Morning Ed: Arts & Entertainment {2018.02.08.Th}


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

137 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    AE1: The debate over the Last Jedi reminds over the debate on how some science fiction fans hated it when science fiction and fantasy novels started to go more literary and political rather than remain true to their pulp roots. Never mind that one of the father of science ficiton, H.G.Wells, wrote very political socialist science fiction.

    AE3: Fantasy worlds allow authors to deal with the cool parts of human history without all those troublesome parts like racial and religious persecution. No need to have blood spattered Jews in your Medieval Fantasy novel.

    Via the second link, you can visit the town West Egg is based on though. My home town of Great Neck was the inspiration for West Egg.

    AE4: Both are possibly true. Deft writing could have made the Wonder Years end on a definite note when a law suit was about to ruin it.

    AE5: The non-action, harder to translate for a global audience movies are already migrating towards streaming services. Any release seems to be necessary. I think that the global market contributes to the rise of the franchise movie but blockbusters where taking control long before the global market was a big thing. Teen boys were the biggest movie market audience since the 1930s and eventually studios realized where the money was.

    AE0: That looks like a biblical prophecy of some sort. “And the llama shall stand next to the yak and the sheep next to the goat with a roaster in front and all will pose for the school photograph.”Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      Re: AE3, I dunno a lot of sci fi and fantasy since ‘Let This Be Your Last Battlefield’ is expressly to discuss racism and other bigotries as spherical cows in a vacuum.

      (And namechecked in the article is LeGuin, who tackled all the various real world bigotries and historical baggage with depth and deft.)Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    AE6: What the author seems to be worried about is that your not going to find a sexy Hollywood movie from the point of view of a heterosexual male or a non-feminist heterosexual female, unless everything from a female point of view is perceived as feminist by de fault. Sexy Hollywood movies from a heterosexual male point of view have been dead for quite a bit before MeToo because most heterosexual men just watch porn online when they want sexy cinema. They don’t need Hollywood. This means that a female point of view is going to predominate in sexy movies because thats who is going to buy the tickets.Report

  3. Avatar pillsy says:

    [AE1] I knew that Die Hard piece was going to be good when I got to, “Am I trolling? I don’t even know any more.”Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      Also dug the article on TLJ.

      In both cases I didn’t exactly agree with a lot of what the author had to say (and in the Die Hard case, at least, she was deliberately going out on a limb), but one of the most dire things about the way people tend to talk about entertainment media these days is that they put a ton of energy, and effort, and passion into telling you exactly why they hate the shit that they hate.

      It gets old, and while it can be cathartic to vent about stuff you think was annoying and stupid and offensive (or read such venting), I gotta say seeing someone point out why they love something—even if it’s something I didn’t care for—is always better for my mood, and is a lot more likely to make me check out something I might never otherwise have looked at, and enjoy it.Report

    • Avatar LTL FTC says:

      Code everything McClane does well as feminine, then – voila! – it’s a feminist masterpiece. The idea that the “masculine” strategy not taken would be to shoot indiscriminately without thinking is the stretch of the century.

      But that’s why she did it, right? Build a strawman with condescension and disdain for half the population, wait for an incredulous response, then point to it as a “masculinity so fragile” gotcha. I feel like I’ve been here before.

      Yippie-kai-yay, master troller!Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        Whether you agree with coding that all as feminine—it’s a stretch, sure—McClane’s behavior is pretty different from what you see in other action movie heroes, especially from the mid-to-late ’80s. The movie builds a lot more empathy for him than it does for, say, Matrix from Commando, and while Commando is pretty fun, that’s a big part fo why it’s cookie-cutter and forgettable and Die Hard isn’t.

        Also what half of the population is being treated with condescension and disdain?

        ‘Cause if it’s men, I didn’t feel condescended to or disdained.Report

        • Avatar LTL FTC says:

          I can’t say I’ve seen Commando, but I’ve seen enough of the ’70s action genre to notice how Die Hard fits in as a successor for the ’80s. The closest analogue is Assault on Precinct 13*, in which a cop is also cut off from help and must use his wiles to survive. It’s got a bit more shootout and a little less humor. Die Hard also lacks AOP13’s ensemble dynamics, but it’s in the same vein.

          *Not the sequel. Eww.Report

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            Yeah, ’70s action movies were much less… self-consciously macho than most of what was being made around the time that Die Hard came out, and the big action movies usually starred Stallone or Schwarzenegger instead of a sitcom actor like Bruce Willis [1]. Even in Dirty Harry, which is sort of treated as the ur macho action movie, Callahan is more than just stoic and badass all the time [2].

            Also Assault on Precinct 13 was great. I love that movie.

            [1] And a lot of the action movies from this time that hold up best were really marketed as comedies at the time, like the similarly named but otherwise unrelated Midnight Run and Running Scared.

            [2] The actual Dirty Harry is much more interesting than the pop cultural memory that’s built up around it, IMO.Report

            • Avatar LTL FTC says:

              Looks like I wrote my Dirty Harry comment as you were writing yours.

              I wouldn’t say Harry isn’t as self-consciously macho as the ’80s characters. Just listen to him talk about his gun. It’s basically a chrome-plated phallus proxy.

              It’s funny re-watching those ’70s movies – how so much of what followed are so obviously lifted. Like how you can’t have a car chase without picking out everything that was first done in The French Connection.Report

              • Avatar Jason says:

                Except it’s not chrome-plated–at least in the first two movies. Sorry, I’m pedantic.
                Speaking of lifting, I like the movies that inspired AOP13: Rio Bravo and El Dorado, but I haven’t seen it yet. The original Taking of Pelham 123 is good.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                I think the real answer is that the original is always better.

                But I would bet that if you look closer you can spot the influences and inspirations for all these movies if you wanted.Report

            • Avatar InMD says:

              Even then it’s kind of a gross oversimplification of well.. everything. By the author’s standard you could almost call Predator a feminist movie. The mercenaries who try to go toe to toe with the Predator are brutally dispatched. Arnold realizes he must outwit the Predator with cunning, and use its own hubris against it, which by the authors standards, are (for some reason) solely feminine tactics. He isn’t afraid to say he needs help/might not be able to handle the situation alone. Why else would the plan include getting to the choppa?

              This kind of cultural criticism is shallow, snarky, and dumb. It amazes me people get paid to create it. And I say this as someone who thinks Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton deserve their spots among the best of genre action heroes.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                He isn’t afraid to say he needs help/might not be able to handle the situation alone. Why else would the plan include getting to the choppa?

