Monster Mouse

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019-12-27 13:00:00 No comments

If there's one lesson all of us are finally learning about Star Wars, it's that Disney and its minions are finishing with brutal efficiency what George Lucas could only accomplish halfway with his bumbling solipsism: to turn a piece of cultural wildfire into something intentionally forgettable, the better to trick you into buying the next thing with the same name on it.

I don't even blame Disney. Why? Nothing they have done here is out of gamut or historical precedent. It's their explicit and stated function to be cultural monopolists. They ingested Marvel Comics without even a burp; why would Star Wars threaten them with dyspepsia? The problem is with us for thinking the Mouse House could be terraformed from the inside out, for believing for even two consecutive milliseconds Freak Flags could ever be hoisted from the spires of the Cinderella Castle. More the fools us.

Some time back an acquaintance of mine who lives in Japan and covers the machinations of its cultural capitalist overlords said six words that sum up my feelings about anyone who does this stuff for money: they are not your fucking friends. The problem is how good they are at making us think they're our friends. They get oh so good at speaking every sub-dialect of our language, of giving us what we think we want instead of what we didn't know we needed, that it's easy to keep forgetting.

But many of us, even those of us who celebrate indie geekdom from the inside out and vote with our wallets on it, are good at wishful thinking. We want very badly to believe a machine as big and rich as Disney is also, at heart, a benevolent despot, or at least not too terrible a one. We want confirmation, however fleeting, that the job of building the Next Wonderful Thing, one that feels like a true reflection of our desires, will in fact be kicked off by someone else with tons of money and marketing muscle, and not something that we in fact will have to invent ourselves with our own bare hands. We always want to believe someone else can be the hero, because it absolves us of the responsibility of any hard work. If it takes the ruin of Star Wars to disabuse us of that delusion, hey, it's a start.

Tags: Disney Star Wars geekdom monoculture popular culture