Sunday, December 20, 2015

A New Hype

It says something about the creative bankruptcy of the whole enterprise that the first joke spoiler I thought of for the new Star Wars turns out to be correct.

Han Solo dies. Nominally to make way for the new generation of heroes but likely a) because JJ Abrams is limited enough in his imagination to think this will be shocking and b) Harrison Ford didn’t want to get dragged along for three more of these films. He looks half-dead in the trailers as it is.

I honestly cringe every time I see that. It’s such a perfect synecdoche for the whole Star Wars 2.0 phenomenon: repackaging beloved pop culture of yesteryear to be sold as the newest Disney product.

They don’t even bother to advance the plot from the original trilogy. That hard won battle where the teddy bears killed all the Space Nazis and Luke reconciled with his father? Flushed down the tubes, now we’ve got a New Empire and New Alliance to re-enact the battles presented on the screen thirty years ago. Why? Why not?

Maybe the studio accountants were scared too many new ideas might rub people the wrong way, like with the prequels. Those films attempted to tell a new story in the same universe but are reviled for bad dialogue, wooden acting, and bleeping-blooping effects that are seizure inducing. The new plot, even with its inherently reactionary politics, was the lesser problem.

What is there to say about Star Wars Another One? If you liked the originals, you’ll like this? Why not just watch the originals instead of rehashing them, right down to the death of the white haired mentor?

Because then there wouldn’t be a New Thing for geek culture to mindlessly consume. Star Wars is perfect for that because it has always been spectacle without substance:

The story of the hero and the great evil can admit no particularities; the Galactic Empire doesn’t have anything as crude as an actual name; the Rebel Alliance isn’t burdened by anything so weighty as an explicit ideology. All we are allowed to know is that one side is good and the other is villainous — we’re told, in those scrolling-text intros.

In this context, you see how killing off bandit hero Han Solo is both the laziest and safest “twist” Abrams and company could do. It takes all possible drama from a galaxy spanning war and reduces it to bathos over an archetype that was already moldy when George Lucas first presented this human centipede of EE Smith and Dune back in 1977. All in service of a narrative that has happened before and will happen again. And again and again...

And on the same day America embraced this Big Mac of a movie, Hillary Clinton and the DNC orchestrated the demise of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

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