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Storytelling School

The Boys: How Marketers Fool Us. Insights after watching the show.

Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015 she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod,, after which she created a course called "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" based on it. Over 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by education, she quickly masters new areas. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in movies/serials, and writes about it in her project's blog.
Factual Background
The Boys is a TV series that creates a very interesting universe. In this universe, the super-heroes (or "supers," as they are called by the not-so-fanatical guys), exist in reality, and are some kind of stars, media personalities that people follow.

However, it's not all that simple. And these same supers, when the cameras go off, turn out to be very hypocritical creatures. They bully those around them, harass and rape, show complete indifference and callousness, in general, are not role models at all.

To avenge them for what the "super" do to people, goes a company of ordinary guys, or "patsany", as the Russian filmmakers translated the name.
Interesting, isn't it? But even more interesting: if this story were real, wouldn't events unfold like this? After all, fame, big money, and fame do have a very strong influence on a person's personality and his or her path in life. So it makes sense that super-heroes would be a concentration of evil if they were real.

There is a very strong cultivation of super-heroes going on right now. We're waiting for a sequel to Wonder Woman from the DC universe, we're reviewing The Avengers several times, all the parts, well, we can argue about which universe is better, just endlessly!

Why is that? People tend to shift the responsibility for their own joys and sorrows on the shoulders of others. We really want to believe that there is someone out there who will just take your life and make it better, save you from Loki, Thanos and other villains, come and beat everyone. We want that so badly that we're even willing to create our own superheroes.

So the creators of the series, who, by the way, invented it almost a decade ago, decided to make a little mockery of the fashion for superheroes, and at the same time to speculate, as it would be in reality. And the series turned out to be absolutely brilliant, especially from a marketing point of view.

So to all marketers and those who are interested in the underside of blogging, media and so on, it's a must-see. Thanks to the grotesque narration, it is very clear what the author wanted to say. And if not, just below in the article I share my interpretation of their thoughts.

Superheroes are a carbon copy of the Marvel and DC heroes we adore

The guys simultaneously mock us with our desire to "create a superhero for ourselves" and parody famous movies with a heroic theme. All of the heroes of "Seven," the main superhero association, look like the superheroes we have long known and have similar abilities to them. Of course, this is one of the main features of the series.

Five insights about marketing that arise from watching the TV series "The Boys

1. you are either a hero or a media personality
Starlight, the brightest and truest of the seven, confronts this realization almost immediately.

"All we do is go to press conferences and take pictures, but we don't really do anything. When are we going to fly to save the world?" - she asks and gets the answer that, yes, she's doing just that.

The trick is that both the actual action and the image creation take a lot of effort and time. And they together sometimes don't fit into a standard 24-hour day. So you have to choose to either be or appear.
And there's a whole team of 115 floors working on the image of the hero to make sure that he, that image, touches the right strings in the souls of everyday people.

As someone who works a lot with self-branding, blogging, and other such things, I can tell you that it is exactly the same in life. A huge team works on the image of a media personality, and almost always such a huge amount of time is devoted to working on the image that there is practically no time left for actual work.
2. You don't have to have the qualities to show them
Homlander is not at all the kind, sympathetic, and hospitable hero that ordinary people show him to be. He is simply an evil, petty vessel, full of hatred for all people, and with strange sexual tendencies.

However, the people around him think he is almost a perfect example of a super-human. Why is this the case?

Because the same team puts him in those situations that show the qualities they need. It does not matter if he has them in reality, the main thing is that people SHOULD SEE that they saw them.

For example, the same Queen Maeve is much more human - being with the Homeworlder in the falling plane, she wanted to save two children, but he forbade her, because the children will tell that the others they left behind.

So, this story teaches us that often the qualities for which we value a particular hero are only a fake created by marketers.
3. your actions depend on the rating - it's important that people like it
Ashley, first an assistant and then the head of the Vought Corporation, keeps saying, "After you did that, your ratings just skyrocketed!" Not life got better, the ratings just soared. Because ratings clearly determine how many advertisers come to the company, and how much money they get in the end.

And what are ratings? It's more of a general concept for all marketing, including TV. We in social networks are more accustomed to such currency as likes.

Accordingly, a media personality, or any blogger, writes a post in order to get "likes. After all, likes are not only the social approval we all crave. It is also his capital - the more likes, the more people will see his activity. The more subscribers there will be. The more advertisers will come. And the more his income will be.

That is, most bloggers are not at all guided by topics that are important to them, but by likes. Rating, that is.
4. It is not always enough to make a difference
Already aware of the mess she's in, Starlight, however, is in no hurry to use all of her superpowers to fight the Homeworlder. She lurks because she realizes that there is a 100% counterforce to her power. And it's much more effective to lay low and change lives from within.

So it's like she's in between two fires - on the one hand she's helping the opposition hiding in the basement in the form of the boys, on the other she's still involved in the "super game." That's why you can still see her on stages and catwalks.

But just because she says something doesn't mean she thinks it at all.
5. The real heroes are those from whom you don't expect it at all
In the end, despite the fact that the whole world considers a bunch of flying and running clowns heroes, the real heroes are a bunch of guys who don't have any outstanding abilities. But they have real values: love, family and friendship. And like real good heroes, they never leave any of the villains to die. Even if they themselves threaten to kill them.

In the end, this series shows us that perhaps the balance of power is not at all what it seems. It's not who has the most shiny suit and the most naked body that you want to follow.

But who should follow? This is a question everyone has to answer for himself.

Why You Should Still Watch This Series

  • Very beautiful visuals
    The picture is terrific, the special effects are super, and you can't tell that the characters don't live in our world.
  • Satire and humor
    In addition to the fact that the topic itself is very non-trivial, the series also includes a lot of cool jokes within it.
  • Actor's performance
    All the characters are perfectly embodied by their performers. The cast is very strong, you watch and believe it.