“What are you talking about? I left at half-time…”
It’s been a curious week with curious redemptions.
Wednesday last saw Liverpool football club, a rag-tag bag of heroes led by a small Spaniard who bears an uncanny resemblance to Penfold from the Dangermouse cartoons, winning the European Cup. This their fifth time and after having their arses kicked around for the 1st 45 minutes. Not that you need me to tell you this – the entire planet is talking about their heroics in seeing off a clearly superior AC Milan. After 20 years scraping at the ankles of Man Utd, Arsenal and now Chelsea, Liverpool fans can swagger for a while.
“What do you mean they won?”
But the real story of redemption this week hasn’t been Liverpool football Club. It’s been that of George Lucas. Revenge of the Sith is making bags of cash at the box office and despite savage reviews from the critics at the Guardian and Rolling stone magazine, everyone I have spoken to has loved the film. And I thought it rocked.
Psssst. Listen: don’t say it out loud, in fact you better just whisper it, but somehow, out of nowhere, whilst nobody was watching, Star Wars became cool again.
“How could they? They were three down. They were CRAP”
It would appear that the giant tempremental sulk that is the body known as ‘Star Wars fans’ (myself included) might be about to grow up, and like Luke, forgive it’s Daddy.
A friend argued to me (some years ago) that if you ignore all the whiz-bang trickery, ham-fisted philosophy, moralising mythology and goofy dialogue, fundamentally, as it’s most basic level, the story of the original Star Wars was that of a young boy looking for his father.
Luke’s journey ends with father and son forgiving each other. An archetypal motif that Joseph Campbell would have approved of. But then the fans of this, the definitive cultural mythology of our generation (whether you hate it or not) were betrayed by their own father – George Lucas.
“I dunno! I had a spliff and read a book. I didn’t see the second half…”
The deluge of whiny, bitchy complaining that has been done by pissed-off Star Wars fans about the new trilogy is eerily reminiscent of the whining of a truculent 5 year old who wants their absentee fathers’ attention. Complaints about Jar-Jar, Ewan McGregors accent and the countless other issues part of a global revulsion at what Star Wars had become – a bloated, swollen brand name which it was now clear, was no longer a story of a childs entry into adulthood. Suddenly we had a new story: in which Star Wars itself becomes a means to sell Darth Vader garden sprinklers and Darth Maul bath-bubble.
“But he’s a crap keeper…”
Vader’s image selling Burger King Meals. Yodas’ transformation from small, crippled old guy into a backflipping, spastic muppet. Obi-Wan on cereal packets. And on and on and on. Lucas was looking less and less like the maverick moviemaker that he kept telling us he was, and more and more like everything he claimed to hate: the corporation.
About the same time that one of his companies asked us if would we like to buy a Jar Jar binks bra, we finally figured out that Lucas was now the corporation. Of course he was. He was the creator of the world’s largest movie franchise.
All of this ill-will has led to an entire generation of young(ish) men holding George Lucas in the kind of contempt that most other people reserve for another American citizen by the name of George. To listen to some, you would think that George Lucas had entered their homes, raped their dogs, stolen their comfort blankets and made off with their sisters.
President Bush bombed Iraq and he doesn’t get half the shit that Lucas gets flung at him.
“I had wondered what all the screaming was about down the road…”
I think that whether you like the movie or not depends on a lot of things. Can you completely suspend disbelief for two hours like you did when you were a kid? Can you momentaily feel like an eight-year old when Vader walks on the screen?
For some Star Wars is a religious experience and it’s alleged violation by it’s creator is greeted with howls of nerd-rage that reverberated around the world. For others, Star Wars is an utter mystery. Female friends shake their head in despair as men have in-depth conversations about the devastation of learning who Luke’s father is.
“He does look like Penfold though, doesn’t he?”
Like or love it, dress up as Boba Fett or run screaming from the room at it’s mere mention, Star Wars has been wandring around for almost three decades now. Those of you who wish that Star Wars would just fuck off for good might be breathing some relief in the knowledge that the new movie is the last. But, don’t think yer off the hook yet. There will, apparently, be a TV series of some form. And there’ll be the endless novels and expanded universe product for us men to buy and for you to get bored by.
But basically, it’s all over. The endless rumour-mongering, the on-set pictures, paying to see trailers, bitching on discussion forums. It’s all over.
Boys, it’s time for us to grow up.