As a nerd, I have a really fond place in my heart for discussing works of fiction as if they were real, using logic and analysis to determine probable causes and outcomes to things screenwriters had no idea people would ever discuss -- let alone argue over. Socio-political climates are interesting to me, regardless of whether they, in fact, even exist. Being able to include Transformers and Snorks in such discussions adds a nice bit of entertainment value, and makes depressing topics just that much more manageable.
Also, to me, there's nothing quite as delicious as the looks on people's faces after they witness an hour or so of this type of discussion to ultimately learn that it is actually some minute detail of The Matrix or Star Wars that is being discussed, not actual politics. So much effectively-wasted time on something so pointless can really perplex people. (Never mind the fact that most socio-political discussions based in reality are equally time-wastey -- they're just not nearly as much fun.)
A recent such conversation with Tim involved what Superman would do had he fallen in love with a nice Jewish girl rather than Lois Lane. It would be difficult for Jewish Lois to maintain a positive relationship with her parents if she were dating a gentile, so conversion would be the only real option for Superman if he wanted to live harmoniously with his human counter-parts. As evidenced by his constant efforts to save humanity from themselves, I think it's clear that he does in fact crave harmony and will do whatever it takes to help it come to pass. Sabbath observation aside, circumcision would be the most difficult problem for Supes, as no earth-born materials could damage his skin while in the presence of Sol's yellow glow. Supes' foreskin would simply destroy the knife. (At this point I think it's fair to note that Tim countered that it's a pretty large assumption that Supes wasn't ALREADY circumcised. That's a fair point, but I feel that had Kryptonians been a people of faith, they probably wouldn't have taken the precautions necessary to secure a space-vehicle for their son to travel in when their world became threatened. That's taking "trust in God -- but lock your car" to quite an extreme. No, I feel it's safe to say that Kryptonians did not practice such a barabaric ritual based on the misconception that God would require his faithful followers to chop off the foreskin rather than simply creating the penis that way in the first place.)
After some discussion I realized that the mohel could simply bring some Kryptonite near Supes' junk, effectively neutralizing the effect of the yellow sun's radiation and allowing for both an easy circumcision and the future harmony with Jewish Lois's family. End of discussion.
(You don't want to know what got me thinking along these lines. But I'll tell you anyway: it has recently come to my attention that the hoopla a couple years back over Brandon Routh's Digitally-reduced Superman bulge was not over it being too LARGE, rather it was over being able to clearly tell what religious affiliation he had while wearing the suit. This would surely have brought on exactly the type of discussion I've outlined above, and they were smart to have fixed it.)
Anyway, the reason for this roundabout meandering through my conversation topics is so that I can share with you a couple wonderful bits of Star Wars discussion.
First up: this AMAZING treatise on the negative impact the Death Star's destruction would have had upon Endor, and whether or not the Rebel Alliance and the Empire both were aware of it at the time. This is pretty heavy reading, but it goes into great detail on many controversial aspects of the various theories. Also some discussion of more "consipracy theory"-oriented theories about whether or not the Empire willfully allowed the Rebels to destroy the Death Star. Great reading, but it'll take you some time. (Ooh, while searching for that link I came across a rebuttal. I'm going to have to spend some time with that.)
That stuff will take a considerable amount of reading to wade through for even the most dedicated nerd, but what I'd like to share now is a quick YouTube video. This video brilliantly skewers the Loose Change argument style, putting forth evidence of an equally-compelling nature (i.e. ludicrously ridiculous) to the ones filling the popular internet 9/11 consipiracy film, this time supposing that the Death Star was not ACTUALLY blown up by Luke Skywalker's skilled shot into the ventilation shaft, but rather that it was destroyed by the Empire themselves. This is a must-see for fans of both Star Wars and Loose Change alike, for it pokes great fun at both. http://youtube.com/watch?v=55nQ00gSKC0.
If you grew up on the 80's and/or have any kind of fondness in your heart for either Star Wars or Transformers, I'd strongly urge you to just go ahead and quit reading right now. What I'm about to show you, courtesy of my action figure collection, is quite possibly the wrongest toy in existence. I'm not kidding: I can't think of anything more wrong.
The following images may disturb sensitive eyes; viewer discretion is advised.
I wish I was kidding. The Millenium Falcon, complete with tiny Han and Chewie figures, transforms into a giant Chewbaca robot and giant Han Solo robot.
"Transforms into a giant Chewbaca robot" is one of those phrases I could have gone my whole life without saying, but no, Hasbro has forced me to do it. I've had this thing sitting since Christmas, debating whether or not to share it with the world, but decided that I simply had to.
Anguished cries about murdered childhoods ought to be directed to Hasbro, not to me. I'm just the messenger. The very perturbed messenger.
(UPDATE: I got a bit carried away due to being passionate about the issue and this became really long. I apologize for this, and hope that at least a few people make it all the way through.)
