Friday, January 15, 2016

The Star Wars Universe Reset

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Star Wars Episode VI: The Force Awakens, which has been out for almost a month now and has been seen at least once by everyone in the Western world.

A big complaint some folks have about The Force Awakens is that it takes away the happy ending we saw in Return of the Jedi. In what seems to be kind of a trend these days, the movie has a ton of backstory that's only addressed in ancillary material (books, comics, etc). Supposedly, after the events of Return of the Jedi, our heroes reestablished the Republic and spent a good many years kicking the Empire's butt all over the place. But eventually a newly-armed Empire reinvented itself as the First Order and came roaring back with a vengeance thanks to the New Republic's complacency.

I have no idea what historical parallel they're trying to draw here
In the movie, the First Order destroys the Republic's seat of government and space fleet with their totally-not-a-Death-Star, so now our heroes are essentially back where they started in the first trilogy: part of a tiny resistance against a more-powerful Empire, and some fans are not happy about this.

My question to this upset group of fans is: what did you think would happen when Disney announced that they were making a sequel trilogy and that Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford were coming back? Did they think we'd get three movies full of Luke, Leia, and Han reveling in how trouble-free their lives are now? That the new trilogy would be named Episode VII: Life Is Good, Episode VIII: No Problems Over Here and Episode IX: Let's Take The Rest Of The Day Off?

When Disney decided to move ahead with this new Star Wars trilogy, they had three basic options:

  1. Set the story a hundred years or more after the original trilogy when the original characters have all died.
  2. Have our heroes face a completely new threat that's not the Empire.
  3. Have the Empire rise again and spoil Return of the Jedi's happy ending.
Any of these options would have let to some kind of fan complaint. In this day and age, unfortunately, being a "fan" of something too often means complaining on the Internet about how much you hate the newest iteration of it. 

If Disney went with Option 1, the fans would have complained that they missed a golden opportunity to bring back Luke, Han, and Leia.

If they went with Option 2 and ditched the Empire altogether, the fans would have complained that the new movies didn't feel like Star Wars.

But maybe you're saying: "I'm not mad they brought the Empire back, I just don't like how they did it. It should've been more like the Thrawn Trilogy: everything's going well and then the Empire shows up. They didn't need to break up Han and Leia or have Luke exile himself after his students got killed."

I sympathize, but I think the way things were ultimately handled is far more compelling. Part of the fun of The Force Awakens is figuring out the new status quo. We're thrown into the middle of things and have to figure out what's going on.  And I like how the mystery of Luke Skywalker drives the plot along,  making his final reveal a very powerful moment.

As for Han and Leia, it was never going to have a happy ending, anyway. As soon as we knew Harrison Ford was definitely returning, I knew Han Solo was going to die. Both Ford and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan wanted it to happen in Return of the Jedi thirty years ago, and I assumed Ford would insist on it as a condition of returning. Han and Leia breaking up over their son's fall to the Dark Side of the Force may not be very happy, but it does feel very real.

Also very genuine is Luke's failure with Ben Solo (a.k.a. Kylo Ren) and the destruction of his new Jedi Order. Remember, Luke barely had any Jedi training, and most of what he did get came from Yoda, whose rigidity was a big reason why the Jedi in the prequels were blind to Palpatine's machinations until it was too late. And I have a feeling that Luke's failure will be more understandable once we learn more about Supreme Leader Snoke.

I certainly understand why some longtime fans are upset with The Force Awakens, and they're entitled to their feelings. But I found it to be a pleasant reset of the Star Wars universe, and I'm excited to see what comes next.

NOTE: Because the topic of the post before this one is very controversial within a certain Internet fan community that rivals the Westboro Baptist Church in its tiny size and irrational hatred for anyone who even slightly disagrees with them, I've enabled comment moderation for the time being. Thank you for understanding.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Axanar Meltdown

In June 2014, Star Trek fans were treated to the release of a truly original fan film: Prelude to Axanar.  It was a History Channel-style documentary about a war between the Federation and the Klingons twenty years before the adventures of Captain Kirk, with a professional director and professional actors and crew. The stellar cast and special effects that were within a whisker of feature-quality got a lot of people excited about the production team's intention to make a full-on movie about the Battle of Axanar itself.

