit hard with the hate from classical musicians. The majority of classical pianists pretty much refuse to play Gershwins Piano Concerto in F...because apparently it's too much jazz-influenced. Ironically, Ravel and Stravinsky absolutely loved Gershwin's music in their days.
- The Internet itself. 1990s version: It's for porn, Star Trek, debates about the Empire taking on the Federation, anime and combinations of the foregoing. There Are No Girls on the Internet. 2000s version: MySpace! Napster! iTunes! BitTorrent! Facebook! There's still porn, but now teenage girls are sending it to their boyfriends.
- Unsuccessful attempt: Political talk radio is a right-wing medium, right? Certainly Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck would have you think so. Meet...pretty much all of Air America. Which failed to compete with Rush and co. and shut down.
- Incidentally, Limbaugh himself is an (successful) example, taking political-commentary-based radio out of the droning doldrums and into the controversial and popular format it is today.note Granted, the revocation of The Fairness Doctrine made it possible, but there still had to be a leader for everyone to follow.
- Video games are an interesting case, since there are so many ghettoes. First, the "games are for kids" ghetto. Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat broke out of that.
- RPGs were for D&D fans and anime nerds, until Final Fantasy VII came out, as Animesque as it was.
- Video games were for men and boys, until virtual pets and, a year later, Pokémon. Naturally, Pokémon attracted its own hatedom.
- Pokémon also fit for popularizing the RPG with children.
- Likewise with The Sims, which has also been cited as a major influence in getting women into gaming.
- Building on the above two, the development of "casual games" and the Rhythm Game genre, along with the ability to purchase games on cell phones and iPods, made gaming a co-ed activity.
- Golden Eye 1997 and Halo broke the FPS out of the domain of the PC enthusiast.
- World of Warcraft brought the MMORPG into the cultural mainstream.
- The Wii series of games as well as Nintendo's other Touch Generations games saw the demographic for gaming broaden outside the 18-34 demographic (though it had long existed in younger demographics as well).
- You absolutely could not sell a normal 2D Platformer as a full retail title on the 7th generation consoles, until New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
- As the Animation Age Ghetto page explains, Western Animation was once an all-ages affair as complementary works to major movies, and this held true in the first decades of TV; this is why The Flintstones and The Jetsons aired in Prime Time in their heyday. Then demographics emerged, animation studios largely became separate from movie studios, and the dark days of the Ghetto began. This lasted for two long decades until The Simpsons aired on FOX. Subsequent shows upped the ante, until you were sure you didn't want your kids to watch Western Animation, at least after sunset.
- Cartoons aimed at female audiences have nothing to offer male viewers... unless Lauren Faust was involved in their production.
- Nicktoons were (somewhat fairly) stereotyped as superficial, immature, and slimy. Then came Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.