                The movie isn’t feminist as such, it’s just ‘more’ realistic, because actual men (and women) who handle dangerous situations tend to be smart and willing to call for help, etc., or, you know, they die early and we don’t hear about them except as a statistic or a cautionary tale.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Also, agree or not, and at the risk of dragging things too far in the direction of seriousness, one the things feminists are usually talking about pretty specifically when they talk about “toxic masculinity” is a unwillingness to find help when needed. This really is something men seem to be more prone to in our culture, and it has real negative effects for them (because that help includes things like medical treatment).Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Sure, but not showing ‘toxic masculinity’ is not by default ‘feminist’.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Well, no. But portraying (in a fictional work) the negative consequences of toxic masculinity and contrasting them to the benefits of feminine (or not toxically masculine) behavior plausibly is feminist.

                At least enough for a trolly blog post and a follow-up OT thread.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Trolly things happen when you present it as a false dichotomy, rather than just another alternative.

                Or when you present feminism as anything that is not toxic masculinity, which is just going to irk people.

                Haven’t actually read the link yet, so I don’t know if that is the approach taken.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I mean it is a little trolly, but not quite that trolly.

                I do think there’s a bit of a conflation with “feminist” and “feminine” going on in this subthread, when the two aren’t really the same thing at all. The author of the original blog post sort of comes across as thinking that the only alternatives are “femininity” and “toxic masculinity”, which is a real blindspot I’ve seen in online conversations about the topic. A lot of the traits that are coded as masculine really are virtues as long as they aren’t taken to stupid extremes.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                Or maybe the whole concept of “toxic masculinity” is non-falsifiable BS, meant more to signal the speaker’s tribal affiliation than to say anything meaningful about the world.

                I was in the army. There was a lot of Man up! Suck it up and drive on! Play through the pain!” I guess that you could call the infantry a very masculine environment. You know what they taught us, though? If there are three enemy on the objective, show up with a squad of nine. If there are is a squad of enemy, show up with a platoon. If the enemy has machine guns, call in artillery. An infantry platoon has a bunch of people attached to it who aren’t infantry: a medic, an interpreter, a forward observer to call in artillery, sometimes a combat air controller to coordinate air assets that are waiting on station. You get the point. Doctrine is to bring overwhelming force on the objective, so… I guess that focus on asking for help and collaborating with others means that US army doctrine is actually feminist.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Or maybe the whole concept of “toxic masculinity” is non-falsifiable BS, meant more to signal the speaker’s tribal affiliation than to say anything meaningful about the world.

                I mean, maybe, but men really do seem to have worse health outcomes due to an unwillingness to seek help. This also probably contributes to higher suicide rates among men.

                So I’m not sure I entirely buy “non-falsifiable”.

                Doctrine is to bring overwhelming force on the objective, so… I guess that focus on asking for help and collaborating with others means that US army doctrine is actually feminist.

                Gotta say that @oscar-gordon has a point that the default alternative to “toxic masculinity” isn’t “feminism”.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                I mean, maybe, but men really do seem to have worse health outcomes due to an unwillingness to seek help.

                I actually don’t have a problem with making these kinds of observations. But why coin a new term for that? We already have a perfectly good one: stereotype.Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                That’s kind of my point. I think attributing politics to most of these movies, at least in any sort of specific way, is silly. They’re interesting artifacts of their times but I’m pretty sure John McTiernan (who directed both Predator and Die Hard) was not infusing them with any sort of feminist values, and certainly not the ones that are prevalent 30 odd years later.

                Anyone can look at any film and make up stuff about its politics, especially if they’re free to define terms as broadly or as narrowly as they want. The author here isn’t even very good at the game. If she was she wouldn’t have failed to address the director’s own criminal charges involving his ex-wife. Even her lazy film criticism is… well lazy.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Oh I don’t think it’s not silly.

                I just think it’s a fun kind of silly, not an annoying kind of silly.

                Like Dante and Randall arguing about the janitors on the Death Star in Clerks.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Dude, double negative!Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                On thia we agree. Make a purchase from Jay and Silent Bob and debate it until the sun comes up.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                I always thought that Eddie Izzard’s routine about the Death Star canteen was pretty funny.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                By the author’s standard she might, too!

                I mean, if we’re going down this particular rabit-hole, Predator was directed by John McTiernan, the same feminist icon that gave us Die Hard!Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                See my above reply to Oscar. That feminist icon has more than enough baggage with his ex to be tried, convicted, and hanged by the #MeToo movement. I don’t want to get overly serious about it either I just think the lack of awareness with this one is stunning, even for the genre of writing.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              Die Hard fits into the genre it pioneered with Beverly Hills Cop, comedy actors put into action roles.Report

          • Avatar LTL FTC says:

            Added, because it got me thinking about older action movies:

            Every testosterone-drenched action movie has incompetent, unhelpful leadership. The persona of Dirty Harry is built around it. It’s not “stubborn, insistent masculinity,” it’s a standard foil for our iconoclastic hero. It’s like OP is pretending to have never seen an action movie before.

            Then we have the gun. “In [McClane’s] hands, a gun becomes a multitude of useful objects as he displays the kind of creative thinking that neurosexists like to term feminine as opposed to the logical, analytical male approach.” As if MacGuyver never existed. Or James Freaking Bond. And how is using a tool for only one purpose “logical, analytical” anyway? Or more so than finding another use for it?Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              I suspect that one reason I reacted more positively to it was that I was implicitly comparing Die Hard to the other movies that were in the same genre (or marketing category) and coming out at the time. But another way to look at it was it came out at a nadir for action movies, and was really a refreshing change from its contemporaries.

              As for Dirty Harry, as much as the bosses were annoying blowhard jerks, they kind of had a point about Callahan. Which is one of the things I really dig about the movie all these years later.Report

              • Avatar LTL FTC says:

                As I wasn’t alive at the time, I’m not sure whether to read Dirty Harry as:

                1) Purely reactionary power fantasy, standing athwart urban decline, shouting “do you feel lucky, punk?” or

                2) A commentary on how that fantasy leaves you with a string of dead partners and unnecessary destruction of property, exacerbating aforementioned urban decline.

                I suppose it works because audiences can read it both ways and come out satisfied. But the only way you can jam the square feminist peg into Die Hard‘s circular hole is by coding everything good the hero does as feminine based on … her say-so.

                But then again, let’s not forget that the Cohambee River Collective Statement was initially released pinned to a bloody corpse in an elevator as a warning to the white patriarchy. So she’s not entirely wrong.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                But then again, let’s not forget that the Cohambee River Collective Statement was initially released pinned to a bloody corpse in an elevator as a warning to the white patriarchy. So she’s not entirely wrong.

                OK, this was great.Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                I’ve always suspected the intent of the people making it was a half-hearted number 2 but the way it has been generally received culturally is number 1.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Dirty Harry really needs to be viewed in its context to make sense.

                It was right after the ugliness of the urban riots, chaos of the countercultural upheavals, and the impending loss of the Vietnam War (which everyone but the Pentagon knew was a lost cause).

                There was a spate of movies then, about anti-heroes who stood outside the different cultures and belonged to none.
                Harry wasn’t a Serpico type hippy reformer, he wasn’t a John Wayne Establishment type.

