May 30, 2007

Heavenly Twins? Oh, Really?

You know, I like Star Wars just as much as the next kid who grew up in the 70's and 80's, and I am gratified that The Boy enjoys it as well (although the constant light saber battles in the backyard are starting to get old, especially when The Boy insists on "Forcing" his way "Up High And You Can't See Me" and the hapless Darth Vader, played somewhat resignedly by yours truly, has to wander fecklessly through the pine straw until The Boy drops a metal beam on his head), AND as an English major I understand that sometimes our need to interpret can get the better of us, but I've just gotta draw the line at the recent History Channel production Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed.

I mean, it's not that you can't draw the obvious parallels between Joseph Campbell and the Star Wars universe, or compare Luke to any number of reluctant heroes in myth and legend, but when you create a two hour special in which a roster of disparate, seemingly randomly selected people ruminate on The Meaning Of Star Wars and come up with gems like:

"Well, it's obvious that Luke and Leia are Apollo and Artemis, the heavenly twins,"

I've gotta politely ask you to put on the brakes.

Seriously, what do the following people have in common?
Camille Paglia
Newt Gingrich
Nancy Pelosi
Joss Whedon
J.J. Abrams
Stephen Colbert

Stumped? You bet you are! These folks, along with a host of nameless eggheads including the slightly over-excited chick with the Heavenly Twins fixation, are all Star Wars Pundits!

I know! Because we are All United In Our Love of Star Wars! It's the new Uber-Myth for our generation! Because all those old myths don't have spaceships! And Ewoks! And mentally challenged bits of CGI with stupid ears!

Sigh. And yet I watch it, because The Boy loves Yoda, and the two-minute clip of Yoda bouncing around like a crack-addled throw pillow makes him very happy.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at May 30, 2007 04:23 PM
Comments

I couldn't stop watching that special for the ridiculousness of it. It was slobbery enough that I sensed synergy -- a dark side power if ever there was one -- at work. Plus that over-excited chick (assuming she's the same I'm thinking of) had this weird, Tipper Gore or Standard Politician's Wife thing going.

Too bad there weren't any recreations, though.

Posted by: marc at May 30, 2007 04:30 PM

I didn't mind the comments from people like Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams, Kevin Smith etc. because I see them as creative people trying to understand and absorb lessons from other creative people.

Everybody else--well, it reminded me of an English teacher I had in 7th grade who tried to convince the class that Charles Dickens labored over each and every word he wrote until it was not only perfect, but filled with meanings far beyond the word itself. Being a smart-aleck kid, I pointed out that Dickens was paid by the word, and had a tough time staying ahead of the bill collectors. It seemed more likely to me that he was racing to produce as much work as he could, as fast as he could rather than laboring over each sentence for days at a time. The idea that Dickens had to worry about making a living didn't sit well with the teacher...

So it seemed for these experts--to them George Lucas thought through the implications of everything he did, scribbling notes as he researched dozens of volumes of assorted mythology.

Or maybe, as I think may be the case, Lucas' inner fanboy just thought "wow, this would be neat!"

Posted by: dhanson at May 30, 2007 05:05 PM

I didn't mind the comments from people like Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams, Kevin Smith etc. because I see them as creative people trying to understand and absorb lessons from other creative people.

Everybody else--well, it reminded me of an English teacher I had in 7th grade who tried to convince the class that Charles Dickens labored over each and every word he wrote until it was not only perfect, but filled with meanings far beyond the word itself. Being a smart-aleck kid, I pointed out that Dickens was paid by the word, and had a tough time staying ahead of the bill collectors. It seemed more likely to me that he was racing to produce as much work as he could, as fast as he could rather than laboring over each sentence for days at a time. The idea that Dickens had to worry about making a living didn't sit well with the teacher...

So it seemed for these experts--to them George Lucas thought through the implications of everything he did, scribbling notes as he researched dozens of volumes of assorted mythology.

Or maybe, as I think may be the case, Lucas' inner fanboy just thought "wow, this would be neat!"

Posted by: dhanson at May 30, 2007 05:06 PM

I didn't mind the comments from people like Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams, Kevin Smith etc. because I see them as creative people trying to understand and absorb lessons from other creative people.

Everybody else--well, it reminded me of an English teacher I had in 7th grade who tried to convince the class that Charles Dickens labored over each and every word he wrote until it was not only perfect, but filled with meanings far beyond the word itself. Being a smart-aleck kid, I pointed out that Dickens was paid by the word, and had a tough time staying ahead of the bill collectors. It seemed more likely to me that he was racing to produce as much work as he could, as fast as he could rather than laboring over each sentence for days at a time. The idea that Dickens had to worry about making a living didn't sit well with the teacher...

So it seemed for these experts--to them George Lucas thought through the implications of everything he did, scribbling notes as he researched dozens of volumes of assorted mythology.

Or maybe, as I think may be the case, Lucas' inner fanboy just thought "wow, this would be neat!"

Posted by: dhanson at May 30, 2007 05:06 PM

Still, Star Wars has given us (via the French) a new term for unnecessarily dramatic design, "le darthvaderisme." It's kind of like "rococo" but with angles instead of bulges.

Posted by: PersonFromPorlock at May 30, 2007 07:41 PM

Every time I think of getting cable again, this sort of thing comes along to remind me of the reason I dropped it (and gave away my tv) in the first place.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 30, 2007 10:14 PM

Always pleased to see a savvy discussion of Star Wars ... Ten Reasons to Like the Clones

Posted by: Paul Levinson at May 30, 2007 10:31 PM

Marc -

Oh yeah, we're talking about the same chick. I appreciated her enthusiasm, up until the heavenly twins thing. Then I was mostly agog.

dhanson -

Exactly. Having other filmmaker/sci-fi/fantasy genre types weigh in made sense. But the woman I refer to above? Who had a quote that went something like "And every time I watch it and I draw another parallel to this myth or that and I think - wow! Did George Lucas plan all that? Or am I a participant in the myth itself?!?!"

I roll my eyes. Lucas tapped into the universal "that'll be COOL!" fanboy psyche, which just so happens to have a lot of ubermyth influence.

There's nothing wrong with that, BTW, but let's please get a grip.

Posted by: BAW at May 30, 2007 11:17 PM

My husband and I are betting Newt is trying to rehabilitate his image...

I liked the science of star wars show better...

Posted by: jp at May 31, 2007 11:10 AM

"My husband and I are betting Newt is trying to rehabilitate his image..."

Perhaps Newt is trying to establish his hip, with-it street credibility, along the lines of Richard Nixon appearing many years ago on "Laugh-In" and saying "Sock it to me?".

Posted by: Bruce Lagasse at May 31, 2007 05:35 PM

I had hoped the show would deal with where Geo. Lucas _really_ got key elements of 'SW' -- like the aerial battle scenes from 'Wake Island Command,' or the bickering sidekicks from 'The Hidden Fortress' who became R2D2 and C3PO -- but it was all blah-blah / Joseph Campbell / blah-blah / mythic archetypes / blah-blah / George Bush.

We'll probably have to wait until Lucas is dead and buried for an honest documentary to come out.

Posted by: Ron Butler at June 2, 2007 03:58 PM

please kill the spam!

Posted by: Emily Nelson at June 5, 2007 08:53 AM

If you're going to remove "TAYLOR", you might as well remove my comment as well.

Posted by: Bruce Lagasse at June 6, 2007 02:09 AM