Essay–A Hater’s Perspective On Star Wars
When I was a kid, the Star Wars universe was a watershed moment. We were in Canada when it came out and there was some 60 Minutes special on the movie when it was released. All I remember is seeing the X-Wings and Tie-fighters going at it. Dad asked me if I wanted to see the film. I asked what it was and he said “Cowboys in space.”
I distinctly remember that because it was the phrase that sort of typified my understanding of science-fiction at that age. We went to see Star Wars that very night. Did I enjoy it? Hell yes. Did it warp and change my childhood forever? Pretty much.
But see that’s the thing–it was childhood. My favorite character wasn’t the douchebag Luke Skywalker. It was Han Solo, the pretend anti-hero. He was sarcastic. He was funny. And he was a bad ass.
Darth Vader was terrifyingly evil. Luke was the best “hero” that ever existed. Obi-wan’s death made me damned near cry. And the wookie? Shit, Chewbacca was awesome.
I cheered when they destroyed the death star. I may even have shed a tear at the end of the film. I was only eight.
Then Empire came out. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the best Star Wars movie they’d ever make. Nothing else could top it. The wanton destruction. The constant peril. The hurt and pain those untouchable goody-too-shoes went through. It was ominous and it left me shaking with…reality.
Jedi? Started out great. Then those fucking puppets entered the scene. Yeah, I’m talking about the eewoks. They didn’t just ruin the film, they took away any sense of real peril. The only time I felt anything during that flick was when those damned things were being hunted down and destroyed by loads of imperial “can’t-shoot-for-shit” stormtroopers. The Vader scenes? Not really all that compelling. I was older. And it was pathetic.
Don’t get me wrong. I was a Star Wars nerd. I had the action figures. I had the tie-fighter, the x-wing, the falcon, the hoth playset, and all the other claptrap. I had the movie-tie-in picture books. I had everything I could possibly want.
In college? I even joined a group of RPG’ers for the Star Wars Universe RPG. I read the Timothy Zahn books (the first three). I still found something sort of redeeming in it all.
And then I grew the fuck up. I can’t stand the films. CAN’T FUCKING STAND THEM. And there are a long litany of reasons. So let’s get to ’em.
First off, Star Wars is a shitty premise. Period. We get a polar conflict. There’s only good and evil, no grey. There’s no sign of what the other side is really attempting to achieve other than the ridiculous concept of “power.” Sorry, guys, it’s not realistic. It bugs the shit out of me. It’s the almighty of light versus the almighty of dark.
There’s no chaotic neutral here. There’s no lawful evil. There’s just this ridiculous situation where folks on one side don’t like the folks on the other side very much. The first three films showed nothing of the political, really told the audience nothing about what all the fuss was about. So it was just this “they’re evil” with no real justification or explanation. Considering those douchebag white stormtroopers couldn’t hit a target even if it was as big as the death star doesn’t make it any better. It just makes it pathetic.
Who are these soldiers? What are their lives? Are they clones? Robots? Who the fuck knows? Doesn’t matter. Why? Because they didn’t matter. They were just cannon fodder. The kind of garbage where a King sits on one side of the battle, a rival King on the other, and they send their footmen into the maelstrom and simply tally the casualties. Whomever loses more loses the war.
The good guys don’t lose. They can’t. Otherwise “all is darkness.” So there’s no drama here. NONE. It’s the same reason I can’t stand LoTR (besides the shit writing and shit story-telling and the boring walking and songs that go on for 90% of the damn books)–the conflict is meaningless.
The dreaded Empire has run things for decades. What have they accomplished? Don’t know. The “Rebels”? Little more than terrorists, right? I mean, they occasionally form in to a real organized force, but from what I remember from the movies, they’re little more than hit and run artists. They are insurgents. And for what and for why?
For me, it’s not drama. It’s ridiculous romantic claptrap dressed up with spaceships and aliens. And when it comes down to it, who gives a shit? Well, obviously, I don’t. And before you start calling me a hater, please, I have more hate to loose.
Sadly enough, Clone Wars and Revenge had the best possibility for REAL drama. The idea of a person driven to change sides in a war is very powerful. Someone sacrificing their ideals upon the altar of power for what they consider “the greater good” has the makings of a bad ass story. However, LUCAS RUINED IT.