                He was cool as jazz, able to dig the hip black-power cats and sneered at the stuffy fat older generation of his boss.
                But he was also disdainful of the weak limp wristed types who sniveled about “rights”.

                Harry was a spiritual kin to the bikers in Easy Rider, the driver in Vanishing Point, Popeye Doyle in the French Connection. They were all rootless drifters cut off from the corrupt and venal society.

                It was easy to identify with these guys then. The old order had been shown to be corrupt and untrustworthy, but the new order hadn’t taken command yet.

                So taking that stance, of being completely outside looking in with disdain seemed attractive.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Harry was a spiritual kin to the bikers in Easy Rider, the driver in Vanishing Point, Popeye Doyle in the French Connection. They were all rootless drifters cut off from the corrupt and venal society.

                This is a good comparison.

                And of course, none of those three films ended well for their protagonists, nor were they necessarily successful in any clear way.

                At least Harry got to shoot Scorpio and walk away.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                What elevated Clint Eastwood from good actor to peerless director (IMO) was how in later years he examined how Harry might have aged and come to terms with himself.

                The single dad in Tightrope, precariously balanced between his tender nurturing side and his appetite for violence, realizes that he just as easily could have become the Scorpio killer.

                The reformed killer in Unforgiven shows how easily the noble pursuit of just vengeance becomes uncontrolled murder.

                For everyone whose adolescent self fantasized about being that stoic cartoon gunslinger, that progression is thought-provoking.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                What credit the feminist movement is due, IMHO, toward the action movie genre is the acceptance of audiences for some actual hero introspection. That the hero being willing to look at himself and come to terms with his failings, and all that entails, is something that adds to the story, rather than detracts from it.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                As i remember one of the things people really liked about McClane in DH was that he was played as a real person who bled and felt pain. and fear. He wasn’t the emotionless and superhuman hero of typical action movies. He humanized the action movie lead.

                While i found the essay fun enough it does appear the writer had never seen an action genre movie. The blowhard incompetent boss is a standard genre trope. The FBI/other cops/military/whoever are always useless.

                Dirty Harry is a direct descendant of Bullit. Though much meaner, cartoonish and a reaction against the Zodiac killer and right wing fears of crime. Still a great movie.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                The reason I found the thing about the bosses, if not persuasive, than at least not laughable, is that the blowhard incompetence from above is usually framed as the “leadership” being cautious (or even cowardly), too reluctant to see that violent means are necessary, and too wrapped up in imagined risks to bystanders and the like—things that really are routinely coded as “unmanly”.

                And in Die Hard it really is mostly the other way around.Report

  4. Avatar Damon says:

    [AE7] I was one of those guys that drifted away from friends in college and only had the wife as my primary friend. When I got divorced, I was totally screwed. Now, years later, I’ve met and become friends with a lot of women (who I met dating). I routinely would tell new romantic partners that I had quite a few women friends, who’d I’d met online and was close to. The “new gal” had to deal or I was out. I’m not sacrificing my friends again.Report

  5. Avatar pillsy says:

    I guess Arts and Entertainment is as good a place as any to link this amazing interview with Quincy Jones. A few little excerpts have been bouncing around for being particularly nuts, but the whole thing is ridiculous, and ridiculously entertaining. The celebrity interview is one of the most dismal genres of, well, anything, but somehow this is an exception.Report

  6. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    AE9: The changes in the publishing industry particularly fascinate me, and not merely because I am entering the home stretch on my own manuscript. The biggest shift has been in commercial fiction: the kind of book you buy for the airplane trip or beach reading, designed to occupy you for a few hours without challenging you. There is a huge market for this stuff. It has largely migrated to ebooks, and much of that is self-published. This is a huge revenue hit for traditional publishers, but a boon for readers not overly concerned with editing. There are vast quantities of this stuff readily available and very cheap, or even free. When we read about ebook sales plateauing, or even declining, this is bullshit in that it discreetly overlooks this huge market of self-published ebooks. On the other hand, for everything else, it is an interesting and significant phenomenon. In this light, Amazon closing down that facility makes perfect sense. That was producing physical paper self-published books. That is a tiny market.Report

  7. Avatar InMD says:

    On AE5 I read some related click bait earlier in the week.

    I’m with McCardle on the franchise stuff. To the extent I see any of it I find myself hopelessly bored and wishing the villains would win. Even the praised Logan wasn’t nearly as good as original fare that covered similar ground like Hanna.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      A friend of mine remarked that the rise of the Blockbuster led to decline of what he callled the mid-market movie. These were movies with bigger budgets, stars, and glossier production values than indies but less than a blockbuster. Think of movies like Philadelphia, Crossing Delancy, and company. Internationalization led to the decline of other genres like comedy or court room dramas, anything that doesn’t translate.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Are those movies not getting made anymore, or are they not getting as much publicity and have they found that their market is Redbox and Netflix? I don’t really know the answer to that, except that it seems like while there used to be cut-rate direct-to-video there’s now a pretty big market for their modern-day equivalent, while things at movie theaters have become such that they almost have to be a battery of visuals to justify going to a theater to see it.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          Most of the mature entertainment offerings available via streaming seems to be in the form of prestige television rather than streaming mid-level movies. There are some like Molly’s Game and might be more if I look deeper. So I’d argue its bit of both. Fewer mid-market movies are being made and those that are being made are getting less publicity.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

            prestige television rather than streaming mid-level movies

            I’m not sure much this distinction will hold up. Consider “The End of the F***cking World” (which, by the way, is excellent) on Netflix. This is six fairly brief episodes totaling about three hours, collectively forming a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. They could have put it up as a longish feature film. I suspect it was essentially a marketing decision to put it up as a series. I personally like having the story broken up into discrete chunks. I rarely want to commit to the time to watch a full feature film. But as an artistic matter, once Americans acculturate to the idea of a limited series that tells a single story, we have the storytelling of a feature film without the restriction of telling the story in about two hours. If it is a pure streaming production, there isn’t even any reason the individual episodes need to be the same length. At that point, forcing a story into the traditional feature film format would be silly.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        I think the real question is “What is the purpose of the multiplex?”

        As it stands, I love going to revival and art cinemas, but I won’t step foot in the M-P due to the cost of concessions, the crowd of teenagers and like reasons, not the least of which are the movies themselves. Lowest common denominator romcoms/Jackass wannabes/superhero movies all suck in my eyes and until this cycle breaks, I can’t see myself going anymore. It just isn’t fun.

        I would much rather pop something on Netflix/Amazon/Hulu and give it a try.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I still maintain the ‘mid level movie’ of today is in fact ‘the golden age of TV’.Report

  8. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    I love Kindle cover disasters, they are amusing and informative.Report

  9. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    [Ae1] I was amused by the take on Die Hard, I’ll not say more.

    As to TLJ, I have mixed feelings about the piece. There was nothing wrong, per se. But she missed a lot of stuff, stuff that I think is important in understanding some reactions.

    The film quite deliberately repeatedly sets up expectations and then fails to meet those expectations. It echos so many ideas in The Empire Strikes Back but with a different payoff.

    Let’s consider first the opening scene with Po first cheekily distracting General Hux. He’s buying time for an evacuation, just like the battle of Hoth. The line “the last transport’s away” even shows up. And so he’s the hero, he’s supposed to knock out that big war machine, right? That’s what Luke did, and also Wedge did it too, so that’s going to be an audience expectation. He does it, but it’s the wrong thing, not the right thing.

    That’s really disorienting. I’ve talked to some people who thought the “bombers” they used were stupidly designed, and that’s why things went wrong for him.

    This continues. Rey goes to an obscure planet to meet an old Jedi master who’s supposed to train her. But he refuses, and tells her that the Jedi are wrong and stupid, and she should just go away.

    She leaves thinking she can turn Kylo. We also think that’s going to happen. It’s a Star Wars movie, right? She doesn’t.

    After she leaves, the old jedi master talks with another force ghost about her. But the conversation is very different from that of Obiwan and Yoda.

    We expect that she will turn Kylo and defeat the Emperor, I mean Supreme Leader. But that’s something for the third movie, right? Not this one. Wait, they kill Snoke and fight the Praetorian Guard together but Kylo doesn’t turn? I’M SO CONFUSED!!!

    So the subplot with Finn and Rose has them doing a daring covert mission which goes wrong at every turn and ultimately fails. I think this is why it’s called a “waste of time”. Nothing happens at all, except Rose develops a giant crush on Finn, which is a major romantic complication. Unlike the daring covert mission to deactivate the shield generator.

    We don’t trust Holdo because unlike every other character on the bridge or in the Resistance, she’s wearing an evening dress on the bridge. And she has purple hair, for pete’s sake. Of course she’s supposed to be the dimwitted boss who doesn’t know what’s what, and of course Po is right to take matters into his own hand. I personally felt that they didn’t play fair with the audience on this one. I really don’t like the completely unjustified evening dress.

    But the point is that this familiar narrative “boss is wrong, so plucky underling does the right thing” also blows up in their face.

    Everything fails. Everything breaks. Everyone who tries to be a hero ends up making things worse. That’s the message of the film, and we should not be surprised if people find that message uncomfortable.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Also, if this were pro wrestling, we’ve got a series of three matches and one wrestler has pretty definitively won the first two matches.

      Who wins the third match?

      (Remember, as a booker, it’s your job to put asses in the seats.)

      If *I* were booking it, I’d say that it’s time for Kylo Ren to beat Rey in a match.

      Let it echo Episode III somewhat.

      If they don’t do that (and I see no indicators that they’re going to do that), we’ve got a new trilogy with a bunch of inept bad guys who were, somehow, beaten by an even more inept bunch of rebels.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

        An interesting take.

        I very consciously understand that I have no idea what will come in E9. I think there are a few things off the table, and Rey defeating and killing Kylo is definitely one of them. This story doesn’t work like that.

        However, your takeaway is that Rey beats Kylo in E8? I don’t see that. I think it was a draw, interrupted by Holdo’s kamikaze-by-lightspeed. She woke up first, was all.

        They are perfectly matched, and the image of them fighting over Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber underlines that.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Well, let’s call Ep8 a draw. We’ve got Kylo losing the first one (we agree that that was pretty definitively a loss, right?), we’ve got a tie for the second one…

          If you’re booking this, how do you book the third matchup?Report

          • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

            Well, have I told you about my pet theory that Kylo didn’t actually kill Han? That Han ignites the lightsaber himself, in a twisted effort to help Ben, and at least (for Han) do something right. Why does Ben say “Thank you” as Han falls away?

            That kind of changes everything and supports your theory. The thing is, who on earth would be rooting for Kylo? How do they make this work?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              The thing is, who on earth would be rooting for Kylo? How do they make this work?

              Well, please understand, I’m just looking at it from the perspective of Wrestling.

              There are always people who are going to be rooting for the bad guy. Maybe 10%. (Okay, maybe not rooting for the bad guy as much as taking the attitude that “I have two favorite wrestlers: Joe Schmoe and whomever is fighting Hulk Hogan.” Kylo happens to be fighting Hulk Hogan in this scenario.)

              Make the bad guy charismatic and start adding numbers to that 10%. (Did you see Kylo with his shirt off? Oh my gosh!)

              Now, if I want to make this work, I have to take the attitude that the show does not end with Episode 9. Episode 9 is the setup for the REAL show. So when you buy a ticket for Episode 9, you’re really buying a commercial for Episodes 10, 11, and 12.

              12 will be the Brawl To End It All. Locked in a steel cage. No countouts. No disqualification. There *MUST* be a winner.

              Which means that you can have Kylo win and win pretty damn definitively (short of killing her).

              That’s how I’d do it.Report

              • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

                I sort of love how you think.

                However, because of the strong strain of Taoism infusing the thing, I don’t think that’s how this is going to work.

                I mean, yes, they are going to definitely set the table for an ongoing conflict, rather than a “we killed the bad guy and now everything is wonderful” sort of ending. And yes, Kylo is going to have his day where his skills and inclinations are going to be Exactly What Is Needed. Just as they were in killing Snoke.

                The “dark emotions” have their uses and their value. The Dark Side is a a fundamental and immutable part of The Force. Trying to eliminate it was the core error of the Jedi. They just ended up creating the Sith.

                That’s not to say there might well be elements of what you propose. What if E9 was about “the war is just beginning” and “the rebellion is being born”?Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        I think you’re overlooking the whole “Hey, you’re doing WWE wrong” and writing a plot that subverts WWE.

        Now, anti-WWE might be 100% better than WWE and some number of WWE folks will get on board… but some folks will wonder why you are subverting WWE at a WWE event.

        Since I’m personally immune to StarWars mythology I can say that X and ~X both suck, but I’m not confused by ~X being X.Report

        • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

          This is kind of perfect. TLJ does pretty much say “hey, you’re doing Star Wars wrong”

          And here’s the interesting part. A lot of fans think that Lucas “did Star Wars wrong” with the whole The Force as Hereditary Legacy business. Which this franchise is busy fixing.

          Also, I don’t think they are going to leave the Galaxy in an “everything’s fine now, and there are no bad guys” kind of ending, but rather set the stage for a million properties where people are slogging ahead, using the Force for good or ill, and trying to make things better. I am a big SW fan, and I think that’s a better place than where E6 left us.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          I think this is called a “swerve” in the biz.

          Like, everything is set up just right. They’ve got all the pieces in place. You’re watching the show and your expectations are set… AND HOLY CRAP WHO SAW THIS COMING?

          This can be done very well.
          This can be done very crappily.

