A. Lee Martinez is troubled by the increasing Disneyfication of popular culture, as Disney gobbles up all sorts of media properties, and by the exploitation of popular media properties in general without asking if there really are any new stories to tell in the [insert your favourite property here] universe. Found via SF Signal. I very much agree with him (and ou know my view on J.J. Abrams’ involvement in anything).
Indeed, there are more and more things I once loved or at least enjoyed that are now so played out that I’m way beyond caring.
I was a huge Star Wars fan and there was a time when new Star Wars films would have been a dream come true. And I still was excited about the prequels and I’ve actually defended them on occasion. But those latest announcements regarding the Disney takeover and J.J. Abrams directing a new Star Wars film left me between very lukewarm and wishing nasty things upon J.J. Abrams. But most of all, I don’t really care anymore and haven’t for a while now. I will always love the original trilogy and I kind of like the prequels (really, they’re not as bad as many make them out to be), but I gave up on the expanded universe novels, the comics, the Clone Wars cartoons, etc… a long time ago. Star Wars was a great story, but it’s been told.
Ditto for Star Trek. I loved the original series, though never quite as much as Star Wars. I faithfully watched the The Next Generation and the various movies, tried watching Deep Space 9 until it became too much of a Babylon 5 wannabe around season 3 or 4, somehow managed to stick with Voyager and even sort of liked Enterprise* until they did that annoying war on terror analogy with a new species nobody had ever heard of (Oh dear, they cut a swath through Florida) and only stuck with it, because someone promised me that season 4 would be better. Then season 4 started with aliens wearing Nazi uniforms and I was out of there. When Enterprise finally ended not long thereafter, I breathed a quiet sigh of relief and thought, “Thank goodness, it’s over. Cause that franchise was really played out”.
By that point, the original 1960s Star Trek was the only series I could still watch, even The Next Generation (which I used to enjoy) had become tedious. I go a bit into the reasons for that (short version: 1960s dubbing made the show funnier than it was) here. And then J.J. Abrams showed up to “reboot” the franchise by having Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura and the gang played by new actors. Which made me – who’d never been a Trekkie and was way over Star Trek at that point – explode with anger, because the idea of the iconic Star Trek characters being played by different actors infuriated me. “It’ll bomb”, I said, “No self-respecting Trekkie will ever watch this travesty.” Obviously, plenty of Trekkies felt differently.
Doctor Who: A friend introduced me to Doctor Who during the wilderness years before the new series came along, when I mentioned only ever having seen half a Sylvester McCoy episode, which I found kind of silly (Delta and the Bannermen from 1987, generally considered a low point of the series), and he hooked me up with some good episodes from the 1970s. Happy to have found a new show to enjoy, I sought out lots of vintage Doctor Who. When the new series was announced, I was very happy and thoroughly enjoyed most of seasons 1 through 3. And then there was Torchwood, the spin-off, which I loved even more and which had so much potential in its first season. I was kind of meh about The Sarah Jane Adventures, but then I wasn’t the target demographic (my students love it, though). I fell out of love with Doctor Who more rapidly than with some of the others, once I realized in the (otherwise very good) season 3 finale that I no longer liked the Doctor as a character, since he was something of an arse who treated his companions Martha and Jack abominably. Okay, so there was still Torchwood to look forward to. Except that season 2 of Torchwood destroyed most of what I had ever loved about the show and made me hate all the characters they did not kill off (and seasons 3 and 4 were even worse). I still tried watching Doctor Who, but unwatched episodes increasingly started to pile up. I thought of making a fresh start with a new Doctor, only that I disliked what little I saw of the Eleventh Doctor intensely. I thought I might make a fresh start when the new companion came on board (since I really did not like Amy, Rory and River Song), but it’s been more than a month since the Christmas special and I still can’t be bothered to watch it. In short, I’m so over it.
As for comics, I was a die-hard comic reader throughout the 1990s, but now I haven’t even read an American comic since 2006 and my enthusiasm had been fading since long before that. I continued to watch the movies for a while, but I haven’t seen either X-Men First Class nor The Avengers nor the last two Spider-Man installments and those involve characters I used to like. I never even bothered with Thor or Hulk or the Christopher Nolan Batmans or Captain America, because I don’t like either the characters or the actors/directors or both. Again, it was fun for a while and I’ll always have a soft spot for certain characters, but I’m over it.
The above are just a few notable examples. There are more and more. TV shows, film series, sometimes even book series (though my enthusiasm tends to last longer there), which I really liked once upon a time, until they go on for a few books or seasons or films too long, until I’m no longer even angry that this thing I once liked has turned to crap, but just indifferent.
Meeting some old pals from university last year, I had the oddest experience. Now I was always the geek of the circle, the one who wrote her MA thesis about science fiction and inserted all those geeky references into her stories and poems. The others were – what’s the politically correct term these days? Muggles? Mundanes? But now two people were chatting about Doctor Who and how wonderful the last season was, another pal had just gotten into superhero comics, while some others were geeking out about Firefly and Serenity and Red Dwarf. And I was just sitting there and thought, “Whoa, is this bizarro world? Is this really my painfully highbrow and/or radical alternative culture pals geeking out about genre stuff, while I haven’t even watched/read that in ages?”, quickly followed by “Couldn’t you have discovered this stuff while it was still good and I was still watching/reading it, so we could’ve geeked out together? Cause this is really bad timing.”
It’s not just my university pals either. One of my students is a Torchwood fan, for heaven’s sake. And plenty of my 5th and 6th graders love The Clone Wars.
I’m not really sure what the point of all this is, except that there still are enough of us old-time fans (of whatever) who’ll go watch/read/buy anything related to this thing we once enjoyed and don’t mind the increasingly diminishing returns. I mean, Mercedes-Benz uses 1980s TV hero MacGyver to advertise a rather pricey car (And I have to admit, those ads brought a smile to my face – I used to be a fan), so my generation is obviously worth marketing pricey stuff to now. Meanwhile, new people, whether kids or just people who didn’t discover something before, find the diminishing returns and take to them, because the concept is still cool and they often have no idea that it used to be better. So the strategy of reimagining something old ad infinitum in ever diminishing returns obviously works. I just don’t think it’s a good thing for us and for the culture at large.
*It’s telling how we distinguish between the different Enterprises in my family (and in Germany both TOS and TNG were called Spaceship Enterprise, which makes things even more confusing). There is Kirk’s Enterprise, Picard’s Enterprise and Porthos’ Enterprise. Why Porthos’ Enterprise? Because none of us can ever recall the name of the captain or indeed any other character except for the captain’s dog. Yes, the most memorable character in Enterprise was a dog.