Tuesday, May 06, 2014

May the 4th Be With Us All

Suck my balls Episode II can.
May 4, 2014, marked the annual unofficial celebration of an indelible part of pop culture history that has - for better or worse - contributed to the psychological development of countless grown men and women including, perhaps most notably, the proliferation of the "slave girl" sexual fantasy. May 4th has proliferated as an international day to recognize anything and everything related to the STAR WARS property (as if it needed any more recognition) due in large part to the date's name being easy fodder for geeky punsters ("May the Force/4th be with you.") who don't mind taking the chance of sounding like an offensive homosexual stereotype and the ability of the Internet to propagate information faster than people can effectively evaluate its relative worth.

In honour of the occasion, I decided to watch the originator and slapped STAR WARS (no fucking Episode IV bullshit) into my Blu-Ray player.  As I watched what had undoubtedly been a formative text in my own personal psychological library and recited entire scenes word for word (much to the chagrin of my wife), it dawned on me what imperfect movies STAR WARS and all of its sequels and (even more so) its prequels actually were.  In fact, even as a huge fan of the series, there is still a lot of stuff, even in the original trilogy that I had grown up loving, that is either really laughably bad or patently ridiculous or some combination thereof.  

Despite the fact that STAR WARS was (aside from the special effects) quantifiably a B movie, it was - and still is - pretty fucking awesome.  It wasn't because of the originality of the plot, which is filled to the brim with cliches, convenient coincidences, and (perhaps unsurprisingly frequent) lapses in logic.  Let's face it, STAR WARS is not exactly the epitome of storytelling genius.  It wasn't because of the acting, because even Sir Alec Guinness and Harrison Ford, the arguable acting heavyweights of the film, could only elevate the dialogue only so far.  As a moral tale, it didn't really say anything that hadn't been said before or present the nuances of morality.  In fact, it does the exact opposite, simplifying morality down to a really basic good versus evil dichotomy exemplified, of course, by the Light Side/Dark Side of the Force.

I think that's a large part of the reason that STAR WARS and its two sequels in the original trilogy continue to speak to so many people; it isn't necessarily because they were different but rather because they were so familiar.  In the words of George Lucas himself, "I realized that there are really no modern fairy tales... I wanted to make a ... film that would strengthen contemporary mythology and introduce a kind of basic morality."  Lucas' self-stated goal was to make a movie so simple that even a child could understand it.

But that's only part of the reason STAR WARS has become so ubiquitous and allowed Lucas to capitalize on its popularity to make fuck tons of cash.  STAR WARS does more than relate people with a child-like simplicity; it is somehow able to induce those susceptible to its charms into a state of child-like wonder that rivals the greatest of Jedi mind-tricks.  The real genius of the characters and plot and morality of STAR WARS and the original trilogy is that they were all so iconic and archetypal that they were ridiculously easy for the general public to access while at the same time able to incite a sort of nostalgic amnesia that took people back to a time in their lives before Life revealed itself to be the cluster fuck that it is.  The idealistic young hero.  The scoundrel with a heart of gold.  The beautiful young princess.  The evil villain dressed in black (and, presumably, sporting one hell of a prosthetic robotic cock, because if you were going to upgrade cybernetically after being burned alive by liquid hot magma, then why the fuck wouldn't you choose the biggest, meanest-looking, robotic trouser snake you could find?).  The evil, overpowered empire of bad guys versus the righteous underdog rebels.      

Slave Girl Outfit
The Force is strong... in my pants.

STAR WARS represents a simpler view of the world where heroes were heroes, villains were villains, and there was still the promise of wonder and adventure (and sex with women who totally weren't your sister).  STAR WARS doesn't just appeal to children; it reverts people psychologically and emotionally to a state of childhood-ish-ness that lets them tap into the idealism and (new) hope that would otherwise be inaccessible.  Lucas was able to create this weird, self-contained feedback loop, some kind of existential Mobius strip of unending youthful idealism and yearning.  STAR WARS, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and RETURN OF THE JEDI were not perfect movies by any means.  But they were somehow perfectly imperfect.  Lucas and his henchmen were able to transmute B movie material into an A level mythology that transcended genre expectations by transporting us back to a time through the use of archetypes embedded deep in the primordial ooze of our collective psyches (and suspiciously phallic space ships).  And even though the STAR WARS canvass was painted with such broad strokes, taking a step back and looking at the big picture actually revealed some intricacies not readily accessible to our inexperienced, youthful selves.  
We are literally the big, swinging dicks of the universe.
We don't know how we could possibly make it any clearer.
Nowhere is this more apparent that in the prequel trilogy, where Lucas totally dropped the ball and instead seems to have forgotten the second part of the equation.  With Episodes I, II, and III, Lucas made movies aimed at children but without the the ability to elicit that same sense of childlike wonder.  I won't get into the whole STAR WARS prequel debacle other than to say like most people I was severely disappointed at best and emotionally and intellectually assaulted at worst.  I don't seem to hate them with the same passion that some others seem to endlessly devote to the cause, and every so often I troll the Internet looking for the brilliant article that will point out their hidden genius.  I am plagued by this secret hope that ATTACK OF THE CLONES is really the idiot savant of the STAR WARS universe.  Until then, I will have to trust the will of the Force and continue to jerk off to images of princesses in metal bikinis and not queens in faux-Geisha make-up.

The Goods

In honour of this Wookie-tastic celebration, here are some Death Star-sized goodies.

What if the Prequels Were Good?

There are entire Corellian freighters worth of ideas floating around out there on how to improve the STAR WARS prequel trilogy and fan fiction running the gambit from intriguing to pure bantha poodooo.  Some of the best ideas I've seen come courtesy of Belated Media.  If somebody's not sucking this guy's dick right now, then there is definitely an imbalance in the Force.

The Red Side of the Force

Another fantastic and slightly disturbing corner of cyberspace is Red Letter Media.  Along with a bunch of other goodies are some truly epic reviews of the STAR WARS prequels that will probably take just as long if not longer to watch than the movies themselves.  These are pretty much required viewing for any STAR WARS fan.  They are some of the most caustic love letters to the series that you're likely to come across, but all of the criticism is painfully accurate.  The fact that somebody spent this much time putting together an analysis of these movies is indicative of the love that they have for the STAR WARS universe, but that love is most definitely tough.

Episode I Review

Episode II Review

Episode III Review


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