Star Wars: a brand new time

The Word on the street is that “Star Wars” can be put on hold. who could ever have imagined this?

The total fiasco spin-off, “SOLO”, and the small detail of having killed all the legendary characters, tossed the series to tangential profit levels where – basically – they are covering expenses. It was a big disappointment for longtime fans to have Han Solo, Luke, Leia, and Admiral Akbar killed on the series (Akbar death was off of any scene, only entitled to a brief mention of it). So, now we know that for Disney, age is not just a number and that Disneyland is “no country for old men” (and women, let’s celebrate the gender balance in this).

Many companies and brands take the step of buying the appearance of a brand without having due regard for its “soul”. The brand promise and its emotional legacy were what, in fact, created value in the first place. Instead, they buy all the assets and the first thing they do is fire old employees. “Thank you guys for your service, but now we have new, fresh people to go forward”. One would expect that in a company like Disney they would be smarter (and more empathic) than that. But they are not. The philosophy behind Theme Parks has climbed up to the movies and they believe one only needs to wear the suit to be Mickey. They are wrong. Newcomers are the sons of the old community (the true legion of fans) and the transition – which was possible – needed more time, more passion, and greater respect for the old story.

What was necessary was for Disney to have been in a less hurry to make a lot of money and an understanding that brands no longer have customers, they have fans. These form communities with voice, which are influenced by contagion through social media and that set the pace. The brands that do not accept this are stuck with an old vision from a time when everything was decided by the shareholders without any inputs from the stakeholders. These days are over – there’s a “voice” on the street and it’s a powerful one. You have to listen to it.

I personally felt a little overwhelmed (even abused in my intimacy) by this megalomaniac “post-Disney” wave in which everyone talks, buys, sells, listens, wears the apparel, discusses, shares the Star Wars theme with no context or background. People are eager to see the “dark” Vader (right…) and have heard that – it seems Harrison Ford (you know… that guy from Indiana Jones) also enters. Sacrilege.

I first contacted Star Wars at the Lisbon’s cinema “Império” (The Empire, what a coincidental name) in 1985 (as I remember). George Lucas and the boys had just released “The Return of the Jedi” and my great-uncle Antonio decided to take me to see it. He had this wonderful gift for me – it was through a drawing on a paper napkin, that I heard about (and saw) the first sketches of a Light Saber from a Jedi. It was a sort of “preparatory workshop” for a universe that uncle Antonio thought I needed. And he was right. I later saw the other films on VHS tapes, but despite the passage of time I was proud to have at least this prize of being “from the time when Star Wars was screened in the cinema” (and saying this I mean of course to have seen in the cinema one of the “original” ones).

The so-called “fan zone” is always divided between newcomers and old acquaintances. It’s true in any pop cult and Star Wars is no exception. Of the few relevant things I have already managed to pass on to my young children, this is one of them – the imperial march counted among the first songs that they hummed. Before they could speak, of course. Will Disney be able to recover the tradition in time while being able to avoid a financial loss? Or will it be that in the land of magic the Jedi will also become a distant memory from a galaxy far, far away? Time will tell. May the force be with you.

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