Salary Survey Extra: Whoa no! Bill and Ted strike out
Rat Pack singer Dean Martin once crooned that “You’re nobody ’til somebody loves you.” So … what if somebody (or many somebodies) loves you, and then life goes on and the somebody who loves you gets married, has kids, and gradually starts spending all of their time doing things like going to work and becoming familiar with personal budgeting software? Does that mean you’re nobody again?
(Yes, it’s time to report on another one of those Not So Serious questions that we ask at the end of Salary Survey each year, after we’ve worn down your resistance with 30-ish minutes of serious stuff.)
Way back at the tail end of the 1980s, a movie about two genial slackers with rock-n-roll aspirations captured the public imagination — or, you know, captured at least enough of it to warrant a second movie a few years later. The legend of Bill and Ted probably should have ended there: with an Excellent Adventure followed by a Bogus Journey followed by, eh, the occasional Gen X movie night.
Bill and Ted were nobody until somebody (lots of impressionable teenagers) loved them, then they briefly cast a long pop cultural shadow, and then the end. That’s the answer: When somebody doesn’t love you anymore, you go back to being nobody. No hard feelings, no harm done, these things come and go, it’s the way of the world, the ebb and flow of the universe — pick your soul-healing cliché.
Except that actor Keanu Reeves, who played Ted, went on to become one of the biggest movie stars of his generation, adding a handful of toweringly iconic characters to his résumé and stubbornly refusing to exit the public consciousness. Eventually, it was probably inevitable that someone in Hollywood would pore over Reeves’ body of work and realize that there was never a third Bill and Ted movie.
It all came together, alas, just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic to ruin everything. Bill and Ted Face the Music got made relatively on the cheap, produced for just $25 million. Unfortunately, movie theaters were still suffering from a prolonged pandemic hangover at the time of the film’s planned release. Producers crossed their fingers, hoped for the best, and — yikes! — rustled up a miniscule $6.3 million in ticket sales.
We’ll never know whether waiting until sometime in the post-COVID future would have been the stronger play. What we do know, on the other hand, is that certified IT professionals weren’t exactly masking up to to hit the theater, or searching out Face the Music on the various streaming platforms that were part of a “please all” release strategy that ended up pleasing none, or at least few.
We asked Salary Survey respondents to gauge the level of their excitement about having a new Bill and Ted movie, after all these years (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure showed up in 1989, followed by Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey in 1991, followed by a whole lot of time passing). Were certified IT professionals preparing to watch the proverbial crap out of this thing, or wondering what we were even talking about?
Here’s what we learned:
Q: Keanu Reeves and that other guy made a new Bill and Ted movie and my reaction is basically …
Delight! Glee! All the feels! I’ve already seen it six times. — 3.5 percent
A new Bill and Ted movie? Whoa. I’m definitely gonna go see it. — 12.9 percent
I liked the first one. I’ll probably stream it. — 15.6 percent
I haven’t seen it yet, and I wouldn’t watch even if you were holding red-hot pokers against my feet. — 14.8 percent
I guess some people will watch anything. — 30.5 percent
It’s sad that George Carlin is not alive to see this day. — 5.6 percent
Thank God George Carlin didn’t live to see this day. — 5.6 percent
Hey! That “other” guy’s name is Alex Winter. — 3.9 percent
Really? Are you sure that’s not Ryan Phillippe? — 3.7 percent
They made a new movie without Station. Bill and Ted are dead to me forever. — 3.9 percent
You’ll note that there is a strong degree of fond feeling for Bill and Ted among the IT crowd: Close to one-third of those surveyed were at least some level of excited about reuniting with the dynamic duo. That stacks up fairly well against the 45 percent of respondents who essentially said either “Hell no!” (14.8 percent) or “Meh” (30.4 percent).
Everyone else (22.7 percent of those surveyed) cast their vote for one of the various options included for a) general merriment, and b) to make it possible for those without any particularly strong feelings (or possibly any meaningful degree of awareness about the whole kit and caboodle) to still register an opinion.
It did kind of do us some good to see that almost nobody cares about the fact that Station, the weird space muppet sent by God to assist Bill and Ted in Bogus Journey did not find his way back into the story with Face the Music. We’re glad to know that even movie producers making a shameless sequel can tell when there’s no reason to bring back bad special effects and worse storytelling.