Thursday, March 04, 2010

My goodness, the dust!

I suppose one could find a correlation between my disappearances and the winter solstice (they wouldn't be wrong to do so) , but among the various things I do, this blog rises and falls in importance.

So what have I been up to? Mainly rediscovering my childhood through my son. You see, he is a big Star Wars fan:

When I was little, I was a pretty big Star Wars fan. Coincidence? Not really, I've certainly stoked his interest, but his interest seems genuine nonetheless. That being said, I hope he doesn't do what I do and grow up resenting liking Star Wars for years because I associated it with "being little".

Although this insulated me from a lot of the Star Wars "extras" (what do you call the entire culture out there that lives this stuff?), it also insulated me from looking back fondly on my own childhood, which was, as far as I can recall, pretty good.

Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of saying that I think a lot of the criticism around the prequels is very much related to the fact that there are a lot of people out there who grew up feeling a similar way to me about the original films, and discovered that being grown up doesn't offer the same experience of the "new" that being a five year old does.

That is also why I think the recent, and very popular film review of Phantom Menace, while funny (and disturbing - not for kids!) is still very much in the vein of "why couldn't George Lucas make me a kid again" style of Star Wars criticism that has characterized (or plagued) the past decade since the prequels were released.

I think the review makes a lot of salient points, but I also think it's couched in the same kind of anger that is fuelling the
People vs. George Lucas
, an upcoming documentary on people's complex psychological relationships with Lucas.

If we can agree with Adorno that popular cultural products are a mirror of the culture in which we live, then I think it's safe to say that there are a lot of people out there who view George Lucas as the father who raised you really well and then once you'd grew up, dumped your mom, bought a Ferrari and took off with the waitress from another bar.

Am I (over)psychologizing Star Wars criticism? Perhaps, but then, LOOK AT THE CRITICISM. Doesn't a lot of it scream out "Father Issues"? And isn't this rather ironic, given the Saga of Anakin Skywalker is all about father issues?

He lacks a father, spends the prequels looking for one, finds one, and only begins to seriously question his life path once he discovers he himself is now a father? Should it surprise us that so much of the critical relationship models the movies' themes?

Perhaps the documentary attempts to address this - the trailers suggest that it doesn't, favouring instead a sequence of futile catharses, but given I haven't seen the film I can't say! However, I do think that a lot of this clouds our ability to look at the films aesthetically, or as cultural artifacts of some lasting significance.

But then, who am I to talk, as a father whose son has drawn him back into thinking about these father-son films? Perhaps I am in more need of psychologizing...


paul said...


The "father issues" is an interesting take, and one that hadn't occurred to me. There was an interesting essay posted on Destructoid last week, ranting against fans (specifically, video game console franchise fans) who never want anything to change, who can never be pleased because nothing can live up to those nostalgic memories in amber.

Nonetheless, I think one of the key problems with the prequel trilogy was that the films did, in fact, seriously suck: plotting, writing, casting and acting. It subverted the mythology that the original trilogy had established: Darth Vader is not an icon of evil badassery, he's just a petulant, simpering git; the Force is just micro-organisms; Jedi are just stupid cannon fodder. While something interesting could have been done exploring the themes that were suggested, the hamfisted execution meant that any interesting nuance was lost.

The review you mention does not, I think, reduce to "you didn't make me a kid again", though its virulence is fueled by a similar nostalgic rage. The criticisms of the awful choices made at every step along the way are more than adequately supported.

I don't think that I regard George Lucas as a father figure to me, but he's proven to be a pretty cruddy one to his creation.

Andrew W. said...

Paul, I thought I had commented on this earlier! Sorry for taking a while to reply!

I agree that the review doesn't reduce to it, but I think the anger the review exploits (successfully I might add) is part of the review's success.

That being said, I think the review is full of red herrings. I think what the Phantom Editor does to the 1st 2 films was more constructive criticism.

It's interesting too to consider what we expected Anakin to be - he strikes me as gifted but flawed. He's petulant but that his undoing. That seems like a pretty common reason for one's undoing, hubris and all that!

That being said, I worry about this blog becoming a Star Wars themed one!!!