Millenials Won’t Keep Star Wars Alive

I’ve previously declared Star Wars as dead using box office and toy and merchandise sales as evidence.  But this interesting article argues that Star Wars is dead from an emotional point of view.

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:

And then it dawned on me: Star Wars was bothering me. Yes, The Last Jedi had gotten under my skin. I walked out of that film with a sense of anger and disappointment I’d never quite felt before.

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.

Over the last 20 years, Gen X has felt like it has received the short end of the stick. That society stopped giving a crap about us — even though we ended up doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

Now, many of us are approaching or just hit age 50. We are in our prime earning years, and a number of us are becoming grandparents.

Our adult children now have their own kids to bring to see Star Wars and to buy them Star Wars toys.

But as toy and merchandise sales demonstrate, many are not buying their kids and grandkids Star Wars toys.  The Leaning Tower of Tico demonstrates that if nothing else.

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.

But the big money is to be made on the millennials and their children. Gen X is a freaking rounding error of potential sales in comparison to this demographic.

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.

To move forward, Disney had to tie up the loose ends and started killing off characters from the old story arc, so it can really get the cash machine moving with the new merchandise.

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.

The Millennials and Gen Ys will never completely understand why we are so upset. They don’t have context.

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.

This is not just a maxim for the characters in the film. That’s the only way Disney can bring in an entirely new generation of fans, for decades to come, and to capitalize on a $4 billion investment.

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.

It is being killed off because of a business decision, one that you can argue is being rightfully made due to how much money is at stake. We are being discarded.

I would argue that it is we who are discarding the franchise.

Except, of course, for when the holiday season comes, and we have to buy our grandchildren Star Wars toys — just as our own parents and grandparents did for us.

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:

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