There's a lot to unpack here, so I'm gonna try and bullet point my way through this:
- All of these arguments about "How should Dragon Ball continue?" never fail to utterly mystify me. When you find yourself at a point where you're genuinely questioning how or why a series ought to continue forward... generally that might be seen as an excellent place where maybe it might be wise to just, I don't know, STOP and end it already because you have no place else left to go. No one to this point has EVER given me a particularly compelling answer for exactly WHY they still want Dragon Ball to continue on with new material that extends beyond "Muh childhood!".
The only people that new Dragon Ball material ultimately benefits are the suits at Toei: they're ultimately going to be the main push that keeps this series going, even well after Toriyama's half-hearted one-foot-in/one-foot-out stint back on it inevitably comes to an end. We now have a "Dragon Ball Room" for Christ's sake: in all the years this franchise has existed, beyond some filler episodes for the old anime, its almost NEVER had ANYTHING like a dedicated "writer's room" before acting as the center nucleus of it. Because up till this point, it was largely auteur-driven: the center nucleus was Toriyama's imagination. And when an auteur-driven piece suddenly finds itself saddled with a writer's room after the auteur has (mostly) left the building... historically speaking, that has almost NEVER boded well and is generally a sign that the creative well has run dry and we're mainly sticking it out on sheer momentum and dollar signs.
Again, I'm not talking about Toei's annual financial bottom line: we know damn well how having more Dragon Ball affects THAT. And its beyond twisted and depressing that so many average fans find themselves so immensely wrapped up and invested in that corporate/financial aspect of Dragon Ball (and other franchises like it) to begin with by the way, and devote themselves to following things like the merch sales and TV ratings as if they're fans of a sports team cheering them on during the playoff season.
News flash for all the "sales watchers" out here: Toei breaking record profits on new DB merch DOESN'T mean that you all somehow get a piece of that action... you all just look like sad, pathetic clowns cheering on the continued creative dilution of something you all purport to love and care about artistically whilst getting absolutely NOTHING else out of it in return but more substandard material to be continually disappointed by and to bitch about while faceless strangers you'll never know far, far away get all the profit from it.
Profit that comes in part directly out of YOUR collective wallets (assuming you're spending money on any of this), so you're effectively PAYING to be disappointed time and time again, paying money out of your own wallet (or god help them, your parents'/family's) to have something you love be continually tarnished, even as you continue to hate-watch it and masochistically demand more of it even AS its letting you down continuously every step of the way; if ever the otherwise godawful ridiculous and asinine term "cuck" could ACTUALLY be properly applied somewhere...
No, rather I mean from a sheer creative standpoint, and from purely an audience/common fan's perspective, irrespective of Toei's financial considerations: what the fuck actual reason is there to continue on with a series that had already lasted more than a solid decade with over 40+ manga volumes, 400/500 TV anime episodes, dozens of theatrical anime films, and enough video games to keep any one person occupied for almost a lifetime or so? Why this perpetual need to just churn out more DB content just for the sake of having it? What is the problem with just accepting that it had its run, it was a long and dense run that many things never even get to have, it ended with more or less as satisfying a sense of closure as most things get to have, and just closing the book on it for good like we had already done all the way the fuck back in goddamned 1997?
All the more so when it's STILL managed to thrive and persist onward in further building its audience and maintaining immense amounts of cultural relevance even well long many years/decades AFTER its been over and done with and new Dragon Ball content of any sort (other than video games) hasn't been a thing since Bill Clinton was still in office, Tamagotchi's and the Macarena were still a thing, the PS1 was barely two years old and still ruled the gaming roost, 9/11 was still another five or so years off, social media as we know it today didn't at all exist, the Star Wars special editions had JUST come out and the prequels were still a couple years off (and people were still genuinely bugfuck over the moon excited for them), and when well more than half (if not three quarters) of Dragon Ball's present fanbase were either still in diapers or still swimming around inside their father's scrotum?
An astounding feat which almost NOBODY seems to really take much time to marvel at the utterly INSANE magnitude of.
- And speaking of Star Wars; I want to be upfront that I personally also think that the new Star Wars films are indeed utter crap. BUT it has NOTHING to do whatsoever with the new leads. They're (largely) fine. The issue with the new Star Wars films isn't what newness they're bringing to the table: its how stringently they rely on nostalgia for the original trilogy. The Force Awakens is an ungodly dull, boring-ass movie; but it has nothing to do whatsoever with having a black and female lead characters (both of whom are in many instances actually highlights, especially the former): its because new characters aside, its essentially just a beat for beat remake of A New Hope (with even the new characters essentially occupying similar roles as the old ones).
The issue with the new movies is that we've already done this dance before: and doing it all over again is just tiresome and repetitive. Even The Last Jedi, for all its aspirations at bringing "risky and bold new twists" to the table, ultimately still relies WAY too much on concepts, storytelling devices, and even distinctive moments from the original trilogy (namely The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi).
