In Search Of The Anti-Audience
Although the term first appeared in the early 18th century, antiheroes can be traced back to classical Greek literature. We all know the type: the antihero is the protagonist in a story, a character around whom the plot revolves and through which it advances. However, unlike the traditional hero, this is a protagonist that lacks the solidity and nobility often associated with its role.
Despite their classical origins, antiheroes became prominent in the 19th century and thrived from the 1960s. These days, it is rare to encounter a thoroughly and purely good protagonist. Even with those that seem so at first sight, we eventually expect to discover a tinge of darkness that bestows upon them the sort of dimensionality we have come to prefer. In short, heroes without edges are bland for the modern reader or spectator.
As creatives, I find we seek a hero-like type of audience. Any decent marketing course or audience-growth coach will advise us to find a solid number of fans who rave about our work. It makes sense, and there is no alternative. Find the smallest viable audience, the proverbial one thousand true fans, and rise from there. I don’t think the concept is flawed. Nevertheless, the type of individuals this foundational audience consists of varies massively depending on the work the creative produces.
I have always struggled to find unconditional support because I don’t want it to be unconditional. I like work that challenges and discomforts, and that’s the only work I can produce. In the era of convenience, the difficulty is that few of us like to be challenged or discomfited. The world is confusing and demanding enough to expect the art we consume to make us feel reassured, not more perplexed. I also need comfort. But I need something else as well, and I know I am not alone.
The anti-audience knows what it likes and likes what it knows. The anti-audience isn’t phased by the prospect of having to think. The anti-audience does not put up with work that is not genuine or worthy.
The anti-audience is the hardest audience to find because it is also the most valuable.
Today’s level of pessimistic optimism: 65%.
Written while listening to: the cacophonous Sunday traffic.
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