Kevin Smith's account of his recent visit to the set of Episode VII at San Diego Comic-Con. Not safe for work. In fact I'm really not sure how it was appropriate for Comic-Con--children do go to this event, don't they? But it's spoiler-free.
From the Facebook feed of my colleague Greg Allen. His comment: "Deeth Starr Valley, NV. The place to be for functionally illiterate Star Wars fans."
You may remember last year's terrific Sandstorm art exhibit by Chris Woods. Chris funded the exhibit in part through Indiegogo and has spent a huge amount of time and effort since then producing drawings and prints for those who contributed.
Chris was also kind enough to prepare something for me. I wasn't expecting anything, and I certainly wasn't expecting THREE fabulous pieces. These came in the mail a couple weeks ago.
"Villain" is my wife's favourite. In fact she just asked me what I planned to do with it, in a way that made clear that it wasn't leaving the house! Fine by me. I especially like the moodiness of "Heroes in Danger".
I can't thank Chris enough for his immense generosity. But I can at least tell you that Chris's Sandstorn exhibit is showing again this summer at Gallery Jones in Vancouver from 12 July to 3 August. I understand these amazing works are for sale. Contact Chris on Twitter (@chriswoodsart) for more information.
Princess Leia lying awkwardly on the floor like a drunk belly dancer, dirty clothes and manky old wigs.
Those visiting the Stars Wars exhibition in Wolfsburg, Germany, would have been forgiven for mistaking it for the set of a budget porn film.
The force was definitely not strong in this awful display of creepy mannequins, terrible lighting and all-round lameness.
Take Chewie for example – obviously just a wig glued to a doll head.
Uproxx's list of 10 Star Wars characters we'll never see in the movies starts out a bit obviously with Jaxxon and Ackmena but gets weirder, funnier and sadder with every new name. Here's a sample:
Triclops, The Emperor’s Three-Eyed Son
If the fact that the Emperor’s three-eyed son is named Triclops doesn’t make you groan, know that there’s a guy who pretended to be the Emperor’s three-eyed son, and his name is… wait for it… Trioculus. The possible result of genetic experimentation instead of good old-fashioned sexytimes, Triclops was kept imprisoned for years, because the Emperor was cringingly embarrassed that he named his three-eyed son Triclops. “What was I thinking? Was I on a Homer kick that day?,” he could be heard to mutter as he roamed the halls of the Death Star late at night. “Could I not have gone with Greg or Jerry or, I dunno, Bob?” Triclops eventually escaped captivity and had a two-eyed son, named not Duoclops but Ken. Again: The Emperor has a grandson named Ken. Somehow, Duoclops would’ve been better.
For this, and nine more reasons, the author concludes, we can be glad the EU is gone. Except that it probably isn't really gone, and even if it is gone the things that will replace it will likely be just as cringeworthy from time to time.
Follow the link for more EU absurdities.
For some time now I've been increasingly uncomfortable with the original name of this blog, "This Sort of Thing: Star Wars for men old enough to know better". The subtitle was intended to emphasize my experience with men of my generation--men in the their late 30s to mid 40s who, like me, grew up as devoted Star Wars fans. My book, A Long Time Ago: Growing Up with and Out of Star Wars, was intended to speak mainly to that audience. It came of my experience with men of my age. Throughout my adulthood, I have been repeatedly struck by how easily I can talk about Star Wars with men who grew up in the late 1970s, whether I have anything else in common with them or not. As I say in the prologue to my book,
Star Wars—the movie, the sequels, the toys, the books, the trading cards, the comics, the arcade games, the galaxy of myths and merchandise—dominated my youth. In this I am the same as so many other boys I knew then, and so many men I know today. It is a common reference point for my gender and generation.
Not long after my book was published, however, I started getting feedback from women of the same generation. They mostly liked my book, but some were annoyed by the male focus. Star Wars wasn't just a boy thing, they said, and I knew they were right. When I first unwrapped Kenner Star Wars figures on Christmas morning, 1978, my four-year-old sister was there doing the same. I would call her my first Star Wars playmate, if the original meaning of that word had not been so totally corrupted.
I was sensitive to these readers' criticisms from the outset. In fact I revised my book a few months after first publishing it to add more inclusive language, although I left the male focus largely in place. As the book became better known, I got more traffic to this blog. Again the (entirely fair) question arose, based on the blog's subtitle: Is this blog just for men? My answer was no, as I tried to explain in this post. But was it enough?
