MORE POSTS 
 

Star Wars oil painting exhibit "Sandstorm" opens

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Parents turn child's 1st birthday into extended Lucasfilm/Hasbro advert

Me reading from A Long Time Ago

Highlights and lowlights of the upcoming Star Wars Celebration VI

Grown men (mostly) dressed up as Lando Calrissian

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Blog's t-shirts banned by Zazzle

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Is this the future of Star Wars?

Is Star Wars link bait?

Dissent not tolerated at the Prequel Appreciation Society

TSOT discovers its nemesis

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History of Star Wars as related by a bot

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Luke Skywalker and company on the Muppet Show

Yoda now shilling instant soup in Japan

Commander who?

$6000 for a toy you can't even play with

Star Wars underwear

Retro Star Wars decor in my son's bedroom

Phantom Menace 3D: Now With Plot

Star Wars and disco: the forgotten love affair

Will Muschamp: What a guy!

Oi, fanboy: grow up! A reply to Darren Franich

 

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Entries in growing up (9)

Monday
Feb062012

Star Wars fatigue: David Langan has had enough

David Langan at Sabotage Times has written a terrific piece on his disillusionment and fatigue with all things Star Wars. I sympathize with this a lot. From the post:

Well, it’s been – what? – four or five months already, and it’s time for another bite of the Star Wars apple, this time with the cinematic re-release of the films in 3D, beginning with The Phantom Menace this month. Now, I could easily spend the next couple of thousand words sniping at the prospect of watching the Star Wars prequels with an added dimension: through the wonders of technology, Hayden Christensen’s performance finally gains some depth! See the films as the director in no way ever originally intended but hey, what the fuck, there’s an untapped commercial possibility to be exploited and the George Lucas money mountain needs topping up!

But really, what’s the point? It’s all been said before, and by better men than me. Bashing the Star Wars prequels has become a socially ordained tradition in our culture, in much the same way that giving the EDF doorstep salesman a five-minute head start before you broke out the shotgun used to be.

...

But, after all that effort, all that consumption, I find I can’t be arsed anymore. I’m done. For all the bootleg copies, re-releases, spin-offs and merchandise I’ve gone out and bought over the years, I don’t think I’ve just sat down at home and put on a Star Wars film for the best part of a decade – and I’ve got a very decent projector and amp on constant standby; at the drop of a hat, I can watch those films six foot high and ten foot wide, with surround sound that would make your perineum quiver. But I never particularly feel like it. Somewhere along the way (and I suspect, in the end, it was Revenge of the Sith what did it), I simply peaked. So bollocks to the “complete” Blu-ray editions, and bollocks to the 3D cinema releases, and to all the inevitable home cinema editions to come.

I think it was Simon Pegg who called the prequels “retroactively destructive”, and they certainly seem to have done the trick for me. The part of my brain that’s successfully blocking out the memory of the prequels has done its job so well that it’s apparently robbed me of my enthusiasm for the original films. 

Personally I haven't quite lost my enthusiasm for the original films yet. Actually I'd quite like to see them again if George Lucas would quit hiding them from us all. But I am completely done with special editions and revamps and three-dimensional gimmicks.

Surf over and read the rest of Langdon's post:

Sabotage Times: Confessions Of An Ex-Star Wars Obsessive

Friday
Feb032012

Kathy Shaidle's blog post continues to generate controversy and insight

Yesterday US conservative web site PJ Media ("Voices from a free America...") ran an article by Canadian conservative pundit Kathy Shaidle entitled, "Five Reasons Star Wars Actually Sucks". (See my previous post, below.)

Reaction to the piece has been massive, and to my mind a little surprising. Perhaps it's what Americans would call my "liberal" bias, but I had expected the conservative readers of Shaidle's post to laugh and taunt along with her. Some did. But quite a few others disagreed, some subtlely and some less so. Here are some examples:

50. Scott

You make a fairly good argument, but instead of getting to the heart of the issue – you just make vague over-generalizations about Star Wars fans. You might have some nice points, but your argumentative, mud-slinging tone causes it to not hold a lot of water.

I am a fan because Star Wars shaped my childhood from the time I was 6. I loved the original trilogy; every clunky phrase and awkward fight scene. I cannot separate it from the history of my life. Now I agree that the prequel trilogy was terrible, but I love the way that it fleshed-out the rest of the story – a story that needed to be fleshed-out. You know, how the actual hero – the one that restores balance to the universe – is the one who you thought was the bad guy all along… Which is a completely original and unique plot point to a kid who started paying attention to it when he was 6. And the marketing – don’t even get me started on the marketing.

