Geek Week: Day One

Fair warning: You can look forward to a lot of “Star Wars” content this week. Hey, what did you expect–you’re reading a web site whose owner posted pictures of his Lego Star Destroyer. Deal with it.

First up from this side of the pond (I have it on good authority that Steve has already arranged for midnight-premeire tickets somewhere near Picadilly Circus, by the way), there’s the reported anti-Bush political content in Episode III.

Short version: I don’t much care.

Long version: It’s no particular suprise that George Lucas is a leftie. The guy’s been marinating in the moonbat stew of San Francisco and Marin County for most of his life, and he’s also one of those unfortunate people who romanticizes the Viet Cong. In numerous interviews over the last 30 years, he’s talked about how the rebels (and Wookies, and even Ewoks) in “Star Wars” were loosely based on the Communist gurellas from Vietnam, who in Lucas’s imagination, ‘defeated’ a technologically superior enemy. If you go back and look at the very early Star Wars writings, including the first page of the Lucas-directed novelization (actually written by sci-fi hack Alan Dean Foster), it’s very obvious that the Emperor was based on Richard Nixon.

That’s all pretty funny, at least in my mind. It serves mostly to illustrate that Lucas bought into the post-hippie mythology of the Vietnam War, instead of studying the actual history–otherwise, his rebels’ greatest victories would come courtesy of sympathizers in the Imperial Media and dissenters in the Imperial Opposition Party (and that’s not even mentioning the postwar Ewok boat people or Wookie concentration camps).

To Lucas’s credit, however, he kept this stuff very much down in the subtext for the original three films, and they were all the better for it. Unless you’d heard him talking about it, you’d never have picked up on the specious Vietnam analogy, just to pick one example. When “Star Wars” first premeired in 1977, one of the film’s main selling points was its complete lack of political baggage. After a decade of “China Syndromes” and “All The President’s Men,” or even “Dirty Harry” on the other side, “Star Wars” came as a massive relief to audiences who were sick of being lectured to by movie makers.

Unfortunately, Lucas let his oddball Marin politics creep into the three “prequel” films, with references to the “greedy trade federation” and other villains drawn from the “banking guild,” and there are a few other rather silly asides (one villain is named “Noot Gunray”–please, even Al Franken would be embarrased by that one), but even then, the dorm-room political hackery is overwhelmed by the overall story and bombast, and I expect that to still be the case in “Episode III.”

Let me put it bluntly: I’m not much inclined to take Lucas’s politics seriously either way. He’s proven himself to be a pretty unsophisticated political thinker in the past, to say nothing of a raging hypocrite, as Jim Geraghty aptly pointed out a while back. I compare my reaction to alleged Bush-bashing in “Episode III” the same way I viewed the Wachowski Brothers’ lame politicizing of the two “Matrix” sequels: the ideological musings of anybody dumb enough to take Cornell West seriously aren’t worth getting worked up over.

Ditto for Lucas. Come Thursday (very early), I plan to snicker at the politics and enjoy the moviemaking instead. As Lileks said going into “Episode II,” my requirements are simple: just don’t suck.

More tomorrow, so like I said, consider yourselves warned…

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37 Responses to “Geek Week: Day One”

  1. Nuanced Says:

    http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2005-05-15-cannes-lucas_x.htm

    “This was written during the Vietnam War and Nixon era, when the issue was how a democracy turns itself over to a dictator — not how a dictator takes over a democracy”

    “When I wrote this, Iraq didn’t exist. We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction.”

    But, he added, “the parallels between Vietnam and what we’re doing in Iraq now are unbelievable.”

  2. Joan Says:

    I don’t care, either. Part of me wants to say I should stop giving my money to moonbats, but I’m too sucked into the whole Star Wars mythos that I don’t think it’s possible for me to not see this movie.

    I’ll be happy if it doesn’t suck. LucasFilms should be paying Matthew Hemming a hefty amount for generating such great enthusiasm for the subject. I’m actually hoping that once Ep3 debuts that Hemming can fill in the backstory. That’s a book I’d buy.

  3. EasyJetsetter Says:

    Of course, some of us adopt a more realipolitik stance. Check this out.

  4. buzz harsher Says:

    I disagree violently: Al Franken would _not_ be embarrassed by that…

  5. A Small Victory Says:

    FYI: Sith edition

    Stop emailing me the stories about the politics of Revenge of the Sith. Just. Stop. I don’t care. Not one damn iota. Also, stop sending emails with links to poor reviews, especially if your mail contains something like “Hahahah told…

  6. Vince Says:

    Good for George. Speak your mind, baby.

  7. Angie Says:

    Politics aside, you have got to be excited about the new Star Wars coming out in a few days! 🙂 My ticket is printed out. I have the day off of work, and my boys will be “sick” that day and not in school. Sometimes we all just need a break from work, school, politcs, life – and just need a day at the movies with popcorn. And there is no better show to do that with than Star Wars (okay, any sci fi will do for me – but Star Wars is what made me the sci fi geek I am)

  8. RobertJ Says:

    Does it mean then that the Ewoks are going to send tens of thousand or storm troopers to “re-education camps?” Make that movie George Lucas.

