Learning From The Past Rather Than Letting It Die

Kylo Ren famously said, “Let the past die, kill it if you must.” The primary reason to learn from the past rather than let it die, is so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over again, while thinking that you’re doing something that’s brand-spankin’ new.

There’s an interesting documentary series on Netflix entitled The Toys That Made Us, and in particular, there’s an episode devoted to He-Man and The Masters of the Universe toy line which was produced from the mid to late 1980s.  Here’s a trailer for the series:

Okay.  But why not focus on the Star Wars episode rather than the He-Man episode?  Well, there’s an interesting lesson to be learned from the He-Man toyline that can be applied to the Star Wars toyline today.

In the episode, Mark Ellis, former VP of Boy’s Toys at Mattel, described how marketing research showed that young boys enjoyed playing with the He-Man action figures because when they did, they felt like they were in charge.  This was a way to escape from their mothers and teachers who were telling them what to do all the time.  One can imagine then, how a young boy might react to General Holdo scolding the primary male lead for 2.5 hours every time he tries to do something bold or heroic.  But I digress.

Mark Ellis also tells us that about a year after He-Man was introduced to stores in 1982, the boy’s toys of the Mattel company started outselling the girl’s toys, including their coveted Barbie line.  He goes on to explain how this caused all the girls in the girl’s toys department to go “berzerk.”  He also went on to say that he thought that they were determined to never let that happen again.

Paul Cleveland, former Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing at Mattel, reasoned that girls were buying He-Man action figures, so why not take advantage of that target audience.  Jill Barad, former CEO at Mattel echoed that sentiment stating that 20% of the Masters of the Universe audience were female.  So ignoring the fact that the Masters of the Universe already had female action figures and characters that were appealing to that 20% such as Teela, Evil-Lyn, the Sorceress, the Girl’s Toys department began brainstorming as to how they could tap that 20% female market.

Janice Varney-Hamlin, former Director of Worldwide Marketing for Fashion Dolls at Mattel, said that Barbie doesn’t do action and adventure well.  So they came up with the idea to invent a girl’s product line that could ride on the coattails of the Masters of the Universe toyline.  Jill Barad asked if He-Man can do all of those things, why can’t He-Man have a sister?  And so, She-Ra was born.

In the mid to late 1980s, the Masters of the Universe toyline went from selling $38.2 Million in 1982, to $400 Million in 1986.  But a year later in 1987, the toyline collapsed to only $7 Million.  What happened?

Well, as Janice Varney-Hamlin describes it, Dave Capper, former Director of Marketing for Boy’s Toys at Mattel, told her his theory.  She said he theorized that She-Ra emasculated the He-Man line so that boys didn’t want it anymore.  This seems to be an overly dramatic simplification of what Dave may have actually said.  Because when the program returned to his response, rather than spouting some pet theory, he explained that he actually had feedback through marketing research that said when little 8-year-old boys were playing with He-Man figures for 2 to 3 years, but then saw that their sister also “had the power” now, that suddenly, He-Man just didn’t feel that cool to them anymore.  Janic Varney-Hamlin, of course, thinks that this was just ridiculous, apparently feeling that 8-year-old boys should think just like middle-aged women.  But what does this have to do with Star Wars?

Fast forward to the year 2018.

It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Well, when you let the past die, and can’t learn from the mistakes of the past, that’s what you’re doomed to do.

Enter Kathleen Kennedy:

This is a bold new gender-neutral age, you see.  Boys and girls are crossing over.  This time, the right people are making it all work!  Except that they aren’t.

As I wrote previously, there is more than just the box office that indicates that Star Wars is a dying if not a dead brand.  We can also look to the waning merchandise sales.

In December of 2017, Hollywood Reporter was reporting that Star Wars toy shipments for The Last Jedi were down sharply from The Force AwakensOthers were asking why Star Wars toys weren’t selling this year?  Why merchandise sales dropped by a whopping 47%?  They were asking why were Star Wars toys being bested by Nerf and Pokeman?

The Wall Street Journal reports that:

“Despite being one of last year’s most successful movies, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ has fallen short of Wall Street’s expectations due to a faster than expected falloff at the box office, declining toy sales and a poor showing in China.”

“Star Wars toy sales during the 2017 Holidays were the lowest since Disney relaunched the brand in 2015, according to NPD Group.”

