Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Random Thoughts on Star Wars Stuff

Jaquandor has a post up this morning with some Star Wars thoughts, and some of it is stuff I've been trying to say myself for a while. Chief among them is that my enthusiasm for The Force Awakens is starting to wane in large part because the whole thing seems to really be Star Wars Episode VII: Let's Ignore Everything George Lucas Has Done Since 1980.

I don't love talking about Star Wars online, because there's always someone who is still just SO ANGRY about the prequels that they get too emotional to have an actual conversation with. The thing that bugs me is, given the joyously derisive talk about midichlorians and the reverence for practical effects, those are starting to seem like the people that Episode VII is being made for. The way people are talking about this "new canon" is making the new trilogy seem like a gigantic do-over for prequel-haters. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Han Solo is introduced reminiscing with Chewbacca "Remember that time at Mos Eisley when I shot Greedo first?"

This has been in my mind a bit since last week when my wife's friend Joe came by for the last time (he moved a few days later, and it was very emotional). He does not like the prequels at all, but he knows I do, and we always take about it a little bit. I appreciate that when you don't agree with him, he'll listen to your explanation of why. I confessed that I think most people who hate the prequels with a passion that still burns a decade and a half later were never going to give those movies a chance in the first place, for a number of reasons (chief among them being that they were different in any way and took the damn things so seriously that they were actually offended that something aimed at teenagers and kids would dare to be aimed at a different generation of teenagers and kids). I confessed that I felt most of the people screaming at me about it were incapable of getting past their disappointment and trying to discover the story itself, and that I've actually read very, very, very few "epic takedowns" and internet rants about the prequel trilogy where it didn't become obvious that the person ranting didn't really understand the story. I think people have gotten so used to being spoonfed continuity that certain plot elements that are obvious about the prequels are being ignored by some because they're not telling the audience what they are.

I also think it just comes down, for some, to "this wasn't cool enough" and "CGI sucks even though I'm completely unaware that the budget for miniatures and sets in Revenge of the Sith was actually higher than the entire budget of the original Star Wars."

So, yeah, the fear I have is that--much like Neill Blomkamp's new Aliens movie--this is mostly just a retcon for people who can't handle something being different from their expectations.

io9 had a piece up last week about how overloaded we're going to be with Star Wars between the anthology movies and the new novels and the ancillary whatevers and how everything from now on is canon. The piece had a little too much hysteria for me to really recommend it, because I think fans just take this stuff too damn seriously. Star Wars is fun, so I don't understand why we don't just have fun with it. I see rants about Star Wars online all the time that seem like the author is working through some kind of intense trauma, and I wonder why they're spending so much time on something that clearly isn't bringing them any kind of joy. Is my generation just so in mourning for our lost childhoods that The Phantom Menace has come to represent some kind of unfulfilled promise of a return to utopia? And if so, are you the same people who gave up on President Obama after a year of not seeing the United States turn into a dream-filled Candyland?

Jeez, it's normal to be disappointed by a movie, but it is so not normal to let that disappointment fester until it becomes a character-defining trait. Hey, I get wistful about the good times of my childhood, too, but I think expecting that you will always love the same things forever and for always and that they will always belong to you and no one else (and always be aimed at you and no one else) is just willfully ignorant and dangerously immature. You ever see a guy over the age of 35 truly, deeply venting his anger and betrayal that he can't relate to a new version of a cartoon that he loved when he was a kid, never once accepting that this new version might be made for... new kids? Of course you have, the internet runs on that stuff. Count on both hands the people you've encountered who are genuinely upset that the Transformers haven't aged and matured with them like fine wine...

Sorry, got off on my own rant there. But jeez, the internet has taken my enjoyment of a series of breezy kids' movies and turned it into an ever-growing black hole of negativity that is too exhausting to go near. And I don't want to see a Star Wars movie made solely for them. Frankly, I'm still not interested in seeing a Star Wars movie that doesn't come from the actual creator and author of Star Wars. You know, the guy you can't get enough of bashing because he did you the disservice of creating a media property that you have sunk too much money and time into to not get all huffy when the word "midichlorian" suddenly, soberingly makes you realize that you're never actually going to get to be a Jedi.

