Tag: star wars

With Further Ado #124: An Outside Interpretation of the Fans of Geek Culture

With Further Ado #124: An Outside Interpretation of the Fans of Geek Culture

Taking a page from one of my favorite columnists, Nicholas Kristof, this week I’m presenting the winner of the first annual Ithaca College Guest Columnist contest.  At the Ithaca College School of Business, I teach entrepreneurism, including classes on planning and managing trade shows – like comic conventions.  We also explore the many issues of this unique segment of entertainment business.  I invited the students to submit potential With Further Ado columns for Pop Culture Squad, and I was very impressed with their thoughts and writing.

It was hard to select just one, but my first annual guest columnist winner is IC student Anthony Hernandez.  Anthony has some smart insights that I’m eager to share with you all.  Congrats, Anthony!

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I love Star Wars and really enjoy watching the Marvel superhero movies, but that’s about it when it comes to diving into geek culture for me. I never went to any conventions or picked up a comic book out of my own will. I never had any ideas for new content, speculated on the future of any fictional universe, or spent more than $100 on merchandise. I have deep hesitations about immersing myself into the world of geek culture for many reasons and have quite often distanced myself from doing so. While I could list them all, I’ll just mention two and expand on them.

Just a small note, when I say “fans” I’m generally referring to anyone who identifies themselves as a hardcore geek or a related title.

Firstly, fans have been associated with a certain stigma of being extremely obsessive when it comes to their interests; It’s even perceived that they’ would blindly do or buy anything if it has any correlation with their interests.

I just recently watched the Star Wars episode on The Toys That Made Us (a documentary series on Netflix about various toys) that embraced and amplified that type of behavior. Kenner Products, a small toy company, deployed a two-phase plan of satisfying the Star Wars toy market when they decided they could not produce action figures in time for the holidays. The first phase was simply recycling their old products and slapping a Star Wars sticker on it. The second phase is what really stood out to me as unique and dumb from a business perspective. It should have failed.

The second phase consisted of making consumers purchase an empty box with the promise of sending action figures once they had been produced at a greater scale. Surprisingly, it worked. I mean really, how was this successful? How is it that a small toy company that hardly anyone had any confidence in could have pulled this off? It was all due to the consumers’ blind faith and hope that they would receive their Star Wars merchandise.

Now of course, Kenner Products intended no harm with their strategy, but it can be said that they were confident with it because they relied on the fact that the Star Wars label was enough for people to throw money at the company. It almost insinuates and makes the generalization that obsessive fans are mindless. When looking at it from this perspective, who’d want to be part of that community? At the time of purchase, consumers were really spending their money on a promise that their Luke and Leia action figures would come in eventually. All of this fosters up a sort of “we can do whatever we want, and these idiots will pay” attitude amongst producers even though (for obvious reasons) they may not show it.

Also with the action figures, a rocket firing Boba Fett figure was promised as a promotion that would arrive by mail. Many people actively sought out and eagerly awaited this figure. While present day Star Wars fans might not see the problem of wanting a limited Boba Fett figure, you have to keep in mind that Boba Fett’s character had not even made an appearance in the films yet! The only real glimpse that fans got of Boba Fett was during his first appearance in the dreaded Star Wars Holiday Special. By this logic, it seemed as if George Lucas didn’t even have to put in much effort to get the fandom hooked on a character. Boba Fett virtually did not exist yet in live action form, yet his was the most sought out action figure all because he looked cool, and he was going to fire a rocket.

Much to the disappointment of fans, when their Boba Fett eventually arrived, he was not fitted with the rocket-firing mechanism due to potential choking hazards. This is when serious desires for a rocket-firing Boba Fett really began to come up. Collectors paid top dollar for anyone who could produce one (one Boba would sell for $20,000 today).

This sort of mindset is one of the reasons why I’d be hesitant to be associated with geek culture. To an outsider like me, fans seem absolutely mindless. Who’d pay $20,000 for a 4-inch plastic toy? The fans who praise content creators and place their complete confidence in them have been at the mercy of said producers emotionally and financially.

Secondly, on top of seeming to drool over anything with a label, fantagonism comes into play. The term “fantagonism” refers to any hostility that fans display towards content creators. In a previous course I took, I was able to explore fantagonism and how it evolved. Even before I knew the term existed, I was well aware of it and it was a main reason why I thought that fans seemed flat out crazy. It steered me away from ever considering myself a geek.

While the relationship between producers and fans certainly has the potential to be beneficial and friendly, it looks to have been mostly antagonistic ever since fans and fandom came into existence. Why is that? It’s no doubt that it’s the fans themselves who are at fault of stirring relations. They feel the absolute need to not only give their opinions on their favorite books, comics, or movies, but also their scathing criticisms. Some even go as far as giving death threats to creators just because they killed off a fan favorite or some wild speculation didn’t come true!

