The A.V. Club's fortified compound was inundated with Napoleon Dynamite crap this week. Specifically, we received multiple copies of the new special edition DVD (or, excuse me, ""like, the best special edition ever!" says the package) –and to get our attention, 20th Century Fox included a Napoleon Dynamite talking doll. It's a roughly 6-inch figurine on a plastic platform that says 18 of Napoleon's quips when you press a button. The package's hyperbole promises it will "have you and your friends laughing for hours. Sweet!" (The funniest part is the Urban Outfitters price tag on it–$18. Apparently, Fox had to pay for these or at least go through Urban Outfitters.)
I really liked Napoleon Dynamite, but I've grown weary of it. I still enjoy the film itself, but mass commodifcation has turned its quirks into annoying novelty-store ephemera. It began when I noticed Target was selling "Vote For Pedro" shirts. As I left the grocery store the other day, I noticed the sticker vending machine was selling "TATER TOTS RULE!" stickers, which I suspect are linked to the movie. Somewhere, there's a cabal of marketing hacks desperately brainstorming ideas for more crap to sell. "C'mon, people, Hot Topic's got a whole Napoleon Dynamite section now!"
Do you need more Napoleon Dynamite merchandise? You're in luck!
— The Complete Quote Book
— Mad Libs
— Talking pen
— Taming A Liger: Unexpected Spiritual Lessons From Napoleon Dynamite, a book by Jeff Dunn and Adam Palmer
— Napoleon in Prom Suit doll
— A whole line of ringer T-shirts, tanktops, sleeveless shirts, and hats
— Academic wall calendar
— A flip book of Napoleon dancing
— Action figures of Napoleon, Kip, Napoleon & Tina, and Uncle Rico throwing the steak (OK, well, that one's awesome—and I can't hate on these too much because Todd McFarlane did them)
I don't know why this kind of thing continues to surprise me. If I've learned anything since I discovered punk rock, it's that commercialism can and will suck the life out of all things. To wit, some text from the new DVD:
Your wildest dreams just came true–here's a laugh-out-loud look at the world of Napoleon Dynamite in Like, the Best Special Edition Ever! This all-new 2-disc set is more fun than a barrel of ligers: follow your heart with two outrageous audio commentaries; feed your inner llama with behind-the-scenes footage…"
"More fun than a barrel of ligers"? "Feed your inner llama"? Seriously?
Then there's the DVD cover, which is a "Vote For Pedro" shirt with Napoleon Dynamite written small at the bottom. But then there are buttons on the sides:
— LIGERS RULE!
— PEDRO WILL PROTECT!
— "VOTE PEDRO and your WILDEST DREAMS will come TRUE!" (and a variation: "BELIEVE IN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS")
— GIRLS like BOYFRIENDS with great SKILLS
— JUST SAY NO TO SUMMER
— LIGERS FOR PROTECTION
My question is this: Has the Napoleon Dynamite backlash begun? If not, when will it? Or will it? How long until the inevitable straight-to-DVD Napoleon knockoff hits stores?