Why I don’t like “Star Wars”.
This text was published in Polish some time ago, but because of the recent release of the “Star Wars: The Force Awakes” teaser, I dusted it off and translated to English – ed.
- They are everywhere!
I must confess, that for a long time in my life, I have never watched the original trilogy of “Star Wars”. And something interesting happened when I finally did it few years ago: despite the fact that it was my first screening of George Lucas’s masterpiece in my life, I had a uneasy feeling that I had already did it before, and everything related to these movies was very familiar to me. After short deliberation, I realised that I have this peculiar feeling because popular culture of today is oversaturated with shout-outs, homages and blatant ripoffs of the “Star Wars”.
It doesn’t matter, if we are talking about “South park”, “Asterix and Obelix” feature film, “Family Guy” (the worst offender, when it comes to references) and many other films and TV-series, “Robot Chicken”, some obscure C-grade kid’s movies from my country (that were tormenting whole generation of kids in the 1980’s), parodies (like Mel Brooks’s “Spaceballs”) or advertisements, what really matter is than in these cases we always see some part of original “Star Wars” to the point that we are familiar with them without actually watching them…
I am not safe even in the supermarket: the “Star Was”-related toys, lunch boxes, rucksacks, notepads and so on are assaulting me with familiar images of Master Yoda or Darth Vader. Personally I am fed up with this all, It feels like being in companion with a buddy, who keeps telling all the time the same jokes that are no longer funny.
For sure, over the time that hype is fading away over the decades since the original release, but hell no, even serious journalists are making references to “Star Wars” when writing about civil war in Syria. God, have mercy! 😮
- They are not so brilliant
In short: George Lucas had an idea for “Star Wars” as an homage to B-class space adventure serials called “Flash Gordon” and “Buck Rogers”, that he watched as a kid on TV in 1950’s. As an grown-up filmmaker he wanted to “make a movie for young people to impress them” (as he said in documentary “Empire of Dreams”) , and this is how our beloved space saga was born. The rest is combination of extravagant, groundbreaking special effects and a scenario inspired by works of professor Joseph Cambell, that in result gave us an universal, cross-cultural, timeless story about a hero on a journey of self-improvement and self-exploration, and a epic fight of Great Good against Ultimate Evil.
Personally, I feel to be too old for simplistic stories about clear-cut, black and white , good and evil protagonists and antagonists… I simply have problems with buying the story involving battles and great politics without moral ambiguity of the characters. 😕
My opinion is, that the smashing popularity of “Star Wars”, that is lasting to this days is caused by the nostalgia of the current grew-up fans, who watched them as a kids, and by the simple fact of the timing – the “Episode IV: The New Hope” came out in late 1970’s, when Americans were in malaise caused by the oil crisis, Watergate scandal, lost war in Vietnam, and were scared of Soviet Union*.
And then, the “Star Wars” had come in on big screen, bringing admirable heroes fighting the totalitarian empire, and whose adventures were like an antidote on loosing the national confidence in United States of America (it is not a coincidence that president Ronal Raegan called USSR the “evil empire”, and Strategic Defense Initiative was quickly called “Star Wars”). Because regaining the national confidence coincided with the release of the original trilogy, this is IMHO the reason why Americans, generation after generation, have very warm feelings about it…
And on the meantime, year by year the “Star Wars” money producing machine is oiled by new video games, books, comics, toys etc. – Lucas [and now a Disney Corporation – ed.] knows that in order to make more money he need to constantly maintain interest among the fans by putting more “Star Wars” stuff on the market. 😛 And speaking of them…
I can understand, that stereotypes are just generalisations that are not necessary true, that the overzelous fans from the comedy movie “Fanboys” are just thesatire, but what else I can say, when I see middle-aged fans buying and collecting plastic “Star Wars” toys, and debating obsessively on every little details like “Han Solo shot Greedo first”, than saying that this is just ridiculous and embarrassing…? 🙄 For sure “Star Wars” fandom is not the only one offender when it comes to obsessiveness – Trekkies and Otakus (who destroyed the anime/manga marked with their obsessions) can also be annoying and ridiculous in this department.
I had found a nice and accurate word to describe that phenomenon: „genre-locked manchildern”, who are apparently immersed into banalities of popculture beyond belief.
- Two words: George Lucas
George Lucas’ career is a perfect example of a man who once upon the time was on artistic pinnacle, and now his career had gone south. He started as independent, avant-garde filmmaker, who did boilerplate romantic comedy “American Graffiti”, and then expanded version of his critically acclaimed weird dystopian student movie („THX-1138”), and after that he made jump forward by making box office’ hit of the century, the “Star Wars”, that were completely against everything that was back then in Hollywood (it is hard to believe today, but in those times Holywood studios executives were not willing to invest in making the grand fantasy, science-fiction spectacles with lots of FX) and to his credit Lucas took tremendous risks by directing and producing all three movies by himself (for example, “Empire Strikes Back” was financed by bank loan, instead of studio’s money), but that risk had eventually produced milti-million profits in the end.
I do not want to repeat my remarks on his later career (because I already did it in my review of “THX-1138”), anyway Lucas is now a producer of toys and gadgets, not a filmmaker, and this is the reason why crappy “Star Wars” prequels are just computer-generated advertisements for toys… 😛
BTW: I agree with James Cameron, that if the “Star Wars” were released today, they would be called “anti-american”, because The Empire would be perceived as stand-in for the USA…