Actual petition to throw out the stories in Star Wars Episodes 7, 8, and 9

On a lesser scale, some fans of the Skywalker Saga have decided amongst themselves that the new Disney trilogy is “not canon”. Huh? They claim that anyone who doesn’t show a sliver of hate for the sequels or Disney isn’t a real fan. Just because they hated the new movies does not give them the ability to overstep their authority and declare what’s canon. They actively put themselves to war with producers and then get mad when they don’t get their way. Obsessive fans tend to be the loudest, which is probably why I find myself creating these stereotypes and applying them to all geeks.

Needless to say, fans are to blame for the hostile environment in geek culture. At first, it used to be through letters, however with the expansion of the internet and social media, we are beginning to see the fans take on producers directly, almost eliminating the blind following that producers once had. Geeks have never been so dangerously close to producers, and they’re definitely not afraid to show it.

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Anthony Hernandez is a sophomore studying Business Management at Ithaca College in New York. While he’s cautious about connecting with other fans, he loves fan objects possibly just as much as they do.

Brainiac On Banjo #101: Let’s Go Get Screwed

Brainiac On Banjo #101: Let’s Go Get Screwed

You know I work so hard, all day long / Everything I try to do, seems to always turn out wrong / That’s why I wanna’ stop by, on my way home and say / Let’s go get stoned – written by Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson, and Josephine Armstead, 1965.

You would think that after decades of legal entanglement, public ridicule, and media hostility, corporate America would have learned something from the Jerry Siegel – Joe Shuster “who owns Superman” slugfest. You might also think it would be swell if we could watch monkeys fly.

On his justifiably well-respected Word Balloons podcast last week, John Siuntres conversed with Alex Ross, and Alex dropped some shit. It seems the DC Comics daisy chain (DC < Warner Bros < WarnerMedia < AT&T, a.k.a. Ma Bell) no longer pays artists or writers when they use their work on screen. Alex discusses his Kingdom Come series with Mark Waid, his design of the current Batwoman, his re-design work with Wonder Woman, and his contributions to Black Lightning. His work has been seen, or closely imitated, in various WarnerMedia adaptations of the DC grimoire. Movies, teevee shows, streaming stuff, the whole enchilada has been heavily seasoned with buckets of Ross. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #101: Let’s Go Get Screwed”

Brainiac On Banjo #085: Crossing The Stream

Brainiac On Banjo #085: Crossing The Stream

Star Wars! / Give me those Star Wars! / Nothing but… Star Wars / Don’t let them end — written by Nick Winters, 1977

With all the streaming at our fingertips, the entertainment business is making a lot of headlines promoting what they’re going to do once Earthlings return to mobility. But don’t get excited just yet: the only cameras operating right now are working Zoom and not Studio Binder. When Keith Richards self-quarantines, everyone should self-quarantine.

Next week’s launch of HBO Max has turned up the heat. Clearly, studios are concerned about competing for subscribers with promises of new content, which, at best, won’t appear until after the winter solstice. My take on HBO Max is simple: it’s goddamn expensive, and right now they’re running little but reruns. It’ll probably work out because they’re not promoting that fact. But reasonable bean-counters understand that few people are going to maintain subscriptions to HBO Max, Disney+, AppleTV, CBS All Access, Peacock Premium, and Amazon Prime – to name but a very few – all at once. That’s a lot of money, and it’s also more programming than one can handle. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #085: Crossing The Stream”

Brainiac On Banjo #070: When In Space, Dress For Success!

Brainiac On Banjo #070: When In Space, Dress For Success!

Before I start, I want to point out that I know today is Monday and it’s time for “Brainiac On Banjo,” where I wax on and on about comics and pop culture. I realize it is not Thursday, where, in “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind,” I do my seditious and sometimes salacious political rants. So, given today’s location, I’m going to do something I rarely do in “Weird Scenes.” I am going to let Donald Trump off the hook.

For a week now, the wires and tubes have been buzzing about the new, official costume of the new, official U.S. Space Force. Allegedly our sixth branch of the armed forces, it’s merely a part of the U.S. Air Force, the way the Air Force – then called the Air Corps – used to be part of the U.S. Army. But don’t bother Mr. Trump with that. Right now, he’s busy.

Yes, I know that some people call them uniforms but my pal, writer, former DC Comics editor and New Jersey bon vivant Jack C. Harris called ‘em costumes when he was in the Air Force, and so, I’ve absconded with it. If that pisses you off, well, no disrespect is meant… to you. Unless your last name is Westmoreland or Schwarzkopf. Damn, I am getting political. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #070: When In Space, Dress For Success!”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise

A long time ago in a galaxy far away… a nerd convinced a studio to give him money to make a visual effects masterpiece with significant merchandizing appeal. He mashed together the tropes of the science fiction and fantasy serials he loved growing up, and put together a wonderful homage to the hero’s journey. It made a lot of money, and soon thereafter, Star Wars became an empire. But you already knew that.

