Are you prepared for November?

November 1996: an event that reshaped the landscape of American life struck like a meteor from the heavens.  Emerging from the crater was a scrappy movie studio named Warner Brothers, who wanted to give a highly-motivated actor the chance to break into show business.

On November 14, random pedestrians could be easy overheard saying “Michael Jordan?  More like Michael BORIN’ am I right?”  Comedy was very rudimentary in those days.  By November 16, your average American was hoping that Jordan would get another chance in the NBA.  What caused this enormous sea change in attitude?  A little-known movie called “Space Jam.”

The film’s title track invites the listen to “come on and slam,” and subsequently makes one feel welcomed within “the jam.”  But what are we as a community doing to return the favor as the 20th anniversary of this film approaches?  The answer may shock you.

The 20th anniversary of Space Jam, far from being a national holiday, is not even on most calendars. The WSU events calendar has completely omitted it and no evidence of preparations for celebration of any kind exists. We may have believed that we could fly in 1996, but that optimistic attitude and the go-get-’em attitude of Michael Jordan are long gone.

Students were equally unclear about the preparations for the anniversary. “I am afraid I do not understand the question,” remarked a student who gave his name as Bill.  “I’m trying to find the Undergraduate Building and you’re talking to me about a basketball movie?”

“Space Jam,” which is the only non-documentary sold in the Basketball Hall of Fame, probably touched the lives of millions. Maybe in a good way, even. It introduced an entire generation of young filmgoers into enjoying movies, not because they are bad… or maybe a little bit because they are bad.

Without “Space Jam,” there would probably be no podcasts about reviewing bad movies. Maybe one person might have had the idea, but the team-up of Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny introduced an entire generation of movie-goers to enjoying things ironically. Whether or not you think that was a net positive, it is hard to deny that ironic appreciation makes up roughly 71% of all Facebook memes and is the backbone of YouTube channel monetization.

All these things began with “Space Jam.”  So I ask all of you, in honor of its 20th anniversary… to come on and slam, and welcome to the jam.

For more information on “Space Jam,” or just to soak up an example of web design circa 1996, visit www.warnerbros.com/archive/spacejam/movie/jam.htm

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