The man does not know how to do real drama. At least not in this ‘verse. He can’t drag himself away from following Campbell’s every tick mark of “The Hero’s Journey.” He’s too busy following mythos to make it something realistic. It just completely falls apart. Instead of getting an honorable man who slowly loses himself in his private war, we get a jealous, selfish brat who can’t act his way out of a bag. When he turns? It’s like, okay, whatever.
So what’s the point? I mean, seriously, what was the goddamned point? It’s not an epic trilogy. My opinion is Empire is the only of the movies worth watching. And in many ways, it’s an unsatisfying ending. But I’d rather watch it again and again and forget I ever saw “Return” because the sequel I envisioned was so much better.
Certain folks are going to respond to this rant by pointing out all the bullshit that happens in the books, and yada yada yada. Don’t give a fuck. Zahn’s trilogy (the first one) was compelling in many ways, and I enjoyed them, but that doesn’t mean the material he had to work with was good. The characters still felt…2d.
Luke was never going to be anything but that farmboy who happened to inherit his father’s power. He was never going to be a real person. Solo? They wussied him. The real Solo not only shot Greedo first (fuck you Lucas for changing that), he would have smashed, trashed, and killed anyone that went after his friends. There’d be no parlay, there wouldn’t be thinking about it. The man was a pirate and loyal to his “crew.” That’s the way it should have been played.
Leia had the chance to be the shining light in the series. Falling from royalty to common terrorist should have been an immense change in character. It wasn’t. There wasn’t any fall at all. Whah, she could no longer get a pims cup in a pimp cup. Whah, she no longer had an army of servants. Whah.
Only she didn’t even whah! It was “Oh, right, today we’re killing stormtroopers instead of playing canasta.” There was no fucking shift in character. NONE.
It seemed to me that Lucas was so busy following the Campbellian/Jungian texts that he forgot characters have to CHANGE. These great conflicts and dangers are supposed to change them, enlighten them, cause their lives to transform. But that didn’t happen. Never did. Never will.
I hate myself for having awakened one day and realizing all of this. Life was so much better when I could look back with some kind of sentimentality for this world. But I can’t. I can’t even watch the films when they come on television. Every time I see fifty thousand laser blasts fired at one dude, and miss him every single fucking time, I want to reach into the screen, grab Lucas from his director’s chair, and beat him to death with an Eewok. It’s ludicrous and I can’t stand it.
The biggest problem with Star Wars? The crap it fostered. To this day, the bookshelves are filled with the same shit. It’s Star Wars rewritten. “The Force” is everywhere. It’s been almost 4 damned decades since the first movie came out and folks are still writing fan-fic for it.
To me, Star Wars is just as ridiculous as all the epic fantasy worlds I loathe. Some of the fans (I’m going to say some) seem more interested in the world than anything to do with the characters. Why? Because even they know, in their heart of hearts, that they’re 2-dimensional shells of unfulfilled conflicts and resolutions. They’re not people. They’re stick figures with guns and a few tropes from Jung and Campbell. I’d much rather watch a Sergio Leone Western or Akira Kurawsawa film to get those tropes. And those two directors created better worlds and characters than Lucas could ever hope to.
So, yeah, I’m old and bitter. Mainly because I woke up one day and realized it’s a farce. I can’t look on it with any sentimentality. I can’t be an apologist for it.
My stories? Less complex. Not epic. More centered, rather than all encompassing. I admit that. No problem. Those are the stories I like to read and watch, so those are the ones I write.
Lucas has made a mint of the franchise. He’s reached godlike status among the fandom. That’s cool. He deserves it. He came up with a world that was “unique” at the time and certainly pushed mountains to invent technology to make it happen. For that, he has my enduring respect. For what he did to the stories, he has my everlasting bitterness.
Disney is bringing out a new host of films. Perhaps they will be better. I strongly hope they will be better. But I doubt it. Knowing Disney, we’ll get cute droids, a host of eewoks, and a legion of wookies in the first scene. There won’t be any blood. There won’t be any loss. There won’t be anything that makes me worry for the characters or want them to achieve their goals. Instead, it will just be another sacharine, unrealistic, jumble of celluloid pinched together with Michael Bay style explosions.
I hope I’m wrong.
My rant is over. You may now troll the comments. You KNOW you want to.