It’s coming. No, not Pumpkin Spice Everything. Not Truck Month (which, as far as I can tell, is always there anyway). No, Jon Snow, Not Winter (you know nothing).
No, I’m talking about Porgmania, which as much as that might sound like a post-Soviet state, it’s much closer and undoubtedly coming to online shopping outlets and anachronistic brick-and-mortars near you. I prophesy their cute little bug eyes are gonna be calling to you from plush toys, coffee cups and t-shirts. The dreadnaught of BB-8 and the stain of Jar-Jar will forever be supplanted.
We don’t know too much about our friends the Porgs…or is it just “The Porg”?…dunno. I guarantee I’m going to be roaming around like your grandpa in his underwear with ill-advised references to things like “The Internets” or “The Amazons” or “The Apple phone” until someone sets me straight about Porg-related nomenclature.
What I do know is that it’s part of the Star Wars formula of success. From Lucas and beyond, when Star Wars Episode XXIII Revenge of Snoke’s Clone’s Grandson is released, they’ll have some sort of clever merchandising hook. And the funny thing is, we as Star Wars fans don’t groan and roll our eyes. We eat it up. We buy it up. We want to be suckers for this stuff.
When the first Star Wars came out, it was pretty much a buffet. Kenner made a Gonk Droid doll, ok? Gonk got what, 8 seconds of screen time? His sole eponymous line was “Gonk”, and it wasn’t even said to anyone in particular. But we ate it up. When ESB came out, they really started breaking loose with the big ticket items – AT-ATs, Snow Speeders, Wampas with spring-loaded amputations, you name it. But Return of the Jedi was the Mother of all Marketing Whores. Ewoks (the Porg..s.. of 1983) assaulted Christmas like a very cute Viking battle horde. Little bastards were everywhere, rapping you on the bucket with their marketing club until you collapsed in a pile of cash and white armor.
The tradition continued, and in some way may have even saved the prequel trilogy from a more ignominious fate in terms of raw money-making power. They were still a success for Lucasfilm, and I think the marketing of even poor old Jar-Jar might have made contributions.
The Porg..s…. thingy is custom-made for an exchange with our Christmas bucks. It’s already got memeabilty (tm Dark Moose) by the short and cuties. Mark my words, if it’s not already there, its coming to Pokemon Go. By Sheev, its probably going to start showing up in Russian election meddling efforts.
So why do we buy into it? When other movie franchises try to pull off the one-two marketing money grab of ticket sales and merchandise, I think many of us are a little wary of the intentions of movie executives to separate us from our money. But with Star Wars, its literally a fashion statement. If you were a 6-year-old heading to school in January 2016, you had better be wearing a BB-8 t-shirt and carrying a Kylo Ren pencil box or your ass was grass on the playground later that day.
I think it’s three reasons. Firstly, we recognize that Star Wars practically invented the movie merch tie-in category. They own it. Sure, Planet of the Apes tried, but catchphrases like “Damn You! Damn You All to Hellll!!” on Johnny’s lunch box just wasn’t received well. Star Wars was, in my opinion, the first truly innovative and multi-channeled merchandising effort that met with widespread success.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the underlying message from Star Wars (at least the original saga) was very positive. Moms and Dads didn’t have to worry about cloaking their little angels even in Darth Vader garb, because he was part of a larger positive morality tale, and even he was redeemed. It’s a heartwarming adventure for all, so give us your money, suckers.
Lastly, as a sort of footnote, Star Wars has traditions in fandom. We have a big tent. It ranges from die-hard fans like you who search out funny little websites like Port Haven to read just a little bit more about the Star Wars experience, but it also includes the casual fan who just remembers having a good time and might use a couple of lines from the movie to make a joke or two at the office (“These aren’t the invoices you’re looking for, Bob”…classic stuff…). What binds us together are these rituals surrounding the release of new Star Wars movies. Not to wax Kennedyian (tm Dark Moose), but we all breathe the same air, we all watch the new movie within a week of its release, and we all buy that t-shirt.
So quit your whingeing, Star Wars fan. That’ll be $29.99, and yes, it’s on backorder.
(No Porg..s.. were harmed in the writing of this article. And I’m proud of the fact that I didn’t make one single “Resistance is Futile” joke. That’s right, Star Wars fandom, The Dark Moose has lines he won’t cross.)