When Jerry Garcia died, nobody knew what to do. Deadheads everywhere felt a void, destroyed by the death of their nine-fingered muse and lost on their musical walkabout.
Did they appreciate that there will never be another Dead, that maybe it was time to be thankful for the music and move on with their lives? Nope, many of them decided to find another band to fill the void. So throngs of Dead aficionados took to following Rusted Root before eventually settling on New Jersey's Phish to fill their musical and obsessive void. I have no doubt these fans found a connection in the music, but there is no trippiness and sense of community that any band other than the Dead has been able to duplicate.
As the Hunger Games opened last weekend, it generated $165 million in ticket sales. The first film in the series of books for young adults, written by Suzanne Collins, captures the post-apocalyptic world of a country called Panem, formerly known as America. The books are extremely well-crafted and give young people the thrill of a world in which teenagers fight a battle to the death against other teenagers.
Kill or be killed, sort of like freshman year of high school.
The books are fantasies of young adults taking matters into their hands, fighting off the scourge of a world ruined by grownups, sort of like every day in a teenager's life.
Teens — and adults — flocked to libraries and bookstores. Then the great hype machine prompted the rush to the movie theaters. A tour of Union County cinemas for midnight screenings proved this "rush" to be, forgive the term, bloodless.
Devoid of costumed devotees, clamoring for prime seats. No lines, no squealing teens, no "Team Edward v. Team Jacob" parking-lot Twilight throw-downs. The parking lots were filled mostly with yawning parents of their no-driver's-license kids). It was merely an orderly parade of folks with tickets bought online, arriving a few minutes before the screening, grabbing their snacks and sliding into a seat just before getting hit with commercials (that's a whole other debate, for another time) instead of more previews, before the screening of the big flick.
Where were the maroon-and-yellow scarves, the glasses and marker-on-forehead lightning scars? The sense of community that a previous book-to-cineplex hero once cultivated?
We can sell tickets, but no matter how hard marketeers try to conjure the magic, we can't always capture the lightning in a bottle. Especially when it's manufactured. We need to talk to our kids about finding what inspires them, not just what triggers the "it's the third-week-of-March-big-movie" frenzy.
Just ask Harry. Or Jerry.