I can’t help but think we’re thirsting for something we’ve lost and I don’t mean just random brands and intellectual properties, I mean as a culture. The market gave it back to us because something in our hearts and minds keeps calling for it.
Star Wars is a name that has won the hearts of people all over the world and earned cult status. It defined sci-fi and, no matter what country you’re in, if you say the words “Luke Skywalker” or “Han Solo” or “lightsaber” people will immediately know what you’re talking about.
Now it’s been so abused and overused in our attempt to retrieve that sense of wonder that now when people hear the word “Star Wars” they shrug and return to whatever they were doing. The franchise was modernized and it now feels like a distant galaxy. Let’s face facts. Star Wars is as far as we know dead. There are some spin-offs.
This is true for other brands as well. Ghostbusters and Terminator and Godzilla and Independence Day all returned, but each one has disappointed despite the advances in movie-making technology and technical know-how. Even Disney can’t stop reaching back into its vault to drag one of its classics kicking and screaming and morphing it into a live-action shadow of its former self.
Like a drug, we experienced an amazing high the first time we took it and we’ve continued to induce ourselves into a stupor to try to get that feeling back. We’re chasing that sense of awe and wonder we had as our younger selves, but the truth is we’re not going to get it back…at least not like this. Things change and those things we love back then can’t withstand changes.
Imagine the lessons that Jurassic Park taught when its main characters sat in a room discussing the ethics of what they had just seen. In the iconic scene, as the potential sales numbers are being discussed Jeff Goldblum’s character compares the bringing back of such awesome forces by scientists to a kid who found his dad’s gun.
“It didn’t require any discipline to obtain it,” he says. “You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves. You don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could and before you even knew what you had you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunch box and now you’re selling it.”
This is a very apt comparison. The comparison is quite appropriate. We grew up seeing works of art that shaped our culture and, whether or not we like it, influenced and changed our lives. In our everyday conversations, we quote films and evaluate where society is at the moment based on their music and movies.
As an example, how often do you compare today’s woke and hyper-sensitive culture to Mel Brooks movies?
These are amazing forces at work, and we now watch how lesser minds take these ideas and franchises, paint them with modern brushes, and then repackage them to be consumed with very little concern for their authenticity, the message they conveyed, or for who they meant to be. Sometimes, it is out of spite for fans.
Like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, these IPs are fun to look at when you first see the world you once knew in stunning recreations with all the glitz and glamour of modern cinema but underneath, there’s something wrong about it, and that’s not to mention the danger that comes with it. This IP can’t live well in modern times. It’s a creature out of time, and the more we set them loose the more we lose the magic that they once were.
Soon that glowing part of our childhood and what these things meant to us will be eclipsed by nonsensical modern attempts to bring the brand — and more importantly, the feeling — back.
It is important to be able look at the past in all its forms, to recall the lessons that were learned and to move on to new inventions and ideas. ThIs nostalgia trip we’re on as a society is just an attempt at reawakening the dead, but it isWe need to allow it to die. We’re doing it, and us, a disservice by trying to bring them back and make them work in a time they weren’t meant for.
What I’m really trying to say is that I’m super mad at Netflix for making a live-action Cowboy Beebop.