Thanks to generous Internet publicity and even the public support of George Takei, it raised over $1 million through Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. The production team used the money to rent a Los Angeles-area warehouse to convert into a studio and began to build sets with the promise that production on the film would begin in January 2016. People attached to the production grew fond of saying that Axanar was not a fan film, but a professional independent Star Trek movie.

In retrospect, these things were huge red flags. And an article on The Wrap back in August entitled "How $1.1 Million ‘Star Trek’ Fan Movie Has Escaped Studio Shutdown (So Far)" contained this ominous quote from CBS:
“CBS has not authorized, sanctioned or licensed this project in any way, and this has been communicated to those involved. We continue to object to professional commercial ventures trading off our property rights and are considering further options to protect these rights.”

But Axanar had blossomed into a mini-movement in Star Trek fandom, and its supporters remained optimistic about the film's prospects. Conventional wisdom said that CBS and Paramount would never risk the negative PR backlash that might come from going after a fan film, that they believed that the existence of fan films was good for the Star Trek franchise as a whole.

That conventional wisdom was torpedoed last week when CBS filed a lawsuit in federal court against Axanar seeking monetary damages for copyright infringement and an injunction to have the project shut down. 

I'm not going to discuss the legal side of this whole affair since I have no expertise in that area. Instead, I'm going to talk about what really fascinates me: the truly unhinged reactions of the Axanar fan community. If you read this blog primarily for its Disney-related content, then you probably never heard of the Axanar fan community prior to right this minute. But it exists, and it's an extremely devoted bunch of folks. And by "devoted" I mean "a lot of them are crazier than a bag of enraged ferrets". Very generally speaking, the online comments by Axanar supporters in the wake of the lawsuit have taken one of these two forms:

"That guy I never met who died 25 years ago? He would totally agree with me."

Incoherent rage with a smattering of Klingon words

Amazingly, that last comment appeared in the comments section of--I kid you not--The Wall Street Journal. I suspect that if you were to meet these folks in person, they would come across as perfectly normal, rational, well-adjusted human beings. Well, maybe not that second guy. But my question is this: what is it about this situation that makes perfectly normal-seeming people react so embarrassingly? I think it's more than just the natural ability of Facebook and Internet comment sections to bring out the stupidest side of people. 

As I said earlier, Axanar has become a mini-movement in Star Trek fandom. For the record, I do not believe that Axanar head honcho Alec Peters cynically set out to unite disaffected Star Trek fans into a movement around his fan film to get money or satisfy his ego or whatever. I do believe he recognized what was happening and encouraged it to help crowdfund the project. But why did the Axanar movement coalesce in the first place? 

For at least the last 20 years or so, there's a segment of Star Trek fans who's been growing progressively angrier. They haven't liked the newer TV shows and movies, and as each new Star Trek installment has ignored them and aimed at other, more profitable segments of the entertainment market, they've come to feel abandoned, disenfranchised, and yes, hopping mad. A common refrain among these angry fans is that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry would never approve of these newer TV shows and movies, that the new stuff is"not their Star Trek", and that it's time for the fans to take Star Trek back. Some of these folks are enthusiastic supporters of fan projects that aim to re-create the Original Series, like Star Trek Continues. But Axanar has become this group's cause celebré.

Let's really break this down: we have a group of angry people: predominantly white, male, and middle-aged. They're passionately devoted to a thing to the point where they feel a certain ownership of it, and they're mad because the people who control that thing aren't managing things in a way they agree with. They fervently believe that, were the founder of this thing still alive, he would completely agree with them. They feel like the people in charge have abandoned the founder's original intentions, and that it's incumbent upon them to take this thing back so that the founder's original intention for it can be restored and things can be like they were in the good old days. Does any of this sound familiar?

Yes. Axanar fans are the Star Trek Tea Party. Now, this is not a political blog. Both it and myself are politically neutral, so I'm not saying that the Tea Party is good or bad. Just that the Axanar fan community is demographically very similar, and if you swap out a few proper nouns ("George Washington" for "Gene Roddenberry", "America" or "the Constitution" for "Star Trek") a lot of the stuff they say sounds very similar.

But Axanar supporters are united by more than just anger and discontent. Axanar has given a lot of these people a sense of community and belonging to an important cause. And since the CBS lawsuit threatens the existence of that community, they've become defensive. And honestly, I feel sorry for them. I hope that each of them can take something positive from this.

