"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Why Star Wars is Failing

From Generation Tech:

"Since The Last Jedi, and Solo A Star Wars story film has come out, I really wanted to talk about the state of the Star Wars franchise and what I perceive are the fundamental problems behind Lucasfilm and Disney's management of the series.

My thoughts are kind of all over the place. But I will try to structure them into a few points.

So, to understand the problems that Star Wars is facing right now, we kind of have to go backwards and look at what made Star Wars successful in the first place.

We've to go back to 1977 when the original film came out. At the time the sci-fi genre was completely different from what it is today. There were no blockbusters and the release schedule for Sci-fi films was pretty unsaturated.

You had one or two great sci-fi films a year like Space Odyssey 2001, Solaris, Logan's Run. But generally, these movies were always restricted by budget and technology. During the sci-fi was also a commonly used as a vehicle for narratives that were kind of heavy in social commentary.

George Lucas's own distinctive sci-fi film THX 1138 was thematically representative of what sci-fi were all about during the time, they explored deep political and social issues. In that way they were designing for a more niche audience and more intellectual audience.

Prior to Star Wars, sci-fi adventure stories that were dedicated to following an adventure were usually reserved for TV serials, cartoons and comics. When Star Wars came out, it created a more accessible sci-fi world and narrative. One that could be enjoyed by the masses and not only hardcore sci-fi fans.

Star Wars wasn't a complex film when it came out. It wasn't even telling a new story, but it was an extremely relatable story that all audiences could understand. Even though Star Wars took place in a galaxy far, far away, the story of Luke Skywalker was very familiar to most audiences. The film had some deeper commentary like other sci-fi films but at its core, it was an adventure film about a nobody, a moisture farmer stuck on some backwards world without any prospects who one day finds out that not only is he somebody, but he's a Jedi - a very special and powerful individual with purpose.

In a way most of of us, even today, have some moisture farming like aspects in our lives. There are mundane and boring things that we have to do every day. There's always that nagging thought in the back of our minds that maybe we're wasting our talent or potential. And I think almost everyone wants to think that they're special in one way or another and destined for greatness. We immediately get Luke. We understand them and we see ourselves in him. And then you have these mind-blowing visuals in the film that really brought the Star Wars galaxy to life.

I remember watching the original trilogy for the first time in the early 90s and not realizing just how old the movie was. It was ahead of its time and stayed ahead of its time.

What made the movie even more successful was the fact that, between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy there were 16 years without any movies and between the prequel trilogy and the sequel trilogy there was another 10 years without a Star Wars movie.

It's what makes Star Wars feel different from other franchises like Marvel. I really like the Marvel franchise, and I usually end up watching the Marvel films, if not in the theaters, on TV, in an airplane or on the internet but I'm never really excited for Marvel films in the same way I'm excited for Star Wars.

For me, Star Wars has always been a once in a decade thing, it's something truly special and at the end of the day repetition makes us get used to things, and when we get used to things, we take them for granted, and they become less special.

And now Disney has taken over and while George Lucas despite what he says has always been about making money, Disney has taken that mantra to the next level with a ruthless amount of efficiency. They are after all a publicly traded company, and they have shareholders that they need to appease. And with the success of the crazy Marvel release schedule, they have definitely become tempted to do the same with Star Wars. There was a one-year gap between Force Awakens and Rogue One and now there was only a five-month gap between The Last Jedi and Solo. There are a lot of different reasons why Solo A Star Wars Story failed, but I think this is one of the core reasons.

While Disney does have the superhero genre cornered, they don't necessarily have the same thing when it comes to the sci-fi genre. As a matter of fact the sci-fi genre is thriving in a way I never thought would even be possible. Due to changing tastes amongst audiences and cheaper than ever visual effects the amount of new sci-fi content being released on film and TV is amazing. We have blockbuster revivals like Blade Runner, along with more heady indie films like Annihilation and even Marvel sci-fi films like Galaxy and the Guardians which is basically Star Wars wrapped in different packaging.

It's no longer 1977. The revolution that Star Wars has created in the sci-fi world has changed the sci-fi world, and now we're saturated with awesome sci-fi content. And the only thing that really now separates Star Wars from any other franchise is its fans.

Objectively speaking, Star Wars is not better at storytelling or movie making than any other franchise. It's not more transformative or thought-provoking. Hell, it might not even be more entertaining than some other movies, but it's hard to find a galaxy outside our own that fans have invested more time and energy in than Star Wars. I've watched all the movies. I've played most of the video games. I've read probably 50 percent of the books, and almost all the new Canon books, and I've read a considerable amount of the comics as well and I'm still definitely not as hardcore as some of the Star Wars fans out there. The hardcore fans not only watch the movies once, they build up hype. They draw their friends out to see the movies with them, sometimes multiple times and afterwards, they're the ones buying the books, video games, merchandise, and all that other stuff.

And the majority of these fans are actually older than even me and they are wealthy, and they have families and they love passing on their passion and love for Star Wars to their young ones.

Star Wars fans are in fact the best marketers and consumers a franchise can have. So it's really up to the core Star Wars fans whether a Star Wars movie fails or succeeds, and Disney, Kathleen Kennedy and Rian Johnson really need to get off their high horse and start listening to the fans. I mean, look at Generation Tech, created by fans. We have four to eight million views a month. That's a massive amount of influence and we're not even close to being the biggest Star Wars channel out there. We're basically giving Star Wars free advertising, non-stop by uploading videos. Now, should they be listening to us, the fans, they should probably be paying us, because we are the ones that are hyping up their damn movies in the first place.