I recommend reading this lamely-titled Cracked article: 6 Dumb Aspects Of The Original Star Wars Trilogy You Forgot. The author goes at the prequel-bashing, because god forbid we don't bring that up every chance we get, but he does put the Episode VII anticipation into perspective by pointing out that all the complaints people had about the prequel trilogy--the special effects, the heavy marketing, the fact that they were aimed at kids--were all parts of the original trilogy as well. He also does point out that George Lucas has been re-editing these movies from the very beginning.

(Quite frankly, as a somewhat aside, I have no more room in my life for people complaining about the Special Editions. George Lucas is the only filmmaker who gets shit on by his "fans" for doing special editions of his movies.)

Best line in the article: "If the new movies don't have something for your 10-year-old nephew to go nuts about, then you'll know Star Wars has truly sold out."

All I ask is that Star Wars be entertaining. And if it isn't entertaining to me, then I'll drop it, ignore it, and move on, because there's a lot of other Star Wars out there and a great deal of it is entertaining. I don't care if it's canon or not. I don't need Star Wars to pander to me. And I'm really starting to realize that's the difference between me and the fans I don't like to deal with. Because you know, if you don't like the prequels because you thought they were bad movies, that's cool. I can understand that. But if they were an affront to you and an assault on your memories and all the other ways we throw around words conveying trauma as though they don't actually mean anything, then I just don't want to understand you. Nothing personal, I'm just not going to engage on irrational negativity anymore, because my mental disorders can't handle that kind of thing. I have my own perspective issues.

I would love to go see The Force Awakens and just be entertained. I just hope I'm not going to go see it and watch millions of forty year-olds get pandered to.


Roger Owen Green said...

I loathed SW 1, because I was bored (and Jar Jar), and never saw the others, but it's no big whoop. It's a movie. As I wrote to Jaquandor, I hate fantasy fandom (Star Wars, but also comics), so I tune it out.

SamuraiFrog said...

I hate it, too. I have a hard enough times with groups in general, but there is such a hatedom around The Phantom Menace in particular...

William Mercado said...

Lucas along with James Cameron and Peter Jackson are those directors that need someone to say no to them and reign in their excesses.

I don't hate PM, Jar Jar was really annoying but I understand what Lucas was going for by going from a movie geared for younger children and then growing up with each movie.

Also Aaron you have to understand some of us don't have great memories associated with watching Phantom Menace as you do.


SamuraiFrog said...

I don't know, I think it's on a case-by-case basis with all of those directors. Where Peter Jackson is concerned, the director's cut of The Frighteners is better than the released movie, but three Hobbit movies was a lot to ask. I just watched The Battle of the Five Armies on HBO and it... wasn't a fun night. With James Cameron, I hated Avatar, but I think the special edition versions of Aliens and especially The Abyss are better than their theatrical versions. Everyone needs an editor, but it can be the wrong editor sometimes.

I tried to say in the post that the people who specifically piss me off are the people who will hunt you down and DEMAND that you accept the prequels as bad movies. And part of my good memories of watching Phantom Menace are because I genuinely like that movie. I don't have a problem with people who don't like it; I have a problem with people who are so angry about it that they have a problem with ME because I do like it.

William Mercado said...

Avatar was the only 3D movied I liked but too long and have no interest in seeing again.

Pretty sure a lot of SW fans were expecting to feel as they did when they first saw Star Wars (A New Hope). Hell I saw it at 13 when it was just Star Wars and had to go with my sister because of the tightassed ticket booth attendant wouldn't sell me a ticket. That's a great memory for me.

I have to be honest when Star Trek (2009) came out, that made me angry. Now I've calmed down but still so disappointed at that movie, there are many good things there that got overwhelmed by the usual summer movie action "notes" and tropes. Quinto, Karl Urban are so good I wish they had better material. Into Darkness on the other hand was "Meh". But people like them, fine to each their own.

SamuraiFrog said...

I do like the Star Trek movies. I get what you're saying. I don't think of them as "real" Star Trek, but more as fun action movies with similar characters, but I find them really enjoyable. They're aimed at a different audience. It's surprising to see how popular they are with kids, at least in my area. I saw a lot of kids wearing actual Starfleet uniform shirts at my theater when Into Darkness opened.

Avatar I didn't see in theaters. I didn't care for the movie, but I didn't really have the experience of it. I did like Life of Pi in 3-D. I just saw Ant-Man in 3-D, mostly because they were only showing it in 3-D in the morning and I like to go without a crowd because I get claustrophobic. It's okay in 3-D, but it really shines in the scenes when he's ant-sized.