On being ... the undemographic

By Ingrid Sapona

I know – there’s no such word as undemographic. At least, not yet.

A couple Fridays ago I was mindlessly enjoying my morning routine, reading the paper and drinking my coffee with the Today Show on in the background. One of the news stories that morning was about a London bookstore that, like many others, was already packed with kids anxiously awaiting the midnight sale of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” -- the last in the Potter series.

No sooner did I hear that report than I came upon an article in the paper about the pre-release Potter party my favourite bookstore was throwing. It sounded like quite the event. Apparently the store had been magically transformed so that you felt like you were entering the Harry Potter world of games and magic. The store had even arranged for the street to be closed and the festivities were to include music, magic, and contests that were to last the whole day and well into the night.

I have to admit, the party sounded like great fun. For a fleeting moment, I considered dropping in on it that evening. But, given that Hogwarts doesn’t have an adult education division, and given that I’m a child-less fourty-something, I was pretty sure I wasn’t in the store’s target demographic for that particular event. And, though I sometimes manage to rope friends into going with me to things that I might otherwise not go to (for fear of feeling out of place), I doubt I could have convinced any friend to go with me … not even on a dare!

A few minutes later, Today Show viewers were treated to a musical performance from the cast of the movie Hairspray. I knew Hairspray was soon to be released because throughout the week they had been featuring interviews of various cast members and behind-the-scenes stories of the making (or should I say, re-making) of the movie. All week long, I pretty much ignored these stories because, quite honestly, I couldn’t have cared less. Well, apparently the “big day” (the film’s release) was “finally” here. You know what, I still didn’t care.

As luck would have it, just as the Today Show host was introducing the number from “the must-see movie of the summer” (PLEEEEASE!), the very next section of the newspaper I came across was the movie section. Emblazoned across the front page of the section was a rave review for Hairspray. (Four out of four stars, in case you’re wondering.)

Not being inherently interested in the movie myself, I started wondering who it was aimed at. Surely it’s not directed at me or my friends. We were still pretty much in diapers in 1962 -- the year the movie is set -- so we’re way too young to remember the American Bandstand-type shows (which, I think, is the premise for the movie). At the same time, we’re far too old to find Zak Efron (who plays “hunky Link Larkin”, the love interest in the movie) appealing. Indeed, so far, not one of my friends has asked if I want to go see it, nor have any of them mentioned they’ve seen it.

So just who “must see” this movie, I wonder. What demographic is it aimed at? (I suppose it could be aimed at some group that’s particularly interested in seeing men in drag -- but surely profit from that audience alone wouldn’t justify the advertising dollars spent.) I really don’t know who Hairspray’s target demographic is -- but I know I’m not part of that group!

So there it was -- the most anticipated “release” day of the summer. Two products on which millions of advertising dollars were spent, and not only did not a penny from my piggy bank go toward either, I think it’s safe to say the advertisers don’t even care because I’m not in one of the coveted demographic groups.

Of course, those two incidents aren’t the only times I’ve noticed my interests or tastes were being ignored, but with those two particularly big launches falling on the same day, I couldn’t help but feel somehow isolated from mainstream society. But I know I’m not alone – I’m sure many of my friends must feel the same. Through no fault of our own, we’re all out of that ever-desirable 18-35-year-old group, but not quite full-fledge members of the group that wields grey power. The way I see it, we’re in a vastly overlooked group – a group I propose labeling “the undemographics”.

So Webster’s and Oxford -- I know you recently announced words that you’ll be adding to your next editions and I’m not expecting you to hold the presses just to include undemographic -- but now that I’ve talked openly about being in this non-mainstream group, I suspect others will feel comfortable going public with admissions that they too fall foursquare into this category. Mark my words -- and listen up: that din you hear is people beginning to identify themselves as being in this newly-named group. And, I’m betting that before you know it, products will be developed especially for us and marketed directly at us… Unless, of course, we continue doing as we’re prone to do, which is ignore all the hype and spend only on things we decide we “must see”, or “must have”.

© 2007 Ingrid Sapona


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