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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customer Service

(Edited to add.  I noticed that the title of this post was replaced with “Untitled.” Maybe it stirred something controversial.  Maybe I used a brand or tabu word?  I forget.

Also, recently Kathleen Kennedy of Lucasflm has been quoted as saying (Hear-say, mind you), “Why should we give the 50 year old fans what they expect.  We should focus on the newer fans.”  She has also supposedly said of The Mandalorian upcoming seasons, “If I don’t get my way I will burn down this silly nonsense.”

The natural answer from the once built-in fanbase would be, “burning something down after you have personally already killed it is not much of a threat.”   The word circulating (as of late May 2020) is that despite  Temuera Morrison (Attack of the Clones) coming back to play Boba Fett, Kennedy wanted/wants the character to be revealed as a woman once the helmet comes off.  The cheat would be to have Boba in flashback crawl out of the sarlacc pit from Return of the Jedi and then collapse in the sand and die so that a character from Rebels (Sabine) finds him and salvages his armor and gizmos. This then would be the springboard for the otherwise undescribed “female-driven” project Kennedy and year-long Harvey Weinstien assistant Leslye Headland has leaked to Variety behind the back of Bob Iger to get “Twitter” enflamed. End of edit.)

A facebook page asked the question of “what should we do” about “toxic fandom?” This will be short:

The concept of “angry fandom” is a mislead. It is a distraction. Don’t be fooled. The idea that fans (AKA the once built-in audience) is the problem makes no sense.

There are hardcore U2 fans for 30 years that can speak at length about why they don’t like the newer songs or which albums were the best. To be informed and deep dive into any brand is to also intimately know its flaws.

I’m a first generation Star Wars fan and I can still respect the Original Trilogy even if I don’t see much to respect in the follow-ups. I can love Terminator and T2 and be annoyed that Cameron decided to kill off the point of those earlier films. And that irritation is not something to shade with pathology.

If movies are a delivery device for clumsy social messaging, that shows a disrespect for all of the other elements that go into good storytelling. Toxic this and toxic this and man babies…. all part of a playbook for spin and misdirection. It is about big money movie studios with huge marketing budgets for tent pole projects punching down at the average potential moviegoer, sometimes with a dash of gas lighting to make a percentage of audience members afraid of speaking up against what is being pushed, the movie or the blind preemptive insults from actors, writers or directors who promote the myth of the truly racist, sexist, homophobic troll who is the only sort of person who would respond to Ghostbusters 2016 (sometimes marketed as Answer the Call, except in the movie itself where it is still just called Ghostbusters) or who would dare celebrate Jason Reitman reverting to the continuity of the 1980’s iteration that actually had a built in fan base, possibly Generation X but also built from decades of home video formats and releases and a cartoon series featuring the original characters.  It must be a horrible misanthrope who would dare prefer the pre-Disney novels of the Extended Universe, like Heir to the Empire, as opposed to an appropriation of Luke Skywalker that would creep up to his sleeping nephew to possibly kill him and then to opt out of any positive action he could contribute because now he believes all good actions will be greeted with an equally opposite reaction in a galaxy far, far away so why bother fighting the good fight.

The way to deal with “angry fans” is make note of their market feedback, and avoid characterizing them politically. Because some Coke fans hated New Coke, and some are knowledgeable enough to say the New Coke/ Coke Classic was a marketing genius strategy to disguise the switch from cane sugar to corn syrup. Right now we have entered the corn syrup age of cinema.

Terminator maybe Self-Terminated ?

This post is not necessarily a review but a reaction with a dash of fan fiction. I can wait to see the movie for free, as I did Genysis. Terminator: Dark Fate looked like it had promise, with Linda Hamilton coming back and lending a sense of continuity, as well as Arnie.  I thought it was great news that Edward Furlong would also apparently be back. Not such a good sign that his imdb credit just says “John Conner Reference.”

As Red Letter Media mentioned, the principle of T2 was, “No fate but what we make.” Unfortunately there is a fatalistic sensibility behind the sequels that followed.

Except for the vital core that gave purpose to Terminator and T2, the idea that John was important (and by extension, his mother Sarah) to leading the human resistance against the machines.  But apparently in the “Time’s Up” era, even time machine stories are doomed to be infected by pandering ideology. A male cannot be the savior of humanity, because… misogyny?  I don’t know.  Disappointing especially because it casts a shadow on Linda Hamilton who was one of the go-to examples whenever studios or pundits cried sexism over fans rejecting a female lead.  We do like Leia Organa, Sarah Connor, Ellen Ripley, Laurie Stode… any number of women in fun genre films.

People are asking about – and some calling for – the possible end of this brand.  When does the currency of a brand or franchise become counterfeit?  I don’t know.

If there is another, they should unceremoniously kill off Dani right at the beginning. Then old Sarah disables that Terminator and opens its head to hack its CPU for memory and determine where the future location of the resistance will be, where the time machine for the terminators is located, whether it is the same one used by the resistance, who are the known leaders of the human resistance, and a list of organic viruses from that time period that do not exist in modern day.

She takes note of the viruses and places the deactivated Terminator T-800 where it should be found by the future resistance with a detailed letter about how and where her son was killed. The letter is to Kyle Reese and Kate Brewster or current resistance leaders. In it, she warns that multiple terminators have been sent back and advises that the resistance find the location of the time machine in development and destroy it after sending a fighter back to save her and John. She obscures and shields the T-800 and returns to a graveyard where she cannot find John Conner’s grave.

44 year old John (Furlong, physically trained and with court appointed drug monitor to keep him sober) shows up and reminds her that although her memory has to catch up and let the dominoes fall from corrective time events, a resistance fighter (Brewster) urged him to hop a steamer to Europe. He has remained off the grid. He has sent her by mail shipping samples of his new tech. Brewster gave Sarah antidotes to the viruses introduced in this era’s environment so they can be inoculated.

They could not give it to the CDC for distribution without a ruse to avoid people dismissing the prospect of time travelers bringing over the new variation of small pox. The claim was made that the compound injection would be against present viruses caused by climate change and loss of rain forest. They can’t undo damage already done. Unless Sarah returns to change or add to her note and request but that would interfere with events that have shaped herself and John and even allowed John to be conceived. She says she prefers to deal with the present as it is and she is better off knowing there is no further time travel possible from the future to the present.

John reminds her that she carries in her backpack a device he made that can track and detect terminators of any variety. He has personally destroyed hundreds of models of them over the last few decades, give or take. Even if both of them die there should be no more travelers from the future to deal with.

The tracking device goes off, so they know there is still one Terminator nearby. They will compromise or destroy Legion after finding out who invents time travel tech and destroying that. They discover that the inventor is himself a cyborg only after John and Sarah agree it is okay to kill him off. They have come full circle, capable of Terminating, and yet the target turns out not to be human after all.

The final T-800 is liberated of his CPU and the process of being hacked for updated information but they discover his age and that his self destruct is due to go off. John and Sarah fail to get out of the tech building before the blast.

Firefighters tell TV reporters there is no trace of cause or survivors from the blast, let alone what was being worked on.

I don’t know if that would be enough closure, or what rights holders would allow.  But it would encourage a fresh start not coasting on the nostalgia of those of us who saw Terminator in the Eighties.