But what really threw me off about your blog is how you believe that all Star Wars fans are unsuccessful lumps – And that is not at all the case. I am a successful I.T. manager. Many of my friends who are fans are also very successful in their respective fields. We are able to collect the things that we do because of that success. If we have the money, and it makes us happy, then who does it hurt really? Many fans were inspired by the movies to do really great things like become actual movie makers themselves, writers, scientists, musicians… you name it!

You have the right to believe that Star Wars sucks. Art is subjective. But just because we disagree doesn’t make me less of a person.

 

58. Rosa E.

I would like to respectfully disagree on some of these points, Ms. Shaidle.

Yes, there are plenty of people who do go over the top with some of these things. But there are also plenty of people who enjoy the films for what, at the bottom, they originally tried to be–a story about a young man’s evolution from irritating, whiny farmboy to an adult with something to believe in. A certain amount of indulgence in fantasy and fiction is hardly something rare: we have records of “hero’s journey” stories predating paper, for goodness’ sake. The Epic of Gilgamesh was pretty much the same thing–fights, beautiful women, people getting curbstomped, magic and more fights. Star Wars isn’t a seminal work of fiction, but I think in itself it’s essentially harmless, if nothing new.

I’d say the problem is not with Star Wars specifically, but with overindulgence in it to the detriment of other interests–to which I could argue that you find such examples in pretty much any organized fan group. I saw similar things when I worked at a renaissance fair. And if the idea of grown men attending Star Wars conventions worries you, I hope you never get an eyeful of some of the anime or JRPG fan groups.

I’ve always enjoyed your writing, and I’m definitely going to keep reading your columns here. But I think on this one, there may be more to the issue.

 

59. Q

The Mark Steyn, World of Warcraft line is just dirty pool. We are not all going to be Mark Steyn’s in this world. Nor will we all be paragons or captains of industry. Great men of the world or giants in any field. I am for instance an electrician, I am a very good electrician, I am considering starting on my master’s license later this year. But, that is all I am likely to ever be. And that is enough for me. It provides more than enough for me to care for myself, my family and my home. And if I spend my downtime when out of work, between one 14hr a day job and another, playing WOW and making wow jokes to my friends, what difference does it make to anyone but me? Now, don’t think for a moment that your over theme of delayed adulthood and permanent adolescence was lost on me. I am not dressing up as a night elf while living in my parent’s basement, or going to “cons”. I do understand that there is a large and growing subculture of overgrown man-children who can neither care for themselves or others. They cross all sorts of sub culture lines. From the comic book man-child to the pop culture man-child. I just think it was a bit narrow sighted to lump WOW in as a major cause. (BTW, I like Mark Steyn, and all I can say is, if he wanted, he would make a kick ass rogue. He has a way of sneaking up on ya and going for the kill.)

 

79. BettyBlue

And now, all you nerds—just stop being nerds! It is verbotten to be both nerdish and conservative! Conservatives don’t have hobbies! If they do have hobbies, it’s something properly conservative, such as playing golf, or—or—or—hmmm, can’t think of anything else that’s properly conservative. Boating? Buckley owned a yacht, didn’t he?

/The above is /Sarc.

 

87. Sam

“Successful, mature men do not play computer games, attend “cons,” and get excited about overrated science fiction movies from the 1970s.”

Yep, that’s right, we get to play with toys and hang out with our friends, or even those other kids from somewhere else who are into the same cool thing we are.

The really best part of it though is how much it drives “responsible” people crazy with jealousy because they won’t let themselves come out and play with us, and are stuck inside doing boring “grown up” stuff like writing in their diary about how silly we are then posting it on the internet for everyone to read. That part is a real hoot.

Sure, Star Wars is kinda lame, but that’s because Lucas ruined it. The worst thing the fans ever do is spend money on his junk and make him think he’s a competent film maker. (Well, that and letting people with inappropriate body types wear Slave Leia costumes in public. *SHUDDER*)

 

90. erico

In 1977, I was nine years old living in a small town outside Albuquerque, passing the time wandering through the desert in and beyond the back yard looking for scorpions, stink bugs, skinks, anything really, of interest, usually finding nothing. That summer, as a treat, the family went to see Star Wars with family visiting from out of town. When Luke looked out at the double sunset on Tatooine, and the voilin strings strained away, that was me! Here on the big screen was a movie that had good guys, and bad guys, and gunfire, and adventure. Star Wars was a revelation! It seemed to comport with my nascent Christian faith, handed down to me through my parents, and the promise that there was some way to live it out in the world. Something awaited. Metaphysical bliss.

The later movies, with all the hemming and hawing on the shades of grey in the world (the growing imposition of the Campbell system), stereotypes in place of characters (much of it was originally supplied by good actors rather than the script), the loss of the sense that something was really at stake, all the endless extrapolation of different worlds, creatures, cultures, lost the thread, that there was something transcendent, and calling, in each of our futures. The system subsumed all that was once thought to be transcendent, including the force. Was it some Jungian system? Who cares. When that final piece, the force, was taken away through some materialist mumbo jumbo about mitichlorians (?) in the blood I had been broken.

