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Film & TV

Space Jam’s Real Legacy

Homepage of the 1996 Space Jam film. (Warner Bros./Screengrab)

This past weekend, after many years of rumors and development, a sequel to 1996’s Space Jam was released in theaters and on HBO Max. The original bizarre mash-up of the NBA and Looney Tunes starred Michael Jordan as himself; 2021’s version stars LeBron James. It managed to dethrone Black Widow atop the box office.

Unlike another 1996 movie involving aliens, I have no abiding fondness for the original Space Jam. Yes, I have vague memories of watching it when it first came out, and I think I once owned it on VHS — I’ll pause here for the Zoomers to look up what that means — but I have not seen it since, nor do I desire to. And I have even less interest in the sequel, which gives every appearance of being a highly processed and soulless corporate product.

In fact, the only reason Space Jam: A New Legacy registered for me at all, aside from its curiosity, relates to the only bit of nostalgia I really have for the original. Which has nothing to do with the movie itself. Rather, its website. Released in the early years of the Internet as a mass phenomenon, Space Jam had a promotional website. And for some reason, no one ever bothered to take it down, or update it, or do much of anything at all with it. For 24 years, it stood as a bizarre and quaint monument to an Internet that was: a primitive thing that didn’t so thoroughly pervade everyday life. It appealed to my uniquely Millennial nostalgia for this era, one of the last in which it was broadly possible to have largely pre-digital memories. (Sorry, Zoomers; you’re stuck being “digital natives.”)

But when Space Jam: A New Legacy was released this past Friday, a worrying thought occurred to me: Had Warner Bros. changed the Space Jam website from its 1996 appearance? Had modernity claimed another victim? Had something solid yet again melted into air? For a few moments, I was afraid even to look; it would be too depressing and blunt simply to type the old url in and find some slick, gross, and, worst of all, new website staring back at me. So I found out indirectly, by daring to search other parts of the Internet for the answer.

I discovered that the old hyperlink has indeed been changed for the new movie . . . but it can still be accessed at www.spacejam.com/1996, in all its pre-millennium glory. And for this, I am weirdly grateful. It was probably just an accident or an oversight that the original website persisted. But many such things in life and in civilization start similarly before accruing greater significance simply by staying around. And in an age when so much is changing, I take comfort in the fact that one of our corporate overlords saw fit to stand athwart. Even in so small an instance as this.

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