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Oct172009

« In Which We Fought In A War »

The Jedi of Minsk

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Some parts of the culture stay parts of the culture. Usually they relate to cultural icons, whose identities are so frequently personified in the art and Sovietesque reproduction of the image that it becomes currency in every aspect of the society.

Star Wars, on the other hand, is probably destined to inevitably disappear.

Mission-based programming like Star Trek and Stargate is about the vagaries of human exploration. That's not Star Wars. It's about fear of technology, and a movie about fear of technology is probably not going to age all that well in the age of technology. That's the age we're in.

Luke Skywalker is a poor boy on a distant planet. He is the main character in a fantasy. He is orphaned and this is not his real home world. We're going to hyperdrive said Han Solo, as if that were an actual thing. The problem is that you can't actually go faster than the speed of light.

This did not enter in George Lucas' thinking. As we found out during the execrable last three prequels in this vein, Lucas framed his investigations of interstellar incest into somewhat action packed rehashings of various SF clichés.

When Lucas was fourteen, he found out he couldn't bang his hot cousin, and what a terrific phenomenon resulted from that reproductive urge! I can give George all the credit in the world: this was a fantastic leap for the time, and even though his special effects look retarded now, they were one hell of step for mankind. (I particularly hate his robots.)

Dominion over the Galaxy, even in the long long ago, isn't really possible. You would need technological advances that likely can't exist based on our conceptions of physics. We may find out how to travel to other galaxies, but it will not be by slipping through space time. It will likely involve some changed conception of what being human is, or an AI that will work for us.

Instead George imagined the mindless Federation, first of all interstellar authorities, as least as kids in Wisconsin knew it. They weren't exactly getting the latest Robert Silverberg yarn mailed to their doorstep — they had to work for Wookies.

So George was their man, and you know the story. But really Star Wars isn't science fiction. There's little to no science in it. It's straight Shakespearean with a little Bible thrown in for Midwest America. It's a masterpiece of programming, and his casting was fabulous. Also give him credit for realizing that better directors could do the series a service. The Empire Strikes Back is one of the most mysterious fantasies ever created.

Many had imagined the possiblities of an ice planet, most notable Ursula K. LeGuin in her novel The Left Hand of Darkness. But these were irrecoverable moments and they were plotted quite nicely. I mean people were watching All in the Family on TV. Sorry I'm not a Norman Lear guy. I prefer interplanetary incest.

Speaking of which, this film aged its two protagonists quite gainfully, and even Natalie Portman, in her late devotion to the one known as Devendra, has suffered some from the Star Wars curse. Star Trek didn't do anyone's careers a favor, practically ruining Patrick Stewart's efforts to act in the next decade. Harrison Ford somehow jumped free of this damnable spell. Mark Hamill and Daniel Radcliffe may have to sauna together in the next fortnight or so.

Some people think George Lucas is a dick, others think his beard was "all right looking." It's somewhat unfortunate that he became such a megalomaniac, because if it had actually had to work for it we could have seen at least 14 feature films about space porn made to fund his divorces. Royalties forever limit the possibility of divorce.

Also, the end of Star Wars didn't really make rational sense, as about 5,000 parodies have taken the pains to point out. Seth McFarlane's was the best, with another pilot calling Luke out for being a dick once the rebellion got going.

Lucas also was brilliant at settings. He did really well with the abscence of nature — desert, forest — and he even made a great dense jungle. He also knows how not to fuck up a spaceport.

Later on, the message became more preachy. Whatever government Lucas' Intergalatic Senate satirized, I'm not that interested in learning about it between picnic lunches featuring Natalie Portman and Hayden Christiansen. The latter was absolutely horrible, and he also ruined Jumper.

It's easy to make fun of Star Wars, and it's probably been parodied more than anything else ever, but it's also sort of difficult to imitate. It's a family drama with a fairly simple origin story and deep dark Federation.

The Jedi are the magicians, but the whole thing doesn't really make sense. In real life the Jedi would be tortured and killed for being terrorists. Things were a lot more lax in Star Wars for the Jedi.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He tumbls here.

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Reader Comments (16)

That was harsh with the series, but witty and funny!

And I actually agree with at least half of your opinions...

October 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJerri Dias

There are plenty of other, and more interesting, points to be made about why this movie is terrible. Also, do you guys ever proofread before you publish? Some sentences are almost unreadable due to typos.

October 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShay

I find you lack of humor disturbing....

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbdw

The original 3 would have stood the test of time had he not created three more as a showcase for his fraudian issues. Similar of Copola, Lucas's contemporary ala Godfather 3. We are all diminished as a result.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermadmonq

I realize that your post ins't completely one-sided, but with so many horrible movies and loathsome directors at large any unchecked hate thrown at SW or GL seems misplaced; "overrated", possibly, "sucked", relative to what? I'll posit that SW will still be eating every other space based show's lunch 20 years from now.

Granted these are less interesting than a negative SW piece, but Sam Raimi/Spiderman or Cameron in general, now those two are scourges.

November 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBP

i hate star wars as well...and i just watched them this past week.

