Lessons from Andy Griffith for Content Creators via @RealRonHoward

As most people who heard of Andy Griffith’s passing, I immediately started whistling the tune to The Andy Griffith show in my head. It didn’t come as a surprise that costars are sharing their memories, so when I saw his tweet from Ron Howard I clicked away.

Ron Howard@RealRonHoward

President’s message regarding Andy’s passinghttp://blog.zap2it.com/pop2it/2012/07 …

From that page I went to this article on TV Guide’s website:

Keck’s Exclusives: Ron Howard Remembers Andy Griffith

In it, Ron reflects his relationship with Andy in a new way, the way that only really happens when you lose someone who helped shape you into the person you are today. A few sentences really stood out to me, because they are so relevant today:

Mostly it defined my point of view that popular entertainment didn’t need to look and sound and feel like other shows to have enduring impact on viewers. In fact, watching and learning from Andy lead me to understand that while risky, there were in fact great rewards in offering audiences something new and different…especially if it came from a place of creative integrity and respect for the audience.

In the case of The Andy Griffith Show, creative integrity meant that Andy’s personal affection for the world we were depicting and his and the show’s creators desire to suggest that not only families, but entire communities, can make huge differences in people’s lives was front and center, and never to be under cut for the sake of a joke or a story twist.

Here are the lessons I pulled out of this.

Risk is Necessary

…while risky, there were in fact great rewards in offering audiences something new and different…

I am reminded of the graduate class I am currently taking. We recently had a discussion about the need to create content that breaks through the clutter, which requires risk. Risk-taking is all about doing something that hasn’t been done before.There is no guarantee that comes with it, but the rewards can be great.

Creative Integrity and Respect are Essential

…especially if it came from a place of creative integrity and respect for the audience.

Treating your audience as stupid is, well, stupid. You can’t talk down to them in an attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I really dislike it when all moms are portrayed as spiraling out of control and all men are portrayed as sex-addicted morons. We’re smarter than that. As individuals, we have layers and levels. We’re not one dimensional characters thought up on a white board somewhere. As content creators, we need to remember that our audience deserves respect.

We All Make a Difference in Each Others’ Lives

…not only families, but entire communities, can make huge differences in people’s lives…

Just as we are not one dimensional, neither are our actions. What we do effects one another, for both good and bad. One of the things I love about the Internet is its ability to bring people together. As creators, we have a responsibility to use our words carefully, to rise each other up and to make our communities a better place. As I’ve written about before, we need to help each other instead of tearing each other down

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