I said earlier that I wouldn't discuss the legalities of the situation, but since this is, after all, my blog I'm going to offer my personal, non-expert opinion:

Axanar is finished. It has no leg to stand on. Star Trek fans (myself included) sometimes express the romantic notion that Star Trek belongs to us, but that is not true in a legal sense. It belongs to CBS and Paramount. Maybe it's true that the existence of an Axanar film would do no harm to Star Trek Beyond's box office earnings or the viewership of the as-yet-untitled TV series. But as the intellectual property holders, CBS and Paramount are within their rights to shut it down, and ignore all the other fan productions if they choose to. Maybe that doesn't seem particularly nice or fair. 

But that's real life, isn't it?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

What Is Star Trek?

In the run-up to the Star Wars premiere, we whose hearts belong to that other sci-fi franchise with "Star" in the name got a treat: the first trailer for July's Star Trek Beyond.

Perhaps you think Star Trek fans rejoiced at the new trailer the way Star Wars fans did at the first trailer for The Force Awakens

Don't be a fool. Star Trek fans reacted to this trailer the way they have reacted to every new Star Trek thing since at least 1987: well thought-out critiques angry temper tantrums. A common fan accusation in the wake of the Star Trek Beyond trailer is that this new film is not "real" Star Trek. But if you ask individual fans what constitutes "real" Star Trek you'll get different answers, all of which boil down to "whatever version of Star Trek I, personally, grew up with."

So how can you tell what constitutes "real" Star Trek? Well, since the new films are a reboot of the original 1960s TV series, let's start with the founding document of that series: the pitch Gene Roddenberry wrote in the spring of 1964 to sell Star Trek to TV executives. At its inception, what was the essence of Star Trek? Roddenberry explained:

STAR TREK is . . .
A one-hour dramatic television series.
Action - Adventure - Science Fiction.
The first such concept with strong central lead characters plus other continuing regulars.

After a list of story possibilities and an explanation of the mathematical probability of the number of Earthlike planets our galaxy may contain, the pitch continues:

STAR TREK is a "Wagon Train" concept--built around characters who travel to worlds "similar" to our own, and meet the action-adventure-drama which becomes our stories . . .
The time is "Somewhere in the future". It could be 1995 or maybe even 2995. In other words, close enough to our own time for our continuing characters to be fully identifiable as people like us, but far enough into the future for galaxy travel to be thoroughly established (happily eliminating the need to encumber our stories with tiresome scientific explanation).
There's nothing here that precludes this new movie from being accepted as Star Trek. It's action-adventure-science fiction. It has strong central lead characters (Kirk, Spock) and other continuing regulars (Uhura, Scotty, McCoy, etc.) who travel to worlds similar to our own and meet with action, adventure, and drama. So far, so good. 

"But wait!" you say. "Isn't a real Star Trek story supposed to contain some kind of moral or message?" Right you are, imaginary person I conjured up for the sake of this article! And Star Trek Beyond is totally going to have that! Director Justin Lin spoke in an interview about how the Federation's expansionist philosophy will be questioned and weighed against the philosophy of the movie's principal antagonist. And Simon Pegg clarified what he meant when he said the studio wanted a story that was "less Star Trek-y" than the first draft that Bob Orci was to direct.

The problem, I think, is how that message or moral is conveyed. In the revised Writers and Directors' Guide for Season Two of the Original Series, Gene Roddenberry had this bit of instruction for how this should be handled:

Yes, we want you to have something to say, but say it entertainingly as you do on any other show. We don't need essays, however brilliant.

The Writers and Directors Guide also contained this important directive:

Build your episode on an action-adventure framework. We must reach out, hold and entertain a mass audience of some 20.,000,000 people or we simply don't stay on the air.

And if you watch the Original Series, that's exactly what it did. Yes, many of the stories had a message of some kind, but it was usually delivered by Captain Kirk after he'd spent the entire episode running, jumping, and punching out the aliens of the week. When modern movie studios spend over $100 million on a summer blockbuster, they expect an even higher action quotient. Star Trek was always intended to be mass market entertainment and has always made certain compromises as a result, as Gene Roddenberry once explained in a letter to Isaac Asimov.