          But the swerve has to be done in service to the theme. If it’s just done to mess with the expectations of the audience, it will generate buzz for a second or three and that’s okay but if you do too many swerves for the sake of swerves, your audience will cease to care about the story and will only care about the spectacle.

          And that’s poison.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            You know what was a good swerve? In Empire when the door opened and Darth Vader was there.

            That was a good swerve.

            You know what else was a good swerve? When it was revealed that Darth Vader was Luke’s dad.

            You know what was a bad swerve? When Commander Toxoplasma refused to share information with Poe and did everything but accuse him of mansplaining when he came to her with his concerns and it resulted in a failed coup that culminated in a suicide run that exposed that large enough transports could take out a star destroyer (and, presumably, always could have done so).Report

            • Avatar PD Shaw says:

              My son’s class was studying the Cold War last Spring and they did the duck-and-cover drill. I said something like yeah, they always used to joke about that. My son said, no, the reason they had everybody do that was so they could feel like they were doing something constructive and not end up doing something stupid.Report

            • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

              I sort of agree with your description of Holdo and Po. I feel that it was in theme, but way too manipulative. I felt I was treated unfairly as an audience member. More unfairly than seeing Vader behind the door.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Of all the things that changed during the first viewing and the second, my perception of Holdo was probably the biggest. I went from thinking that she had screwed up absolutely everything, just barely redeeming herself at the end, to thinking that she did a pretty good job and that she showed admirable mercy by not throwing Poe out the nearest airlock.Report

            • Avatar James K says:


              You know what was a bad swerve? When Commander Toxoplasma refused to share information with Poe and did everything but accuse him of mansplaining when he came to her with his concerns and it resulted in a failed coup that culminated in a suicide run that exposed that large enough transports could take out a star destroyer (and, presumably, always could have done so).

              You mean the part where Admiral Holdo pulled rank on an unruly subordinate and told him to butt out so as to maintain operational security? There is no way on earth (or any other planet) that Holdo should have explained what she was up to to someone who didn’t need to know, yes even to a viewpoint character. That would be bad security in our world, and Holdo had to contend with enemies that can read peoples’ minds.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine says:

            But the swerve has to be done in service to the theme.

            Right… so are people arguing about the swerve or the theme?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              I think that the argument is over whether the swerve indicates a new theme.

              There are reasons to like the old theme.
              For those who liked the old theme, there are reasons to be apprehensive about what the new theme seems to be.

              Especially since Commander Toxoplasma’s failures in leadership seem to have resulted in the entire rebellion fitting on the damn Millennium Falcon.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I mean she figured out a way to not have to deal with the consequences of her bull-headedness. We can hold up her honorable death and wipe a tear away instead of having Ackbar do it and maybe make her learn a thing or two about the importance of maintaining faith in leadership.

                Jeez, that stuff still ticks me off.Report

              • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

                Well, you can put the failure either at her feet or at the feet of the “young turks”. Or maybe both. Her plan might well have worked. It was the existence of the covert mission that led to the First Order discovering what was going on.

                I mean, there’s a sort of normative expectation that soldiers will follow orders. And superior leadership will not leave that to chance.

                Everyone needs to own that failure.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So, instead of it being leadership’s failure, it’s everybody’s?

                Yeah. I’ve had leadership like that.Report

              • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

                You seem to be supporting the idea that mutiny under fire is fine as long as it’s done by the good guys.

                And that’s what it was. Po took over the bridge, using a weapon. Some leaders would have executed him on the spot.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                And some leaders would have had a conversation with other leaders about how much they really liked the mutineer.

                It is not my position that “mutiny under fire is okay” but that the buck stops with leadership and failure to communicate to underlings that leadership is worth following will result in underlings breaking and defecting. And that will follow as anger follows fear and hate follows anger.

                “So you seem to be supporting the idea that suffering following hate is okay as long as it’s done by the good guys.”

                No. That’s not what I’m saying.

                I’m saying that leadership should have done a better job of nipping fear in the bud. Leadership’s failure to do so was bad and resulted in mutiny.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @doctor-jay @jaybird @pillsy This isn’t a critique of any of y’all’s positions and I think the movie can and *should* have to stand on its own, but it’s an interesting piece of the expanded canon that shed light on the whole situation for me, anyway:

                I recently read part of** the YA book Leia, Princess of Alderaan, in which Holdo is one of Leia’s classmates in a sort of leadership training outward bound thing (it makes more sense than that, i swear). Anyway, it’s *quite* clear in the book that she is a) brilliant and b) not especially neurotypical . I found thinking about her in the movies in the light of this portrayal of her 16 year old self to be pretty intriguing, and it really deepened her character for me. (There’s nothing that doesn’t fit.) I’d recommend the book, generally, and am planning on reading the rest of Claudia Gray’s Star Wars stuff.

                ** part of, only b/c it had to go back to the library and i’ve been too swamped reading other stuff to reorder it. i’m definitely going to finish it once things settle down a little.Report

              • Avatar kenB says:

                mutiny under fire is fine as long as it’s done by the good guys.

                In the context of a movie, this is generally true. Chain of command is not a hero — people are heroes. If the hero is in charge, then the mutineers are generally bad, but if the hero is mutinying then we’re expected to root for the mutineers, for some very good reason.

                In the case of TLJ, it’s ambiguous who the hero is at this point in the movie. As has been discussed, Johnson’s whole game here is to lead us down a particular carpeted path so that he can pull it out from under us, so he’s happy to leave us just enough reason to doubt Holbo’s leadership and let our assumptions based on the typical genre conventions do the rest.

                Of course Holbo could have done more as a leader to make sure Poe didn’t have a reason to act as he did, and Poe could have had more confidence and not taken those actions, but at that point we’re analyzing it as if it were an actual historical event with real people, rather than a work of fiction whose author was trying to create a certain effect. If either character had acted differently then it would have been a different movie.Report

              • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

                As a side note, toxoplasmosis is a disease that often affects pregnant women. As such, it really isn’t working for me as a “cute, disparaging nickname”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It’s theorized that it infects somewhere between 30% and half the planet!

                Including the guy typing this!

                But, sure, I’ll stop using it. Out of respect for the pregnant women who may have been affected by it too.Report

              • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

                What I know is that I only ever hear about it in conjunction with pregnancy, including my wife’s, who didn’t actually have it, and a friend, who did.

                It was very serious for that friend.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Fair enough. Again: I’ll stop using it.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I can understand the argument for the buck stopping at Holdo in terms of culpability for that entire mess but I think, on balance, it rests primarily with Po.
                -Yes, Holdo refused to tell Po what her plan was but in strict terms of chain of command she owed him no explanation.
                -The entire dreadnaught scene also sets the stage here. Po isn’t just a subordinate, he’s a subordinate who just got busted down a rank for insubordination that destroyed huge amounts of Resistance personnel and equipment* and the plan that’s being withheld from him is the exact sort of plan that he previously rebelled against.
                -Narratively the thumb of the writers is definitely on the scale here. The whole story arc is about inverting the trope about million to one odds schemes being a good idea (in previous Star Wars they are, in this one – and the real world- they aren’t) but in order for Po to jump at this million to one scheme yet remain sympathetic** he has to be ignorant of Holdo’s stratagem. The narration requires that Holdo be especially close mouthed so she is.