On 19 May, this happened:
@nataliewreyford Currently, there are no plans for Leia products at Disney Store, Natalie. Have a wonderful day!— Disney Store (@DisneyStore) May 20, 2014
Disney's answer was surprising and disappointing to Natalie, a mum and PhD student at King's College, London. She wasn't the only one who felt that way. The hashtag #WeWantLeia quickly became the latest Twitter phenomenon. The Daily Dot explains:
Star Wars fans come in all shapes and sizes, in every gender and race, and are found in all corners of the world. The diversity of the fanbase is one of the most exciting aspects of being a part of the Star Wars fandom. Unfortunately the Star Wars films have never really reflected that diversity and while hopes were high that things may change with new movies and TV show being released under Disney, signs keep leading fans to believe they’ll be disappointed.
Female fans in particular have been consistently let down by recent news—especially the lack of women in the new Star Wars: Episode VII cast. That disappointment continued this week when it was revealed the Disney Store has no plans to create products inspired by Princess Leia. The revelation came last Tuesday when King’s College London graduate student Natalie Wreyford asked the Disney Store why there weren’t any Princess Leia products in the store. The store responded on Twitter with a cheery signoff that has done little to pacify fans.
This comes on the heels of a disappointing initial casting announcement—six new male characters, and just one woman. When the Internet raised hue and cry, J.J. Abrams rushed to say that the casting wasn't over, and he's totally adding one more "substantial" female role. Oh, well, in THAT case. As our pals at io9 put it: "Are we seriously still pretending that the universe is comprised almost entirely of men (and mostly white men at that)?"
Reading all this on Twitter and the web, I found myself strongly on the pro-Leia side. She is one of the leading (and best) characters in Star Wars.
But this isn't just about toys. As has so often happened in the course of the Star Wars franchise, a story about space heroes has again become a story about what we want to be. George Lucas first encountered this (likely very surprising) phenomenon in the aftermath of the first film, when he faced criticism for not featuring blacks and other minorities in his film. He responded with Lando Calrissian--another great Star Wars character who often does not get the attention he deserves. (In fact it seems to me that very few of the human-played characters of the original Star Wars trilogy are featured in the prequel and post-prequel era of Star Wars content and merchandise. Lucasfilm seems to prefer to let the faces of its franchise be the easily CGI'd characters: Vader, Yoda, Artoo, Threepio, Boba Fett, etc.)
As I retweeted supportive and insightful #WeWantLeia tweets and blog posts (like this one from Natacha Guyot), the old embarrassment about this blog's subtitle hit me again. Yes, my experience of Star Wars in the 1970s and '80s was boy-focussed. But it wasn't boy-only even then, and it certainly is not now. Like so many Twitter users and Star Wars fans, I want Leia. To be clear, it's not more Disney toys I want--I stopped collecting toys at about 13. What I want is a world that isn't subjected to outmoded notions of what boys and girls are supposed to be.
All of which is to say that I've changed the name of this blog--for the better.
The Guardian has an excellent long piece by Dorian Lynskey on the phenomenon that is Frozen. If you have young children, especially but not necessarily daughters, you'll recognize instantly the obsession that Lynskey is describing:
Frozen-mania bypasses logic. It's a compulsion. Friends have told me about their daughters playing the soundtrack on a loop, reliving the movie as they go; watching the DVD at least once a day; turning each bedtime into a climb up "the north mountain"; renaming their old toys Anna, Elsa and Olaf; loving it so much that they'll even watch a dodgy download in Cantonese because they know the words anyway. One mother said there should be a support group, Frozen Anonymous.
Watching all this unfold in my household over the last few months, I have had a distinct sense of deja vu: Frozen seems to be to Beatrice what Star Wars (the original 1977 movie and its two sequels) was to me. Lysnkey makes the same comparison in passing, and perhaps it's too soon to be emphatic about it, but the parallels are certainly there. It has been widely reported, for instance, that Disney did not anticipate Frozen being such a phenomenon and, as a result, has so far failed fully to capitalize on the market for Frozen-related merchandise. Perhaps they should offer an Early Bird Certificate Package.
We're always being told of course, that [Movie Title Here] is the new Star Wars. But maybe for once that claim is justified.
Elstree 1976 is a Kickstarter-funded documentary about Star Wars extras. From the documentary's Kickstarter site:
In 1976, during the hottest summer on record, Star Wars was shot in suburban North London. Nobody involved had any idea how big the film would become, many couldn't even remember the title.
Yet, for the extras and actors in smaller roles, their faces hidden in masks and helmets, this seemingly insignificant job would go on to colour their lives even four decades later.
ELSTREE 1976 is a portrait of a cross-section of these people; from the man inside the most iconic villain in film history to the guy whose character was completely cut from the final film. It tells the stories of their lives and explores the eccentric community they have formed, traveling the world, signing autographs for fans.
The trailer is very good. Please consider backing this project. The filmmakers are looking for £30,000 (US$50,000) and are £7,000 of the way there.