World Class Bullshitters has a pretty good break down of the Wall Street Journal article:

There are also multiple videos on YouTube showing Star Wars merchandise just sitting on store shelves.

So what’s going on here?

Well, there’s plenty of blame being thrown around.  Some are blaming “Movie Tie-In Fatigue.”  Some say that kids just aren’t going to the movies.  Some say there are too many entertainment options and that franchises which once held a prominent place are now lost in the noise.  Some blame overall declining toy sales.  Some blame a lack of characters in new costume or a lack of new characters and spaceships in general.  Some blame adult collectors who buy early but not sustainably.  Some blame the bankruptcy of Toys R Us.  Some blame competitors like Spiderman and Transformers.  Some blame a new paradigm.  Some say retailers are pausing to gain a sense of what the steady state of the Star Wars product is.  Some blame old merchandise from previous films still sitting on shelves not generating excitement in the new merchandise.  Some blame slightly down or flat revenues across all of Disney’s consumer products divisions.  Some blame darker heroes, over pricing, poor quality, and spoiler sensitivity. And new excuses will no doubt continue to be authored.

But what no one is saying or even daring to suggest, is that perhaps feminist Bolshevik marketing doesn’t work.  That like the 8-year-old boys who became disinterested in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe when their sisters also had “The Power” back in the late 1980s, perhaps today’s 8-year-old boys are becoming disinterested in Star Wars when they see that their sister also has “The Force.”  Like He-Man, maybe Star Wars just isn’t as “cool” to 8-year-old boys anymore, now that their sisters are into it.

“Tracey Gordon, a full-time mom from Glendale, California, shopping at the store, said her three boys, ages 2 to 7, aren’t “Star Wars” fans even though she wore a Princess Leia costume on Halloween for years when she was younger.”

But apologists will never learn from the past, nor accept any of this.  Instead, they’ll just let the past die, and then keep trying to do the same things over and over again.  For folks who often profess their belief in evolution, they sure do like to like to fight the natural order of things.


Doomed to the same feminist fate.

Toys for the new Han Solo movie will hit stores on April 20th of this year.  It’ll be interesting to see how and if the new toys sell.

68 thoughts on “Learning From The Past Rather Than Letting It Die

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  7. …Yes! What Hollywood executives, and SJW so-called ‘creatives’ fail to realize is that these fantasy worlds are manifestations of the aspirations, needs, and spirit embodied in middle-childhood’s paracosms (pretend-play fantasy universes), in which boys typically gravitate toward building military bases and *fortresses* ( main theme: defend the life, integrity and autonomy of society, as well as interface with the unconquered or unincorporated—as yet, ‘uncivilized’—outer realms, i.e. ‘manning the walls’ so to speak ), while girls spontaneously gravitate toward building *sanctuaries* , such as doll houses, pet hospitals, and the like ( main theme: nurture life ). This natural gender dichotomy is thus reflected not only in the broad themes being expressed, but in the very tone, ethos, sensibility, aesthetic, and ontological purpose (i.e. ‘reason for being’)—in short, the very DNA—of these fantasy worlds ( ex: Star WARS ! ). Fortresses vs. sanctuaries. This is what most show business-types, these days, do not get. These fantasy universes (paracosms) are _themselves_ gendered! And feminizing an implicitly gendered, _ontologically male_ fantasy universe such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Star Trek, or in this case, He-Man, ( whose fans are characteristically _overwhelmingly_ male: somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4+ ) denatures and ultimately kills it! Ex: What happened to _The last Jedi,_ and _Solo._ …All in the vain hope of expanding marketshare across gender categories! Sorry, _natural_ gender proclivities do exist, which is why red-blooded boys _don’t go_ for weak-male (emasculated) action-figures, and are, for example, losing interest in Star Wars merchandise in favor of Marvell stuff! While little girls much prefer their (ontologically) female-oriented toy and narrative universes, like _Barbie_ or _Frozen_ —rather than, say, playing with spacewar toys at ‘defend the castle’-type scenarios. …Greedy fools!

    P.S. There is a growing child developmental research on childhood paracosms ( aka. ‘worldplay’ ). I found at least 10 books on the subject. Sandplay therapy also has a lot to say. Understanding fantasy worlds from the angle of childhood paracosms reveals a lot about what constitutes their appeal and psychological function.

