SC Reviews found an article written by Jason Perlow of ZDNet.com written back in December of 2017, shortly after the release of The Last Jedi. Jason makes many great points, so I strongly recommend reading the whole article. But here I’ll mainly focus on the points that I want to respond to. Jason writes:
As did I.
We were children when we saw the original films. I was eight years old when I saw the first film in its opening run in the theatre. Star Wars was very much a product of the 1970s, just as Generation X is — and our memories of the movie are also mixed with our memories of childhood, as rose-colored as it may be.
The original fans, the Gen-Xers, who are now hitting their fifth decade of life, are not going to spend big bank on new Star Wars playsets. OK, maybe we’ll get a couple of Tervis cups, iPhone cases, T-shirts, etc. Guilty as charged.
That’s the error. There is no big money to be made with Millenials.
The problem here is that Gen Xr’s are parents and grandparents who buy their children toys and merchandise. Children generally don’t often buy these things for themselves, they have to depend on their parents and grandparents to buy these things for them. Of course, the parents and grandparents have to be willing to make the purchases in the first place. By giving the Gen Xr’s the short shrift, they’ve unwittingly created a generation of parents and grandparents who are now unwilling to buy this new merchandise for their kids and grand kids. The toy and merchandise sales demonstrate this. Without willing elders to pass on the tradition to younger generations, the tradition dies.
But you cannot introduce a new generation of buyers into an existing franchise of merchandise without context. The Force Awakens served its purpose of introducing the new characters and plot line while tying it into the old.
The Millennial generation doesn’t really purchase a lot of merchandise in general. They tend to be a DIY generation. Their Star Wars cosplay costumes are home made, not store bought.
And that’s really the key point here, and why the franchise is dead.
There are some exceptions of course, but without that context, without that emotional attachment and deep cultural connection to the franchise, Star Wars is nothing but a passing fad. Star Wars is now the cosplay fashion trend of the moment. Fashion trends are temporary and fleeting. They don’t stand the test of time for decades on end. So all those home made cosplay costumes, will be sitting in a land fill within the next few years. And all those unpurchased Rose Tico action figures will be buried right next to the Atari E.T. Cartridges.
That will never happen. Within a few years after Episode IX: Revenge of the Reylo, Millenials will discard Star Wars for the next big fashion trend, specifically because they lack that cultural and emotional context that Jason speaks of. They’re simply not attached to the franchise in the same way, and never will be. Disney may come crawling back to the Gen Xr’s at that time, but it’s probably already too late for that anyway.
I would argue that it is we who are discarding the franchise.
Maybe. But I’ll be buying only the real stuff that was produced before Disney off of eBay. Anything with the Disney banner printed on it is Bantha fodder, and I won’t spend a dime on it. I suspect many others feel the same way.
It’s unfortunate that they never realized that it didn’t have to be a choice between one generation or another. If they thought hard enough, they could have found a way to bring all generations on board.
SC Reviews gives his own perspective on Jason’s well thought out article: