2017考研英语经济学人阅读13 更新日期:2016-12-17 编辑:爱语吧



  Disney Star Wars, Disney and myth-making

  迪士尼 星球大战,迪士尼和神话创造

  How one company came to master the business ofstorytelling


  FROM a galaxy far, far away to a cinema just downthe road: “The Force Awakens”, the newestinstalment of the Star Wars saga, is inescapable this Christmas. The first Star Wars title sinceLucasfilm, the owner of the franchise, was acquired by Disney in 2012 for $4.1 billion, itrepresents more than just the revival of a beloved science-fiction series. It is the latestexample of the way Disney has prospered over the past decade from a series of shrewdacquisitions (see article). Having bought Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, Disney has skilfullycapitalised on their intellectual property—and in so doing, cemented its position as the marketleader in the industrialisation of mythology. Its success rests on its mastery of the threeelements of modern myth-making: tropes, technology and toys.


  From Homer to Han Solo


  Start with the tropes. Disney properties, which include everything from “Thor” to “Toy Story”,draw on well-worn devices of mythic structure to give their stories cultural resonance. WaltDisney himself had an intuitive grasp of the power of fables. George Lucas, the creator of StarWars, is an avid student of the work of Joseph Campbell, an American comparative mythologistwho outlined the “monomyth” structure in which a hero answers a call, is assisted by a mentorfigure, voyages to another world, survives various trials and emerges triumphant. Both film-makers merrily plundered ancient mythology and folklore. The Marvel universe goes evenfurther, directly appropriating chunks of Greco-Roman and Norse mythology. (This makesDisney’s enthusiasm for fierce enforcement of intellectual-property laws, and the seeminglyperpetual extension of copyright, somewhat ironic.)


  The internal mechanics of myths may not have changed much over the ages, but thetechnology used to impart them certainly has. That highlights Disney’s second area ofexpertise. In Homer’s day, legends were passed on in the form of dactylic hexameters; modernmyth-makers prefer computer graphics, special effects, 3D projection, surround sound andinternet video distribution, among other things. When Disney bought Lucasfilm it did not justacquire the Star Wars franchise; it also gained Industrial Light & Magic, one of the bestspecial-effects houses in the business, whose high-tech wizardry is as vital to Marvel’sAvengers films as it is to the Star Wars epics. And when Disney was left behind by the shift todigital animation, it cannily revitalised its own film-making brand by buying Pixar, a firm aspioneering in its field as Walt Disney had been in hand-drawn animation. Moreover, modernmyths come in multiple media formats. The Marvel and Star Wars fantasy universes arechronicled in interlocking films, television series, books, graphic novels and video games.Marvel’s plans are mapped out until the mid-2020s.


  But these days myths are also expected to take physical form as toys, merchandise andtheme-park rides. This is the third myth-making ingredient. Again, Walt Disney led the way,licensing Mickey Mouse and other characters starting in the 1930s, and opening the originalDisneyland park in 1955. Mr Lucas took cinema-related merchandise into a new dimension,accepting a pay cut as director in return for all the merchandising rights to Star Wars—a dealthat was to earn him billions. Those rights now belong to Disney, and it is making the most ofthem: sales of “The Force Awakens” merchandise, from toys to clothing, are expected to beworth up to $5 billion alone in the coming year. In all, more than $32 billion-worth of Star Warsmerchandise has been sold since 1977, according to NPD Group, a market-research firm. EvenHarry Potter and James Bond are scruffy-looking nerf-herders by comparison.


  Those other franchises are reminders that Disney’s approach is not unique. Other studios aredoing their best to imitate its approach. But Disney has some of the most valuableproperties and exploits them to their fullest potential. It is particularly good at refreshing andrepackaging its franchises to encourage adults to revisit their childhood favourites and, in theprocess, to introduce them to their own children. This was one reason why Pixar, whose filmsare known for their cross-generational appeal, was such a natural fit. Now the next generationis being introduced to Star Wars by their nostalgic parents. At the same time, Disney hasextended its franchises by adding sub-brands that appeal to particular age groups:children’s television series spun off from Star Wars, for example, or darker, more adult talesfrom the Marvel universe, such as the “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” series on.

  其他系列电影表明,迪士尼的策略不是唯一的。其他一些影城也竭尽全力地效仿迪士尼的做法。但迪士尼拥有最有价值的资源,并能最大程度开发这些资源,尤其 擅长再更新和再包装其产品,以此鼓励成人回忆他们的童年最爱,在此过程中,将喜好介绍给自己的孩子。皮克斯擅长制作吸引两代人的电影,这也使得它与迪士尼的合作成为天作之合。现在,怀旧的父母们也将把星球大战传承给下一代。与此同时,迪士尼通过增加吸引特定年龄的子品牌拓宽系列经营权:例如,源于《星球大战》的少儿电视节目,始于漫威宇宙系列的更黑暗、更成人化的故事,比如网飞公司的《超胆侠》和《杰西卡琼斯》等电影。

  Do, or do not—there is no try


  What explains the power of all this modern-day mythology? There is more to it than archetypalstorytelling, clever technology and powerful marketing. In part, it may fill a void left by thedecline of religion in a more secular world. But it also provides an expression for today’s fears.The original “Star Wars” film, in which a band of plucky rebels defeat a technologicalsuperpower, was a none-too-subtle inversion of the Vietnam war. The Marvel universe,originally a product of the cold-war era, has adapted well on screen to a post-9/11 world ofsurveillance and the conspiratorial mistrust of governments, large corporations and the powerof technology. In uncertain times, when governments and military might seem unable to keeppeople safe or stay honest, audiences take comfort in the idea of superheroes who ride to therescue. Modern myths also have the power to unify people across generations, social groupsand cultures, creating frameworks of shared references even as other forms of mediaconsumption become ever more fragmented.


  Ultimately, however, these modern myths are so compelling because they tap primordialhuman urges—for refuge, redemption and harmony. In this respect they are like social-mediaplatforms, which use technology to industrialise social interaction. Similarly, modern myth-making, reliant though it is on new tools and techniques, is really just pushing the same oldbuttons in stone-age brains. That is something that Walt Disney understood instinctively—andthat the company he founded is now exploiting so proficiently.


  1.come to 苏醒;到达

  例句:They come to eat and drink, to swim, to party.Sometimes they never go to bed.


  2.pass on 传递

  例句:The named credential feature is usually used topass on credentials while invoking Web services from within the application.


  3.shift to 转向

  例句:America’s shift to a service economy also favors college grads, who increasingly tend tobe female.


  4.expect to 期待

  例句:If a writer does not go deep among the masses, he cannot expect to turn out goodworks.




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