Salary Survey Extra: Got (dark fantasy-fixated 1980s) nostalgia?

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Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Quick! Name the dark fantasy children's (?) movie that got a 10-episode prequel on Netflix in 2019.For anyone who was alive in the 1980s, there’s a substantial amount of déjà vu drifting through the pop cultural collective consciousness right now. For a decade that was fairly roundly derided by commentators and cultural critics when we were (some of us, at any rate) actually living through it, the good old ’80s has become somewhat inexplicably bathed in the golden glow of nostalgia.

Nowhere is this more true than in the hallowed halls of popular entertainment, where film and television producers have, in recent years, raided intellectual property (IP) from the 1980s like pirates terrorizing the Spanish Main. Brands that flourished in the 1980s without directly originating there, like Marvel Comics, have been plundered right alongside the likes of GhostbustersThe Terminator, Top Gun, and The Karate Kid.

What does any of that IP have to do with IT (information technology)? Plenty, of course, when you consider the enormous importance of computer-generated effects and animation to most film and television productions. More to the point, however, this is where we get into one of the end-of-survey Not So Serious questions from the 2020 Salary Survey.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to predict which appeals to nostalgia will capture the public interest and which will attract (or appear to attract) legions of old and new fans only until the marketing budget runs out. Right around the time of last year’s Salary Survey, it seemed that Netflix’s expensive dark fantasy reboot The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance had accomplished the former.

Or was that only an ad-fueled fever dream? The original The Dark Crystal, a well-respected 1982 outgrowth of the puppetry empire founded by Muppets creator Jim Henson, has always had fans, but it hasn’t ever been a touchstone the magnitude of, say, Star Wars. So maybe it was an overestimation to shell out for 10 hourlong episodes based on a generally forgotten experimental Muppet movie?

Certified IT professionals have their pop culture likes and dislikes, just like everyone else. Hence, taking our survey audience as a representative subset of “everyone,” we attempted to gauge the level of interest among the general populace in going the distance with a 10-hour deep dive into the precursor mythology of the final battle (depicted in The Dark Crystal; remember, the new stuff is all prequelizing) between the birdlike Skeksis and elfin Gelflings.

In other words, who’s been clamoring for this, and how many of you are there? Here’s what we learned:

Q: Netflix just released a 10-episode 10-hour prequel to The Dark Crystal that is packed to the gills with Gelflings and Skeksis and combines puppetry and computer animation. All I can say about The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is (which of the following)?

I watched all 10 episodes already. This is glorious payback for George Lucas ruining my childhood. — 2.8 percent
I watched all 10 episodes already. Now Jim Henson has ruined my childhood, too. — 1.7 percent
I haven’t seen it yet, but I am going to watch the crap out of this thing. — 16.5 percent
I haven’t seen it yet, and I wouldn’t watch even if you were holding red-hot pokers against my feet. — 9.5 percent
Eh. — 12.3 percent
What’s a Gelfling? — 14.6 percent
This is what Netflix spends my subscription money on?! — 3.6 percent
What? — 17.9 percent
Huh? — 14.9 percent
No, seriously. A Gelfling? — 6.2 percent

Pretty impressive, really, that 4.5 percent of survey respondents has already watched the whole thing — especially the ones who watched all 10 episodes even though they came away kind of disgusted with the end result. And then we have the 16.5 percent of those surveyed who basically had Age of Resistance at the top of their queue, even though they hadn’t seen it yet.

That leaves the 79 percent of respondents whose reactions ranged from complete bafflement, to mild head-scratching, to heated revulsion. Still, if Netflix could count on 21 percent of all viewers to watch anything, then they’d probably turn cartwheels. So, to whatever extent certified IT professionals really are a representative subset of “everyone,” it would appear that Netflix made a savvy call.

What will they think of next? How about a 10-episode prequel to The Last Starfighter, or a 10-episode prequel to The Neverending Story? (Holy crap! HBO already created a one-season 26-episode animated redux of The Neverending Story clear back in 1995. Well then.)

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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