"But, but" you sputter, "the new trailer has this in it":

"Do you see that? Do you? Huh? Captain Kirk on a motorcycle! That's too stupid to be Star Trek!"

Sure. Captain Kirk on a motorcycle seems a mite ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as Mr. Spock having a jam session with space hippies:

When fans complain that Star Trek Beyond (or the other J.J. Abrams Trek films) aren't "real" Star Trek or "their" Star Trek, what a lot of them are saying is that it's nothing like The Next Generation. And that's true. The Next Generation was a completely different animal. I love TNG to death, but probably the signature scene of the show was this:

Seriously. Almost every episode had a scene with the characters sitting around the conference table watching a Space PowerPoint presentation or debating the Prime Directive or whatever. And you just can't get away with that in the 21st century, any more that you could get away with having Captain Kirk fight a stuntman in a fakey-looking lizard costume or have Uhura whimper "Captain, I'm frightened," when faced with a tough situation.

Other than Gene Roddenberry's increasing loopy ideas about the future (by the mid-1980s, poor Gene was totally coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs) a big reason why TNG had more staff meetings than phaser battles was because it was too expensive to do it the other way around. In an era of digital technology and $100 million budgets, that's no longer the case.

Star Trek has always been a product of its time. In the 1960s, this meant lots of miniskirts and sexism. In the 1990s, it was aliens with fake rubber foreheads and too much technobabble. And in the 2010s, it's explosions, gunfights, and lots of yelling.

Maybe it's not what you grew up with. Maybe you don't like it.

But that doesn't mean it's not Star Trek.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sam Hinkie Is My Role Model

I’m going to deviate from my normal range of topics for just a minute and talk about something I don’t normally discuss here on futureprobe: sports and the world of the workplace. Hopefully, you’ll find it amusing. If not, it’s a big Internet.

What do you want most? The answer to that question is different for just about everybody: maybe you want world peace, or a Lamborghini, or a Jacuzzi full of supermodels. But the one thing most people want is money, and a lot of folks would love to have a job that pays them a lot of money without having to do anything remotely productive. Which is where Sam Hinkie comes in.

Sam Hinkie, for those of you not conversant with the sportsball, is the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team. NBA general managers make around $1 to $3 million a year, which is more money than 99.999% of Earth’s population will ever see in their lifetime. In return, they are supposed to assemble a competitive basketball team with a reasonable chance to win the league championship. Frequently, they fail. But they’re usually at least trying. Still, since only one team can win the championship every year, and only five to seven other teams are considered to be contenders, the majority of NBA GMs get ripped apart on sports talk radio and the Internet no matter how hard they try to assemble a good basketball team.

So Sam Hinkie came up with a brilliant plan. He would not even try to assemble a good basketball team. Instead, he would deliberately fail at his job, continue to collect $1 to $3 million per year, and if anyone asked he would just say he was engaging in “tanking”.

You see, sometimes even good teams will reach the point where their best players have retired or left to play somewhere else, and their GM will deliberately fill the team with bad players on short-term contracts so they’ll lose a bunch of games and thereby have the best chance to grab the best player in the upcoming college draft. This is called “tanking”. The thing is, a bad team assembled by a good GM engaging in tanking looks exactly like a bad team assembled by an incompetent GM who stinks at his job. And since 2013, Sam Hinkie has been able to collect $1 to $3 million per year to suck at his job, all while assuring everybody that he’s not in incompetent boob, but a wizard-like basketball genius executing a brilliant long-range plan.

Of course, you can only tell that lie for so long before people start to catch on. This season’s incarnation of the Philadelphia 76ers has been so dismally bad that it’s reaching back through time and erasing games the teams won in the past, and so, in an implicit admission that Sam Hinkie is less competent than a double amputee in a butt-kicking contest, the team hired a respected executive named Jerry Coangelo to basically take over Sam Hinkie’s responsibilities.

So that’s the end of the road for ol’ Sam, right? Nope! Because Sam Hinkie has not been fired. He’s still the General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, the team just hired Jerry Coangelo to do all the General Manager things. If you’ve followed along this far, you know what that means:

Sam Hinkie is getting paid millions of dollars a year not do any work!

