2018/05/31

Why China Hates Star Wars

The numbers are in, and Disney's Solo: A Star Wars Story has spectacularly let down Kathleen Kennedy and her media cheerleaders, particularly blue checkmark Twitter. The Disney shills' excuse-making has been markedly anemic this time around. Everybody knew after The Last Jedi fell off a cliff that audiences were fed up with Kennedy's mishandling of the franchise.

Nobody wanted a standalone Han Solo movie, so everybody knew it would flop. That's why Solo apologists just look ridiculous. When they blame the movie's failure on Star Wars fatigue, a white male lead, or Star Wars' core audience not being Star Wars' intended audience, it's obvious even they don't believe it.

A fascinating emergent phenomenon surrounding the death of Star Wars is the new genre of film criticism/social commentary that's sprung up in the last few years. The trend started with Red Letter Media's cult hit review of The Phantom Menace, but the field didn't experience much growth until The Force Awakens caused a minor backlash. The Rogue One writers' anti-Trump safety pin campaign kept the scene going, but it didn't kick into high gear until The Last Jedi convinced all but the most bluepilled paypigs that they'd been conned.

Guys like comic artist Ethan Van Sciver have made a cottage industry of puckishly eviscerating the new Star Wars films. The fact that it's now considered hip to bash their four billion dollar franchise should set off alarms at Disney. In a sane world, any company whose intended flagship product had been reduced to perennial YouTube critic fodder would summarily fire the responsible parties and spare no expense repairing the damage to their brand.

But this is not a sane world, so Disney will most likely double down until Star Wars becomes a byword and a warning to other media companies that he who sins against the fans shall surely die. Anyone who still holds out hope for Episode IX or the planned Obi-Wan or Boba Fett movies has failed to understand the dynamics at play.

There's no shortage of critics who'll tell you why Mouse Wars is foundering in the West. An oft-cited but under-examined aspect of Star Wars' decline is the franchise's utter failure in China.

Let's look at the numbers. Here are the opening weekend figures for each of Disney's Star Wars movies in the Chinese market:

Star Wars Chinese Opening Weekend Box Office

A picture speaks a thousand words. But why is Star Wars tanking even worse in China than in the West? A Chinese cinema buff buddy and I were discussing the matter, and we came up with a few possible reasons.

First, Disney's hamfisted effort to pander to the Asian market certainly didn't help. The Chinese still appreciate beauty and shun ugliness. They're also quite image-conscious on the whole.

Disney's brilliant marketing move:

Rose Tico

Prominently feature an Asian character in TLJ who looks bloated and frumpy and who always dresses like she just got off a double shift at the Sears tire center.

But that's just scratching the surface. Tico's appearance isn't the only problem Chinese audiences have with Disney's Star Wars. As in the pulps of old, romance is an indispensable fixture of Chinese storytelling. As my friend remarked, the Chinese don't necessarily hate a criminal. They hate a criminal who's a weird loner. Even the most intense martial artist or hardened gangster has a girlfriend (and sometimes also a mom) to humanize him.

No one in any Mouse Wars installment has anything resembling a traditional relationship with a member of the opposite sex. Finn is first rejected; then friendzoned, by Rey. The female lead of Rogue One, whose name I can't be bothered to remember so I'll call her Rey 2, has a series of broken relationships with a succession of father figures. Finn returns in TLJ to be continually browbeaten and whipped by Rose. Han showers with a space sasquatch, and Lando is banging a feminist robot.

Take a bow, Mouse Wars. You make the original trilogy's implied incest look wholesome by comparison.

The root of China's aversion to Disney's Star Wars is story structure. To wit, the plots of TFA, R1, TLJ, and SOY are both too simple and too complex for Chinese tastes.

Almost all Western movies follow a plot structure known as the Hollywood Formula. It is a form of three act structure that dictates exactly what should happen at precise intervals throughout a film.

Three act structure is practically unknown in Chinese storytelling, be it cinema, television, or novels. Instead, Chinese writers tend to employ a two-stage model that consists of showing an event, followed by the characters examining the consequences of that event. Repeat until a desired stopping point is reached.

