Let's just talk about Star Wars forever (Part 1)

I keep hemming and hawing about typing up some kind of epic rambling essay bout my complex Star Wars feelings at this particular juncture, and actually got about 2,000 words into a long rant before I thought better of it. But, basically:

-Learning about George Lucas by way of Star Wars was basically my entry-point into thinking about cinema as something that was made by people as a job and not just as something that floated down into the vcr from heaven. George Lucas is from my home town and is probably the only example of someone from there going into hollywood (OK, now we have Jeremy Renner too, and, uh Timothy Olyphant?), but beyond that his connections to Spielberg and Coppola made it a pretty good way to understand hollywood in the 70’s-80’s.

-weirdly, even though I was in maximum nerd mode when Episode I came out, including waiting in line for hours to get tickets and waiting again patiently to be seated on opening night, I have absolutely no memory of what my actual first impressions of that film were. I don’t particularly like it now (it’s still my least favorite of the prequels, which are all of course inferior to the OT)

-In the intervening years, I’ve become far less interested in both star wars and movies in general, but have for some reason developed an intensely complicated defense of the prequels, albeit one that immediately concedes that they are horrible movies aesthetically and formally. I still like the way they complicate the world and the general background story.

-Now that there are new movies coming out that are supposedly very unrelated anything Lucas came up with, I’m a) 100% convinced that they will be better movies than the prequels but also b) a little bit concerned that they aren’t going to show the same pulp-Tolkien approach to big picture world building. As a person who loves the fact that Ep 1 opens with an intergalactic trade dispute, I’m kind of worried that the major goal of the new trilogy will be to recreate the look and feel of the OT, rather than present a new mutation of the SW universe. Basically, I think the ineffectiveness of the jedi council is perfectly paired with all of the baroque maximalism of the prequels, and even the strangely mannered courtship between anakin and padme sort of fits into all this. The prequel trilogy is set in a decadent period, but it is one that is still kind of bound by preposterous traditions and complex rituals. All of this to me really complements the way things look in the OT, in the middle of the revolution, all full of passion and adventure. The prequels are set in the last days of the space-Victorian era, and the OT is thoroughly modern.

The darkest aspect of this is the clear implication (whether intended or not) that in between eps III and IV the empire has basically conducted galaxy-wide genocide on all non-humanoid species. The prequels (being made with more advanced special effects) are full of weird shaped things, and in general every city is much more heavily populated. The OT by comparison is made up mostly of humans and humans in make up, and all the really weird looking aliens are confined to illicit, casablanca esque hideouts and desolate frontiers. This to me is really exciting, and I have no idea where you would go with that in a new trilogy, but from the looks of it they are just trying to make everything look like slightly different versions of OT things, but also with tons and tons of weird alien creatures everywhere like the prequels. It kind of breaks the flow. But I hope to be pleasantly surprised.


I’m really looking forward to the new movies.

Since it was 100% guaranteed that I was going to seem it as soon as it came out, I haven’t seen any trailers for the new movie or read anything about it. Letting myself see a movie instead of getting wrapped up in the fandom now feels like the best way to be a fan?

Apart from the radio drama (wherein the Death Star is a Metal Gear-style macguffin to be peddled) and Palpatine’s goofy plan in RotS we don’t really see the empire do much other than build Death Stars -> blow up planets and chase rebels. I like your supposition of genocide as the background for the OT, but the OT is weak as political theater. Imagine a version of Thunderball where SPECTRE doesn’t ransom the world with nukes and instead just starts firing missiles at DC and Moscow.

I think it’s about giving the impression of evil in the OT, which is why we get Vader choking and torturing and generally being a sadist. The empire just doesn’t seem like a robust government (I’m thinking most GDP is military like the DPRK) because it’s not a very technical universe and the prequels have burned the bridge to it ever getting fleshed out. VII is New Empire vs New Republic as far as anyone can tell, like 343 Halo.

The original Star Wars movies were never particularly good at the kind of “worldbuilding” that obsessive types were interested in. Things like “what the Empire actually does” weren’t, and aren’t, important for the simple stories they were telling. Predictably, the prequels’ attempts to “flesh out” material that didn’t exist, and didn’t need to exist, worked poorly, and I’m skeptical of the approach of the new movies. Making a big-budget action series in the age of the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” is a whole hell of a different ballgame.

