Last week, Rolling Stone came out with a fantastically detailed and weird deep dive into the history of the Space Jam website. While technically operating under the purview of one of the world’s largest entertainment companies, a ragtag group of unsupervised young coders built something really revolutionary. The site was a pioneering example of how a studio could market a film online, way back in 1996 when very few movies even had websites.
And then it just sat there for a decade and a half—etched in time and completely untouched—before being rediscovered and going viral in 2010. It was an antique visitor from a distant land, a riveting and slightly horrifying reminder of what the web once was. In other words: it looked aesthetically very similar to the unauthorized Harry Potter fan site that I maintained on GeoCities for most of third and fourth grade (flashing gif icons for every section, bright red Times New Roman text on a black starry sky background, et al). Erik Malinowski’s entire account of the site’s history and legacy is fascinating, but perhaps most interesting is the fact that this oft-mocked website has outlasted nearly everything else surrounding the highest-grossing basketball movie ever made:
Today, the Space Jam site’s popularity has outlived almost everything to which it has been connected. The Fifth Avenue [flagship Warner Bros.] store shuttered in 2001. Both stars of the movie’s stars made forgettable exits in 2003 – Jordan with the Washington Wizards, Bugs with Looney Tunes: Back in Action. And every person directly associated with the site’s creation has now left the studio.
But the site lives on, aging for 19 years but free from influence, to our enduring delight.