Monday, November 05, 2012

Star Bored

George Lucas and the horror that is the second trilogy of Star Wars films did not assuage my love for the original trilogy. Sure, Jedi isn't a great movie by any means, but it still wasnt a horrible film that had some truly great and iconic moments. A New Hope is an amazing piece of popcorn, action/adventure, serial storytelling. The Empire Strikes Back is often cited as the greatest sequel of all time, an argument that can be made quite plausibly and one of the earliest experiences I can remember in a movie theater. I fell in love with this trilogy at an early age, and it is part of what gave me a slavish obsession for cinema, so it takes a whole hell of a lot for me to turn away from it as a fan.

It may have happened though. I may have finally just completely reached the nadir of my ability to handle anything else related to Star Wars. And no, it wasn't that George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney. For about three decades now, the principle difference between Lucasfilm and Disney has been a set of big, round ears and a couple of theme parks. In basically every other way, they've been the same. Consider that Pixar started out under Lucasfilms roof and then made the migration to The Mouse, and that Disney has had a number of Lucasfilm rides in their theme parks. If you're out there getting all pissy over the Disney move now, you're at least twenty years too late. You should have found your scruples earlier.

So, if it wasn't The Mouse becoming Darth Vader's new master and it wasn't that abomination that was the second trilogy, what could possibly have made me decide that just maybe it's time to let it go and just cut the cord with all things Star Wars? It's the absolutely insane reaction from the nerdhood in the film press. As someone who has spent many years now, pouring over the details of upcoming projects, tidbits from behind the scenes, stories of studio strife and the general commentary of the internet film press, I can say that of all the insanity I've seen, and that hasn't been an inconsequential amount, I've never seen anything as ridiculous as this.

With that in mind, I write this more for my fellow film fanatics and in the hope that just maybe a few of the writers and editors for some of the sites I hold in pretty high regard, might stumble over my humble little blog and listen to what I have to say.

The sale to Disney isn't a big deal. If you haven't been paying attention, the business models for Lucasfilm and Disney have been nearly identical, for a really, really long time, possibly since the beginning. They make films they hope will appeal to the largest possible audience and then they market the ever loving shit out of the merchandise. In more ways than not, it has definitely seemed as if there's more thought, time and care put into the marketing and merchandising campaigns than there have been the films themselves. I know I'm not the only one who saw "Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls." There is no other explanation for the existence of that film. You do remember the monkeys, right? And you remember how Karen Allen's previously fiery, fully autonomous character was turned into a stand in for Suzy Homemaker, right? I can't be the only one who remembers that debacle. I can't be the only one who was deeply offended and at that point, lost all hope that George Lucas might ever produce another piece of cinema worth the time and expense it takes to make the films, much less watch them.

I know that the Star Wars franchise is one of the most beloved in cinema history, and given that fact, news about it is definitely going to drive interest in articles, commentary and so forth. For most of you, that's going to mean traffic to your site. I also understand the need for that traffic. Without it, most of the sites I read and love wouldn't be able to exist, and frankly, would have little reason to exist. At the same time, the unending speculation that's been going around about possible story angles, casting, directors and so on, is a level of magnitude that not even the promise of increased or sustained traffic can justify. Web film sites have suddenly become the film communities equivalent of what @ComfortablySmug was to Hurricane Sandy. Most of what is being published is studied conjecture, at best. At worst, it's a cynical attempt to do nothing more than attract traffic. In between there are all kinds of things, lists of dream casts and directors, hopes for story lines, fears about both of those things and of course, lots of hand wringing over the Disney machine taking over this beloved franchise.

It has quickly become the worst of what the internet film community is so often accused of, naval gazing, Monday morning quarterbacking, and smug bullshit written by some cynical jerk who takes the simple and easy way of mocking everything without ever actually taking the time to advocate or talk about what they have some passion for. Those accusations aren't always true, and more often than not, they're made by film makers, producers and studio drones who aren't very happy with being called out on having created a sub par film. Unfortunately, Star Wars is one of those thing over which we seem to go collectively insane, immediately.

And unlike the furor created over something like Zach Snyder's Sucker Punch, none of this is even very interesting. In point of fact, it's quickly become incredibly boring. At least in the case of Sucker Punch there was a really interesting combination of cultural awareness and commentary happening, and the discussion surrounding the film was more successful and more interesting than the film itself. In this case, at least even the second trilogy is interesting in the degree to which it was an abysmal failure on an artistic and story telling level, but this whole discussion about a proposed new trilogy is like watching a gorilla in a track suit smoke a cigarette. The novelty wears off pretty quickly, and then it's just a gorilla in a track suit, smoking a cigarette, which is kind of sad when considered in a context beyond the novelty of it.

So please, if you're a writer or an editor for a film site, do us all a favor and just stop for a while. If you're a regular reader of film sites, stop reading the Star Wars articles until there's some bona fide information to be gained. When there's actual news about story lines, directors, and casting, I'll be interested in that. Until then, you're clogging up valuable space and wasting valuable time with completely masturbatory content and ideas. Many of you are much better than that, and have demonstrated that for a long time. It's time to take a step back and realize that you're the most powerful force in the ecosystem of contemporary film making. Why keep using that on something that is such a waste? Why keep devoting time and attention to something that so many of you are guaranteeing is going to be a horrifically stupid and cynical cash grab? There are lots of films out there that could use the attention and the press, why not use that space and time to start trying to help them find the audience they richly deserve? 

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