My father always called New Year’s Eve “amateur night” because of all the the drunk driving incidents that would appear in the newspaper the next day. (This was back in the 1980s, when people still read the news on paper.) Drunk driving was an example of binge behavior, where a person  indulges themselves in something they enjoy, sometimes to the point of impairment. Back in those days, I remember seeing binge behavior at Thanksgiving (food), Christmas (food), New Years (food and booze) and Prom Night (booze). Disclosure statement: I myself willingly participated in the food binges listed above, but not the boozing. I willingly learned from others’ mistakes in that arena.

These days, we see a lot of binge behavior in our media consumption. Kids (and some alleged adults) play video games for hours/days on end. We fiddle with our smart devices constantly during waking hours. The biggest media binge source of them all has to be Netflix.  I really enjoy Netflix and have my own account. It’s great to be able to watch my favs in the correct order commercial free around my nutty schedule. Disclosure #2: I have on occasion delayed bedtime so my wife and I could watch “just one more” Melissa and Joey. Hmm. I seem to be disclosing a lot today. 

My eldest child decided the other day that, since school was out, it would be fun to have a Marvel movie Phase 1 and 2 marathon. I grew up with Marvel comics, so I had no objection to this particular binge. (Believe me, there are worse things to binge on.) So long as the marathon took a timeout for Michigan State vs. Alabama in the Cotton Bowl, I was down with it, as the kids would say. Disclosure #3: I am an MSU alumnus. GO STATE!!!!

My wife – a decided non comic fan – thought it would be a fun activity as well. She really enjoys the Marvel movies. They work for her because the writers made the stories appeal to non-fans. In doing so Marvel revealed an important tenet in story telling: To be successful, a story must have a theme to which the audience can relate. Iron Man is about personal redemption. Captain America: the First Avenger is about doing the right thing. The Avengers was about what a team really is. Ant-Man is about making the most of second chances. The Agent Carter TV series is about moving on after a tragic loss.

The moral of this binge-laden story? Give your audience a theme they can sink their teeth into, and they will come. Oh, and everything in moderation too, I suppose.

Happy New Year, all!


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