On the last episode of "Agnostic reacts to Star Wars trailers," we learned what the new trilogy will amount to -- a cosplay fanfic sequel for Millennials.
And now that they've released the next installment of "Trailers for That New Star Wars Movie," that assessment is certain. You can almost see the Millennial in stormtrooper costume walking up to Harrison Ford and nervously asking for his autograph. I wonder whether that'll be relegated to a making-of sequence during the credits, or be included in the main narrative itself.
("Gee Mr. Solo, you're some legend around these parts... It sure would do me the honors if you'd, uh, do me the honor of signing my toy lightsaber!")
I still don't know what the hell the movie is going to be about, but contemporary audiences don't want any SPOILERS whatsoever.
Trailers are no longer meant to reel you in on the first viewing. They have become a serial drama form unto themselves. The first reveals a tiny bit, and leaves the audience on a cliffhanger. The next one recaps the last one (barren desert landscape, speeder bike battle, lightsabers), but reveals a little more (Vader helmet, Han and Chewie, TIE fighter pilots).
Who knows how many more episodes there will be before the series finale -- the trailer that tells you what the hell the movie is going to be about.
Not following the hype cycle of modern movies, I was unaware of the trend of trailers as soap operas (gossip about them online when the new episode comes out!). I'm even more out of touch with video games, but their hype cycle is so huge that even someone who doesn't play them anymore may know about it. First there's a hint from the developers, then a spectacle teaser during E3, then a beta version, then a playable demo, and finally two years later, the actual game.
I remember when the movie trailer was a terse stand-alone format, and when new video games were announced once they were released, not years ahead of time.
But, that was back when people still had a life. Folks in outgoing times have too much of a dynamic social life to tolerate a serial format stringing them along and keeping them waiting. Soap operas were huge in the Midcentury, but were marginal by the '80s. Short film serials were popular at theaters in the Midcentury, but were also absent during the '80s, whose climate was similar to the Roaring Twenties. Only since the cocooning climate returned during the '90s did serial dramas return to mass entertainment, this time on TV.
They could have made a string of teaser trailers for movies back in the '80s, to be shown on TV commercials or in theaters, but they didn't. Those are a new development -- since when exactly, I don't know, although I have a hunch the Lord of the Rings movies had serial trailers.
Cocooners are bored out of their minds, so they crave a steady and regular fix of anything meant to wake them up. Previously, on "dissecting popular culture," we looked at entertainment as a mood stabilizer vs. experimentation, making the link to stabilizing vs. destabilizing types of drugs.
The stabilizing kind were popular in the Midcentury and have become popular again since the dawn of Prozac circa 1990. Ward Cleaver had Kellogg's Pep and Geritol, while his grandson has Monster energy drinks and Viagra. The destabilizing kinds like LSD are meant to be taken in stand-alone sessions, as though each trip were to somewhere different.
Movie trailers have clearly joined the mood stabilizer family of entertainment. Life is boring, but don't worry, another teaser trailer for Whatever Part Four comes out next week. And don't worry, it won't contain any spoilers -- which would ruin the fix you ought to get from the next trailer after that one.
Spoilers may not answer every question about who, what, when, where, why, and how, but they do close off certain paths through which the trailer-makers could have strung you along. And now that the function of trailers is to provide a regular dose of stimulation to bored nerds, they no longer tell you what the hell the movie is going to be about.