Other than charismatic new cast members, these movies do almost NOTHING whatsoever to justify their existence. The whole reason that they're there at all seems to be "Hey, more Star Wars! More of what you loved as kids!" just for the sake of Disney's profit margins and milking the cow for more nostalgia dollars, and for the public to endlessly wallow in the comforting familiarity of their childhood memories because it doesn't know or seem to grasp how to move the fuck on to new and wholly different things.
Hmmm.... that kinda sounds familiar and like it MIGHT just be related to this other, broader conversation that we're having about Dragon Ball right now actually.
- All that having been said, I DO actually agree that the character Rey IS in fact a "Mary Sue" in terms of how she's written. She's saved ultimately by a downright fantastic performance from Daisy Ridley, who's just an awesome actress: but as purely written on the page, Rey is kind of an insufferable bore whom the entire plot bends itself over backwards to make into this ultimate beacon of flawless badass perfection without at any point really having to work for it or earn it. That has nothing to do with sexism, reverse sexism, or what have you: its just lazy, hackneyed writing. Period. Finn's great though, both in concept and in execution, and Boyega's also an astoundingly talented actor who brings a ton to the role.
Again, THESE PEOPLE are NOT the problem here: its the writing, and how unoriginal and hopelessly reliant upon the audience's built-in affection for this series it ultimately is. None of this has anywhere else to go, because the story for Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia Organa were all effectively completed in Return of the Jedi. Its digging for gold in a mine that's already been stripped clean eons ago. Its trying to get blood from a stone.
Again, kinda like where we currently find ourselves with Dragon Ball Super.
- Also yes, these new Star Wars movies are bad for reasons all their own, AND there are (unfortunately) total fucking assholes out there in the world who hate them not for the things they genuinely do wrong narratively (and there's PLENTY there already to dislike) but because those people themselves are wrapped up on the wrong side of the current political climate and they simply don't like seeing a black and female face in their precious nerd franchise (despite there historically ALREADY BEING black and female faces on this franchise to begin with: Leia and Lando both say hello). These people are total reactionary morons, and buying into their nonsense framework for the problems with the new Star Wars movies (by labeling them "SJW trainwrecks") only helps their bullshit agenda and makes you into their useful idiot for helping to propagate and support their entire toxic and skewed framework for this whole dynamic.
By all means, feel free to hate on these movies: I certainly do, and have no shame admitting to it. But hate them for reasons that actually matter and are relevant: like the fact that they're unimaginatively written and conceived, and have no reason to even exist at all other than to cynically milk overly-sentimental nerds of their money for the coffers of a soulless, scum-sucking corporate behemoth like Disney (that could more than stand to lose a few bucks and a few franchises at this point).
Buying into the whole "These movies are horrible because they're pandering to SJWs by having a black and female main character!" makes you into basically sounding like a complete and utter asshole, and needlessly so: and ultimately it'll only make the movies' defenders dig their heels in that much deeper into entrenching themselves in full-on defensive mode rather than winning any of them over to your way of thinking, and round and round the reactionary merry-go-round shall endlessly go.
Even if the place that you're coming from here is more to the point of "Well I
personally don't mind there being black and female leads: but I just can't stand the people who defend these movies by calling other people racist or sexist for hating them." That STILL is a stupid and utterly fallacious reason for hating these films, because it has NOTHING to do whatsoever with what the movies themselves
are doing wrong, and everything to do with the fanbase surrounding them
Emotional over-reaction to a given work by its fans is in NO way connected to the actual merits and drawbacks of that given work. If I hated on everything purely due to their having an annoying, moronic, and all around shitty fanbase surrounding them, I wouldn't like basically ANYTHING that exists out there: up to and for damn sure including Dragon Ball itself.
- And sorry, but people who are overly-sensitive and go vastly overboard calling EVERYONE and everything racist or sexist are NOT somehow inherently WORSE than actual, for-real racism and sexism. Yes they're certainly annoying, obnoxious, and utterly beyond stupid, and they are indeed damaging to the fight against actual racism and sexism by playing boy-who-cried-wolf with it: but that doesn't make them into being somehow even MORE worthy of your scorn and suspicion than the people who are genuinely hateful and resentful of black people and women, to a point where they'll even go so far and be so absurdly petty as to throw shade at their being black and female lead actors being the face of a new Star Wars movie.
That's like a 911 operator who gets a lot of prank calls every night, so then starts regarding EVERY emergency call they ever get with suspicion that its always probably just nothing. When it comes to matters this serious, all it takes is one or a couple of genuine instances, and suddenly real people who are in real trouble suffer severe consequences as a result of our collective negligence and apathy.
