From 1977-1984, I interviewed musicians for a living. It wasn't much of a living, but records were part of the job and I walked everywhere, so all I had to pay for was movies, rent and food, and I wasn't yet old enough to get tired of living hand to mouth. Starting in Wisconsin and continuing to New York, where I landed at TROUSER PRESS magazine, I did dozens of interviews, from Nick Lowe to The Ramones to Brian Eno to Killing Joke. I gave up in '84, after interviewing Tears For Fears. They were pleasant guys, intelligent. It was a fun chat. But I was reciting their answers in my head, word for word, even as I asked the questions. Before they spoke. It had been happening every interview for six months at that point, and not because I'm telepathic, nor because I kept asking the same questions. It was The Script.
No one writes The Script. It's a set of culturally (usually unconsciously) acceptable responses. In the rock world, The Script is rebellion, and while it originally sprang from inchoate resistance to a neutered conformity (and often only half-hearted resistance at that), as soon as the world didn't end and people showed a willingness to spend money on rebellion, it was quickly institutionalized. That rebellion exists in our culture only as commodity is no secret; it's no longer a matter of what you think but what jacket you wear, in iconography now almost 50 years old. I think it was critic Jon Savage who summed up rock's version of rebellion as "My dad's a boring old fart, I hate my dad, I hate you, I want to kick your face in." By 1984 we were already several generations (in music marketing terms) removed from The Sex Pistols, and whatever was left in music of their inspired anarchism was washed over by predictable if earnest dance pop generated by groups like Tears For Fears, but the language hadn't changed. To hear every group positioning itself as The New Individualistic Rebels - and meaning it! - beat me down. I knew The Script by heart, and so did they. After Tears For Fears - it could have been anyone! - I told Ira I wasn't doing any more interviews. A few months later, having watched the music scene shift from power pop he loved to increasingly generic dance groups all the record companies were pushing like nothing else existed, Ira decided he didn't want to play anymore and shut down the magazine rather than turn it into the upscale 80s version of TIGER BEAT.
The Script is what you get when enterprises of great pith and moment turn awry, and lose the name of action. Every medium, every business, has their own Script. Read practically any interview coming out of Hollywood, compare a few of them, and it takes no effort to figure out what Hollywood's Script is. All cases amount to the same thing: The Script is the ultimate marketing gimmick, the lie that can be told so that no one has to say they just want the money, blather repeated so frequently and by so many it's mistaken for consensus.
Dave Olbrich, when he was editor-in-chief at Malibu Comics, was fond of saying "perception is reality." Meaning it really doesn't matter what the truth is, whatever people think is the truth becomes the truth. Dave's perception crashed into reality when his company was yanked out from under him and sold to Marvel, but his aphorism defined The Script that every company has worked from since the days when Stan Lee put Marvel over with an omnibus of glib catch phrases and a wink. Stan's method was to be so over the top with his self-promotion (and of the company, of course, since Stan clearly worked so hard to blur the lines between himself and Marvel) that it was funny, a joke the reader could conspiratorially get involved with. Now nobody's joking, and they haven't been for 20 years. Comics marketing has become a desperate, somber business. In many ways, it's expected to be no different from marketing any other product, on much less (in many cases, no) money than other businesses lay out for promotion. The marketing Script goes This Is Big! This Is Worth Your While! This Is Worth Your Money! Meanwhile, the range of comics marketing basically covers the same ground as at the dawn of comics: you try to get a book onto the shelves where customers will hopefully see them, and if you're very lucky, you get a house ad that will go in other books. When was the last time you saw a full page ad for comics in TV GUIDE or PLAYBOY? Like… never?