My theory of ‘woke brands’ is that it’s usually a feature of a fundamentally flawed product, a famous overpriced product under siege from better alternatives that has no further value to offer, e.g. Nike, Gillette, a dot com monopoly whose core product has turned into garbage, e.g. Google, Facebook, startups that are little better than scams, pick just about anything, etc…
The applications of this in the entertainment realm are obvious.
Take Terminator, a “franchise” that had nowhere to go and no reason to continue existing after the first two movies, but nonetheless keeps spawning movies (and a TV series) no one had asked for because in the age of IP (intellectual property), all movies are about creating franchises that can be ‘Marveled’ and exploited for billions of dollars until doomsday.
Even before the last two woke movies which tried to displace John Connor with a young feminist heroine, the franchise had been going nowhere. With Genesys and Dark Fate, it went full woke and went full broke. Terminator Dark Fate is set to lose boffo at the box office, in Variety-speak. We’re talking around $100 million. And even with Hollywood accounting, that’s really bad news.
Its attempt to monetize ICE-bashing with a massacre of border patrol agents didn’t ring bells. Neither did its labored feminism. And then again much of its plot was lifted from Logan, making it a case of not just woke brokeness, but creative brokeness.
Did Dark Fate lose because it’s the latest entry in a franchise that has no reason to exist or because that franchise went woke?
My theory of wokeness and brokeness is that the two are entangled at a quantum level. Terminator went woke because it was creatively broke and approaching financial brokeness. Wokeness is like the scam you pull when your business is in trouble. It’s like buying a ton of insurance for your failing telegraph office before setting it on fire.
Going broke when you’ve gone woke means that no personal blame will be attached to your failure. Instead you’ll be a hero who sacrificed a pricey franchise for the cause, but was stoned to death by the ignorant racists, sexists, and assorted probes.
Like Kamala Harris, Terminator Dark Fate didn’t really lose. An ignorant public just wasn’t ready to pay money for its garbage.
That’s a familiar story of IP exploitation from the failed Ghostbusters reboot to the flailing Disney Star Wars movies. When you’re jumping the shark, you might as well jump the woke shark. If you make it, great. If you don’t, you’re still a hero.
Just ask Tim Miller.