Monday, October 12, 2015

The Killing Joke - Your Franchise is Pandering Wrong

So the news is that the Alan Moore classic Batman story, The Killing Joke direct-to-video animated feature is cleared to be rated "R".

About a month ago, I volunteered to help out Star Trek: Renegades at the local ComicCon. I was looking to interact with Star Trek fans and talk a bit about 17 to 01. I was giving them free labor; don't judge.

Also, Renegades is kinda bad, so if you're going to judge, judge me for that.

Anyway, my most vivid memory of the event was when a six-year old kid saw the Star Trek banner and cried "Star Trek!" while hustling up to the table and I cringed. Renegades has two references to rape. One involves a guy who had to do research to see if he could rape a chick (spoilers: he can). I do not want a child watching Star Trek: Renegades.

Look, you can knock Star Trek for a lot of things. I literally have a podcast that does that. Whatever you knock it for, Star Trek is designed with general audiences in's for kids. I watched it as a kid and I loved it. As an adult, I still love it. Pivoting the theme to appeal to an exclusively-adult crowd is a bad idea. 

The tendency for some franchises that won't be named--SUPERMAN--to skew dark is ultimately self-defeating. Disney spent $8 billion to buy Marvel and Lucasfilm because they were going after princess money for boys. We won't know if that's paid off until The Force Awakens numbers come in, but I'm betting it will. Kids will watch Marvel and Star Wars films as kids and continue to watch them as adults. They'll buy comics, costumes, and action figures. They'll watch TV shows.

Are kids watching Star Trek: Renegades? The rated-R adaptation of The Killing Joke? The dark and foreboding Superman v. Batman? Probably not so much. With an entertainment milieu that's basically force-pumped through the public's brain then straight into the garbage, will the adult, male neck-bearded demographics clamoring for grimdark interpretations based on properties originally marketed to children even give a shit about them in 10 years? 5? 1? Probably not.

If a six-year old can't watch your franchise, then maybe you're not building a franchise. Maybe you're just making a one-shot thing that's headed straight for the DVD discount bin to sit beside with Divergent and Neighbors.

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