How to Kill a Golden Goose

Or the goose that laid golden eggs.  I’m not sure if the goose itself has to be golden.

  1.  Identify an IP you have or that you can obtain that has a history of success, either in viewership or box office or sales.
  2. Look at the market research for the built in audience and discover what the characteristics of these fans might likely be or have been and how your demographic is perceived.
  3. If this core potential customer was of high school age in the 1980’s, ignore their value in evangelizing the brand to younger family members or students or their sphere of social media influence because after all they are middle aged or older and irrelevant and on their way to the grave.
  4. If these be white or Caucasian, remember that they are the devil and if your new iteration of something includes even the same percentage of racial diversity as the original you can preemptively call them racists to shade their objections.  If they are male and heterosexual, call them bros or sexists or ‘phobes because that will cause a meaningful soul-searching on their parts most certainly.
  5. On your site, under any announcement or trailer, be sure to curate the comments so that reasonable and articulate objections to a proposed film or show or product are deleted as much as possible and what is left are the outlier comments from twelve-year-olds or carelessly vile and profane people that you can hold up as  ambassadors from the movement against your “deconstructionist” initiative.
  6. Disregard as “toxic fandom” any essay or review from outlets like Midnight’s Edge, Red Letter Media, or any loose network of influencers who use the hashtag “Fandom Menace.”
  7. Be sure to have someone ask directors, writers or actors if they can imagine the brand or IP being led by someone or subject matter that currently has nothing to do with it or that would interact strangely with other ingredients and confuse the palate.  For example, if your movie takes place entirely in a desert, have someone from an aqua fitness magazine ask why there is no swimming scene.  It will help force affirmative answers and steer the expectations of the audience – or at least the vocal activists on Twitter – and force eventual progress.  A mix of water and sand can be malleable, constructive mud.  If you are from pink news and ask Donald Glover whether his young Lando Calrissian is a pansexual or fluid, being young and hip he will answer in the affirmative. Never mind that the following year grown up Lando Billy Dee Williams will give a polite answer that is misinterpreted to a point where he has to bluntly say, “What the hell is gender fluid?”  By then, the macho fans who like smooth ladies’ man Lando have already been turned off by the affirmative iteration.
  8. What’s in a name?  Be sure to ask whether a new character can piggy-back on a brand even if the name doesn’t fit.  Asking Steven Spielberg if there could be a female Indiana Jones results in, “Sure.  She would have to be Indiana Joan.”  You can let the “toxic” fans chime in as to whether Robert Zemeckis already gave us Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone and its sequel.   Ask if James Bond can become Jane Bond or if he can be gay, without concern for how the love interest scenes will play and the abandonment of Play boy lifestyle appeal, you will most likely get a yes from every actor who played the part and most creatives because they can always chalk up the status quo to exhibitor indifference.
  9. Dump a lot of money into the production values and try to rope in some celebrities at least for cameos.  This will ensure that when the whole thing sinks it sinks deep. Make sure you have many pilot fish “producers” making money on the mere fact that something started shooting, regardless of their limited involvement.
  10. Completely rely courting only the new fan that hypothetically fits your idea of what a viewer or consumer should be, and depend on the idea that people who post on social media are also the same people who rush to see content from that franchise and buy merchandise and will put their money where their collective mouth is to bolster this variant that was “made for them” and not made for the old and irrelevant former fans it proudly trolls.  Or the trolls being trolled.  (All critical customer and market feedback is to be deemed as trolling, so it can be disregarded.)
  11. Clamp down on any actor – especially one who is notably liberal and progressive – who is critical of the new iteration of a character or disappointed by the direction of the story.  This might spoil the narrative that only right-wingers and fuddy duddies and latent serial killers complain about changes.
  12. If it ain’t broke, fix it.  Fix it like fixing a dog.

Print this out and keep it in your pocket for reference to make sure you are on track to run your career and spend, spend, spend like the most privileged, rich, white producers and studio bosses at the wine and cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fan Fic or Former Fan Fic

These past few years there had been announcements of Mel Brooks finally planning to get around to Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money.  That might be received with great gratitude especially by disgruntled Star Wars and Star Trek fans of today, the disenfranchised who are often called “toxic” by the millionaires who are trolling them with ham-fisted messaging, arbitrary changes to lore, and illogical turns of story.

