Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather—the dynamic trio of the OTI podcast—gather once more to overthink the end of Daylight Savings Time, the Disney-Lucasfilm merger, and the belated fourth anniversary of this podcast.[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/mwrather/otip227.mp3]
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When Pete says “America marches on…”, did he mean “America marches on” in the sense of “We necessarily just let go of some of the past in our progress into the future”, or “America marches on its stomach” in the sense of “We are beholden to the major corporations that provide us foodstuffs and other staples, regardless of unfortunate or evil views held by the CEOs” ?
I would like one more native dimension. If we were bound (and could limitedly navigate) in four spatial dimensions the way we currently are in three, so many cool things could happen!
I feel like bragging about the civility of your community and mentioning 4-chan in the same post is probably tempting fate.
Pete’s arguments about how people need to learn to handle there automuppetology reminded me about the book Cognitive Surplus, which is Overthinking It fashion I didn’t read. It makes the argument that humans are still in the early learning stages of how to adapt to the power given to them by the internet and it will take a while for society to develop the habits that allow us to use it to it’s complete potential without negative affect.
During your Disney discussion, I couldn’t help but think of some articles I’ve read about how the mission of Disney Corporation shifted after Walt’s death to one more focused on the bottom line than being creative and family-oriented (both in the sense that the people working for Disney were a “family,” as well as serving customers comprised of families). There were some economic troubles in the overall economy that led to some changes in structure, and that, in turn, led to some divisions within the company itself. And perhaps the reason for the change from innovation to property acquisition is that innovation is always a larger risk, right? Continuing a stream of revenue by buying an already (at least mildly) successful product is much safer than starting up a new, untested one.
And this leads to reinventions and rebranding of some of the properties already owned by the company. It can be as subtle as a re-launch/ re-release of an old movie to a reboot or remake of one. For example, the commercials for the re-release of Cinderella were constructed to make the movie look like it was action-packed and suspenseful (when I’d argue it’s one of the most boring Disney animated movies out there…). But the last time it was out for sale, it was framed as a story about romance and dreams coming true and all that kinda jazz. Or consider the Disney Princess line. It constantly gets modified and changed, to suit the needs of the current state of the market. But it’s always the Disney Princess line, regardless. And I’m not talking just about what products are being pumped out, but how the branding itself functions. Subtle differences that demonstrate a shift in the message being delivered. I remember a few years ago, it seemed all the princesses were holding items in their hands, accessory-type things from their movies- Belle had the mirror, Jasmine had a lamp, Ariel had a fork, Snow White had flowers, etc. And then it became roses, they were all holding roses, even ones that didn’t have a single rose in their movie.
My point, though, is that Disney is so commercially successful now, despite a lack of innovation, because it keeps its old stuff new and fresh. It’s a combination of merchandising, branding, and advertisement. And the company’s overall brand is known enough that just the fact that something comes from Disney is enough for it to make money, quality aside.
(I’m now thinking of Starbucks, but I’ll just cut myself off here…)
Also, congrats on the continuing success of the site. I really enjoy reading the articles, participating in discussion on comment and forum pages, and contributing as a guest when I’ve been able. I do so hope you carry on, and thanks for providing such a great form of entertainment.
An interesting element of that rebranding is what the way they’re approaching a lot of their live action films. Of course there’s Pirates of the Caribbean but also the Sorceror’s Apprentice movie with Nicholas Cage which tried to make the story oddly modern and the Maleficent movie with Angelina Jolie which kind of makes me vomit in my mouth a little when I think about it. And then there’s the somewhat convoluted reinvention happening in Once Upon a Time on ABC.
Happy anniversary! Wikipedia tells me the 4th anniversary is the linen anniversary, so my gift is a white linen pocket square so that whenever the podcast has occasion to dress up, it can look a little more dapper. No joke here, I’m just in favor of pocket squares. And you’re all dudes anyway (PART OF THE PROBLEM!).
QotW: I would like an extra hand. Soldering is an activity that normal human beings are just not evolved for.
I feel like Disney should get a little more credit with their movies. Granted, they’ve made more than their share of duds lately (John Carter, Mars Needs Moms), but they also made the new Muppets movie, a hand-drawn animated movie in Winnie the Pooh last year, Tangled the year before that, and then the Princess and the Frog. Alice in Wonderland and Tron: Legacy are of, shall we say, questionable quality, but they made truckloads of money. There are a ton of movies that I wouldn’t think of as Disney movies that are nonetheless made by a Disney subsidiary. I mean, those aren’t exactly NEW new properties in the way that Wreck-It Ralph or Brave is, but it’s not all Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Obviously you guys recorded before the election, and I know we should steer clear of pirates, but I think the most interesting consequence of the election is the conservative information network crashing up against reality. I’m 26. I cast my first presidential vote in 2004, and the 8 years of President George W. Bush are hugely formative to my worldview. At the time, the concept of the “reality-based community” came into being, and I want to quote the relevant passage in full:
‘The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”‘
I don’t know if this seems crazy to other people, but to me, it genuinely felt like this was the case at the time. The administration and this parallel conservative information sphere seemed truly capable of shaping perception to the point that they were really changing reality. (As an aside, this is why I found Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert so valuable at the time. They were a kind of validation that yes, it’s not just you, things really are crazy.)
This year, it reached new heights with the unskewed poll business. And the Romney campaign and their supporters seemed to honestly believe it, which made their loss all the more devastating. It’s going to be fascinating seeing how they react to this.
Thanks, Howard. I was going to make those points about Disney as well. Heck, they just put out a new film, Wreck it Ralph.