But after the release of the Last Jedi, relations soured between Star Wars and the fans in a way it never did during the prequel movies or Force Awakens.

Sure, some fans were definitely out of line and sending very personal insults and threats to Star Wars crew members. But in turn, Disney seemed to forget the age old adage that the customer comes first.

Yeah, guys like Rian Johnson come out and directly attack fans, calling them names and essentially sinking to the level of fandom. It's perplexing that Disney would allow this kind of behavior from its creator. Surely a financially driven company like theirs would understand how idiotic it is to insult their customers.

For instance, if Ford Motors had pissed off 15 percent of their customer base, whether the customers are right or wrong, they wouldn't go out of their way to antagonize them. That's just the dumbest thing I've ever seen a company do. So why is Disney allowing this to happen?

Well, first and foremost, there is this complete misconception that Star Wars fans are bigots, sexist, racist, and cannibals. Well that last thing is actually probably our fault here at Generation Tech.

But this misconception is caused by a small but vocal minority that doesn't have the intelligence to understand why they don't like movies, so they run around hurling racist and bigoted comments which in turn makes the rest of us look like dick heads.

Because the thing is, most of us have completely legitimate and constructive criticism of the film. The Last Jedi had terrible pacing. A disjointed narrative and characters that weren't really well developed or interesting. I could talk about this for hours without even mentioning that hey, there are three female leads. One that happens to be an Asian. And I really hate it when the media throws out blanket statements that hard-core fans are racist. Racist against Asians. Look at this channel, look at me. I am Asian and we got a quarter million fans, and I look at the demographics. I know the majority of you guys are white and male, and I almost never receive hateful racial messages from you guys. I rarely ever see anything. As a matter fact, some of you guys don't even know I'm Asian, which is confusing. Maybe you have like this beautiful B1 race house, you don't see race. But yeah, the one thing that I've noticed about Star Wars fans is how accepting they are and they look past race. And Rian Johnson and Disney should know better to make blanket statements about their fans and more importantly their company. The corporation that at the end of the day is selling the products. So Rian Johnson is completely out of line for antagonizing fans and despite what he thinks, he can be easily replaced. If I were a shareholder I would demand exactly that.

And then we get to The Last Jedi's portrayal of men. Many fans argue that all three story lines have a female character reigning over a dumb male character who can't seem to accomplish anything. Fans have complained it's militant feminism and unfair for male audiences but my complaints are a bit different. Honestly, I'm okay with the feminist themes in the movie. Star Wars has always pushed certain agendas and movies have always been vehicles for commentaries and directors and writers have every right to include them. And it's not really about whether we agree or disagree about the commentary, it's more about how that commentary is carried out. If we're truly being film critics that's how you look at it.

That commentary has to come naturally, it has to make sense and meld with the themes and narratives in the movie and in the case of a trilogy it needs to connect with the wider story arc. With The Last Jedi, it was obvious that Rian Johnson focused more on his political commentary and world views rather than creating a compelling story.

This is why the pacing was off, and The Last Jedi was one of the longest films in the franchise. There was too much commentary that wasn't woven into the dialogue deftly, and it just came off preachy and clunky. Sometimes it was downright hard to watch.

"They took everything they had. And who do you think these people are? There's only one business in the galaxy that will get you this rich. Selling weapons to The First Order. I wish I could put my fist through this whole lousy beautiful town."

I do think the film is also a bit harsh on men. It's a bit disconcerting that there is not one single male role model in the entire film. All the good things about Finn, Poe and Luke that was established in previous movies were pretty erased. And Star Wars of course is a male-dominated franchise. Creatively Disney can do whatever they like. Financially, it makes no sense to alienate your core demographic. And now we look at this younger generation when a young boy goes and watches Star Wars, where is his role model in The Last Jedi? There's no one for him to look up to.

So, finally, let's look at what both sides can do to address the problems in Star Wars.

Well as fans, we all need to be less emotional, we need to be rational with our arguments. Find a smarter way to express our grievances. We really need to stay away from racism and sexism and all and also insulting comments because it destroys any legitimate arguments or grievances that you have and that's basically it for us, because we're the fans, we're the consumers, it's up to the sellers to cater towards us, and that's what Disney has fundamentally forgotten in this relationship. They are supposed to be the ones that kneel in front of us and beg us to watch their stupid movies.

There is so much competition in the sci-fi genre right now that Disney should be literally kissing our feet.

Now that doesn't mean blind fan service or making a movie on some obscure Legends Sith Lord, just because one diehard fan really wants it.

It's fundamentally about respecting your customers and their opinions. These die hard fans are your core audience Disney. They'll watch every movie you put out no matter what, as long as you don't insult them. And yeah occasionally it might be a good idea to look at the demographics of your audience and cater to their general needs and tastes.

And do yourself a favor. Fire Rian Johnson, he's way too thin skinned to receive criticism. This new trilogy's planning has so much bad feelings surrounding it already, that as a business owner, you should understand the unnecessary risk you're creating by moving forward with him as a director. There are so many more talented directors out there and more importantly both sides of this issue have to stop looking at each other as enemies.

I mean, this world is growing so polarized and hateful as it is. We shouldn't also have this in the Star Wars community. We forget that there are people, and more importantly, humans on both sides of every issue.

#humanityfirst. We need to have dialogue, we need to really understand each other better because if you understand someone completely. Everything about them, about their past, what makes them way they are, you can only develop two feelings: either love or pity."
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