And thankfully I am done with all that. My kids don’t seem so very interested in it, except that Dad was once a big fan, so they have tried to take an interest, but it isn’t lasting, because Star Wars is now just a force of culture, not of the individual, as I first received it. So I’m rather glad for the kids, for their sniffing out what is worthwhile from what is not.

“Help us Kathy Schaidle, you’re our only hope.”

My view, for what it's worth, is there there is a fair bit of truth in Shaidle's post, but much to be said for some of the critical replies, too. Star Wars--the phenomenon, not the films--is surprisingly complicated.

For more comments and reaction, follow the link below.

PJ Lifestyle: Geek Rage: Star Wars Comments of the Day

Thursday
Feb022012

Conservative blogger gives five reasons Star Wars sucks

I certainly don't share her politics, but I'll readily admit that conservative blogger Kathy Shaidle scores a few points against Star Wars and its fans in this post. Here are some outtakes, but go have a look yourself:

First of all, I’m not going to employ those pretentious, post-market locutions like “Episode V” or whathaveyou. If you are a grown up, then there are “the three old Star Wars movies” and “the three new Star Wars movies.”

...

In what must be a unique phenomenon even within the complex and mysterious ecosystem of fandom, even Star Wars fans hate George Lucas.

(A note to those of you fond of tossing around the glib expression “George Lucas raped my childhood”: unless it also contains the words “stepfather,” “Catholic priest” or “Jerry Sandusky,”‘ you don’t actually get to use the words “raped” and “my childhood” in a sentence, m’kay? Please get another First World problem.)

When I was still (barely) in contact with what’s left of my family, one of my in-law step-somethings was a fat, hairy loser in his mid-twenties who collected Harley Davidson stuff. One particularly painful Christmas, he was bellowing about all the great Harley junk he’d received, and about all the other Harley stuff he already had or still needed to buy.

My fork hit the plate.

“Has it ever occurred to you,” I asked, “that if you’d saved all the money you spent on this crap, you could OWN a Harley Davidson by now?”

It’s true. He didn’t have a bike of his own. Or a car. Or even a bus pass.

With a few dozen additional I.Q. points, that’s your average Star Wars fan.

If they took all the time and money they’ve wasted obsessing over somebody else’s (boring) vision, they could probably be astronauts or champion fencers or costume designers by now.

...

The extension of adolescence throughout the West is a serious matter. The never-ending obsession with Star Wars is but a symptom of this arrested development.

I’d observe that Star Wars fanatics are “amusing themselves” (and boring us) “to death,” but it’s worse than that.

Over 30 years on, their “death,” alas, is nowhere in sight.

PJ Lifestyle: Five Reasons Star Wars Actually Sucks

Wednesday
Jan112012

Geek's ex-wife throws his Star Wars toys in the garbage

A Geekologie reader reports that his ex-wife threw out 10 black trash bags full of his Star Wars toys, leaving them in the back alley behind his house. The photos show that many if not all of these toys were mint-in-box and carded. The toys do not appear to have been in any serious jeopardy, as the reader had time to take photographs for the benefit of fellow Geekologie readers before carefully returning them to the various shrines he had no doubt erected for them all over his house.

Predictably, the comments are full of angry, misogynist, over-the-top cracks about the ex-wife, together with a few (equally unpleasant) defences of her. No word on what caused the lady to do such a thing, although being married to a man with 10 garbage bags' worth of this stuff, all unboxed, does sound potentially frustrating.

Geekologie: Oh The Humanity!: Geekologie Reader's Ex-Wife Dumps Entire Star Wars Toy Collection In Alley

Friday
Jan062012

Growing Up Star Wars

Unreality has noticed a charming Flickr pool entitled Growing Up Star Wars: 1977-1985. Pictured above: Oakland (Halloween) - Aaron & Mark 1981 by Aaron Caldwell.

Follow the first link below to view the photos in slideshow mode, or the second link to join the group and add your own photos.

Flickr: Growing Up Star Wars [slideshow]

Flickr: The Growing Up Star Wars: 1977-1985 Flickr pool

Tuesday
Nov152011

Commander Who?

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, apparentlyToday at the office I was chatting with two colleagues about our young children's pop culture interests. S said her three-year-old son was crazy about Cars (the movie). I mentioned that my daughter (also three) loved Go Diego Go and Caillou. M then tells a story about how his son recently demanded to be bought a pair of Commander Cody shoes.

"Who's Commander Cody?", I say innocently. M, who like me is an old-time Star Wars fan, explains that Commander Cody is a clone trooper of some sort in the Clone Wars television series and possibly also in one of the prequels.

