Every time the media mentions some sort of surprise runaway bestseller you can almost feel the palpable shock that something succeeded on it’s own merits. As an example, look at Disney’s High School Musical. Disney put out a number of low (for Disney) budget films every summer. These films have little advertising and use the Disney stable of actors. See also Wendy Wu Homecoming Warrior with the excellent Brenda Song.
Despite the low key introduction, High School Musical was massively popular. So popular that Disney released a sequel with the same cast, more money and far, far more advertising and hype. As one would expect, High School Musical 2 was also hugely popular. But how much of that was down to advertising and how much down to the fact the first one was so enjoyable?
The fact is that the media and media companies absolutely do not trust us to know what we like. This is why so much is spent on annoying the life out of us with incessant ads. But when left to our own devices we, the public, know what we want to see and what we don’t. That’s why many big budget films fail despite the ads and why a simple, enjoyable musical with catchy songs and a fun script do so well. And, by the way, if you’re wondering why a grown man is watching this sort of thing, well, I have a daughter who is 10 tomorrow. It’s hard to avoid them.