In this video, Diktor Van Doomcock explains what “canon” is and the importance of preserving it. Truly thought-provoking.
It’s at around 15:00 that he really nails it, with the Third Law of Canon. The discussion about the value of culture versus commerce, or the creative vision versus corporate profits, is one I would love to have. It’s why I sat out Solo, as millions of other Star Wars fans did. I’m not alone and wonder what it will take to get the entertainment industry to understand its responsibility to care for the creative works that it happens to “own”.
One way of looking at what is happening is to imagine that a billionaire has started buying all of the classical paintings so he can “improve” them. To generate interest in his gallery, he starts pandering to contemporary preferences. The Mona Lisa is now a pansexual vegan and has purple hair and a nose ring, among other changes. He also insists that this is now the official version of the painting and that all art textbooks should be updated to reflect his current version.
It’s canon now. He expects that he can make money off of the controversy and will sell millions of prints and merchandise that bears the likeness of his new intellectual property. Sure, lots of people will complain, but he’ll just handwave them away as a bunch of homophobic Nazis.
Somebody out there could probably argue that this is different from what is happening to our shared culture and myths, as Doomcock describes it, but I’m really not sure how. I agree that the case can be made that perverting works away from the meaning given by their creators for the sake of profits is desecration. It’s as true of Star Wars as it would be someone putting a bullwhip up the Statue of David’s ass and telling us that the bullwhip was always there and if you don’t like it now, you’re a hater.
Our culture is becoming disposable. I don’t think our society is producing anything lasting or memorable anymore. We’re just buying brands and don’t want to admit that the movies and shows we watch are actually very forgettable and leave us feeling numb. All that matters is you paid for a ticket, bought crap from advertisers, and purchased a pair of slippers with the brand name logo on it.
The work itself was garbage and you know it, but you’ll pay for more because you love that multiverse. Also, some marketing analyst figured out that androgynous queer FtM pansexuals are a growing demographic To get them to buy some stuff, you can expect to see in the next installment your favorite characters to go on a magical adventure, search for mystical artifacts, encounter strange creatures, and fuck them. Go see it, buy the merch, and tell everyone that it was the greatest work ever produced by humanity, you stupid hillbilly bigot.
I like to think that I discourage my kids from embracing consumerism and becoming the type of empty-headed zombie fan that Doomcock talks about. My hope is that they’ll appreciate art, great stories, and rich music.
For example, I’ve mentioned before that they’ve always grown up listening to the same music my wife and I do, much of it is the same music you love and share on our DJ threads. I don’t tell them what to listen to and they’re free to listen to pop music if they want to, but that music is empty and soulless and they know it. I don’t want to tell them what to think, but I want them to be able to discern for themselves what is art and what is plastic garbage.
You know what happens when people like me get sick of Star Wars or any other franchise? I tell my kids that I think it’s trash and I explain to them why. Thrilla was interested in the DCEU…until I explained to her everything that was wrong with Suicide Squad. She didn’t fully agree with me because she thought Harley Quinn was a cool character, but she also lost all interest in seeing any of the other movies, even Wonder Woman.
My son loves the original Ghostbusters and rewatches it all the time. But he has never seen the 2016 remake and has no desire to. You can call me a misogynist asshole all day long, but I’m not going to buy him a Melissa McCarthy action figure no matter how much you protest. Before you call me any names, know that my son has also never seen Ghostbusters 2. It’s because I already told him it sucks and was a cynical cash grab.
Ditto for the Star Wars prequels. Sorry, but I think they’re objectively bad movies and I’ve warned my kids that they suck. They might not believe me when I tell them they need haircuts, but they do take my word for it when I tell them that shit is shit if I rationally explain my viewpoint.
When that happens, the owner of the IP doesn’t lose just my ticket sale, but those of my family. We don’t buy any of the toys (which are of horrible quality these days) or any other merchandise for Christmas. As the wise and powerful Yogurt explained, moichandising is where da real money from da movie is made.
Does that mean my kids are forbidden from watching shitty movies and television shows? Not at all. I’d sit and watch the Star Wars prequels, Black Panther, or anything else with them if that’s what they wanted to do. However, I would still reserve the right to explain what I think of those movies on their merits. Like it or not, they will give my opinion tremendous weight, even if you know full well that I’m a complete prick.
Most parents are old enough to remember the better, original content of the 80’s and 90’s and they don’t like what is happening now with it. Come on, what was the last original concept that came out of Hollywood? The Matrix? That was almost 20 years ago. I don’t know what it’s going to take to change the culture enough to where we see similar creative works being produced again. But I’ll tell you this: all signs are pointing to Star Wars Episode IX being the crux. Should it fail like Solo, maybe there’ll be some impetus for change.
I hope it doesn’t come to that, but the idea of destroying (the profitability of) franchises to save them (artistically) is quite appealing to me. I liked The Last Jedi alright, but I’m willing, even eager, to sit out the next movie if it will prevent any more Solos or Rogue Ones from happening. And don’t look now, but it appears that Disney is already getting the hint.
What does it all mean? If Hollywood studios want to keep the IP that they’ve purchased viable, they have to return to respecting the vision of the original creators of their IP or those of us who grew up with it, loved it, and made it successful will reject it. We will not pass it on to the next generation. They won’t grow up with it and won’t be susceptible to the nostalgia surrounding those “properties”, as I am. Once canon is fully abandoned, what investment do I have in it? None.
It has nothing to offer, and therefore there is nothing to pass on. That is how legends die. How creations die.
Anyway, please check out the video.