Henry Jenkins riffs on He-Man and other 80s-era action figures, offering a reading that starts out as largely charitable but ends up somewhere that’s actually quite beautiful:
When I speak to the 20 and 30 somethings who are leading the charge for transmedia storytelling, many of them have stories of childhood spent immersed in Dungeons and Dragons or Star Wars, playing with action figures or other franchise related toys, and my own suspicion has always been that such experiences shaped how they thought about stories.
From the beginning, they understood stories less in terms of plots than in terms of clusters of characters and in terms of world building. From the beginning they thought of stories as extending from the screen across platforms and into the physical realm. From the beginning they thought of stories as resources out of which they could create their own fantasies, as something which shifted into the hands of the audience once they had been produced and in turn as something which was expanded and remixed on the grassroots level.
The impetus for Jenkins’s generational meditation (besides an impending deadline for a keynote) is this io9 piece on “The 10 Most Unfortunate Masters of the Universe Toys,” which 1) I linked to a ways back on Twitter, and 2) is hilarious. Sample:
Stinkor was an evil skunk. How do we know he was evil? He has the suffix “-or” appended to his name. If his name was just “Stink,” he’d be kicking back in Castle Greyskull, pounding Schlitz with Man-At-Arms and scheduling baccarat night with Man-E-Faces.