That is the first time in my entire life that someone has made a Star Wars reference I did not get. I had no idea. I've since googled it and found the above-pictured 1960s country-rock act, who I am much more interested in.

Tuesday
Sep202011

Letting go of Star Wars

AV Club's Keith Phipps has written a thoughtful piece entitled "Letting go of Star Wars". It certainly resonates with me. I particularly liked the conclusion:

I wonder if the next generation really ought to care so much about what a Krayt dragon ought to sound like. There are books, films, and TV shows of my youth that I look forward to sharing with my daughter, but I don’t expect her to claim all, or even any, of them as her own. If she doesn’t like A Charlie Brown Christmas, I can watch it without her. (But, seriously, how could she not like that?) As for Star Wars, I have no doubt it will still be around, but maybe she won’t care about it at all. I kind of hope she doesn’t. It’s had a good long run. She should have her own imagination-colonizing pop culture. I hope she loves it as much as I loved Star Wars, and that she gets to hold onto it all her life.

AV Club: Letting go of Star Wars

Friday
Sep022011

Oi, fanboy: grow up! A reply to Darren Franich

Darren Franich at EW.com Popwatch has a message for Star Wars fans, especially old ones like him (and me): grow up! Don't get so worked up about the latest pointless changes to the original trilogy in the upcoming Blu-Ray release. And for that matter, don't get so worked up about Star Wars at all.

Believe me, there is a big part of me that wants to join the chorus of betrayed fans. But why? Why am I so angry at the man who was responsible for some of the major formative moments in my existence? Studying various Star Wars encyclopedias was a gateway drug for enjoying actual genuine history books. Watching the films on repeat taught me basic film grammar. Star Wars made me love science-fiction, so I have to thank George Lucas for indirectly pointing me onwards to Philip K. Dick, to Iain M. Banks, to Robert Heinlein and Orson Scott Card and every other great S.F. author. George Lucas can’t ruin my childhood, because my childhood already happened.

And that, I think, is why all the George Lucas hatred is fundamentally misplaced — and, in fact, why my initial gut-reaction (“Screw you, George!”) reflects much worse on me. The reason why our first response is to hate George Lucas is not because Lucas is ruining our childhoods. Far from it. Lucas is, perhaps accidentally, forcing us to admit two things: First, that our childhoods are over; and second, that the things we enjoy when we are children tend to be silly.

Franich's article is entertaining and raises some worthwhile points. But on the whole it misses the mark, I think. One of his refrains is "Kids are stupid" and Star Wars was just one of the stupid things we enjoyed as kids. George Lucas once made a similar comment in a desperate attempt to defend/excuse/minimise the appalling mess he made in 1999, telling his audience to lighten up, it was just a kid's movie.

But kids aren't stupid. Mine aren't, anyway, and I don't think I was, either. And in any case Star Wars was not just a kids' movie. I certainly agree with Franich that Star Wars is not especially thought-provoking, or subtle, or emotionally challenging. It is not the best film ever made, and neither are its two sequels. But there was nevertheless something great about Star Wars, Empire and even Jedi. It's too easy to say, as Franich does, "I think that it is time to put away childish things. Time to admit that Star Wars — like fruit snacks and Nickelodeon — should perhaps be left behind in our adolescence."

At least some of the "fanboys" Franich is attacking are not 40-year-old virgins with hoards of mint-in-box Kenner action figures displayed like trophies in the basement suites of their parents' houses. They are not the Star-Wars-mad little boys described in Alec Guinness’ memoir, A Positively Final Appearance (which Franich predictably quotes). Some of the men (I think they are mostly men) who are upset by Lucas's latest nonsense are well-adjusted, successful, happy people with fond memories of a childhood phenomenon that swept them up, gave them joy, left them alone for a while, then came crashing back into their lives in an explosion of mediocrity and thoughtlessness that refuses to let up.

In my view, there is one fanboy out there who really should grow up--grow up and leave it alone a while: George Lucas.

EW.com: Stop hating George Lucas, and stop loving 'Star Wars' so much: Why it's time to grow up

Wednesday
Jul272011

Why Star Wars is dead to me

An intelligent blog post by gamer Neon Kelly on how his passion for Star Wars died. In part he blames video games. I'm not a gamer, but I can readily understand his complaints:

There's no point in going over the various afflictions that have blighted Star Wars over the past 12 years. If you've even vaguely followed the franchise since the release of The Phantom Menace, you'll be acquainted with the many criticisms that can be levelled at the prequel trilogy, and everything that has followed in its wake; if you're a really ardent fan, you may even know the arguments that can be raised in its defence. By now, we all know the score. And yet for me, I think it was only last week that I realised just how dead the series now is to me.

But here's the kicker: In terms of killing my love, I think that video games carry almost as much blame as the recent films. Almost, but not quite.

VideoGamer.com: Why Star Wars is dead to me