arteejee

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Sunday, November 03, 2019

Sunday Morning Post (V.1, #38) – Star Wars: Been There, Done That


"Hi! My name is Todd and I have outgrown Star Wars.”

(Hi, Todd.)

I realize that this maybe heresy to admit it, but I find that my feelings for the series has drifted away from my initial enthusiasm.  One of my co-workers is still an avid fan after all these years.  He is younger than me, but he is still old enough to have grown children.  He tells me everything about the latest sequels with a very youthful enthusiasm.  I listen to him, but I must admit I find my interest waining.

I still appreciate the story lines which clearly define right from wrong and the ever-present gray areas in between.  At the same time, I don’t feel like I must see every new sequel or side franchise episode which has been released the last few years.  I may or may not catch up with them in the future, and I can’t find myself caring either way.

It is refreshing to see my co-worker’s enthusiasm for the series. I’m not knocking his passion by any means.  It is good to see such fervor in anyone anymore.  It seems like most of us drift through our lives now just shrugging our shoulders because our world seems too surreal and out of control now.

I recall the last sequel I saw involved the villains turning their ultimate weapon on a planet complete with alien (to them) cultures just because they could.  Push a button, vaporize a planet or star system, genocide complete.  So, what shall we do after lunch?
I realized that I had my fill of the series when I asked my co-worker: “So entire planets and cultures are being wiped out because the Skywalker clan can’t get their act together?”  He agreed that essentially that was what Star Wars is all about.

Who knew that Star Wars was just a huge galactic version of “Dynasty”?

For me, the success of the original Star Wars (and subsequent thousand films in the franchise) went back to basic cinema business savvy. By 1977 film audiences had been entertained by the anti-hero arch type for nearly a decade.  Personified by the likes of Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert DeNiro, their actions went outside the confines of acceptable societal norms to achieve their goals.  This was the prevailing motif which pounced on movie goers since the late 60s.

We were asked to root for their characters who resorted to shady if not downright illegal actions in the course of the story.  Your lover needs money for a sex change operation?  Don’t apply for a loan at the bank; just rob the bank (Dog Day Afternoon)!  Your grifter mentor has been bumped off by a mob boss?  Avenge his death by taking the mob boss for everything he’s got (The Sting)!

You are the head of a business empire and your business rivals resort to Old World methods of hurting you by riddling your son with machine gun fire?  Hit back at them in kind (The Godfather)!  Hey, if you do it in the name of preserving the family, no one will complain. 
For a while the anti-hero/rebel formula proved to be box office gold.

By 1977, the cinema going public were obviously tired of the anti-hero and there had to have been a subconscious longing to the older film conventions when right and wrong were clearly defined.  Star Wars was released at the right time.

We immediately knew the good guys from the bad guys.  The narrative crawl at the beginning of the film harkened back to the device used in the serials from the distant cinema past.  Indeed, the rest of the film had the feel of the old serials as a series of set pieces. George Lucas could have easily broken the film up into 20-minute blocks and released them once a month.

As it is the Star Wars saga is a serial, but each episode averages two hours in length and released every few years. Star Wars is the saga that most likely saved Hollywood as it ushered in a new era of blockbuster franchises.

Personally, I can’t keep up with all of them. For example, I believe that life is too short to get involved with the Marvel universe.

Hell, even the costumes telegraphed to us who to root for.  The good guys were clad in white (Luke Skywalker).  The lead villain, Darth Vader was cloaked in black.  The old guard good guys, represented by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ben to his friends), were somewhere in between.  Ben was dressed in a tan hooded ensemble which made it appear that he had something in his past that was best left in the past.  We would not find out the pasts of any of these characters until the various prequels and sequels were released.

Regardless Ben redeemed himself in a moment of a self-sacrifice in the name of the rebellion against the Empire. He achieved salvation with one swipe from Darth Vader’s light saber.

Okay, but what about the storm troopers; the soldiers who upheld the fascist rules of order in the Empire.  Yes, they wore white, but keep in mind their bodies were clad in some type of inferior armor which could not withstand a laser blast, and their faces were concealed in a hard-shell helmet.  Their uniforms may have been confusing, but there was no confusion about their Gestapo-ish tactics.

And oh yes, the heroine Princess Leia wore virginal white, but she possessed galactic street smarts.

I could go on about this for days but suffice to say I have figured it all out and there is nothing more I can gleam from the franchise. The Star Wars franchise still has an important message for the society at large.  All these conflicts which end up with so much destruction could be a warning about mankind’s future, not just here on planet Earth, but of course beyond.  Given all the hatred and tribalism which has risen in the last three years I cannot see that the warning is being heeded.

But, damn it all, it is box office gold! 

(Thank you for reading.  Of course, I must end with this: May the Force be with all of us.)

7 Comments:

Blogger Bob said...

I will say that I have seen some of the Star Wars saga but it ceased being 'must see'many, MANY,years ago.

November 3, 2019 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

I never was a Star Wars fan but in regards to your last paragraph and ending statement, could 'box office gold' also be Rapture?
Just a thought.

November 3, 2019 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

I watched the original Star Wars movie and was unimpressed, so I must confess that I've never been "into" the whole Star Wars franchise. I was more of a Star Trek fan. And now in the autumn of my life, I am a huge (but selective) MCU fan. I've watched all the Avengers-related films numerous times. What has captured my attention is the world's greatest love story between Captain America and the Winter Soldier! Don't be taken in by the movies' Peggy Carter smokescreen, LOL!

November 3, 2019 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Dave R said...

I've seen every Star Wars movie, every Marvel Universe movie, every Star Trek movie (I go to the movies a lot), ride my bicycle over 50 miles a week, am nearly finished with the first draft of my third mystery novel, take the dogs for walks almost daily, oh, and still work full-time hours. My life is full. Oh, and Star Wars stopped being relevant a long time ago but those characters are still part of my massively large extended family.

November 3, 2019 at 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Old Lurker said...

"Hello, Disney police? I would like to report some dissidents. No, no I'm not involved. I barely know them. Yes, of course I do my patriotic duty. I watch all of your productions faithfully -- multiple times, even! No, I don't know why I am not in your database. Uh... no, I don't know where my movie receipts are. The... the dog must have eaten them. What? What do you mean? I've done nothing wrong! I am just trying to report some troublemakers to you! No! No! Please no! Not that! Please! No!"

November 3, 2019 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Perhaps our tastes changed as we --dare I say it --aged. I believe I graduated from the desirable target age demographic some time ago. Thanks for writing, Bob.

Thank you Jimmy. The box office gold will probably be the closest many in Hollywood get to experiencing the Rapture.

Thank you Debra. I should write an entry some time about Star Trek being a pioneering sci-fy series in the late 1960's and compare/contrast everything Irwin Allen was producing at the time.
I miss Peggy Carter.

Good for you, Dave R. Live long and write on!

Serves you right, Old Lurker. The Mouse has you in his eights now.

November 4, 2019 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger Travel said...

It was only a couple of years ago, that I came to the realization that Star Wars and Star Trek, didn't have anything to do with one another. That probably describes my lack of interest.

November 10, 2019 at 8:48 AM  

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