That kind of story structure might sound childishly simple, but anyone who's seen a Chinese historical action film knows that you can pack a lot into both stages. Mouse Wars utilizes the Hollywood Formula in theory, but Kennedy and her purse puppy writers and directors stuff so much SJW agitprop into the proceedings that they make a hash of the protagonist-relationship character dynamic.

Chinese audiences like them some classic boy meets girl relationships, so don't expect Soy Wars to set box office records in China anytime soon.


If you miss space adventures with hardcore gangsters who can still get girlfriends and boy-meets-girl romances, check out my thrilling Soul Cycle series (especially Souldancer). Today's the last day to get all four mind-bending books for less than six bucks!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

10 comments:

  1. I think it's funny seeing the excuses pile up with why it's doing poorly. There are a couple of honest articles that I've stumbled across that admit that the TLJ backlash is part of why it is failing.
    The top reasons for it not succeeding: 1. Backlash from TLJ. 2. Harrison Ford isn't playing the character. 3. No one was asking for another prequel film. This has to be the most random movie decision along with Rogue One. Most want to ignore these real reasons and pretend it has something to do with either "fatigue" or "white male character" which is BS and they know it. Disney can keep digging that grave and we'll keep replacing it with our own space operas.
    Also, that actress is incredibly ugly. Which is exactly why she was chosen.

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    1. Worse. The actress isn't ugly at all in real life. The Hollywood SJWs purposefully marred her looks with deliberately unflattering wardrobe and makeup jobs. The enemy hates beauty.

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    2. Eh, I’d say Tico is ugly in real life, just not as ugly as they made her look in the film. She’s not a looker by any means, but her head and body shots on IMDB are far nicer to her aesthetic limitations than the SJWs at Disney.

      The reality is they could have found a much better looking and better acting Asian actress if they had wanted to, but they didn’t because they wanted someone plain/ugly looking for an interracial romance plot. Speaking of, how many Chinese would reject the film just for it having an Asian woman kiss a black man? I think the only pairing they’d hate more is a legit Chinese actress kissing a Japanese man.

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  2. "... a byword and a warning to other media companies that he who sins against the fans shall surely die."

    Yea, verily, the time is long overdue that the Cecil B. DeMille level smackdown shall be levied upon Hollyweird and the House of Mouse.

    Comes the Storm.

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    1. Cecil was a bloody amazing director, just watched his Crusades film it was the best damn thing I've seen in years.

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  3. I bet, though, that if this movie had come out instead of TFA, fans would have flocked out to see it, even with the other things against it.

    But we've been burned.

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    1. Your theory definitely has merit. TFA shows us that Han ends his days as a failure who's murdered by his own son. Knowing that his story ends so dismally curbs the audience's desire to see how it began.

      Preceding TFA would have been a necessary, though not sufficient, factor in Solo's success. As Ethan Van Sciver pointed out, the cataclysmic drop in audience interest came shortly before the movie's release when screenwriter Jon Kasdan declared beloved ladies' man Lando Calrissian a "pansexual". After that, fan interest in the movie dropped into the 30% range, and opening weekend projections plummeted from $170 m to $110 m.

      But yes, Solo would have done better if it had been released before TFA and if its SJW writer could've kept his mouth shut. Thankfully, his hubris gave parents early warning.

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  4. Brian

    I was unaware that China and by tension most of Asia use the 2 act structure. Of course we know that the 3 act structure is from Aristotle. I wonder if the Chinese 2 act structure is an echo of reflecting on our Lord's dual nature and by extension man's in relation to the hypo static
    Union?
    xavier

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    Replies
    1. I’d look more towards Confuscius and the history of Asian theater than Christ for your answer

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    2. It has to do more with "kishoutenketsu," a Japanese articulation of a concept that originated with Chinese poetry. This "four-act structure" does not favor conflict as a plot driver, instead focusing on the consequences of an action or event.

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