Monday, August 11, 2014

It ain't easy.

Saturday night was as near a perfect night as you get in a year, or even a decade. The temperature was in the low-to-mid 70s and the humidity was low, giving the air a pre-autumnal crispness. On top of that, clouds were few. Though New York is “light-polluted” you could see a star over there, and another over there.

The night was crowned by what people today call a “super moon.” That’s a coincidence when the moon is full and its at its closest orbital point to earth. According to NASA, a super moon can be 14% closer to earth than a non-super one and up to 30% brighter.

In all, the weather and the stars were the perfect accompaniments to “King Lear” which was being performed at the Delacorte Theater during New York’s annual summer Shakespeare in the Park.

Despite the loveliness of the evening, and the loveliness of my wife who secured the tickets, I wasn’t too keen on going to Lear. Not only were Myrna Loy and William Powell appearing in “The Thin Man” on TCM, the play itself (despite having John Lithgow play Lear and Annette Bening as evil Goneril) got a lousy review in the “Times.”

In fact, Ira Glass of “This American Life” fame said this in the Times: “I think I’m realizing: Shakespeare sucks.” The gist of the criticism was essentially this: the production sucks because it’s hard. It’s demanding as a play. And draining. It ain’t easy to see a man destroyed. It ain’t easy to see professions of love reveal hatred.

I think Lear’s bad reviews are mostly due to the demands Shakespeare makes on an audience, especially a modern one. We are expected to understand a language that is only slightly like our own. We are expected to endure four hours without respite. Harshest of all, we are expected to listen, actually and really listen.

All this is beyond what most people seem to be able to stomach. Shakespeare’s demanding. And, I’m sorry but I believe, most people today equate demanding with impossible.

In advertising in fact I think we do many products and services a disservice because we make things too easy. We scratch the surface and show stock-like photographs. Even out most important decisions we’ve reduced to a system of stars or a five-point scale.

I don’t think buying a car, or investing in a retirement account, or even booking a vacation is easy. I think things like this are costly and important. If you screw them up, you can screw up your life. They demand close attention. And a lot of work.

But we live in a world where simplicity is the answer to everything. We clamor for marketers to make it easy. 

I don't think simplicity and easy are the answer to everything. Maybe I believe too much in peoples' intelligence. That an argument well-written can move the reader better than glib platitudes.

I guess, once again, I'm a voice crying in the wilderness. But I happen to think interested parties will take the time, and do the work it takes to make a wise purchase decision.

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