Would the full power and influence of the all-powerful Mouse neuter any jibes ? We are still waiting for someone to bankroll the sequel to Spaceballs, even though it seems like a sure bet.  But even as we speculate about what kinds of observations Mel Brooks and his team could come up with, any ideas have to compete with an efficient internet that generates cheeky memes often before a movie is released.

We already question every little thing, as well we should.  Even though the discourse is hyper-charged by youtubers who make a living stirring the pot, and the marketing spin-masters reminding them that they are all “man-babies” regardless of gender if they do not like the new ingredients or preparation of what they are being fed.

Why was Luke  standing on the edge of a cliff at the end of The Force Awakens? Put Yogurt in that position and maybe he is zipping up as he turns having peed?

People refer to the astral projection used by force sensitive people in The Last Jedi as “force skype.” We might ask how with all the technology available why don’t they have smart phones? Maybe Kylo gets a good deal on data through the First Order, unlimited, and someone like Rey might be lured to join the dark side for that plan.

Or is the current iteration of Star Wars, for example, already beyond satire? The image of the late Carrie Fisher a year after her real life passing as Leia surviving and flying without oxygen in the vacuum of space became the “Carrie Poppins” meme immediately, insensitive or not.

I like the idea that Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson who is enthusiastic and open about the prospect of returning to his role) could return and get an impression on how messed up the galaxy far, far away has become and could consult THE WHILLS that reportedly were intended to be in Episodes VII, VIII and IX in George Lucas’ rejected outlines. The Whills (a network of intelligent tiny organisms that witness everything and keep a journal) might advise that things are off course and Mace could find the World Between Worlds indicated in the Rebels TV series and pull characters out of certain dangerous or vital moments to course correct things back to the way they were in the Expended Universe novels and comics now dismissed by Disney era Lucasfilm as “Legends.” The one good thing to come from the new “canon” is the World Between Worlds concept.

I’m happy there will be a Kenobi TV series. There is already a Jamie Costa fan film of Kenobi on the way.  He had previously made Han Solo: A Smuggler’s Trade before the official feature Solo: A Star Wars Story was released. Back in the prequel era, where Star Wars arguably was at its lowest point in terms of official features, great fan films were being made and some of them winning the George Lucas Selects award around Star Wars Celebration time. Lucasfilm had been making available elements of their sound catalog because Lucas himself felt fan films were just another way for fans to “play Star Wars.”

Those who own the legal rights to something may play hardball from time to time and might not necessarily have a better handle on filmmaking than many of the fans.  JJ Abrams calls himself a lifelong Star Wars fan, as does Rian Johnson and much of the fanbase have referred to their installments as big budget fan films.  Except that in some cases what the once built-in fanbase wanted to see took a lower priority to ostensibly progressive websites and op-ed contributors will analyse it and whether there are enough elements to appease keyboard warriors on the extreme left who do not buy the ancillary merchandise and likely don’t buy the movies on home video or rush to the opening weekend, let alone hit the cinema twice.  Instead these elements predictably alienate the Generation X fans, many of whom are male and / or white. The Force Awakens sidelines Finn and his side-kick Rose disparages him with snide remarks implying that he is at heart a deserter regardless of context – despite the Resistance being a voluntary organization.  Poe as the Latino cast member looks about as brown as Rey who is the blonde white Eugenics template. JJ prides himself lately letting people know there is an undisclosed representation of LBGTQ2S folk among the characters, so why is that not the adverting tag line on the posters and in the trailers ?  “No one is ever really gone….. and we have lots of gay characters now.” The crux of the conflict is whether Lucasfilm story group decisions and Kennedy decisions come from a genuine love of Star Wars, especially the Original Trilogy, or whether it is just looked at as a delivery device fro grandstanding.  Where the heart and soul have been arguably ripped from the product, some find hope in The Mandalorian and others just from fan films recalling the breezy tone they liked long ago.

All things considered, this time I won’t be waiting in line the night before opening day. I will take my time before seeing Episode IX and “giving it a chance” on a DVD borrowed from the Toronto Public Library.

But fan films and student films I could watch endlessly.  And re-watch the original Trilogy if not for the Special Edition meddling and the latest addition to the Greedo scene, the inexplicable word, “MacKlunky