As annoying and as douchey as the over-reacting "SJW"-types are (and yes I agree, they are indeed annoying and stupid in a great many instances), they're NOT the ones who are ultimately doing the more comparatively severe damage to the public discourse and to society at large here. Whether you see it or believe it or not, and for all the false-alarms raised by SJWs, the impossible to deny reality is that there are still plenty
of genuinely racist, sexist, hatemongers still out there in the world who are still right this very moment trying to spread their toxic sewage ideas, and are unfortunately hooking in more young people in the last several years than they have in recent decades prior; and they're the ones who ultimately thrive off of and benefit the most out of both the SJW's overreaction, and your own overreaction against the SJW's overreaction.
Whether it be SJW-types who overreact against every little inconsequential misdeed and faux pas, or it be people like some of you online who in many cases all you tend to see are SJW-types over-reacting to stupid things and thus treat them as if they're the source of all life's woes: in the end, that reactionary, non-critically nuanced landscape is what's allowing the real
monsters of the world to skate by and give their hideous, medieval thoughts a viable platform in 2018. By misidentifying who and what the real problems are, by not thinking critically and rationally and with sound moral judgement and priorities (not to mention without sound historical context), you leave yourselves unknowingly susceptible to the influence of genuinely hateful, vicious people and their ideas.
As with the ACTUAL racist/sexist vitriol that's been spewed against the new Star Wars films (and there definitely has indeed been plenty of that, like it or not), bristling at people who over-zealously call out every person that dislikes the movies as being inherently racist/sexist for disliking them is also rooted in knee-jerk emotional reaction rather than rationality or reason: just like the people who themselves over-zealously lump in all detractors in with racists and sexists are operating on pure emotional knee-jerk reaction.
You can be annoyed with both actual racist/sexist fans who hate these movies for having black and female leads, AND be annoyed with overly-defensive fans who label EVERYONE that dislikes them as being culpable with those racist/sexist shitheads, AND still think that these movies suck for reasons all their own disconnected from all that extraneous IRL nonsense WHILE realizing that the entire "SJW" framework is complete and utter bullshit in and of itself! Why its almost like the human mind is capable of containing and managing more than just one thought at a time!
- So yes, the new Star Wars movies are bad, but NO it isn't because they're "pandering to SJWs", because much of that entire paradigm is almost COMPLETELY made up by bitter, racist/sexist Alt-Right types on the internet who are way too caught up in their own political BS: and the parts of it that aren't invented by them is largely due to an opposingly reactionary swath of college-age millennials who wildly misidentify everyone and everything even slightly in opposition to them as all being equally as hateful and racist/sexist as the Alt-Right, and thus provide themselves as handy strawmen to prop up the Alt-Right's entire nonsense agenda and win otherwise regular people more towards their way of thinking. All of these concepts can be, and are in fact, true all at once without this being an either/or.
Its no different whatsoever in many ways than that new all-female lead Ghostbusters movie awhile back: it was an unwatchably bad movie because it was just plain unfunny and annoyingly acted/directed. It had NOTHING to do whatsoever with it being all-female lead, NOR did it have anything to do with the Alt-Right knuckle draggers who spat sexist venom at it, NOR with any of the SJW-types who over-defended it from them (and lumping everyone else with a negative opinion of the film in with them in the process).
It was just a bad movie for no more a typical, unremarkable reason than because it was just a poorly made studio-mandated trainwreck of a cynical grab for nerd-nostalgia dollars. Just like basically every other bad summer tentpole movie of the last decade and a half now: all the political clusterfuck nonsense surrounding it was ultimately just white noise drawing undue and totally undeserved attention at what was otherwise just another inconsequential, garden-variety bad studio movie (within an endless conga line of bad studio movies) that should've otherwise been ignored and forgotten about within days of its release.
- Don't like the new Star Wars films? Don't like the new Dragon Ball material? Here's a novel idea then: STOP FUCKING WATCHING THEM AND STOP GIVING THESE COMPANIES YOUR MONEY TO CONTINUE MAKING THEM. Look for and devote your time, attention, and cash to things that are all new and original, and thus perhaps encourage that "new and original" be the approach that is taken to pop culture and media going forward instead of continually dredging up and debasing past glories. Forget your fucking precious-ass childhood baggage with these movies and cartoons for ten seconds of your life and actually challenge yourself with something you've NEVER experienced in any
Yes, we're living in a remake/remix culture: but that's largely because we, the audience, keep enabling it and sending the message to these media giants that that's what we want. No one's putting a gun to any of our heads to keep going to the mat again and again and again with these endless franchise rehashes: its ultimately up to us to break that cycle by moving on from the past, setting our nostalgia aside, and demanding actual newness and freshness out of our creative landscape and moving forward as people. You can defend nostalgia as a concept all you want, but ultimately its the continued refusal to move on from it that's keeping us perpetually stuck in these endless cycles of repeating and reviving past franchises over and over and over and over again, to ever diminishing returns.
Stop settling for less, stop yearning for the continued comfort of familiarity, and be adventurous and exploratory into unknown realms of art. Seek to CHALLENGE yourself as a grown-ass adult instead of continually stagnating into your elementary school pastimes. Fucking demand better: both of media creators and of yourselves.