November 21, 2022


Don Quixote Tells Us How the Star Wars Franchise Ends: We can predict what will happen to Disney brand franchises by studying how past pop culture narratives collapsed (Ted Gioia, 11/09/22, Honest Broker)

Cervantes's knight was the famous Don Quixote, celebrated in the book of the same name. And we could argue endlessly whether this book was, in fact, the first novel. The exact chronology here isn't the key issue. The more pressing point is that Don Quixote made all the earlier books about knights look ridiculous. In other words, Cervantes pursued the literary equivalent of a scorched earth policy.

The title character in his book is a shrunken and shriveled man of about 50, who has gone crazy by reading too many stories about knights and their adventures. In a fit of delusion, he decides to leave home and pursue knightly adventures himself--but the world has changed since the time of King Arthur, and our poor knight errant now looks like a fool. Other characters mock him, and play practical jokes at his expense--and simply because he believes all those lies in the brand franchise stories.

We start to feel sorry for Don Quixote, even begin cheering for our hapless hero. Thus this protagonist, in Cervantes's rendering, is both absurd and endearing. This is what raises the novel above mere satire--because we eventually come to admire Don Quixote for holding on to his ideals in the face of a world where they don't fit or belong.

In other words, there is much to praise in this book, but this three-layered approach to reality is perhaps the most interesting aspect of them all. Here are the three layers:

Don Quixote is just an ordinary man, not a hero by any means.

But in his delusion, he pretends to be a hero, following rules and procedures that are antiquated and irrelevant. They merely serve to make him look pitiful and absurd.

Yet by persisting in this fantasy, he actually does turn into a hero, although a more complex kind that anticipates the rise of the novel. He is the prototype of the dreamer and idealist who chases goals in the face of all obstacles.

The reality is, of course, exactly the opposite of the usually perspicacious Mr. Gioia's contention.  Hilariously, not only did readers treat the Don as a hero for being Arthurian but even Disney retold the Arthurian tales. Indeed, Star Wars not only relies on Knights with swords and heroes following chivalric codes but Luke is essentially just another Wart, who discovers his real lineage via a wizard and magical sword.

Posted by at November 21, 2022 12:23 AM