Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, September 01, 2021

I suppose a natural, surface reaction to Disney’s proposed $4-billion acquisition of Marvel Entertainment is the assumption that the Mickey Mouse’s renowned brand of G-rated content would supplant the harder-edged fare of Spider-Man and the X-Men.

I expect the layman to make noises to that effect. But to such an extent that Disney’s CEO actually has to address it formally?

Internally, [Bob] Iger says he began to think of Marvel stories using “real bullets”, while Disney uses “fake bullets.” His team became convinced that while there are obvious ways in which the Marvel Universe will spill into Disney’s, the brands are going to remain distinct.

“Not everything we do has to be Disney-branded, although that’s the priority.” And while it will make sense to have Spider-Man join the ranks of Mickey and Goofy among “walk around characters” at its theme parks, Iger noted, “you wouldn’t have the Punisher character walking around one of your parks.” At the same time, he added: “This is not going to be about Disney sanitizing Marvel in any way.”

I can’t believe anyone with any business sense at all thinks that the specific content wells would prevent a business deal. Disney would have no more reason to “sanitize” Marvel’s comic book storylines or basic character profiles than, say, a coffeeshop chain would have to “convert” a soft-drink line it wants to acquire into all-coffee flavors. Corporate transactions involve pairing-up complementary lines of business and (usually) preserving the strengths that originally brought them together. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense.

Specifically for Disney, a look at its ownership of Miramax Films should inform anyone about how R-rated media can co-exist with the Mouse House’s child-oriented bread and butter. Of course, it went through some perceptional growing pains in that regard when it launched its original non-Walt movie imprint, Touchstone Pictures, in the early ’80s.

I guess that’s a testament to how deep Disney’s family-friendly branding runs: People assume that image is immutable, mergers and acquisitions aside. That’s been a strength for the company for decades, but can also be a double-edged sword.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/01/2021 01:23 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Media, Pop Culture
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Declining birthrates in industrialized countries is old news. So is the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to raise a middle-class kid in America, which undoubtedly contributes to the lack of baby-making mass-production.

Leave it to Ben Stein to complete this reproductive cost-analysis, with the curmudgeonly conclusion that child-rearing doesn’t make much economic sense among developed-world upper classes:

Look around you. The costs and benefits of having children in affluent America are wildly off kilter. Too much cost, too little reward. Often the cost-benefit analysis of children prints out “Get a German shorthaired pointer instead.”

Many people are doing that, and the birth rate is collapsing. But if we stop having enough children, because their value is so low relative to their cost, the society grinds down. It’s happening right now. The native-born upper middle class barely replace themselves in America, if they do at all. In a way we are committing suicide as a class, possibly in part because of the burdens of child rearing in modern life.

As usual, the hard-data ROI excludes the unquantifiable benefits of offspring, i.e. love, affection, nurturing, etc. If you insist on extracting fiscal results from that, look at the increasingly-common role reversal of children providing elder care for parents (either personally or by funding such). Taking into account longer and longer lifespans, I’d guess that today’s child-raising investment includes a goodwill gesture for later-life in-kind services, which probably balances the ledger.

On top of that, it’s not like a class system can extinguish itself from lack of homegrown new recruits. American meritocracy ensures plenty of movement up the ladder from the lower classes — the very group that’s having more babies, thanks to the lesser resource expectations. “Class suicide” is a worry for only for the current placeholders in that class, i.e. Stein and other old guard. They may not like who they see moving into the slots vacated by that non-existent next generation of the existing privileged class, but that doesn’t mean those slots won’t get filled anyway.

Children make for the most volatile of stocks, anyway. Don’t count on a predictable return on investment. For that, the German shorthair pointer is the safer bet.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/01/2021 12:21 PM
Category: Business, Society
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