To be successful at anything is to understand and leverage people’s lack of taste. This maxim is valid for every sector — from entertainment to food to clothing to showbiz.

On Houston Street, in New York City, for example, there is a fast food restaurant that always has a long line around lunch time, but never like the one observed on a cold, rainy, and windy May day when the line went all the way down the block. The restaurant’s interior is small and dirty, and there’s a similar restaurant nearby with better food, comparable prices, and no lines. Their particular success that day was apparently driven by online influencers.

Then take the uber-popular Met Gala (pictured above), the annual benefit for the Costume Institute at New York City’s Museum of Art, where celebrities compete to show off the most grotesque dresses they can find. Because of the presence of Vogue magazine, the event is labeled as a fashion affair. Obviously, the attraction is from a public that has never glimpsed fashion photos taken during the 1950s.

We at VideoAge‘s Water Cooler are reluctant to criticize anything that has to do with show business because every production is the labor of highly skilled professionals below and above the line, and they are faithfully delivering what people want. The key is to never underestimate people’s attraction to tastelessness. As the TV pioneer Ralph Baruch wrote in his 2008 book Television Tightrope, to be successful in television is “never underestimating the public’s bad taste.”

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