                *Yes, yes he destroyed a dreadnaught but in terms of % of respective assets the exchange clearly represented a devastating loss to the resistance vs a merely stinging one for the First Order. And yet, arguably, had the dreadnaught survived to join the pursuit fleet would it not have been able to wipe the resistance fleet out at range? Hmmm…
                **and that is a delicate needle to thread but a necessary one because if Po had known about Holdo’s plan and still did his side scheme I don’t think he would have remained sympathetic enough to continue being a hero in the eyes of the audience. Certainly one of my friends who I saw the film with was ex-military was absolutely scathing in his contempt of Po as currently stated and the feedback I’ve seen online about Po has been almost uniformly disdainful from service members (ex-military folks, feel free to chime in).


              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Relying on the viewer’s friends in the military to tell the viewer how s/he ought to have felt about that scene does not indicate the strength of the underlying message to me.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Sure, which is why it’s only an aside.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Back in December, I took the opposite side from Jaybird(?) on an aspect of the Team Holdo vs Team Poe. (I was of the opinion that Holdo owed Poe two things, jack and squat, and jack just left on the Kessel Run)

                Later, this article conviced me that Jaybird (again, maybe, I can’t find the conversation) had the better of the argument about Holdo’s failure as a leader.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I have nothing to disagree with about the article. My only quibble is simply this: the narrative requires that Holdo be uncommunicative (in order for both events to play out as they do AND for Poe to remain a relatable hero) and provides a rational reason (Poe’s actions during the evacuation and his subsequent disciplining) for Holdo to be uncommunicative to him. Therefore laying very much blame on Holdo for being uncommunicative strikes me as somewhat unfair. In that I think that the narrative itself- both inverting the million to ones odds trope of classic Star Wars and perhaps waving at more feminist points- was an interesting and worthy subject I’m left thinking it was pretty decently done over all.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @north @kolohe This is why I like that in the book I read, she’s a math genius and probably has Asperger’s syndrome. They don’t label her but that’s what it looks like the author was framing her neural differences as.

                Because the movie version very much *acts* like a woman with Asperger’s – or at least like the women with Asperger’s that I know and/or have read autobiographies by. So much so that I find it kind of astonishing I didn’t read her that way from the start of TFA, and am thinking “you know, it’s amazing, give me a chick character who is relatively soft spoken, wears dresses, and likes dying her hair, and apparently there’s still some unexamined VERY LARGE ASSUMPTIONS lurking in my subconscious about what her best skill sets should be.”

                The idea that she’s a tactical genius, who makes an excellent backup for Leia, but is not the best people person, puts her into a very common male role…. keeps room for both her and Poe to be sympathetic… and for *me* at least, emphasizes that the Resistance is *a scramble*.

                They’re not putting The Most Talented Possible Hire into the position after a two-year search, after all. People are using the skills they have to do the best they can, without ever having the resources they need to do what they really *need* to do. (Ie, the whole “the rebellion is just being born” theme). It’s not “how the hell did she ever get promoted in this huge bureacracy-but-with-a-heart?” it’s “sometimes the person who knows how to fight, who wins battles for you, is not the person who knows how to make people trust their judgment, and when you’re running a resistance, you don’t always make the best long-term plans because *you don’t have that luxury*”. They didn’t really have the people to spare to give her an adviser on the whole “managing humans” side of things, they thought that would be okay because people would trust her and take her deficits into account after all the decades she’s been dedicated to the cause, and… nope. One Poe, full of his own flaws and worries and nobility, can take down the whole shabooey.

                To me, at least, this framing makes it MORE appealing and sympathetic, on several different levels, not less.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                If that IS deliberate on the part of the franchise, what I find particularly moving and beautiful is the way it separates the two halves of empathy that neurotypical people often lump together:

                a) theory of mind that lets you understand how someone else would act differently than you do: she’s obviously terrible at this, she seems to think Poe will react the way she wants him to even though she has a million pieces of proof that he doesn’t work that way, etc.

                b) actual caring and love for other people: the sacrifice speaks for itself (plus, like, she’s working for the resistance and not making a million bucks skirting the casino police at Canto Bight – because Leia is her FRIEND and has been since they were teenagers)Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Yeah, I definitely like this better [1], in part because I really like how it ends up making her dual to Poe, and Poe’s own failures as a commander in the opening sequence. He has so much charisma, and gets so much credit due to his brilliance as a pilot, that the people under him will go along with any idea he has, no matter how dumb.

                [1] To the point that even if that’s not what’s going on I’m going to pretend it is.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @pillsy Heh. Yes. I mean at this point if Rian whatisface or Laura Dern came out and said “no no no” I’d just blow them off, basically, and tell them to go read more Claudia Gray.

                Canon and headcanon have always had a complex relationship for me though…. don’t get me started on, frex, how my brain processes Riverdale making Jughead date multiple people when in the larger canon he’s asexual… 😀 (Suffice it to say I seem to have put more thought into this than the Riverdale writers have, without it being conscious, and my subconscious seems to view each new assertion by them of his heterosexuality and sexual enthusiasm as an interesting new challenge, rather than anything else. I don’t have to work out these explanations, they’re just … THERE. Instantly. Creativity can be kinda spooky, perhaps the petty kind even more so.)Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      I think this is pretty close to the best explanation. I stopped reading the linked piece after “What do so many men hate and fear about Rose Tico? In short, Rose Tico is played by a woman of color”

      I think I would start with the premise that for boys of a certain age (roughly early Gen Xers) the original series was pivotal and unlike anything they’d seen before or since. Lucas was probably wise to shy away from the sequels, and the prequels are still referenced in derision.

      More generally, the two sequels, with possibly a double-down on the first, have circled many of the story elements from the original trilogy, and offered tweaks or openings for meta commentary. That leaves open two contrary lines of criticism. One is that the new films are redundant, only offering superficial changes, and the other is that the sequels are directed at undermining the earlier sequel.

      The denigration of Luke is possibly the most obvious undermining, which went a little too far, but it is obvious that all of the main characters will have flaws that will be overcome or mitigated by friends and allies. Holdo was a flawed leader, which would be more obvious if it was a man saying shut-up and do as your told.Report

    • Avatar Hot Cha says:

      [AE1] my word that article was really a thing

      I mean the basic premise is “sure there are reasons why men might have legitimately disliked The Last Jedi, BUT IT WAS OBVIOUSLY RACIST SEXISM REALLY, NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY.”

      “The Last Jedi has become the Hillary Clinton of filmmaking.”

