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On Friday, Disney will release Tron: Legacy, which will almost assuredly be a flashy but ultimately mediocre movie about young people going inside a mysterious computer world that bears only a passing resemblance to how computers actually work. And there's nothing wrong with that.

On the other hand, in the weeks before its release, you can't beg, borrow, or steal a copy of the movie it's a sequel to. I am, of course, talking about 1982's Tron, which was a flashy but ultimately mediocre movie about young people going inside a mysterious computer world that bears only a passing resemblance to how computers actually work.

And this is odd, because it's so out of whack with how the entertainment industry usually operates. When a new Harry Potter movie comes out in theaters, odds are that the last one has been just released on DVD and Blu-ray, all the ones before that are on sale at Target and Best Buy, and if you don't want to buy them, just turn your cable box to a couple of channels that are probably showing them in endless rotation. Hollywood loves franchises like dogs love sniffing butts.

But there's no high-definition remastered Tron Blu-Ray on shelves Tuesday, even though everyone knows Disney's been working on one. There's not even a cheap cash-in DVD re-release. The last time it was put out was the 25th anniversary special edition three years ago, and not only is that out of print, but there are reports floating around that Disney is actually forcing stores to take any remaining copies off of shelves. Which means Disney does not want you to see Tron.

There is only one reason Disney might not want you to see Tron, and it's the conclusion a lot of other people on the Internet have reached. Disney thinks Tron is a piece of shit, and if the kids today with the disposable income sit down and watch Bruce Boxleitner bopping around in day-glo tights, then they will emit a giant, collective Fuck That, and the only people going will be middle-aged nostalgic nerds all lining up for the cheaper 2-D showings because the glasses give them a headache.

And as much as I hate to say it, as a middle-aged nerd, they might be right. Tron was a piece of shit. A groundbreaking piece of shit. A memorable piece of shit. A culturally significant piece of shit. But it's still kind of a piece of shit. On the other hand, why is Tron the first, and so far only example, of Disney, or any other Hollywood studio for that matter, deciding they're embarrassed by one of their pieces of shit?

We are talking about the same company that churns out direct-to-video half-assed sequels to their animated movies at an astonishing rate, and instead of flushing them, or burying them like a self-conscious cat, they release them on DVD and advertise them on television. These are not the actions of a studio with a sense of shame. Much less the stuff on the Disney channel. I can understand not releasing Miley Cyrus' salvia bong hit on Blu-Ray, or at least not doing a good job on the HD remastering first, but are you seriously going to tell me Disney looks back on its back catalog, and the one thing it really regrets is neon jai alai?

But even if you agree with Disney that viewing the original Tron in all its 80s glory makes it difficult for audiences to take Tron: Legacy seriously, that right there raises an even more terrifying implication: Disney expects us to take Tron: Legacy seriously. And if they expect that, the only people they're fooling with their little DVD trick are themselves.

Admittedly, I'm just going by previews here, but as far as I can tell, the significant factors that make T:L a serious film and the original a laughingstock can be summed up thusly:

  • Leather jumpsuits instead of spandex, a substitution shitty superhero movies have been trying to get us to buy into for years with very little effect.
  • The Frisbees now have holes in the middle like Xena's weapon, instead of being frisbees. Sure, that worked for Shakespeare in Twelfth Night, which to this day is taken much more seriously than Eleventh Night, but we all are hip to that trick now.
  • The lightcycles now turn all curvy instead of at right angles.
  • And, of course, the sequel is chock full of UDI, Unresolved Daddy Issues. Main character is looking for Dad, Dad's computer-generated foster son is evil, and the whole thing is probably a metaphor for modern society raising its kids on electronic devices instead of playing catch with them in the yard and the silver spoon or whatever. Maybe every writer and director in Hollywood should end their days at normal times and go home to their kids, because if I have to watch them absolve themselves on film one more fucking time, I'm going to... who am I kidding? This trope is less stoppable than Obama's next cave.

Nobody's going to see Tron: Legacy for its insights into ANYTHING. Because the original didn't have insights into anything. Or a particularly logical plot. Or a coherent worldview. Or any acting beyond "serviceable". Or hair that stands the test of time. Yet we still love it, because it was full of cool-looking shit we'd never seen before. If any movie could lay legitimate claim to skating by on style over substance, it's a Tron movie. And that's nothing to be ashamed of.