  9. MattJ Says:

    As bearded fat filmmakers who obsess on lefty politics go, Lucas isn’t so bad.

  10. tbrosz Says:

    Lego Star Destroyer? Check this out.

  11. The Gnat's Trumpet Says:

    I love the part in the DVD version of Return of the Jedi when, just after the Emperor has been killed and the Death Star destroyed, the people on worlds all overt the galaxy instantly break out into huge street parties. I couldn’t help thinking, but what about all the local governors and the stormtroopers still in those regions, not to mention the various criminals on those worlds that would have less constraints upon their operations, all of whom will now engage in a struggle for power in the void left by the crumbling of the Empire.

    It is that type of thinking (the instantaneous celebration on the toppling of a tyrant) that leads to the opinion that Iraq is considered a failure, because the people didn’t all suddenly start a huge nationwide blockparty as soon as Saddam was deposed or when he was captured. Because that blockparty didn’t instantly materialize, the Iraq campaign must have been the wrong thing to do. It is an unrealistic expectation (in the case of Star Wars, who cares, it is just a bit of fun in a fictional space opera after all) that people in the real world unfortunately seem to buy into.

    But Lucas’s politics be damned, I can’t wait for Episode III.

  12. andy Says:

    I absolutely cannot wait to see Episode III, sometime after it comes out on DVD, in our lil’ home theater.

  13. Ewok #12 Says:

    Lego Death Star II out now. 3441 pieces!

  14. Anachronda Says:

    (and that’s not even mentioning the postwar Ewok boat people or Wookie concentration camps)

    The Ewoks are actually left with a fairly serious problem on their hands: all that shrapnel from the Death Star has to wind up somewhere.

  15. Crank Says:

    Wouldn’t Nixon have been much cooler if he could do Force Lightning? I’m just sayin’.

    Growing up, I always thought the Republic-to-Empire thing was based on Rome. The parallel is just so obvious.

  16. pete Says:

    Oh Hell, you could look at it as the empire being the british and the rebels being, well, duh. Classic good vs. bad. You can spin an analogy on anything that has evil sparring with not evil.

  17. Osamabladen Says:

    He’s a director.
    He’s not a think tank wonk and he isn’t political blogger.
    Stop reading things into this that have nothing to do with the real world.
    If thinks one way, so what?

  18. LiberalHead Says:

    “If thinks one way, so what?”

    Indeed. Sit down and shut up. If Lucas whats to make proclamations about what a Fascist all you GOPers are, you are supposed to submit to his infitite wisdom. This is called being nuanced and reality based.

  19. Kid Handsome Says:

    I’m really looking forward to the next installment. I was disappointed by some of the stuff in episode 2, but not enough to keep me from going.

    Also, off topic, but I’m also waiting anxiously for the September release of “Serenity.” It’s based on Josh Whedon’s short-lived tv show Fire Fly. I highly recommend it (even to those of you who couldn’t get into Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel).

    Anyway, just got my tickets for Revenge of the Sith. I’ll let you know if it lives up to expectations (both good and bad).

  20. George Lucas is secret Sith Republican Says:

    Star Wars is actually racist:

    http://www.detnews.com/2002/entertainment/0205/18/d01-492788.htm

  21. Peg C. Says:

    I do care. Lucas is a small, petty man who would ruin the film saga of all sagas with his meanspirited and pathological Bush hatred. Hubby says he’s boycotting. I waited in line for the first 3 for many hours, but I also don’t think any have been worth it after Empire. The last 2 really stank. It’s too bad it has to end with such a downer and I’ll be skipping this one.

  22. pete Says:

    Peg C and hubby need to get a life. Its just a movie for crist sake. But since you wont see it I’ll be sure to let you know if there were any anti-bush slogans stuck to the spaceship bumpers.

  23. LNS Says:

    Hmm. What’s objectionable about a warning against submitting to tyranny out of security fears?

  24. Tomtom Says:

    ” What’s objectionable about a warning against submitting to tyranny out of security fears?”

    Nothing. What is objectionable is equating the Rebel Alliance with the democidal Vietcong. What is objectionable is equating an elected American president with an evil Emperor. What is objectionable is sticking bullshit like “only Sith deal in absolutes” into the mouth Jedi who FOLLOW THE LIGHT SIDE OF THE FORCE. Is good/light not absolute enough?

  25. LNS Says:

    Tomtom,

    As with everything else, it depends on your interpretation. I hesitate to compare Lucas to Shakespeare, but will do so only to make a point: you can find in his plays various veiled (and not so veiled) references to political events of his time, but the vast majority of such particulars have been lost to us, and we are left with the larger, broader truths.

