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Discussion Star Wars is Struggling to Win Over the Next Generation of Kids

Discussion in 'Star Wars: New Films - No Spoilers Allowed' started by SG-17, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. CowMoo

    CowMoo Jedi Master star 3

    Aug 12, 2001
    I agree with this here. Too much of the sequel trilogy was based on knowledge and nostalgia of the original trilogy. The Force Awakens was counting on too much for the warm fuzzies with the Millennium Falcon or seeing Han Solo or Chewie. The film even went to a throwback to the Death Star and the trench run. The Marvel series of films over the course of the decade, however, didn't require any pre-requisite knowledge outside of the series of films that began in 2008, well within this generation. I never read an Iron Man, Thor, or Captain America comic, and yet, the films were fine within the self-contained MCU.

    On the subsequent planned trilogies of Star Wars, it might actually allow a kind of reset, for a new set of stories that is not as beholden to the original characters.
    christophero30 and Sarge like this.

    SHAD0W-JEDI Jedi Grand Master star 3

    May 20, 2002
    This is a "big" topic- even if we grant the basic premise (and SW continues to generate a LOT of money - it is "disappointing" mainly in comparison to expectations and to, say, the competing success of the Marvel cinematic universe). I don't think it can be easily reduced to one or two points.

    I will say this... I am somewhere in the middle when it comes to TFA and TLJ. There is much I like. Overall ( an important word) I like Rey, Poe, Kylo, Hux, and the late Snoke. But, to the point of this Thread, I don't think the movies, the stories, have served them very well to this point, and built them into the kind of exciting characters that we saw in the "original three" movies, or even in the Prequels. The kind of characters who'd grab kids' attentions, who'd inspire must-have toys, who'd make kids want to be them, or fight them. And yeah, that's a tall order, up against Luke, Han Solo, ObiWan, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Palpatine, Yoda, Mace Windu, etc.

    I was thinking about this the other day... with the original trilogy, the excitement and story built over the first two movies, so we were edge-of-the-seat waiting for so much. Would Luke and Vader clash again, and how would it go? Would Luke have to physically confront the Emperor? How would Luke deal with knowledge of his parentage, and the... tricky narrative his Jedi mentors had given him? What would be Han's fate, after the ESB cliffhanger? Would he and Chewie make it out of ROTJ alive? How would Leia process all that had gone on, and keep the rebellion going? We were eager for so much. The excitement had built, and the characters built along with that... they were Heroic and Villainous, capitals intended. Say what you will about the Prequels, but the Jedi were cool, the Sith were terrible, and we couldn't wait to see Anakin's turn, his fight with ObiWan, even knowing it was coming. The story, and thus its characters, were epic.

    Now? And please keep in mind my sincere affection for several of the new characters, and my general overall enjoyment of TFA and TLJ (despite having some serious issues with the latter). If you were a young kid, would you genuinely find yourself in great suspense over the next movie? Have the Rey-Kylo "fights" left you wanting more? Would you find yourself grabbed by Poe's arc, or poor Finn's? Would you really "want to be" Rey or Poe or Finn? Would you be impressed in a "they're scary-cool" way, by Kylo or Hux (let alone Phasma or Snoke, who probably aren't relevant anyway!)? My point isn't that the characters are "bad", but they haven't been gifted with a story that makes them larger than life, a story of clearly building major stakes. IMHO. And thus, I can see kids liking the new SW movies and characters. But LOVING them? "NEEDING" the merch? Obsessing over them (in a mostly positive, wholesome way... ahem... ;^) )? I don't think so. And I think that is why there's a sense that SW is in a more tepid phase, that has SW fandom a bit worried about the future.
  3. Reepicheep775

    Reepicheep775 Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 27, 2019
    This is a good point and I think it could help to explain the difference there seems to be between the level of excitement leading up to TLJ vs. RoS. Love it, hate it, or anything in between, TFA left us with so many questions e.g. Who is Rey? What will Luke be like? Who is Snoke? What's the deal with the first Jedi Temple? What turned Kylo to the dark side? Then TLJ happened and these questions were addressed in one way or another and it left us with little to look forward to. Both ESB and AotC left us on a cliffhanger. You could argue that TLJ does as well by decimating the Resistance and making the First Order as powerful as it apparently is. I don't know about anyone else, though, but that ending just made me feel tired; it didn't make me want more. We're two movies into the new trilogy and the Resistance is gone, the Jedi are gone, the Republic is gone, and the Empire is back in full force. We're essentially starting from scratch with no indication of what's to come.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  4. TheVioletBurns

    TheVioletBurns Jedi Master star 4

    May 27, 2002
    As others have already mentioned, the hullaballoo over SW toy sales dropping seems disingenuous, considering toy sales are tanking across the board—digital entertainment (tablets, video games) has been eating up the childhood real estate that once belonged to Toys 'R' Us for awhile, now. And Galaxy's Edge isn't even complete yet. I haven't bothered to visit because I'm waiting for Rise of Resistance to open; I know plenty of people in the same boat. So those two core arguments of the article that sparked this thread appear to me fundamentally weak.

    The kids I know in the 7-13 range are all Star Wars fans. I've watched all but one of the new films with a friend's son, and he's in love with them all, though he has a lot of brushing up to do on OT/PT details.

    But where I've really seen an uptick in Star Wars fandom is among the adolescents and twenty-somethings I run into. It used to be that when I was their age, very few of my peers cared as much about SW as I did. Now, when I'm out and about on the college campus I work at, I get a steady stream of comments on my SW gear (earrings, necklaces, wallet) from all sorts of personalities. Our very shy, young intern at my office commented excitedly on my Jedi Order emblem necklace the other day. I get the same kind of reactions when I'm visiting coffee shops, breweries, or restaurants (frequently staffed by young'uns in my area). And it's equally split among gender lines. If only they knew how lucky they are to live in a geek-run world where SW fandom is a common language. "Why, in my day..." ;)

    And from what I can tell, despite older fans feeling generally ambivalent about the ST characters, Rey and Kylo strike quite a chord with the above demographic.
    Sarge likes this.
  5. Reepicheep775

    Reepicheep775 Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 27, 2019
    I'm a twenty-something person and I've seen the shift moving from high school to college. In my high school (between 2009-2012), there was a stigma against being into geeky things like Star Wars, superheroes, roleplaying games etc. I can remember feeling very self-conscious if I brought a Star Wars book to read during study period. I don't think I ever wore a Star War t-shirt to high school.

    Then when I got to college (2014 up to now), things had shifted completely. It was normal and even cool to be into that stuff. Everyone's talking about things like spoilers, trailers, podcasts etc. Geeky merchandise is everywhere. It's actually kind of delightful. I can see why interest among high school/college age people is going up because it seems like you can express interest in geeky things without as much of a social cost.

    It's cool to hear that the children you know are into Star Wars.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2019
  6. christophero30

    christophero30 Chosen One star 8

    May 18, 2017
    One thing I've noticed (I grew up in the 70's and 80's) is geek culture is FAR more mainstream than it was back then.
  7. Emperor Ferus

    Emperor Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Jul 29, 2016
    When I was around the preschool-early elementary school age, the Star Wars of both trilogy eras was huge with my peers due to the prequels being new and talked about. I learned about it from my friend who shared a pack of Star Wars fruit-snacks with me.

    I remember when I really took off as a fan after viewing all the films, when they became less popular, even with the airing of The Clone Wars. By the time I discovered Wookieepedia and dove into the literature, I could hardly share my love of Star Wars with anybody, at least until around the time after the Disney buyout when the new films were being highly anticipated and more of my classmates and peers were talking about Star Wars again.
  8. StardustSoldier

    StardustSoldier Jedi Knight star 1

    Jun 24, 2019
    I'm of two minds regarding this subject. On one hand, I feel that some people tend to exagerate and overgeneralize when saying things like "Star Wars is dead" and/or "Kids don't like Star War any more". And by extension, some of the videos and articles we see out there tend to rely on things like clickbait, negativity, and sensationalism. As the above posts have discussed, we do have a lot of fans still, both young and old. Star Wars still has one of the biggest fandoms of anything out there.

    At the same time, however, it does seem that the franchise has been struggling lately in terms of general audience reception (and in Solo's case, financial underperformance), which does make me a bit concerned for the future. We have several upcoming projects announced, which I am excited for, but I just hope these projects turn out to be successful.
    Reepicheep775 and Sarge like this.
  9. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 7

    Oct 4, 1998
    I'm old, and I remember in 77 there was nothing else remotely like SW. It changed the landscape of entertainment, inspired a host of imitators, and now there's a lot more competition for attention in the same general vein. People have more choices, and often choose something else.
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  10. Reepicheep775

    Reepicheep775 Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 27, 2019
    Absolutely. There is plenty of grey area between "Star Wars is dead!" and "Star Wars is as popular as ever!". I don't foresee Star Wars becoming culturally irrelevant anytime in the near future, but that doesn't mean that there hasn't been a decline.
  11. Strilo

    Strilo Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Aug 6, 2001
    I only have anecdotal experience, but my brother's kids all love Star Wars. Two of them are beside themselves to go to Galaxy's Edge with me in October.
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    SHAD0W-JEDI Jedi Grand Master star 3

    May 20, 2002
    There's definitely a huge gulf between "Star Wars is dead!!" and "Star Wars is as popular as ever!". And let's face it, for the most part, what we post here is speculative and anecdotal. I readily admit, I don't have hard facts on the sale of SW merchandise versus sales performance of other "genre" merchandise and toys.

    Beyond that, I think we have to be fair. Is it realistic to expect the SW franchise to keep creating characters who literally become iconic? Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Darth Vader, Yoda and ObiWan are among a handful of movie characters who have become part of the larger culture. Shoot, even the "classic Stormtrooper" is instantly recognizable to people who are hardly "into" SW.

    Pending what the upcoming movie gives us, however, I don't feel the story being told lends itself to "grabbing kids". The super cool Poe of the first movie being humbled and chastened so he can learn to lead an army (versus being a front line fighter) may be a reasonable arc, but I doubt many kids left TLJ thinking "man, I want a Poe action figure". Finn may have bested Phasma, but the story can't seem to decide who he is, a hardened stormtrooper with a change of conscience, a janitor, a formidable combatant, or.....? Kylo got beaten by a novice Rey in the first movie, and humiliated by "ghost Luke" in the next. He's hardly intimidating. Just saying, the story they seem to want to tell doesn't, to me, seem likely to generate long lasting crazy enthusiasm in kids. But we'll see after SKYWALKER; it could change how we see a lot of what came before.
    StardustSoldier and Sarge like this.
  13. Darth Buzz

    Darth Buzz Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 25, 2018

    This is what its all about!
  14. Darth Maul Apprentice

    Darth Maul Apprentice Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 27, 2014
    There's more choices for kids today. I don't have any, but when I'm with my friends who do, they like Star Wars, but like ten other things as well.
    Emperor Ferus likes this.
  15. The Bops

    The Bops Jedi Knight star 2

    Oct 30, 2012
    So, I’m 46 and was around for the OT. Trying to think back, I was into Star Wars but also Superman, The Fonz, baseball, legos, and Atari video games.

    What did you guys like when you were a kid, and in what generation of Star Wars were you born?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  16. Bob Effette

    Bob Effette Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 20, 2015
    There is just so much choice and instant entertainment available at the click of a button, that a brand such as Star Wars, once a unique mega-treat, has to compete with other franchises of equal and sometimes better quality. There isn’t that characteristic thrill of a new Star Wars any more, to my mind.

    Even TV is doing it better, “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” for example on Netflix, an absolutely magical viewing experience for my eldest lad and me over the weekend.
  17. Emperor Ferus

    Emperor Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Jul 29, 2016
    Born during the PT era, grew up with both trilogies with my preference being the OT and my liking of the PT varying over time.

    Also liked Middle Earth Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Avatar the Last Airbender, Diary of a Wimpy Kid during my childhood, along with many others that aren't coming to mind at this hour.

    My interests continue to expand both within and outside the Star Wars universe.
    Tython Awakening and The Bops like this.

    DARTH_BELO Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 25, 2003
    I'm of the same mindset. Although there is still a massive fanbase and influence out there, let's be honest-the vast majority of those individuals are those that grew up with the OT or the PT. Now that does cover roughly three generations. My parents age, my age (mid-30's) and the age of many high school age kids today. What happens when those fans move on??? I do agree that SW is not capturing the hearts of the younger generations (my kids' ages, between 5-10) the way it did before...

    Now, I do enjoy the new material that's been released for the MOST part, but there's no denying; the new SW material just doesn't have that..."special something" that the previous films did, the way people (in general) got super excited and were full of anticipation for more than a year leading up to that next film. I mean, I talk to people out there everyday that call themselves "SW fans," but when I mention the recently announced Obi Wan series, or maybe the trailer for TROS, those same people act like they've never heard of it! I mean one time I spoke to my co-worker who said "oh yeah, I LOVE SW!" and he didn't even know Rogue One was coming out at the time!! There's just...not that higher level of excitement nowadays as there was for the previous trilogies. Now, the level of anticipation for any SW film seems no higher than...the next MCU release. And I'm not talking Endgame here!

    Now I don't know if it's the apparent "tarnishing" of image the general public now seems to have regarding SW hardcore fans after the crap that's gone on in recent years...or if it's simply that EVERY film franchise has it's dynasty-and now finally SW's is starting to fade into history...not sure. I'm sure LFL/Disney will continue to release lots of things SW related over the next many years-but after about another 10 years I predict it will slowly fizzle away. After all-if there's anything we've learned from history, NOTHING lasts forever!
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
    StardustSoldier likes this.
  19. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Yeah, it was pretty hard to be a girl nerd in the 80s. Thankfully I found a group of fellow nerds, mostly guys but a few other girls, who accepted me.

    SHAD0W-JEDI Jedi Grand Master star 3

    May 20, 2002
    Let's face it, "geek culture" is about as mainstream as it gets!

    When I was a teenager, back when dinosaurs walked the Earth, the few comic book stores (and they were indeed few!!) that were around were almost always (literally) in edgy neighborhoods where rent was low. Other than back issues, they didn't have much merchandise since, honestly, there WASNT much merchandise, apart from some stuff aimed squarely at young kids. Those places were still great to visit, don't get me wrong. But they really illustrated how different the times were. It really was like being in a "secret club".

    And I still remember when the first Star Wars action figures appeared in stores. Wow. Amazing. Little did we know they were the harbingers of major change.

    Now? Every mainstream store has some super-hero or Star Wars or Harry Potter (etc etc etc) merchandise. Books. T shirts. Toys. Housewares. Car accessories. Food product tie-ins. Pet costumes. You name it. And online, mountains more. You dont bat an eye if you see a SW t shirt on someone, anywhere. The big money in entertainment is in "geeky" genres.

    And it's awesome. Sure, the memory of those old comic book stores have a certain nostalgic romance to them, but it's a great time to be a fan of "geeky" stuff, for sure!
  21. TheYodaPagoda

    TheYodaPagoda Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Apr 23, 2002
    I'm 43, and my older brothers brought me into the Star Wars fold growing up. The first movie I remember seeing on videotape was Superman, as of course Star Wars wasn't available yet. I remember having a ton of Star Wars figures growing up, and I was frustrated how they didn't fit well into my GI Joe vehicles, but the Joes worked just fine in the Millennium Falcon.

    DARTH_BELO Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 25, 2003
    [face_laugh]Aaaaahhhhh...the simple worries of childhood.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
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  23. woj101

    woj101 Jedi Grand Master star 2

    Feb 19, 2000
    The Last Jedi has to take some responsibility here.

    I have 2 kids, 7 and 5. Over the last 3 years or so they've watched hours and hours of Star Wars via my DVD collection: all the saga films, Clone Wars, Rebels and Rogue One (I don't own Solo because I didn't take to it).

    But I don't think they've asked to watch The Last Jedi once. They saw it in the cinema when it released, and they've seen it maybe once at home as I was watching it, but they've never asked to watch 'The one where Luke dies'.

    I haven't asked them why, but I think the reasons include: Luke dies (they love Luke, who doesn't?); Luke's weird (they love Luke Skywalker, not Hermit Luke) too much confusion & subversion (e.g. mutiny, military industrial complex, force projection, 3 different versions of the same Luke/Ben scene), too much Kylo & Rey talking despite physical distance, not enough helmeted Kylo Ren (totally loses his aura without the helmet and the masked voice).

    But perhaps more significantly, in TLJ, Han's gone, Leia's missing for half the film, Luke's weird, Chewie barely features, R2 & Threepio barely feature... and in their place are characters who don't carry the same archetypal appeal, the same heart.

    R2 and Threepio are so much of what makes Star Wars Star Wars. Lucas structured the story around them, and Disney has relegated them to has-beens.

    And finally for now... I've never studied Joseph Campbell's work, but I can't shake the feeling that the story was over at the end of RotJ. There is no natural, compelling progression to that finale, and what we're getting is some forced, cobbled-together after-thought of an appendix. Inevitably it won't capture the imagination as well as before.
    Etav Byx, SHAD0W-JEDI and Keycube like this.
  24. Darth Buzz

    Darth Buzz Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 25, 2018
    It’s about the new generation of characters. This isn’t the OT 2.0. Yoda and Obi Wan weren’t they main focus of the OT, because it was about the new generation. If the ST was all about Luke, Leia, and Han I would have been ticked off. They already had their story, now they are passing it on like has always been the case in Star Wars. Also everyone dies in Star Wars, characters don’t get to live forever based on name. Part of the reason Luke went into excite was because people treated him like a superhuman figure that could never mess up. Luke in TLJ embodied his character to perfection, and he got the perfect send off. Now it leaves the story to close with the new leads (Rey and Kylo), who to your surprise are very popular with all audiences.

    Luke died saving the resistance, Obi Wan died helping our hero’s, Anakin dies saving his son. Every character in rogue one dies.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  25. Keycube

    Keycube Jedi Master star 2

    Jan 19, 2009
    Your post should be the last word on the subject, IMO; it perfectly captures the vibe (cancer) left by TLJ. It wasn't meant to be anything more than provocative for its own sake (RJ has essentially said as much), which simply doesn't work when there's no cohesive or compelling narrative, and any interesting questions from the previous film have been kneecapped. But many younger fans will tell you how "beautiful" TLJ was, which says a lot.

    The saber-flipping scene was the perfect metaphor for how TLJ resonated with many fans: "Oh, Star Wars doesn't even care about Star Wars anymore? I guess I don't either".
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2019
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