The Commercialization of Star Wars

Published February 28, 2012 by Linda Maye Adams

I was just in Target and passed by the toy section.  Displayed out at the end of the aisles were several Star Wars toys that made me think, “This is too much.”  It seems like the selling of Star Wars products has replaced the movies.  Things like the video below sell cars, but don’t add anything to what the movies were.

You see, I saw the movies in their original run.  At that point, science fiction films consisted of movies like Godzilla:

Or were movies about the evils of the atomic age. Star Trek was also starting to snowball, but movie executives weren’t sure it could sell.  Then Star Wars premiered, and it exploded onto the movie scene.  People stood in line at movie theaters for hours, waiting to see the movie for the 10th or 20th time.  It was a movie that not only told a good story, a story that was magnetizing, but it hit at a time when people needed it.

It paved the way for the Star Trek film in 1979 and all the science fiction shows and movies that followed.  Star Trek got remade into not one, but four series.  Would that have happened without Star Wars?  Who knows?  But it helped make science fiction into more than something perceived to be read by teenage boys.

But the other thing Star Wars did was it paved the way for shows like Power Rangers, where the overall goal of each episode is not to tell a good story but to sell toys.  Star Wars has not only has been used to sell toys, but also cars, and getting through airport security – just to name a few of the strange ones.

What do you think about all this?  Can there be too much commercialization?  What do you think it’s done to the original movies?

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6 comments on “The Commercialization of Star Wars

  • I think the original movies are brilliant and iconic and no amount of toy Wookies or C3POs can take a way from that. Heck, I have a light saber app on my smart phone. Now, do I think the world needed a bunch of plastic Jar Jar Binks? Not so much.

  • The commercialization doesn’t bother me too much — within reason. But I’m not sure how to nail it down better than that. When my kids find a movie they love, then get a few of the toys that go with it, they relieve the movie as they play, come up with alternate scenes and endings. It sparks their imagination. BUT — when they must have multiple toys to be able to play or the cheapest toys start at $20 — then I have a problem. I say: Make good toys within each price range for kids and let their imagination take care of the rest….

  • From the perspective of selling toys, nothing beats the animated Transformers movie that came out in ’86 or ’87, I forget which.

    The movie killed off nearly all of the original cast, and rarely in any kind of meaningful way. They were just mowed down or tossed overboard so the movie could focus on selling the new toys. On the other hand, Transformers (i.e. Hasbro) has always been like that. I’m surprised to hear it’s a problem with Star Wars as well.

    The Star Wars toys I don’t like are the Lego ones, actually. I grew up at a time when the Lego sets were houses and fire stations and so on, and I recently felt nostalgic and thought of buying the house set which I built and rebuilt when I was a kid (I smooshed the Lego people’s house and car into a three-floor caravan). Except all the Lego sets I could find were Star Wars and Harry Potter. Not happy. :(

  • I’m not a huge fan of Lego renditions of movies either. I like using Legos to create my own stuff. Not that I have any. (Not that I’d like to……..cough.)

    I kind of love VWs Star Wars themed commercials…that mini Darth Vader one has to be the best commercial since the UKs Ribena Win a Donkey commercial back in 2004 or 2005.

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