Lefty politics is failure proof.
If the politics are right, they can’t fail. They can only be failed. And that goes for movies too. When a cinematic exercise in virtue signaling fails, it’s the fault of audiences. Or as the latest spin for Kathleen Kennedy and Star Wars goes, the fans.
But fans can’t fail a franchise. Just as customers can’t fail Amazon.
The echo chamber attacks on “toxic fandom” in select media outlets, Vox, Forbes, Slate, etc brings to mind Brecht’s Die Losung. “After the uprising of the 17th of June, The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee, Stating that the people, Had forfeited the confidence of the government, And could win it back only, By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier, In that case for the government, To dissolve the people, And elect another?”
Wouldn’t it be easier for Disney to just select a new fan base? (Not that it isn’t trying.)
Choosing between audiences and Kathleen Kennedy isn’t a tough choice. If there are no consumers, there’s no product. Audiences can’t fail a movie. A movie can only fail audiences.
The three-monte woke trick begins with politicizing a product, and then politicizing its failure. Pick a fight with your fandom and then the debate becomes about whether your fans are racist, sexist homophobes. Not about any of your decisions.
Take the Ghostbusters reboot, which came at the tail end of some disastrous Sony mismanagement. Instead of putting it into its context, a flailing studio making a bad decision, it went all in on sexism. The movie failed, but its failure was attributed to misogyny. Disney has gone to the well too many times with Star Wars. It spent a lot of money on the franchise, gambling that it could just turn out garbage movies filled with special effects and some fan service and make billions, the way that it did with Marvel. But the public appetite for garbage is proving less resilient in the case of Star Wars than Marvel.
In both cases, bad decisions are being laundered through virtue signaling.
The J.J. Abrams linked Star Wars movies even appear to be following the same basic pattern as his Star Trek movies. A big initial success, following by growing disappointment and box office declines as audiences realize that the style is there, but not the substance.
To the extent that there was a backlash in Ghostbusters and Star Wars, it seemed to have more to do with the lack of respect for existing characters in the franchise than with identity politics. But that’s how woke movies pick fights. And then blame the fights for their failure.
The fights didn’t help, but they also conceal the essential incompetence and poor decisions that led to the failure.