      In that people will declare that anyone who had any criticism of it is a RACIST SEXIST and if they say different they’re lying? Well, yes it is, I suppose.Report

  10. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    The comments section in AE5 start with a decent discussion of why men hate TLJ. I think it’s very obvious why men tend to hate TLJ. It’s just something that can’t be said without appearing like a horrible person in certain parts. TLJ is a movie very steeped in modern liberal politics on race and gender. It’s a grrl power movie as opposed to a boy movie like the original trilogy. Boys and men aren’t really going to like a grrrl power movie.

    The other issue is that since TLJ is a grrrl power movie, the film makers can’t bring themselves to make Rey flawed. Like started off as a dumb farm kid and needed to learn how to be a Jedi. Rey starts off nearly perfect if a bit angry.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      AE5’s does have some interesting overlap with AE1.

      “Why are you silly boys upset that this movie is also trying to market itself to women? Ha! You need to learn that everything isn’t necessarily about you. Wait… why are we making so many movies that cater to Chinese sensibilities now?”Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        As always in these conversations, I think it’s worth noting that identity-issues are, at best, ancillary to Hollywood’s actual goal, which is making gobs and gobs of money.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      I can’t speak for the last jedi, but I saw the first movie, whatever that name was. Frankly, I said in the movie theatre “what, they re-wrote “star wars”, cause that’s what it looked like–and did a poorer job. I’ll wait until they hit the TV to watch them.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        Whatever problems TLJ may have, it really doesn’t basically re-iterate a previous movie with only cosmetic changes.Report

        • Avatar Damon says:

          Probably not a good idea to make your first movie in a supposed new franchise era to be one though. That assured I’d not watch the following movies except on TV.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      Boys and men aren’t really going to like a grrrl power movie.

      I’m seeing a lot of weird generalizations about what I’m going to like and dislike.

      And for all that Luke was less perfect than Rey in Empire[1], he was still pretty boring compared to every other character in the movie.

      [1] I guess, but then again, he didn’t run across the galaxy and eagerly jump into a trap to save the cute-but-troubled emo kid who was telepathically sending him shirtless selfies.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

        Thanks for this. Sometimes I start to wonder with all the generalizations whether I even count as a man.

        Of course, the answer is “fsck you, I’m a man”.

        One would think that being the target of unflattering stereotypes would give a person some caution about deploying them to describe others. Apparently not.Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

      I don’t even agree with the premise that Rey isn’t flawed. She’s incredibly naive. She’s gullible to a fault. To a literal fault. As @pillsy mentions in this thread, she jumps into a ship and races across the galaxy to help the “bad boy” because she thinks she can reform him.

      She can’t.Report

    • Avatar Jesse says:

      I mean, most of Rey’s advantage is that she starts off being able to fight pretty well because she’s spent the last ten to fifteen years of her life fighting to survive on Jakku instead of being a sheltered farm boy on a moisture farm.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        Also, it’s not like Luke doesn’t immediately become an ace pilot by transferring all the knowledge he got from driving his hoopty old hovercar.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          Luke had a T-16 that he used to use to bullseye womprats in Beggars Canyon. So he is a pilot, and because Lucas has no concept of physics, being an aero pilot translates directly into being a space pilot.Report

  11. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Ae2: I wonder how much of this is because tech entrupeneurs want to do the Amazon strategy. It is clear that the big market for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon is in TV shows that are bingable and/or stuff that caters to upper-middle class foodie tastes like Chef’s Table. I think that we are living in an age of lots of capital but few investment opportunities so companies like Netflix feel like they have an advantage.

    Ae4: Not really trusting the source here.

    Ae5: I don’t know if I would put all the blame on China here or even a lot of it. This seems like an odd angle. There are lots of Americans who seemingly want nothing more than wall to wall CGI wow. Indie and Foreign Films have less cultural cache and the art house cinemas seem to be going the way of the Dodo except in certain markets and/or where they were able to get low rents. You have Landmark which seems dedicated to showing indie and foreign movies but I tend to be the only person under 50 whenever I go. Usually the only person under 60. Robert Redford’s Sundance Cinemas sold out to AMC and the experience was ruined. I’ve said it many times but there is something about Generation X and younger generations (or huge portions of it) that doesn’t want to give up on their childhood entertainments. We have tons of media that seemingly dedicated to never-ending nostalgia parades of cartoons and toys from the 1970s and 80s. The adult world is one of disappointment, failure, moral compromise and ambiguity. Why not just stay in kinder yay yay seems to be the logic.

    I admit that I am anti-democratic here. I’m not interested in elevating pop culture to the level of Turner, Matisse, Beckett, Berryman, Kurosawa, or Truffaut. I’m not going to say that Thundercats are on the level of the French New Wave or the Abstract Expressionists. But the spirit of the age seems to be a radical cultural leveling. Here is a Linda Holmes essay on admitting that something is good but not wanting to watch it because politics of the moment:

    Adult art often shows difficult people, difficult situations but now we want kinder-culture clean.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      The Linda Holmes essay isn’t exactly saying what you think it is saying. Its more about the old debate on whether artists should be made to conform to conventional morality. The idea of the Phantom Thread, which she refers to, or many other dramas is that we need to tolerate these horrible people that do bad things because they are artists or scientists and doing great things with their work. That means that any sort of unpleasantness needs to be tolerated or even encouraged. Ms. Holmes is disputing that. I think the current idea is that we don’t need to tolerate difficult or horrible people because they are powerful men or great artists. They can be held to civilized standards of behavior.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      AE2: It seems to me a simpler explanation is that Netflix is going for a broad base. The early Netflix original productions were aiming at the Prestige Television niche. (Well, perhaps not Lillehammer, but certainly House of Cards, which set the tone for what followed.) McArdle is very impressed by seeing a bad horror film on Netflix, and concludes that they are spending big money on crap, and that this is a sign of impending doom. My guess is that they spent small money on crap, knowing it was crap, because there is a market for bad horror movies. There are people out there who would much rather watch a bad horror movie than Prestige Television, and Netflix doesn’t want to cede that market to someone else.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        I suspect that Neflix, more than anyone else on Earth, knows exactly what their audiences like.

        The very way they stream content pretty much gives endless real, customer feedback. They know what people stream, they know what people stream more than once, they know what people binge, what people quit, where people quit episodes, movies, or shows — and whether they come back.

        That doesn’t mean they can home-run original content out of the park, but I’d be real surprised if they weren’t a heck of a lot more accurate when predicting responses.

