You’d had to have been living on the frozen wasteland of Hoth to not have noticed a tremor in the force a few Fridays ago. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens hits cinemas in December. And now powered by Disney, the engines of the Lucasfilm marketing machine went into hyperdrive with Force Friday. The rollout of every possible toy, gadget, and piece of merchandise large enough to fit a logo on was launched at the planet simultaneously, complete with a Deathstar ray countdown so fans knew exactly how long they had before their bank balances would reach zero.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re fans, and we’re looking forward to the arrival of both the film and the Battlefront game. But with Black Friday still a rather vivid and horrid memory of what happens to people when coerced by mega corporations into spending their hard earnt Imperial credits, we could have definitely lived without the barrage of emails from the likes of Cross Pens, Amazon and everyone else we’ve ever subscribed to. All of whom suddenly had a Star Wars connection thanks to what is ultimately, a massive sell out of everything that got the franchise here in the first place.
Remember, 20th Century Fox were so unphased by the film in early screenings that they were happy to give George Lucas full merchandising rights as part of his compensation, thinking the film would flop and nothing would ever sell. Only made in small batches because of this, it took months for toys to hit the stores, but by then Star Wars was an overnight success and demand was soaring. Not bad when you consider the production budget was so starved of cash they built the ships and sets from pieces of Airfix models.
The thing is, the merchandising blitz wasn’t the worse thing about Force Friday. The worse bit was the reaction of what are meant to be fully grown adult men to discovering that various toys and action figures had sold out. Geek culture raised its ugly head like a Rancor that’s caught the scent of a Jedi and rushed to the nearest social media outlet to vent its anguish.
Let’s be clear. If you are over the age of ten, and you are genuinely getting upset about not getting Star Wars toys on a specific day, then may the force be with you and preferably far, far away. We doubt you can get a prescription of Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris, Robert Mitchum and John Wayne on the NHS, but perhaps for these poor people we should try. And this is why society is going to the spice mines of Kessel in a shopping basket. On the same day they were fishing bodies of drowned refugee children out of the mediterranean, full blown adults were bitching about the fact they couldn’t buy damn toys. Toys possibly made by, but not possibly affordable for, children the same age as the ones fleeing Syria. And they were actually proud of this cringe-worthy, over inflated sense of self-entitlement to revert themselves to a childlike state at any cost. The correct emotion should have been crippling embarrassment and guilt. It scares the sith out of us that some may have even been able to breed and pass such aspirations onto their children.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re really looking forward to the new film. And we want a Millenium Falcon drone or a remote control BB-8 droid as much as the next tech-minded film fan. But let’s face it, Force Friday was aimed at a very specific group of people, and it wasn’t us. It was the rather vulnerable and volatile uber-fans and their disposable income. And the thing is, the film isn’t even out yet. We’ve still got three months and change to get through, shortly followed by Christmas, which as we all know is very low key and a quiet time of year for the likes of Disney.
So before all the merchandising nonsense becomes something of a phantom menace and we feel obliged to strike back at anyone sour enough to complain about it on social media, we will try to keep our opinions in check before the return of the Jedi to cinema screens in December. But perhaps people, try using some common sense instead of the force next time round?