For our first trip to the cinema since pre-lockdown, my friends and I went to the Neukölln Arcaden Cineplex to see the Space Jam sequel. If you’re unfamiliar, Space Jam: A New Legacy is about how basketball superstar LeBron James gets sucked into the computer at Warner Bros. studios where he’s forced to team up with Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes gang in a game of hoops against an evil algorithm played by Don Cheadle to save his son. On their way to the climactic third act (or fourth quarter) they run into nearly every character from Warner Bros. growing stable of intellectual property (IP), from Superman and the Night King, to the barflies at Rick's Café Américain in Casablanca (copying their early work), the Gremlins, Austin Powers, and the rapey droogies from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. The famously stuttering Porky Pig throws down in a rap battle as Notorious P.I.G. At one point, four time NBA champion LeBron James is delighted to have confirmed that he is, in fact, a Hufflepuff.
Afterwards, when my friends and I tumbled into the bar Das Gift (which up until changing hands last weekend was owned by members of the Scottish band Mogwai, which coincidentally got its name from Warner Bros. property) we were shaken up by the experience. We joked about the audacity of it all. How a mass media conglomerate made a movie about an evil algorithm hoarding celebrities and intellectual property rights to trick the public, while the movie itself feels like it was written by an algorithm (credited to six screenwriters) and uses celebrity appearances and a conveyor belt of cameos to sell us on its empire. It’s almost like Warner Bros. is taunting the viewer. They know what they’re doing is hypocritical. But what are we going to do about this vulgar display of power? Choose Disney?