I have a bit of house keeping to put up here… then we’re on to the column.
The Greatest Show is having some issues getting back up and running. I am exhausted from the holiday season and several of the others have their own things going on and that means we’re trying to get things back on track. Bear with us.
On to the column!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been out for about a month now and reactions are, oddly, mixed. Everyone has had their say and I’d like to throw my thoughts behind the situation to see if I can explain who wants what, why, and where we go next from here.
George Lucas created Star Wars, the entire saga. He came up with the idea, used themes and symbolism from multiple sources, and created what some people call “modern mythology.” Star Wars: A New Hope (titled such when he made a sequel) amazed audiences because they were treated to something new, a lived in science fiction-esq universe with weird aliens and awesome space ships.
Then came Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and audiences were split. Yes, split. Some people HATED the movie, thought it was too dreary and there was blow back from people who thought that Lucas was a one hit wonder. Go on, I dare you to find universal love from 1980… you won’t be able to, because this was not universal loved (at the time).
Lucas then went on to create Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and we again had people who weren’t universally behind the movie. The lightning rod of hate for this one went strongly towards the Ewoks, which were the Jar Jar Binks of 1983. This ended the trilogy and we were left without anything new for a great long time… yet, there was something interesting that happened.
ANH was loved. TESB was split, though people eventually came around to the movie being one of the best ever made. ROTJ wasn’t as good as TESB but fans eventually came around to hold all three Original Trilogy movies up on a pedestal.
In 1999, we were witness to Star Wars: A Phantom Menace… and the reaction was more than mixed, with hate for Jar Jar Binks as a character leading the way. Die hard OT fans decried the unveiling of midi-chlorians, the biological means by which the Force is manipulated. Forget about what was good in the movie, there was a largely negative response to the movie… from adults who grew up watching the OT.
Kids? Loved the movie. THIS is their trilogy beginning.
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones came out and there were a lot of problems with what went on, but we have ourselves another split on the general fan reaction to the movie. Adults were less than pleased, kids were more than pleased, and despite some really stilted dialog, this one exists and has one of the best lightsaber battles in any Star Wars movie (Yoda vs. Count Dooku).
In the finale of the Prequel Trilogy, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith gave us everything we could ask for in a Star Wars movie… and you either like this one or hate it, though if you ask the denouncers, they hold this one up as the pinnacle of the PT.
Largely, if you grew up during the OT you hate the PT. The PT generation doesn’t necessarily hate the OT, which the OT crowd uses as fuel to point out that the OT is more popular and “doesn’t suck.”
George Lucas was dumped on because he went and made the PT to show us how Darth Vader became Darth Vader. Original Trilogy fans cried out and wanted George gone because he made the Prequel Trilogy in the same way he did the Original Trilogy: for fans of all ages. OT fans thought the medium should have “grown up” with them and not been for the wider audience, but as we move into the future, the Prequel Trilogy is more accepted because the generation that grew up watching them is showing their kids and they are being accepted for what they are: part of the saga.
When George sold Lucasfilm to Disney, the OT generation started celebrating because even though the whole Star Wars saga came from the mind of George Lucas, they all thought he shouldn’t be allowed to do anything with the saga anymore… because of what they believed were terrible movies in the prequels.
Disney announced that there would now be a Star Wars movie every year and they would start focusing on “the future.” Original Trilogy fans rejoiced and rejoiced even harder when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out.
In my opinion, the movie is fan wank and the reaction of the OT generation proves, time and again, that my assessment is right. I don’t totally hate TFA, there are some bits in there that are interesting and intriguing, but overall, this was nothing but fan service (or wank, as I keep calling it), because the OT generation thought this was the second coming.
Mainly, the ones I’m talking about are the “purists,” the ones who claim that if it isn’t exactly what the OT was then it isn’t worthy. How can you hate half of something and be a fan of it?
Now we come to the latest installment of the saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Fans are once again split.
TLJ doesn’t do the fan service/wank of TFA. There is multiple references to letting go of the past and moving forward into the future, like Disney said when they took the reigns. There is a new direction for the characters who are ported over from the OT and the OT generation can’t accept that their idealized concept of Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie isn’t matching up 100% with what they imagined.
Honestly, their issue is that the Expanded Universe didn’t just pan out onto the screen, which is really what the OT generation wants.
If Star Wars is going to survive as a property then that property is going to need to evolve. If fans won’t let it evolve then it will die. Plain and simple. In order to evolve, we need to move FORWARD and away from the OT.
Rey doesn’t need to be related to anybody. Snoke’s origin isn’t important. Speculating on which Ewok one of the Pretorian Guards is does nothing to further the story. It is a BIG galaxy, though if we keep the connections so tightly wound, it’ll feel like we’re only dealing with a single cul-de-sac worth of characters and their trials in dealing with lawn care.
What IS happening?
Rogue One, while telling us a great “heist” movie, started the franchise down a path we really shouldn’t want to go… it fills in part of the “in between.” Solo? Does the same thing. If there is a Boba Fett flick, that will do the same thing. How is that a bad thing? Well, pretty soon, we’ll be seeing movies about what Luke was doing while traveling between Tatooine and Alderaan… did he brush his teeth, play some holo-chess, or was he reading up on how to cook nerf steaks?
If we map out every second of the past, then we lose something. We lose a lot, actually. We lose the mystery and we lose the point.
The EU was interesting enough for me to read right up until the end. Would I love it if they kept writing more? Yeah, but there isn’t going to be anymore “Legends” novels. Do I think they should have just taken the novels and made them into movies? No. Despite the novels being good, they were boring and slow. Movies, at least the Star Wars movies, aren’t boring or slow.
Let’s move FORWARD. Nostalgia is a word that means “unable to get out of the past,” and if you’re one who is super into nostalgia, then I’ll see you later… because I’m moving into the future.