        And they clearly want into the content creation game, and seem to be doing a pretty interesting job of it. They’re aiming wide too — it’s not all high-prestige, make-our-reputation content — they’re happy to appeal to a lot of niches or demographics.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          “We’ve got two genres. Boobs and Explosions or Boobs and Explosions and Poop jokes.”Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

          Exhibit B: that Will Smith movie that got spectacularly heavily panned. They are making a sequel. I haven’t seen it, and am not likely to, but my guess is that the critics are right about its being awful, and Netflix is making a good financial decision to make another. These are not in the least bit mutually exclusive.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            I liked Bright. Would it have done well as a blockbuster in the theaters? No way, but it was a perfectly serviceable movie, especially when included as part of the package. The kind of B-movie fare you’d enjoy on Cinemax or Showtime as part of the monthly fee you pay for premium content.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

            This has always been a discrepancy in the art world and part of my anti-leveling stance in art.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Yep. This is probably right and Morat’s analysis is good too.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        My other cranky theory is that people like what can easily be turned into memes and gifs and art-house (or anything serious) loses out in how Internet culture demands silliness at all-times.Report

  12. Avatar Jesse says:

    The reason for not using UPN is pretty simple – it’s brand and legacy was “urban” shows and WWE Smackdown, not the TNT/USA middle-to-upper-middle class entertainment brand that Paramount likely seems to be aiming for.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      That’s not so much simple as it is actually overthinking it. When we have 100 channels, the most important thing is to be recognized. A lot more people will see UPN and recognize it than will remember the specifics of their programming. Spike, which I still think is preferable to Paramount Network, is more recent and so I can sort of see an issue there, but I still think a “grand re-opening” is better than this.

      More than that, though, it really looks to me like they made the decision because they think the name “Paramount” has more currency than it does. Which is to say, almost any currency. But even people who like Paramount movies and productions don’t really know that they do.

      If they really don’t want to use Spike or UPN, then they’re better off going with something completely new. If they want to be a bland me-too SWPL network, just call yourself Tofu & Pilates Channel, brand TPC, and get reruns of Law & Order for a year. That’ll do a lot more for you than aligning the channel with a brand name that most people don’t associate with any intellectual properties in particular.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        they think the name “Paramount” has more currency than it does.

        Nerdview. I’m sure that within the industry, “Paramount” has a body of associations. They forget that industry insiders aren’t their market. The old rule of thumb was that Disney was the only studio whose name mattered for marketing. Pixar might be a later example, but then again people might have thought those Pixar films were made by Disney.Report

        • Avatar Maribou says:

          Admittedly a nerd, but not much of a movie/tv nerd at all…. and “Paramount” sounds promising to me. I have positive brand associations that I don’t really know where they come from.

          Like, if i didn’t know anything in advance and I was flipping through the guide, I’d be “oh, they have a channel now? I should look into that”

          So if they’re aiming at my demographic (? But I suspect by running stuff like Heathers, they are), they might be doing a better job than y’all think.

          (They also got the NYT to run what’s basically a puff piece / press release on their behalf, which is… not stupid of them.)Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            Well, that’s something, anyway!

            The puff piece helps, though they could have gotten that with any new name (as Freeform recently demonstrated). They might have even been able to get it with “Not your brother’s Spike TV anymore!”Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          In preparation for our trip to Disney World, I started showing my daughter Disney films. But first, I had to figure out which ones were Disney films. Turns out a bunch that I assumed were (Madagascar, Ice Age, Shrek) in fact were not.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine says:

            Shrek (the first one anyway) is explicitly anti-Disney… its almost the point of the movie I’d say.Report

          • Avatar PD Shaw says:

            I showed Disney movies before our first trip, but I focused on ones that had rides associated with them. Even Song of the South, but somehow we never got around to Swiss Family Robinson. which isn’t a bad movie, but it’s not that exciting. Sort of like the Swiss Family Treehouse.

            (Unofficial Guide to Disney World and the associated website is highly recommended)Report

  13. Avatar aaron david says:

    Ae9- Having spent most of my life in the book business in one form or another, I think eventually the ebook/Kindel/whatever will replace the paperback, much like the music industry as slid into streaming from CD from tape and on. We might not be there yet, but we will be. It doesn’t cost distributors money to keep them on servers (well, substantially less than print-on-demand or a backstock) but it does remove publishing houses ability to be gatekeepers. And that is what scares them, and will kill them. Like record labels.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      My Kindle is replacing a lot of books, simply because books take up a lot of room.

      I love books and reading, but it’s nice to take a medium sized library with me on a device that weighs less than a paperpback, can be read in direct sunlight or in the dark without strain, and needs charging about every two weeks for an hour.

      I’ll probably still have three or four large bookshelves, but honestly — more for nostalgia.

      I still wish Amazon could create a freaking useful categorization and inventory system for their Kindles. They’ve finally kludged together a semi-workable method to categorize your purchases via their webpage, but jesus. How hard would it be to create something like Calibre?Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        My Kindle has expanded to encompass everything I read because it means I don’t lose or forget works. Even if I forget or lose my actual Kindle, I can still read whatever (and start at the same place) on my phone or tablet.

        Somewhat less nice experience, but a lot better than not having something to read!Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      My understanding is that self-published ebooks have already gone a long way toward replacing mass market paperbacks in a lot of genre fiction. I don’t get the sense that this is true for the better quality works. This is not to say that no self-published stuff is good, but look at the ones doing this as their primary source of income and they have to churn out books at a rate of about four a year. This does not inspire me with confidence about the quality control.Report

      • Avatar Jesse says:

        What’s really selling on Amazon is books that shall we say, you don’t want the covers of being seen by other people on the bus, but are perfectly able to be read on Kindle’s.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        That was my impression as well. And again, not unlike music. The bigger bands/authors, your Metalicas or Kings, are going to be handled by big labels/publishers. They won’t self-publish* (nor use editors…) because they don’t have too. They will be on every streaming service/radio/magazine cover as that label/publisher sees fit, as well as CD’s, tapes and vinyl. Or hardbacks, trade sized PB, pocketbooks and kindle. As the authors/bands go down the sales rankings, they will drop off in the level of cultural awareness. Bands will go from mainstream to alternative to indie to DIY, with authors doing the same.

        Kindle is the new DIY.

        *Super famous authors and bands are often famous for trying to put music out under a new name to see if they can do it again, Stephen King is one of the more famous of these, what with the Bachman books and Misery (supposed to be a Bachman.)Report

  14. Avatar CJColucci says:

    AE2 — I haven’t subscribed to any streaming service yet because it’s just to damn confusing and I can’t choose from among them. Each has something I want and much I don’t and I can’t get them all.

    By the way, Megan, I doubt that Warren Buffett has made “his final billion” unless you know something about his health or his investment plans that the rest of us don’t.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      The key to streaming services is you have to choose between “I want to watch this specific show” and “I want to always have something to watch.” If you choose the latter, I would suggest Netflix and be done with it. You won’t lack for material. Or Amazon Prime, if you want the free shipping anyway. We get both. My wife has long been devoted to free shipping, before Amazon went into video streaming, and I was a subscriber to Netflix long before that. We also get Britbox for (in my case) classic Doctor Who and (in her case) Britcoms. I have not quite convinced myself we need Hulu: not because there is anything wrong with it, but it doesn’t have any “must watch” shows.Report