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    • I like this post a lot. it explains the loss of interest on the masculine side, but i don’t think they can be so ignorant as to not realize this. I think they are actively and deliberately reinforcing female drives and choking off things of male interest so as to eventually make one flavour for all. Force the feminine on boys and all will work itself out. Sad thing is it seems to work for that 8% of boys but only 8%. (my opinion of course)

      The she-ra thing seems to support this although it isn’t exactly the same thing. in that case it was cloning it and changing the clone for girls without messing with boys but apparently had the same effect.

      Keep posting on this kinda stuff please… this is part of the reason i’m here. It would be really interesting to see what boys and what girls actually latch on to this tactic.

      btw: youtube channel “the fourth age”, RJ talks a lot about this in depth as it relates to comics.


      • Corporations undoubtedly see forcing the feminine onto boys as a way of ( wrongly + naively ) expanding marketshare; especially since women apparently drive 85% of consumer purchasing decisions, overall (source: https://girlpowermarketing.com/statistics-purchasing-power-women ) — a precocious trend, considering girl toys typically outsell boys’, as revealed in “The Toys That Made Us” He-Man episode. …A little fact, marketing departments are
        surely keenly aware of.

        But there might be a deeper, socio-structural – and political – reason… It seems to me that childhood ‘paracosmic’ ( fantasy world-building ) imagination is increasingly coming under attack, be it as a consequence of the overparenting epidemic ( itself correlated to heightened levels of economic inequality and insecurity in Western society ), or via the willful destruction of inspiring, established fantasy universes ( franchises ), that would otherwise bootstrap worldplay. Hobbling kids’ agency in this way renders them dependent – psychologically captive – not only on parents, and afterward on social authority figures ( ex: professors, bosses, etc. ), but, more profoundly, on representations, norms and symbols imposed from the outside, as opposed to chosen or constructed from within ( a creative capacity kids would otherwise acquire and develop primarily through play – especially worldplay )! In other words, a population of psychologically damaged, incomplete / immature individuals, one that is profoundly unable to think creatively for ( i.e. to truly ‘think outside the box’, on their own behalf ) or even to be authentically themselves ( for example: as naturally masculine males and feminine females ), is much easier to control. And effective subjugation, indoctrination and conformity start early, preferably with the ablation of the capacity for authentic self-actualization, in childhood; meaning: the destruction of individuals’ capacity for autonomous, ‘paracosmic’ – world, culture, ideology -creating – thought, i.e. the ability to conceive of the world other than through commonly prescribed categories – stereotypes – and schemas ( which frequently work against their interests ).

        Prognosis? Any society composed majoritarily of broken, non-vital selves is terminal, since, as with all structures, it is subject to entropy yet in this case unable to regenerate itself, having failed to nurture the capacity of its members to envision and implement creative, sometimes radical, changes, which are necessary for society’s evolution and survival, leading instead to accelerated decay, and often, to war ( the final stages of sociocultural decline ).

        Despite outward appearances, I believe the forces contributing to the hobbling of children’s paracosmic imagination to be fundamentally reactionary ( conservative ), in the name of ‘progressivism’, no less! This, at a time when roughly 2/3 of the US population is either below the poverty line, or not far from it ( the aptly named ‘precariat’ ). …The ruling class establishment ( Republicans AND Democrats ), certainly have a big incentive in keeping things the way they are, for as long as possible, ergo: the cynical use of identity-politics, by both sides, to divide and pit the disenfranchised population against itself, and prevent it from uniting, demanding changes to the status-quo, and claiming their fair share of the wealth they majoritarily produce ( i.e. good old ‘class-politics’ = a big taboo in the US, still ).

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  14. The same abrupt viewer rejection occurred with the TMNT franchise ( Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ), when a female turtle was introduced, in 1996, in an effort to boost sales and extend market-share to girls, causing a profound rift between TMTNT co-creators — as revealed in “The Toys That Made US” TMNT episode. Note: As of 2014, viewership of Nickelodeon’s TMNT series was 65% male, with toys found primarily in the boy isle ( src: “Tough Turtles and Pretty Princesses: A Content Analysis of Gender Representations in Children’s Media” ). …Indicating, once again, that deliberately feminizing a gendered-oriented child paracosm [ fantasy universe ] — especially a “toyetic” one — ruins its appeal.

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