I was on a conference call yesterday with a curriculum advisor whose specialty is the emotional lives of children. She explained to us that, for very young kids, the value of an idea has less to do with the idea itself and more to do with the source of that idea. So, for example, if a child is viewed by other children as having some power, then his or her idea is automatically considered to be a “good” idea. And, conversely, if a child doesn’t have any perceived power than his or her idea is considered “bad.”
“Hmm,” I thought, “that sounds just like MIPCOM.”
Yes, MIP is upon us accompanied by all the social pressures that most of us haven’t experienced since the cafeteria days of junior high school. Whether it’s trying to secure a meeting with an elusive broadcaster, angling for a seat with the cool kids at the Grand, or the ritualistic placing of nametags on tables at a certain dinner, MIP is proof that the kids’ industry needs as much help in the areas of inclusion and anti-bullying as any maladjusted teenager. Though no one likes to admit it, Cannes is a veritable Mardi Gras of cliques, cattiness and drunken debauchery that puts even the trashiest Bravo reality show to shame.
And I, for one, can’t wait. For better or for worse, I’ve learned to play along with the relentless MIPCOM turpitude that used to intimidate me. As long as I get five hours of sleep, I can even sort of enjoy it. I’ve also become more receptive to the constructive feedback that I invariably get in those tender moments just after I share my latest preschool show with the world’s media executives:
“It’s not funny.”
“It’s too American.”
“It’s too hard to dub.”
“It’s too much like Wonder Pets.”
“It’s not enough like Wonder Pets.”
“I love your stuff but I am alone in that.”
“We got burned on the 3rd & Bird toys.”
“Do you have anything like Chuggington?”
“I don’t like your blog.”
In the old days I used to get offended, argue, and storm off like the preschool TV diva that I am. But not anymore. I’ve learned from Buffy, our mini-Australian Shepherd, that the best approach to avoiding conflict and making friends is to just roll over and look helpless whenever confronted by the bigger, badder or more well-financed dogs. (If you see me around Cannes this week, you will likely see me roll over every half-hour or so, even more in the evenings.)
The reality is that playing nicely with those in power is as much a part of surviving in the kid’s TV industry as knowing how to put together a budget. And playing nicely often veers, for all indies, into supplication. It gave me some comfort, though, to hear from our esteemed educational advisor that even preschoolers succumb to power. For some reason, this made me feel less guilty for participating in all the tribal rituals of MIP which range from agreeing with the disagreeable to drinking with the drunks.