Now, Sam is not a stupid man. In fact, in his previous job with the Houston Rockets he showed himself to be pretty good at assembling a talented basketball team, which you may recall is the main responsibility of a General Manager. So what is more likely? That he stopped on the way from Houston to Philadelphia and had several key brain lobes amputated, turning him into a drooling idiot? Or that he read the situation in Philadelphia, realized the owners wouldn’t fire him no matter what he did, and proceeded to deliberately stink at his job so they’d bring in somebody else to do it for him while still allowing him to keep his General Manager title and the $1-$3 million a year that comes with it?

In short, Sam Hinkie figured out how to make millions of dollars without doing anything remotely useful or productive. And that’s why he’s my role model.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Clarke Continuity Harmonization

All fictional works—books, movies, TV shows, etc.—are products of their time. This is especially noticeable with science fiction. The greatest science fiction movie ever made, 2001: A Space Odyssey, is not really about people in the year 2001. It’s about people of the 1960s in a fictional 2001. Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote three more Odyssey novels, none of which were entirely consistent with each other. In the Foreword to 2061: Odyssey Three, he explained the inconsistencies:

“Just as 2010: Odyssey Two was not a direct sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, so this book is not a linear sequel to 2010. They must all be considered as variations on the same theme, involving many of the same characters and situations, but not necessarily happening in the same universe. Developments since 1964 make total consistency impossible, as the later stories incorporate discoveries and events that had not even taken place when the earlier books were written.”

Obviously, Sir Arthur was not one to cling to the “canon” established by his previous work if it made no sense to do so. And yet his books remained consistently popular. He could hardly go out in public without excited fans throwing their undergarments at him.

arthurcclarkeCan you blame them?

So why do Star Trek fans throw hissy fits over that universe’s “canon”? Now don’t get me wrong, Star Trek is awesome and I love it. Well, most of it. I never much cared for Voyager and Enterprise. But as much as I disliked Enterprise I always felt sorry for its writers because they were trying to do a show that appealed to 21st century audiences in a post-9/11 world while also functioning as a believable prequel to a show from the 1960s that had this in it:


And there’s no way to do that. So every time Enterprise contradicted the Original Series, a certain contingent of the fanbase threw a tantrum, especially when the show’s producers insisted that whatever they’d just done was perfectly in continuity with the Original Series provided you did a set of mental gymnastics to make it fit. And I suppose I could understand their anger if not for the fact that these same folks had already shown themselves perfectly willing to do the same kind of mental gymnastics to make certain parts of the Original Series consistent with itself, not to mention the spinoff shows and movies.

What I’m trying to say is that at a certain point in Star Trek’s history it made sense to try to pretend that all the episodes and movies were part of the same continuity, but that time has now passed. Star Trek has gotten too big and too old. The franchise will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2016. And if you take into account that the first Star Trek pilot was produced in 1964 then it’s really 50 years old already. When Superman celebrated his 50th anniversary in 1988, was DC Comics trying to pretend that every Superman story published since 1938 was part of the same unbroken continuity? No! They stopped trying to do that in the ‘60s, and that was back when the comics were full of pants-crappingly insane stuff like this:


Just the other day, we got the big announcement that a new Star Trek series will premiere in January 2017. As of this writing, we know absolutely nothing about the new show, and the blandly-worded CBS press release offers few clues.

But I can be sure of one thing: CBS is not making this show for the hardcore fans with heads full of five decades of Star Trek minutiae. There aren’t enough of us to justify the expense. Whatever form the new Star Trek takes, it’s going to be designed to appeal to a wide audience in the 21st century. This will be a new thing for Star Trek on television, (yes, Enterprise ended in 2005, but for all practical purposes it functioned like a 1990s TV show, a fact that contributed to its early demise) and it’s bound to anger some long-time fans when it inevitably contradicts this or that decades-old piece of Trek continuity in favor of more modern or accessible storytelling.

Instead of regarding the 50-year-long Star Trek canon as inviolable holy scripture, I think we should take the Arthur C. Clarke approach and view the various iterations of Star Trek as variations on a theme, part of the great Star Trek multiverse. There’s something out there for everybody.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The EPCOT Center Boredom Realization

I finally got it the other day.

