The showpiece NFT of Dean's death car sold for an absurdly low amount in the red-hot NFT market. A bad PR strategy and poor brand management may be to blame.
There are other ways to connect Dean to younger audiences. He paved the way for the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Timothee Chalamet through his film and television work. Steven Yeun recently talked about being influenced by Dean’s work when he was filming Minari. Dean’s impact on actors can still be felt to this day. But all you ever care to write about is his sexuality and who you believe he did and didn’t sleep with.
As I discussed in Esquire this fall, and will again in the book I am writing, Dean’s queer sexuality, artistic interests, and temperament are very much in line with Gen Z’s attitudes toward sex, life, and work. It would be a very simple task to recast Dean—who, living to 24, was also young—as relevant to young people.
That reminds me of an anecdote from Elia Kazan (whose even when I take into consideration that Dean wasn't the easiest person to work with to put it diplomatically, Kazan's almost over the top hatred of Dean feels like it says probably more about Kazan than Dean...) but anyways the anecdote of Dean taking photos of himself in the mirror and having Kazan looking at different poses and asking him what one he liked the best--to which Kazan grumbled in his autobiography that 'they all looked like the same goddamned picture.' But when I read that story MY first thought was that James Dean had his pulse on Tik-Tok/Instagram culture 70 years before it came into fruition. And how some of Dean's narcissism would probably not even register today as being particularly troubling or outrageous the way Kazan and others at the time saw it.
But it feels very very unlikely that aspect of Dean, ESPECIALLY anything with his sexuality and being not-easily labeled in terms of interests, personality, sexuality would ever be seized on by the Dean estate and those who market his image. Especially as you noted that they have a very narrow/conservative way they market James Dean.
And it's ironic, because speaking only for myself, but until about 6 months ago my image of James Dean was the sort of 1950s 'macho' 'cool guy' who also happened to be raised a Quaker.
It wasn't until I started to read on Dean and then began to read every single biography and mention of him in books and watching all of his tv shows and clips of movies on youtube that I found him so intriguing both as a person and as an actor. The very narrow aspect of Dean the marketers of his image portray I probably wouldn't be too interested in, but kaleidoscopic aspects of James Dean--the motorcycle enthusiast and reckless personality who read The Little Prince and Carson McCullers and de Sade. Who listed to classical music and opera and played the bongos and raced cars. Who was obsessed with bull fights and hunted jack rabbits but also loved animals. His open sexuality/bisexuality, the very complicated, contradictory, protean, mercurial human being and actor who loved his craft --THAT's the James Dean I'm interested in and would love to read even more about.