Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Transmedia Fail: The Phasma Tie-In Targets the Wrong Audience

This bullshit comes over my Twitter feed today:

Some dumb motherfucker at Lucasfilm got the bright idea that they can use tie-in products to shore up bad characters in the feature films, and the current buzzword to justify this is "transmedia". Since the man who founded the company that pioneered the practice was a mentor to me when he was a young man at Palladium Books and I was a punk kid in high school, I have good reason to trust his judgement on what works here:

"Transmedia storytelling, according to Gomez, is the process of conveying messages, themes or story lines to a mass audience through the artful and well-planned use of multiple media platforms. It is both a technique and philosophy of communications and brand extension that enriches and broadens the lifecycle of creative content."

That Phasma tie-in? That's ass-covering using transmedia as a cover. Much like a lot of stuff about Rey never got into the film, and therefore does not count, so it does not matter the Lucasfilm crew are doing the same thing here- and for the same reason. It got out that Phasma, like Rey, is an unlikeable cypher--a nothinburger on shit shingles--so this is narrative damage control. It won't work for the same reason most incompetent goes at transmedia don't work.

Normies don't go outside the films.

"But in the novels-"

Not in the films. DOES. NOT. EXIST. The Wachowski Brothers found this out the hardway when the videogame tie-in to the first sequel got completely ignored (mainly for being sucktastic) and therefore no one knew or cared why Morphius ex-GF and her crew were there to save his ass during the highway chase. Normies don't do tie-ins. They don't do transmedia..

So who in the hell is Lucasfilm fooling here? The audience seeing the next film will not read this book. The attempt to fix Phasma as a character is wasted here because the people Lucasfilm wants to see it won't, so any knock-on effects on her screentime in The Last Jedi risk being completely dissonant and thus risk damaging the sequel trilogy further than has already occurred.

The target for Star Wars is the massive normie feature film audience. They're there for what that medium offers, and that's it; the merch you sell is the wearables--clothes, etc.--and toys to their kids. Not books. Not comics. Not even games, really; gamers (video and tabletop) are distinct subset of the real audience and always have been. You got a problem with a character in the films? You fix it in the films! Not in tie-ins of any kind, because your audience does not go there.


  1. They should have never let J.J. Abrams drop in Phasma as his nod to the Phantasm project he was working on. Now they have to make an in-joke make sense in the movie and universe.

  2. Outside material should be a BONUS, not a REQUIREMENT. (btw, fun bit of transmedia trivia: ever notice that "ewok" is never spoken or mentioned within Return of the Jedi?)

    Anyway, hope you don't object to a bit of self-pimping, but when I was working on this:

    And fixing the story based upon proper STORYTELLING, it actually surprised me how Phasma ended up showing up more in the story and actually doing more - even revealing more of her character. (not to mention doing more with Finn)

  3. Agree completely. People have to be big fans to get into comics, books & videogames. Normies aren't going to become big fans if the movie sucks.


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