I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun–which motive seems to be imputed to me every time I say this–but I don’t care about seeing the new Star Wars movie and I would rather pretend it doesn’t exist. I discussed this with several people on Facebook, and it was interesting that with maybe two exceptions, everyone seemed to think I was saying that I thought the movie would be bad.
Instead, what I was saying is that I do not think this nostalgia that prompts us to relive movies over and over says anything good about our (American/Anglophone) society and its cultural projects. When I want to revisit the Star Wars universe, I watch Star Wars again. (Yes, it will always be “Star Wars” to me and not “A New Hope.” I know, I’m aging myself. It seems an appropriate way to celebrate finding my first grey hairs this month. You damn kids get off my lawn.) Don’t get me wrong. I get nostalgic like anyone else, and I enjoy a bit of escapist action cinema. Man, if I could recapture the sense of empowerment and inspiration I got from watching She-Ra as a kid I would not only magically leverage the hell out of it (something I am trying to figure out how to do), I would bottle and sell it. But I do not feel the need to constantly revisit-but-with-
slight-cosmetic-changes-“improvements” the experiences of my youth. I certainly do not feel the need for a J.J. Abrams version of Masters of the Universe. I’m actually a little afraid that by having put that idea out there into the universe it’s going to happen. Please don’t let that happen.
Well, maybe if Wes Anderson had directed the new Star Wars, with Bill Murray as a jaded and cynical Luke Skywalker and Owen Wilson as Chewbacca…I might have gone to see that. But I digress.
My main complaint about the Star Wars prequels–which I refuse to acknowledge in my universe–is not that they were “bad” in so very many ways, but that they betrayed the whole worldview, philosophy, and cosmology of the original movies. I mean, midichlorians? Talk about selling out to scientistic-materialism. I know it’s not the ’70s anymore and the New Age is looking a bit tarnished and beat up, but it was so sad to see something mythic reduced to the merely fictive. So I want nothing to do with any further Star Wars elaborations, and the same goes for Star Trek (the Abrams version of which similarly betrayed/abandoned the mythos of the original–or to paraphrase some dude I don’t know on Facebook, Abrams made a good action movie, but he didn’t make a Star Trek movie), Tarzan, Point Break (not making that up), and all the other remakes, retreads, reboots, sequels, and prequels. I swear every time another Marvel superhero movie comes out an angel commits harakiri. Can we at least agree not to remake a movie until 25 years have passed since the original came out?
Setting aside my cantankerousness, I actually am dismayed by the way nostalgia has grown so out of control. I read an interview with Simon Pegg when The World’s End came out which I can’t find anymore, but basically he was complaining that
“…the growing consumerism attached to genre films that has preyed on audiences’ nostalgia for youth. Citing the philosophies of cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard, Pegg explains how society has become infantilized to distract us from the real horrors of the world. ‘There was probably more discussion on Twitter about the “The Force Awakens” and the “Batman vs Superman” trailers,’ Pegg writes, ‘than there was about the Nepalese earthquake or the British general election.'”
It’s ironic, if not maybe just a teensy bit hypocritical, that these words are coming from a guy who starred in both the new Star Treks and the new Star Wars, but I agree with what he’s saying here and for better or worse, the Cornetto Trilogy are among the very few films pointing out the extremes to which nostalgia has been leveraged by marketers and the mindlessness of the general populace in consuming it.
So anyway, that is my bad attitude to the whole thing. I feel a little vindicated that less-than-fawning reviews of the new Star Wars are beginning to appear. That (in part) is why I clicked on this link when a friend posted it on Facebook:
The next thing I saw in my news feed was this link from Gordon:
The juxtaposition of the two is interesting. The subtitle of the first article could with equal truth be appended to the second: “When fantasy sagas never end, we see the cycles of brutality and totalitarianism that fuel them don’t, either.”
American exceptionalism and EU/ECB/IMF/NATO’s various politico-economic just-so stories are our fantasy saga. In light of that, read this synopsis of America’s current chapter of the saga:
I realize this comes off as awfully pessimistic. I don’t want to make things harder for you this Bickanytide*. As when I first suggested to my Facebook acquaintances that perhaps a new Star Wars doesn’t really warrant pants-wetting levels of enthusiasm, I am only suggesting we widen our perspectives a bit to look at bigger patterns and maybe just maybe have a good think about it. But what am I saying? If you’re reading this, you are already my kind of weirdo. I wish you a happy midwinter and a wond’rous feast of St. Bickany!
*Totally stealing that from Gordon. Too perfect to pass up.