But I’m sure I’ll go see them anyway. I’m just really not interested in finding out that many more details about them until it’s time to see 'em. With videogames, especially competitive ones, I’m hungry to find out all I can about them before they come out, but Geek Media’s obsession with the marketing hype cycle, every detail of every aspect of the Media Product spooned-out to the destruction of any surprise or wonder really tires me out.


You’ll find a lot of internet trolling arguments that the empire wasn’t actually evil and we never saw them do anything actually evil, until someone points out the genocide of blowing up a planet. At least one of these people has argued that actually blowing up Alderaan was a good thing because Leia was a liar.

Ya, I dunno though, I suppose it isn’t the kind of worldbuilding fans wanted but I sort of like the economy of having the empire’s evilness expressed mostly through aesthetics. They are evil because they look like Nazis, that’s all you really need to know–the rest is a series of blanks you can fill in yourself.

I don’t know how well this would actually hold up, I feel like one could make the argument that there’s a lot of similar visual storytelling going on in the prequels, but the problem is it is overwhelmed with too much Actual Exposition that is (unnecessarily) explaining what is going on and why it is happening.

And a woman to boot!

W/r/t world building and obsessives, as its adventure counterpart Indiana Jones suffers very little of Star Wars fans’ extrapolation and pontification. This could be due to:

  • It’s set in more or less the real world
  • Each movie stands alone

The proclivity to trilogies and serializable adaptations of books seems to jointly address marketing and, uncharitably, the kinds of people who were upset when the house elf civil rights subplot didn’t make it into the film adaptation of Goblet of Fire.

It’s worst in the case of the Star Wars prequels where the particulars necessary to parse dialogue are sidelined to another product the majority of the audience has not experienced. Even if you love metafictional elements in a discrete product (I do!), few screenwriters can sustain the weight of a “cinematic universe” of nerd details and promotional tie-ins while delivering a concise screenplay without prerequisites. New Star Wars will hopefully follow in the vein of Star Trek XI and just use familiar stuff to evoke instead of getting miserably detailed about particulars and wasting time with bit parts like MCU tends to.

i know it’s kind of a stated point, but i kind of feel this really will be the last time a star wars movie release will feel like some kind of “real” shared cultural catharsis, now that everything popular needs a Cinematic Universe Franchise that runs itself into the ground (even more than has, i guess)

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I hadn’t thought about this but you are totally right and it’s a little sad. I only hope more of the spinoffs are in the spirit of rogue leader or w/e its called, and not just like Mace Windu: the untold story ad infinitum

Star Wars: Untold: How the Junk Got to The Trunk: A Watto Tale: Origins

I was thinking the other day that this is the first time we are getting a Star Wars trilogy in the hashtag era of social media everything and I don’t like it at all. It’s getting gross real quick. It’s much worse than branded apple bags. It’s branded EVERYTHING.

I’m surprised there are no Star Wars syrian refugee shelters yet

It’s always been branded everything though

But now it’s a combination of

  1. Making everyone hyper-aware of that through social media and
  2. Piggybacking on hashtag Star Wars trending topic to shamelessly plug stuff not even remotely connected to Star Wars

I can tolerate 1 fairly easily, but 2 is sometimes too dumb to ignore.

Ironically it wasn’t always like that until Star Wars came out. One of Lucas’s big innovations was retaining and exploiting merchandising rights. It made him a billionaire and almost overnight it began the modern trend of merchandising everything. With a complaint about such arising from a new Star Wars movie it feels like the whole thing has gone full circle.

Do you think that was a deliberate choice based off what worked for the original (and maybe Ep1-3) or we’re just at that point in the cultural cycle where it comes back into vogue?

based on the trailer i think 7 has a fair shot at being the first good movie in the series

Speaking of merchandising elgooG is giving away Star Wars-themed Cardboard™ VR thingies


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Lucas’ penchant for undercutting every dramatic scene with horrible jokes via C-3PO and Yoda really ruin that movie for me. And Abrams, at least, doesn’t seem beholden to the dumb idea of making the cinematography intentionally boring and flat so that it resembles some old sci-fi serials no one cares about.

But I am probably too hard on these movies due to shamed self-loathing. Star Wars was my favorite thing ever as a tween/teen, I read all the books, etc. etc. I hate almost everything I liked at that age. Media nostalgia is my poison.