Conventional wisdom says that EPCOT Center was too dry, scholarly, and boring for your average vacationer, especially those of the non-adult variety. And I never completely understood how anyone who’s not an idiot could think this. Oh, I understand how a kid could be bored by World Showcase. I remember being bored out of my skull in 1984 when my parents dragged 6-year-old me past all the amazingly awesome stuff in Future World so my mom could engage in the thrilling World Showcase activity of looking at things in shops. But from that first trip in 1984 until I became a surly teenager in the early 90s, I considered Future World to be maybe the one place on the planet where it was impossible to be bored. I wanted to live there.

My response to people who claim that EPCOT Center’s Future World was boring for kids has always been to point out that I loved it when I was a kid and a lot of other people loved it when they were kids, and the only kids who did not love it were probably the children of anti-intellectual pig-brained morons who think Africa is a country and “science” is a four-letter word. (I don’t mean they think “science” is a curse word. I mean they spell it with four letters.)

And then the other day I was listening to the excellent Living Seas audio collection from When I was a kid I loved The Living Seas. It was still under construction on my first EPCOT trip, but shortly after that my grandfather bought me the definitive EPCOT Center book Walt Disney’s EPCOT: Creating The New World of Tomorrow and I spent the next two years poring over its description of the future Living Seas pavilion. I gazed at the pictures of concept art and the cutaway model of the pavilion and tried to imagine what it would be like.



Of course, much of what the book promised—most notably a Poseidon-narrated dark ride in bubble-shaped Omnimovers—did not materialize. But I didn’t care (or necessarily even realize this) on my first visit the year The Living Seas opened. SeaBase Alpha looked like an underwater Starbase straight out of the Star Trek movies, and I totally believed that I was actually submerged in a giant saltwater aquarium. (The EPCOT Center book said that the Seabase would be located in the center of the tank, and the finished pavilion did a good job of maintaining this illusion)

But there was not a lot to do at The Living Seas. Unlike later Eisner-era attractions like Body Wars or Alien Encounter where visitors are cast in the role of people taking a routine tour of a futuristic facility when something goes horribly wrong, The Living Seas cast visitors as people taking a routine tour of a futuristic underwater research station when something suddenly does not go horribly wrong, and really no unexpected events happen at all. I realized this as I listened to the audio cue that played in the preshow holding area. While ethereal underwatery music played, a competent professional voice explained that guests could file into a theater for a briefing before their journey to SeaBase Alpha or bypass the briefing and head directly for the Hydrolators if they so desired. I always thought of this as a neat piece of atmosphere that reinforced the idea of actually visiting an underwater base in a Star Trek-like future.

But as I approach middle age I have lots of friends with kids. All of these kids are really awesome, intelligent, and inquisitive human beings. And as I imagined myself standing in The Living Seas’ preshow holding area listening to that competent professional voice go on about how you could either go to the briefing or not go to the briefing I suddenly got a vision of one of those intelligent and inquisitive kids going “Mo-ooom! This is so BORING!”

And I got it.

Briefings are not a fun activity for the under-20 crowd. Actually, not really for the over-20 crowd either. “Hey kids! Let’s go to a briefing!” is never something you will hear a parent say on vacation, or probably any other time, unless that parent is under the influence of powerful medication.

Now, I know that The Living Seas was a product of the pre-smartphone, pre-Game Boy era where the cutting edge in interactive queue design was having stuff in the queue to look at while you waited. And SeaBase Alpha was really supposed to be the post-show after a really cool dark ride in bubble-shaped Omnimovers until United Technologies got all stingy with their sponsorship money. But the fact is that a lot of stuff in Future World during the EPCOT Center era really was a little too dry and stentorian for kids whose imaginary friend was not Mr. Spock (i.e. kids who were not me).

Sure, those things were balanced out by Journey Into Imagination, World of Motion, Horizons, and the interactive CommuniCore exhibits that most kids found wonderfully entertaining and inspiring. But in a place like Disney World that’s marketed as a wall-to-wall entertainment paradise, being suddenly confronted by the non-dinosaur portions of the original Universe of Energy (which operated under the woefully mistaken assumption that anything projected on a giant movie screen is automatically entertaining) can be a little jarring for a kid. And now I understand that.

So, to all the people who complained that the cherished EPCOT Center of my childhood was too boring for kids to enjoy, I apologize saying that you’re all pig-brained morons.

The actual figure is around 52%.