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.

HeManStarWars

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.

71 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.
      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsmgy_rfqOlAz6R_wFLJzmg/videos

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      • 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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      • Here is an excerpt from Christina Sommers’ “The War Against Boys”, regarding forcing the feminine onto boys:

        Guys and Dolls

        In the summer of 1997, I took part in a television debate with feminist lawyer Gloria Allred. Allred was representing a fourteen-year-old girl who was suing the Boy Scouts of America for excluding girls. Girls fifteen and older can join the Explorer Scouts, which is coed, but Allred was outraged that girls younger than fifteen are not allowed in. She referred to same-sex scouting as a form of “gender apartheid.”
        I pointed out that younger boys and girls have markedly different preferences and behaviors, citing the following homespun example: Hasbro Toys, a major toy manufacturing company, tested a playhouse the company was considering marketing to both boys and girls. But it soon emerged that girls and boys did not interact with the structure in the same way. The girls dressed the dolls, kissed them, and played house. The boys catapulted the toy baby carriage from the roof. A Hasbro general manager came up with a novel explanation: “Boys and girls are different.”
        Allred flatly denied there were innate differences. She seemed shocked by the boys’ catapulting behavior. Apparently, she took it as a sign of a propensity for violence. She said, “If there are some boys who catapult baby carriages off the roofs of dollhouses, that is just an argument why we need to socialize boys at an earlier age, perhaps, to be playing with dollhouses.”
        Allred has powerful allies. Resocializing boys to play more like girls has been a part of the gender equity agenda for several decades. Notably active on this front throughout the 199os and early 2000S were the Wellesley Center for Research on Women, US Department of Education, and Harvard School of Education.

        . . . . This agenda is now mainstream.

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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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  17. Here is another example of how deliberately feminizing a fantasy universe, one infused with boyhood’s paracosmic imagination, can ruin its appeal; this time, in the world of literature. The following is an excerpt from an essay titled “Run Drac Run”, by Barry Longyear, on the writing of his 1979-1980 Hugo and Nebula award-winning novella, “Enemy Mine”:

    Run Drac Run
    It was February, 1978, deep in a Maine winter so harsh bears were taking time-outs from hibernation to move into the motels. This was before I discovered either cross-country or downhill skiing, hence I was deep in cabin fever and in one criminal mood.
    I was trying to think up something I wanted to write when I turned away from my word processor and looked at the snow falling outside my home office window. There was already a great deal of snow on the ground, and it looked like lots more was on its way. The temperature was in single digits and a wind was picking up.
    I can get hypnotically captured by falling snow, fog, and starry nights. I was mentally lost in watching the snow when I started thinking about building a little shelter out in the woods to see if I could survive in the snowstorm. When I was young I used to sneak out of my parents’ house late at night and go deep into the woods and build little lean-tos, and even more elaborate shelters. I’d build a warm little fire and spend the night safe from the insanity back at the house.
    Still looking at the snow, I wondered what would happen if I were thrown naked out into the snow with only a knife. Would I be able to survive? Shelter, clothing, warmth, food. I figured I wouldn’t be able to last for ten minutes. But what if I started earlier in the season, before the snows, and built a shelter that would protect me? I’d have to have food to last the winter, and wood for a fire, warm coverings, a bed, and there was the whole toilet-paper problem.
    I seemed to be exploring the outlines of some sort of survival story, but I began picking at my reasons—what the attraction was to hiding out in the woods. What if I had such a place? No telephones, no computers, no radio, CDs or TV. What would I be doing?
    Waiting.
    Waiting for what?
    The answer brought me back to my earliest memories. What would I be waiting for? I would be waiting for the same thing that pad been waiting for as a child in my clandestine lean-tos in the woods. I’d be waiting for someone who had some answers to come talk with me and fill my head with solutions to the mountain of problems that seemed to follow me wherever I went.
    I scribbled out a few notes, tossed them into my story dump, and got on with other things. Later in the year, as Maine sizzled beneath a July sun, the title “Enemy Mine” popped into my head. Thinking about the survival notes I had written the previous January, and with the ghosts of my nights as a child sitting in lean-tos observing, I began writing. In a matter of hours I had before me an alien whose heritage and upbringing are such that it knows who it is, what it is, and what it has to do. This alien, Jeriba Shigan, is also very happy being Jeriba Shigan. It has no internal conflicts. I desperately wanted to know how to do that.
    ( … )
    I won the Hugo and the Campbell. If you go to worldcons these days, they prohibit using flash cameras during ceremonies. The reason for this has to do with insurance fears concerning blinding those on stage who are attempting to negotiate the stairs. There was no such prohibition when I received my awards. As I faced the audience both times, I had my retinas burned out by thousands of flash bulbs going off. I had never before seen anything so magnificently beautiful in my life. It was a terrific night. Hell, even my picks for best editor and best dramatic presentation won.
    There were two more very special moments waiting for me. The first was late that night in George’s suite at the hotel. There were a number of fans in there, and I was sitting cross-legged on top of a table. George [ G. Scithers, editor of Isaac Asimov’s Science-Fiction Magazine] had won the Hugo for best editor, and Isaac was looking at us both saying, “What a night this is.”
    The next morning came my second moment. I was entering the hotel restaurant for breakfast, and with me was Jean and my mathematician sister Judith, whom I had always wanted to impress. As we entered, everyone in the restaurant stopped what they were doing and applauded. It just goes to show what building a little lean-to in the woods can do.
    A few weeks after the convention, I signed a contract with Berkley for a book-length sequel to “Enemy” to be titled The Tomorrow Testament. The foundation for The Tomorrow Testament, and the key for the resolution of the story, is the Drac bible, The Talman. It was necessary to invent the philosophy, the alien history, and to outline The Talman, as well as write portions of it. Writing that and working out the language only got me started on this particular mountain.
    At a writer’s workshop I conducted some months before, a woman with a political ax to grind demanded to know, “Why don’t you use more female protagonists in your stories?” So, when it came time to begin on The Tomorrow Testament, I asked myself if it made any difference if the lead character was male or female. In a supreme fit of either ignorance or arrogance, I said “no.”
    I had a character with a name: Joanne Nicole. In a spasm of enthusiasm I cranked out ten thousand words, then took them to bed and gave them a read. In a matter of minutes I began crawling beneath my covers. Naw, a female protagonist wouldn’t make any difference. Not much. What I had captured magnificently was ten thousand words of myself stumbling around in drag.