As I’ve detailed before: my personal Star Wars fandom was mild to possibly salsa verde at any given point. As an only child of parents not into pop culture, I didn’t actually sit down to enjoy the original trilogy in earnest until the late 90’s special edition releases. And while I’d been inundated to all the significant moments through delightful pastiches abroad, as well as avidly played through any number of Star Wars licensed video games (Tie Fighter, Rebel Assault, and Dark Forces)… in the battle between the light and dark side, I was quite the mercenary. That’s to say that I was a fan only when it suited me to be. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #057: “The Mandolorian” Broke Me of My Star Wars Malaise”

New Number Ones For the Week of 1/1/2020

New Number Ones For the Week of 1/1/2020

Hey There Folks!! This column is designed to bring you reviews of new comic book series that came out this week. We will try to focus on independent and original series for the most part. Despite that intent, this first week is light on new series and we have three Marvel Comics series for you along with a new book from IDW Publishing.

You will usually find the books that we review in this space on our month list of New Number Ones. You might want to check over there to see what you can expect for the rest of the month.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on four books: Hawkeye: Freefall #1, I Can Sell You a Body #1, Star Wars #1, and Thor #1

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order: Continue reading “New Number Ones For the Week of 1/1/2020”

Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!

Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!

We are living in a golden age of fandom. Gone are the days of hiding your comic collection in the closet when school friends came over. The time when liking sci-fi books was cause for odd glances in the cafeteria is in the past. There are incredible things happening in the world today.

Let’s take for example the things we can point at that show the geek/nerd culture is popular in the mainstream;

Avengers

The best selling motion picture in the world is Avengers: Endgame. It is the epic conclusion to over ten years of movie storytelling. I was moved to tears of joy while watching it at the massive amount of comic book characters from my your being translated to the big screen. This move was highly anticipated and it shattered box office records left and right.

Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!”

Star Wars Sunday Funday: Club Starkiller Base

Star Wars Sunday Funday: Club Starkiller Base

If you’re looking for family fun, look no further.


The Galaxy’s hottest club is Starkiller Base.

Located in the upper lower west side of space, this hollowed-out ice planet is the creation of some hardcore Empire fanboys who wanted their own Death Star and figured “Hey, third time’s the charm.” This place has everything: stormtroopers, wookiees, angry Darth Vader impersonators, giant Sith lords in loungewear. And look who’s at the bar. Is that Emperor Palpatine? No, it’s three ewoks in a trenchcoat.

If the bar’s not your scene, head down to the garbage compactor where DJ Phasma is spinning remixes of C-3PO’s Top 100 complaints.

And this Friday, the first hundred people through the door get to see a plucky band of rebels destroy the whole thing with a single critical flaw and the power of friendship.

(Also, droids drink free before 10pm)

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 BluRay Review

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 BluRay Review

Premiering in May of 2014, Star Wars Rebels was the first post-buyout Disney production we saw, and my grumpy inner Star Wars nerd was skeptical. The Expanded Universe had been dropped from official cannon, Clone Wars had been cancelled while the sixth season was under production, and Disney was going to give us a Jedi voiced by Freddy Prinze, Jr? FREDDIE PRINZE, JR?

Four years later, I owe all concerned an apology. Kanan Jarrus is in my Top 5 Jedi list, Chopper is my number one droid, Sabine is the hero Mandalore deserves, Ezra has gone from Space Aladdin to Jedi Whale Rider, Hera is a hero general of the Rebellion, and Zeb is… well, Zeb’s still a Wookie with a haircut. The series managed to tell its own tale while bringing back abandoned favorites from Clone Wars and reintroducing the EU’s best villain, the genius tactician Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Beginning immediately prior to Rogue One, Star Wars Rebels Season Four spends its first few episodes on Mandalore and Yavin IV, but mostly delivers a satisfying conclusion to Ezra Bridger’s story by bringing the action back to his home planet of Lothal. The crew of the Ghost attempt to stop the Empire from building an advanced new TIE Defender and stripping Lothal of its resources. By focusing on a smaller conflict in the greater rebellion, Rebels is able to tell an engaging story of its own without ignoring or rehashing the original trilogy.

The Blu-ray contains all sixteen episodes, episode recaps, several behind the scenes features with cast and crew including a discussion with series composer Kevin Kiner, and an exploration of the Force with Executive Producer (and voice of my number one droid) Dave Filoni. Filoni also contributes six commentary tracks.

If you have watched Rebels, you will want this Blu-ray. If you’re a Star Wars fan and you haven’t watched Rebels, shame on you. Go get this Blu-ray.

Season 4 stars Taylor Gray, Vanessa Marshall, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Tiya Sircar, Steve Blum, Dee Bradley Baker, David Oyelowo, Lars Mikkelsen, and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn.