Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, May 15, 2021

I was born in 1971, which not only makes me (almost, in a month) 38 years old, but also qualifies me for ideal geekeryhood.

Mainly by optimal temporal association, because I also was around when the following, among other things, happened for Raph Koster (as well as for Cory Doctorow):

- It meant I got to see Star Wars in the theater, 13 times, at ages 6 and 7, exactly when it would overwhelm my sense of wonder.
- I was there for when the X-Men were new and fresh
- I got to high school when PCs were becoming ubiquitous.
- I got to college when Macs were on Apple campuses, and actually useful.
- And when you had no choice but to use libraries for research, so I actually learned what real research is.

Not to quibble too much, but high-school years for “when PCs were becoming ubiquitous”? I don’t know what part of the world Koster grew up in, but here in New York, in no way were personal computers commonplace in the late ’80s. In my mind, PC ubiquity didn’t come about until the mid-’90s, along with the spread of the mass market Web.

As for the movies, I never did get to see Star Wars in the theaters in ‘77. But I do remember the buzz, and sitting on the stairs, listening raptly to an older cousin who had gone to see it maybe a half-dozen times. It was enough, for then.

And on the X-Men, that “new and fresh” version was, of course, a reboot (before anyone called it a “reboot”) from the old ’60s version of the superhero group. Accordingly, they were called the “New X-Men” right through to the early ’80s, by which point Marvel figured (rightly) that no one who remembered the original incarnation was still reading.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/15/2009 02:43pm
Category: History, Movies, Pop Culture, Society
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sold
If you need any more convincing that “The Simpsons” is running on the fumes of fumes by now, here it is: The focus is now on maximizing the merchandisability of the show and its characters, making it an “evergreen” intellectual property (i.e., having timeless appeal ala other pop-cultural icons).

Silly me, I thought they had this monetization down pat years ago, when Simpsons t-shirts and trinkets (remember “Do The Bartman”?) flooded the market and practically typified TV licensing. But it turns out that they were doing it wrong back then:

After The Simpsons’ premiere in 1990, Fox was unprepared for its instant popularity and improvised, not always successfully.

“They had too many products, and they didn’t do a good job of controlling the knockoffs,” says Gary Caplan, who runs an independent licensing consulting firm. “That probably slowed (the franchise) down a little bit.”

The folks at Fox also were stymied because they didn’t know how the characters would develop.

“A lot of licensees took the limited art (that Fox had) and put it on the front of a T-shirt or backpack or whatever,” recalls former Fox merchandising chief Al Ovadia, now an independent consultant. “In the early days, you didn’t know enough about it.”

Glad to see it took them only 20 years to hone the pimpery.

I haven’t watched a first-run episode of “The Simpsons” in years. I’d heard that it had undergone a rejuvenation at one point, but I’m not going to bother checking — it had gotten so hokey circa 2000 that I couldn’t bear to watch more than 10 minutes before turning it off in disgust. It’s that much worse because of how superb a satire the show was during the mid-90s, when Conan O’Brien was producing episodes — the inevitable comparison actually makes it painful for me to watch what its devolved into.

Just this week, the local FOX affiliate decided to start showing late-night reruns of the show from the very first season. Those first couple of years were fairly rough; it would take a couple of years before the show really hit its wickedly-funny stride. But again, watching the way the show used to be makes it that much harder to take the cash-cow it’s now become.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/15/2009 10:52am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Pop Culture, TV
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