    ======================================

    My take:

    So, the author, looking for inspiration, went back in his mind to the way he felt when he was in his lean-to as a child — basically, his paracosm / fort in the woods —, remembered what his longing was, and then wrote Enemy Mine. The author goes on to say that the story practically wrote itself: “The pages seemed to fly from my typewriter…”. Longyear subsequently wins both the Nebula and the Hugo, and later decides that, for the sequel, he is going to go with a female protagonist — due to his being pressured by a feminist at a writer’s workshop ( and I suppose, as a good-hearted liberal, wanting to prove to himself, and others, that he is not sexist ). Have most people heard of the sequel? No. Is it any good? No; not in my opinion. Note: I gave it a few pages — I really tried —, but it was such a bore, and it didn’t hook me right away, at all, like Enemy Mine did. …Why? My theory is that the original story was grounded in his boyhood’s paracosmic imagination and needs, and therefore the fantasy world he produced was implicitly-gendered — male — in its tone, ethos, aesthetic, theme, etc.; and by feminizing it, the result was that it was no longer authentic, or at least ‘not true enough’ for it to be popular. In other words, the author basically unwittingly “killed” his universe by swallowing the ‘pink pill’; or as they say nowadays: he got woke and went “broke”. Such a loss.

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    • There are a couple of expressions which pop up from time to time which i think are excellent demonstrations of what, in the name of equality, we are trying to ignore and overwrite.

      James Bond: All men want to be him and all women want to be with him.

      A key which can open any lock is a very good key; a lock which can be opened by any key is a terrible lock.

      Once you cross off all the things men and woman can do interchangeably and focus on the remainder, there is no added value of a female to a male when she either demonstrates her ability in the masculine world or refuses to act in the female world.

      conversely, there is no added value of a male to a female when he either demonstrates his ability in the feminine world or refuses to act in the male world.

      him: i like women, so why would i date a man?
      her: i like men, why would i date a woman?

      By definition, this is sexist, but we also can’t deny we are sexist. well that is my belief anyways, which i think is far more believable than the current ‘we’re all clean slates when we’re born’ which is being forced on us but is 100% bullshit.

      an observation (and opinion):
      Terminator 2 and Aliens were superior films to their predecessors.
      The first films did not have the protagonists acting heroically. In both cases the 30,000ft view has them in self-preservation mode.
      The sequels were heavily based in a mother protecting her young. And for my purposes I can extend that to protecting innocents who are unaware of their coming demise.

      Rey on the other hand, wasn’t risking or protecting anything. Ahsoka had a useful ability that others didn’t and was both something she could pass on to her young if she had them but more importantly a rare skill she felt an obligation to hone for the betterment of everyone else.

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