“I got into show business because I love stories. They comfort us, they inspire us, they make a context for how we experience the world.” — Princess Caroline, a talking cat from a cartoon show.
Imagine the wonderful Albanian Tv content we would be able to consume if more producers had the capable awareness of a cat. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
As a massive media lover and entertainment industry fan, nothing has saddened me more in the past few months (COVID-19 aside), than giving a chance to our locally produced content.
Whether they’re in the format of reality tv, dating shows or web series.
In the beginning, you can watch ironically and laugh along, as one does for the meme materials. But the more I realised that these people take themselves and what they’re representing seriously, the angrier I got. Especially when sentences like:
“We are portraying the Albanian youth” or “Tirana’s modern mentality” come into play.
Those, are very high statements and need to be held accountable as such. You are talking about a very specific demographic that goes through a lot of dilemmas, sacrifices, and economical struggles.
So, what is wrong with Albania’s show business right now, precisely?!
You don’t need gadgets, money and acquaintances to be creative — but in these cases, not even those did help.
Tarnation is a 2003 American documentary film by Jonathan Caouette. With an initial total budget of only $218.32, using free iMovie editing software, it went on to win the Best Documentary Award from the National Society of Film Critics and other nominations under its belt.
Why does this matter in our scenario?
It matters because as the headline states, you can’t buy creativity and storytelling abilities. But having the support from certain variables is always wonderful, as it gives you a broader reach to viewers.
These “production” platforms don’t lack the sponsors or means. Yet, they choose, actively choose, to give a voice and a spotlight to people and subjects that lack any kind of genuine substance.
If all it took to be good, was to have the right equipment, the people who have the most money would always win. — Casey Neistat.
We truly hope that’s not the case, Casey.
Representation of minorities and different social backgrounds.
Representation is truly important as it drives society into having more open and constructive conversations towards issues such as race, sexuality, gender-norms etc.
But just because you think you’re being inclusive, doesn’t mean you’re doing it right.
Or let me be more specific. Just because you’re trying to be diverse with characters in your show (i.e. their sexual orientation), it doesn’t make you progressive or a good storyteller. Especially if the only abundant trait and their raison d’être, is diversity in itself.
On the contrary, it’s offensive, to say the least.
You have to create these roles in order to criticise social stigmas, especially for a country like ours and the mentality we’ve grown up in. Not as redemption for lazy writing and producing.
So stop building two dimensional, cartoony versions of people, and understand that there’s more to a character than their sexuality, gender etc.
Simply treating “taboo” subjects doesn’t necessarily make you interesting or cool either.
We love to hop on the wagon of this “free generation”, where taboo matters such as sex, drugs, alcohol, open relationships are out there for people to experience without any prejudice or consequences.
And that’s one of the laziest excuses in the book when it comes to explaining why a show or movie isn’t being perceived well.
Nobody cares whether your characters are promiscuous, have a crazy lifestyle or not, we simply want them to have depth and an actual story. Take a look at Skins, Shameless etc. shows that treat said subjects and know how to do it.
And even though those lifestyles aren’t things to be prejudiced upon, they’re not matters to be celebrated and glamorized either.
Is portraying our generation as one that only cares about partying, relationships, looks or money really the only way we know how to expose Albanian youth?
Get to know the actual youth you’re so desperately trying to portray.
You have students working double shifts, getting scholarships and trying to make a living to support their families. You have startups with amazing individuals being built from the very bottom and helping in the growth of YOUR very own economy. You have struggling geniuses, beaming with talent, yet who lack the mentorship in what to do with it.
Our generation might be confused and craving meaning from what they do…But they’re not even close to being these shallow individuals you give exposure to.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few Albanian media personalities who try to give a voice to talents, but they’re not enough.
The shiny lifestyles of wealth and reputation are just a very tiny portion of what our society is made of, and they’re not even the most interesting portion at that.
We’ve seen everyone from so-called scientists to self-serving performers doing whatever they can to exploit any audiences that they can attract. These people don’t actually care about entertaining or informing so much as they care about staying in the spotlight for long enough to get a tan. — u/RamsesThePigeon on Reddit.
Can we stop feeding audiences these over the top and orchestrated personas, and making them feel bad for not having a certain kind of lifestyle?!
Albanian culture is wonderful. We’ve struggled so much, and have surpassed even more. We don’t need to rip off Jersey Shore or Keeping up with the Kardashians in order to have content to produce.
Just take a look around you, past the exaggerated versions of influencers on Instagram where you hope to get more clicks.
Believe me, it will give you a lot better stories to tell.