  26. Ed Driscoll.com Says:

    Geek Week

    On Sunday night, James Lileks posted a beautiful–and beautifully geeky–remembrance of both Enterprise in general, and the Star Trek franchise as a whole, as Enterprise’s last episode–the last first run Star Trek for the immediate future–aired over …

  27. Crank Says:

    Hey, the Wizard of Oz was written as a political allegory, though for the life of me I can’t remember of what.

  28. Rob Says:

    Tomtom:

    “democidal”–nice. And Lucas attempting to inject ethical subtlety (or any subtlety, for that matter) into his John-Bunyan-quality allegory is ludicrous.

    What is objectionable is equating an elected American president with an evil Emperor.

    I’m sorry you object to that. Though such comparisons are exercises in hyperbole, they help take the edge off for many of us. We kid! Besides, it’s not like Bush was elected more than once. Would you be amenable to comparing Bush II to any of a number of coronated monarchs instead? What about mafiosi? Again, it’s hyperbole.

  29. Todd Says:

    ‘Wookiee’ has two E’s. TWO E’S!

    And you call yourself a nerd.

  30. richard mcenroe Says:

    Actually, there’s a brilliant encasulization of the terrorist philosophy in the “woman in red” scene in the original Matrix, but since it’s the cool heroes justifying killing innocents it’s okay…

    As for Lucas, I suspect the “anti-Bush” sentiments would have been hyped a lot more heavily, a la Ridley Scott’s Christian bashing PR re: Kingdom of Heaven, if the Bushies hadn’t won several elections in the meantime.

  31. Robin Roberts Says:

    Crank,
    The Wizard of Oz book has a lot of symbolism of the “Free Silver” populist movement. For instance, Dorothy’s slippers are silver. The Wicked Witch is from the “East”. The Yellow Brick Road that led to the Emerald City was the gold standard.

    Some claim that characters like the Cowardly Lion were to represent William Jennings Bryan, and the Wizard was McKinley.

  32. Kish Says:

    “I love the part in the DVD version of Return of the Jedi when, just after the Emperor has been killed and the Death Star destroyed, the people on worlds all overt the galaxy instantly break out into huge street parties. I couldn’t help thinking, but what about all the local governors and the stormtroopers still in those regions, not to mention the various criminals on those worlds that would have less constraints upon their operations, all of whom will now engage in a struggle for power in the void left by the crumbling of the Empire”

    If you read the books or comics…*stop looking at me like that*

    That is exactly what happens. Right after the crowds on Courascant topple the Emperor’s statue, the Imperial garrison marches out and has themseleves a little protestor bbq.

    The Emperor is killed, but this doesn’t mean his army is magically gone. It takes some time before the Rebel Alliance can reconquer the galaxy.

  33. Nahanni Says:

    pete,

    Just like that Newsweak article was “just an article, fercrissakes”.

    I quit funding the MSM years ago. I do not purchase their products.

    I also quit funding Hollywood a long time ago. It was easy to do, 99% of what issues forth from there is trash. Including this new Star Wars movie.

  34. Mythilt Says:

    Foster isn’t a hack. When he is writing his own work, its a good easy read that is engaging. Problem is, his novelizations tend to be less his own voice for obvious reasons.

  35. pete Says:

    Nahan….whatever your name is..
    Yes, Im certain that Lucas is responsible for all of your woas. Let’s Tar and feather him. You know I am soo over you and all your friends tring to bring Geek week to an end. Im gald you aren’t going to see the movie. You don’t deserve to. Also, after seeing SW1, I’m going to go rent Kill Bill and bask in all the violence and gore. This way I know I’m properly denigrating society and its belief system. Its a movie folks. It wasn’t responsible for our current war, It had nothing to do with newsweek, It more then likely won’t bring on the apocalypse. Just a movie folks!!!

  36. epoh Says:

    “It’s morning in the Republic…”

  37. pianoman Says:

    The part I have always failed to understand is the “midnight viewing” part. To me, this is total nihilism and self-absorption. Do all you midnight viewers somehow believe that the movie is going to only be shown for two days and then pulled from the theaters? It’s going to be out there for the whole frickin’ summer, man; why MUST you be there for the FIRST showing?

    More “Me Generation” crap, IMHO.

    As to the politics: Yeah, Lucas is a nitwit. I don’t care; I’m going for the eye candy. I’m one of those infidels that believes Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Star Wars were the *top* of Lucas’ creativity. It’s been all downhill from there.

    These are comic book movies, and they are at their best when they *remember* that they are. When they give up the pizzazz and flash, they become laughable and boring.

    It’s no coincidence that most fans remember the pod race from Ep. 1 and Yoda’s lightsaber battle from Ep. 2….and totally forget all the dialogue.

    So I’ll be seeing it in the next couple weeks. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll wait until June. Whenever it’s convenient for me, and not due to some arbitrary opening date set by a studio.

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