December 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlatasha

Oops, sorry I missed this. Complaining that something ostensibly science fiction isn't because there aren't scientists or science in it isn't a valid criticism. This was the same complaint you made of Moon. What's wrong with a good Shakespearean story full of Jungian archetypes? Next time you flay the table setting and ignore the food, do as thorough an autopsy as this one. (Stop that metaphor!)

December 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHugh

Wow!
Man,your frustrations are big big,big.By the way...what is the trace that you are going to leave in your existence?what you do for a living?Think about this,cause I so read your mind through this.lol

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwhatever

Instead of wasting your time stroking your ego making blogs of which you think people actually care, why don't you waste your time making a multi-million dollar grossing film. And Jumper would have sucked if Jesus himself resurrected again to play that part. Star Wars will never go anywhere. You, on the other hand, will regress into the infinite bowels of the internet in no time.

January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrancis Lynn

Tool.

January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLamar

This is honestly one of the worst articles I've read on the internet. Yeah.

"Star Wars, on the other hand, is probably destined to inevitably disappear." I guess you haven't heard about this, huh? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedi_census_phenomenon

At least you dug up some good pictures. I totally agree with Francis Lynn and Lamar- what a tool.

January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave

This is the gooniest Star Wars review I've ever run into.... It would help if you made your points with good arguments, instead of "that looked -retarded" and incestincestincest.

January 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhmm

Did you just shoot down Star Wars because it couldn't really happen, not in real life? I guess I'd never thought about it from that angle.

Also, I want to posit this: It's possible (but maybe not necessary) that a fear-of-technology story would actually gain MORE of a foothold in a culture with exponentially increasing technology.

January 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor

You don't like George Lucas' robots?

While I have blogged ad infinitum regarding the fall of George Lucas, and attempted to point out it was Georges conceptual staff that made Star Wars what it was (as Dame Judi Dench's character says in 'Nine': “Directing a movie is a very overrated job, we all know it. You just have to say yes or no. What else do you do? Nothing."), I can't see your point regarding droids.

R2D2 has to be one of the most iconic robots of all time. The AIBO will be forgotten (hasn't it already?), The robots from 'The Black Hole' have been unheard of for years (Maximillian and...?), but how Lucas managed to make a trash can on wheels emote so much is beyond me.

While his reign as robot of choice may have to now give way to Wall *E for pure expression/simulated emotion/cute factor, let's not forget Wall *E is not limited by any physical dictum. It's relatively easy to animate now. R2D2 will always be the first robot I, or most people ever connected with.

Also, his evolution (not in terms of evolution through time, but more 'evolution through the order of releases') shows a deeper level, a kind of character development. Obviously due to technical restraints Artoo was unable to demonstrate his jet thrusters in the first release, but the fact that he had them (they just weren't able to be shown yet) almost bestowed a sort of modesty to his character. I remember him trucking through the sandhills of Tattooine, after his emotional custard fight with Threepio (amazing for his time), when he could have just flown out of there. And let's not forget that creaky old hologram of Leia...the low res and poor playback just made him seem more worldly, if that term applies, like he had seen more, been through more, SUFFERED more. And in later releases we see the extent of that suffering.

His communication tones were nothing if not emotive, his bad temper, the fact he was older than Threepio (who acted like the leader/protector (not unlike the Doctors character from 'Lost in Space'))- all brilliant dimensions to a tiny man in an alloy tube, in the Morroccan desert, who couldn't see a god-damn thing.

Yeah, his droids were all right.


This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

February 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterknifey

Interesting, I have to agree with some of your points, like Starwars not really being sci-fi and how it was a death knell for a lot of the actors in the film.

But the best bit about this is all the Starwars zealots commenting. It is like a religion to them and you have just blasphemed!

As no more Starwars films will be made this will be the last generation to be sucked into the "growing up with Starwars" phenomenon, so I do think that it will fade into obscurity over the next 15 years. The teens of the 2020's will be saying "Starwhat?"

March 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermarkd

One of the best criticisms I've ever heard of Star Wars is that whenever a serious flaw is pointed out, defenders will say "Why can't you just enjoy it as a fun adventure story?", and the problem is that the movies can be too preachy for that. That said, the original trilogy has decent grimy visuals and whatnot.

I'm not all that sure that the prequels are so much worse, as the consensus goes. I think nostalgia may have modified people's evaluation of the older movies, so in order not to be seen as the Worst Ever, Epps 1, 2, and 3 would have to have been much better than the older ones (the tough-act-to-follow phenomenon).

Jar Jar Binks is a great over-the-top parody of that wretched quasi-minstrel alien character in The Phantom Menace, what was his name again?

The bits in this piece that were perhaps intended to yank our Hutt-palace-chains: Star Wars won't last compared to Star Trek — and part of what's wrong with Star Wars is the preposterousness of fatser-than-light travel and galaxy-wide government. LOL.

Anyway, I think it's true that Star Wars is destined to disappear from public consciousness in the way that everything does except Shakespeare. How many movies from 60 years ago do young people watch today? How many 1950s TV shows? By actual pop culture lifespan standards, Star Wars is already immortal even if it eventually dies.

April 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLenoxus

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