Saturday, April 18, 2015

Myth and Franchise

The interwebs are abuzz with chatter these last few days over the latest teaser-trailer for the Christmas-release-blockbuster of the next installment of the Star Wars saga.

Fanboys and fangirls are all squealing...or is that "squeeing"...over what looks like it might be an actually watchable movie.  A palate-cleanser, I suppose, after the agonizing prequels.

It's a professional grade reboot, clearly, from a practiced and proven rebooter.  There's evidence of character development and human-scale interpersonal narrative.  There's the evocative use of prior musical and visual themes.  There's the now-requisite "handoff" from the prior generation, with first-gen actors reprising iconic characters to give the imprimatur of canon.  Think Shatner for the Star Trek Next Gen films, or Nimoy in the first JJ Abrams Star Trek.

When Harrison Ford announces that "we're home," that's exactly the feel that's meant to be teased.  We have finally made it to that place we wanted to be.  This is going to honor the soaring myth of our childhood.  You will be able to embrace the renewal of the mythic tale with big fanny fan love.

Only...is it myth?  Is it really?

Myth, after all, is storytelling, turned to the task of shaping purpose and self-understanding.

I wonder at this, because I do not believe that myth can be monetized and remain myth.

And Lord have Mercy, but is this myth marketized.  A major corporation purchased the franchise for $4 billion, after all.  Disney's absorption of LucasArts had nothing to do with the epic-scale space-opera mythopoetics that established these films as icons.  Or about storytelling as something that binds community together and creates a sense of common purpose, as a gifted protocol droid spins out a wonderful tale around a fire.

It's about the acquisition of a franchise with significant and proven ROI potential, an established global brand that can be leveraged to both increase Disney's near term shareholder return and increase quarterly profits on a five to ten year time horizon.  It's about creating ten consecutive quarters of rising share prices, representing a 100% increase in DIS market capitalization since LucasArts and its intellectual property holdings were absorbed, with a total rise in market cap of nearly 90 billion USD.

I can't seem, for the life of me, to forget that.  It'd be more fun if I could yield to the great orgy porgy of it all.  It really would.

Because as it is, I can't get past having a bad feeling about this.

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