So George Lucas has recently declared that the blockbuster is dead. What he is neglecting to point out is that it was him that killed it. Sure, it isn't entirely his fault that the blockbuster died, he did have a little help from those Wachowski wackjobs, Roland Emmerich and the double-threat of Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay, but it was at least partially his fault. You really can't deny that people were repeatedly disappointed by the sheer suckiness of movies they've looked forward to -- some for more than two decades. People are finally realizing that making a film bigger, shinier and explodeyer does not in fact make it better. In most cases, it actually makes it worse.
George also doesn't point out that he actually created the blockbuster (with considerable help from Steven Spielberg) way back in 1977, dooming us to years and years and years of shitty movies. See, it was Star Wars and Jaws that caught people's attentions, and began making money at a rapid pace. Hollywood beancounters began to take notice, and suddenly they were pushing for even more bigger, shinier, explodeyer movies of increasingly crappier substance. Then along came megaplexes, overpriced concessions, product tie-ins, action figures, etc, thus cheapening the art form of movie making, and turning it into one big commercial.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Star Wars (and to a larger extent, Jaws) a great deal. They are very entertaining. Are they deserving of such fanfare from a technical standpoint? Not really. See, the brilliance in Jaws only came to be when the stupid rubber shark broke down, forcing them to shoot most of the movie without ever seeing the shark, thus accidentally exploiting one of the most misunderstood principles of movie making: the imagination of the moviegoers is a more powerful thing than latex and miniatures. Star Wars contains nothing new; nearly every aspect of the movie is cribbed from Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials1, with a bit of classic literature thrown in for good measure2. Upon seeing the "finished3" work of Episodes IV-VI, you might get the impression that there was some really subtle planning going on, allowing things to tie together in masterful execution, but you'd be wrong. No matter what you may have heard George say in the past, he did not write Episodes 1-6 (or 1-9, depending on when you heard George say it) and plan it all out before creating Star Wars, he went and made sequels after the unexpected success of his stand-alone original movie. The studio, Kenner Toys, and the gigantic friggin' boat-loads of money occupying George's living room helped make that decision an easy one, and he's been frequently lying about it (inconsistently) ever since.
What does all this have to do with blockbusters? Well, with the increasing presence of blockbuster movies occupying more and more of the (ever expanding) movie theaters, it became harder and harder to make movies that actually consist of substance. How frequently have there been One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nests, Cool Hand Lukes, Guess Who's Coming to Dinners (OK, so there was another one of those recently, but it helps make my case. Frickin trash.) and the like after the release of Star Wars? Sure it has happened, but it is no comparison to the pre-Star Wars era. Without question cinema has been hurt by these blockbusters, despite Hollywood making tons of money off them. George is right to point out that things are changing, and it's really about time. Finally we are starting to see excellent movies, with excellent reviews making plenty of money -- without a single action-figure, lunchbox, breakfast cereal4 or Burger King tie-in.
DISCLAIMER: In no way should a reader think that I am bashing on Star Wars, because I am not. I like them, especially Empire. I just don't like what they've helped do to the medium of cinema. It is OK to like Star Wars; I like them, and so should you. I'm just hoping you can realize the negative impact they've contributed to, and realize that action figures do not a good film make. Also, I hope you recognize that some really great movies don't have explosions or big stars or expensive CG pets, and that in many cases, they're better than the ones that do.
Explosions are pretty cool though.
1: Upon the release of the original Battlestar Galactica series, George and his cronies took legal action accusing them of stealing many aspects of Star Wars illegally. The Battlestar folk simply filed their own lawsuit, pointing out that every thing the Lucas people claimed was stolen was in fact originally stolen from Buck Rodgers, Flash Gordon, and miscellaneous other sci-fi serials from a bygone era, to which the Lucas folk had no reply, other than dropping the suit.
2: This is most evident in the whole 'overcoming the sins of the father' motif that encompassed the Vader/Luke relationship. This was not present in Star Wars until they were forced to come up with plot elements for the sequels. Note Luke making out with Leia.
3: Finished is a terrible word to use, as every subsequent re-release on every single medium has been different in some way than the prior. These movies are constantly evolving, and will probably never truly be "finished." This is a strong argument for why none of the movies are truly deserving of a Best Picture award; if it truly was a best picture, why the need to keep going back and changing things?
4: Brokebacki-O's would be pretty awesome though. "I just can't quit.. eating a balanced breakfast."
In this “Final Episode” of the Star Wars, EVIL triumphs using the Force - a greater force they claim than God! This is a Dangerous LIE! This is no mindless entertainment, but an attempt by DEMONS to distract you from your real 75 year mission on planet Earth, to give yourself to Jesus! Do not trust a Yodah puppet from Satan’s dream factory, trust in the Word of the Bible!
One day after a record-shattering weekend for Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, an advocacy group is asking Burger King to stop the tie-in of its Kids Meals with the film because it is rated PG-13.
A year after Michael Moore weighed into the 2004 presidential campaign with "Fahrenheit 9/11," both sides of America's partisan divide are debating the political messages of a far different movie -- "Star Wars."
Even before it opened in theaters last week, some observers were drawing unflattering parallels between the story of interplanetary treachery in "Star Wars: 'Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" and the Bush administration's war on terror and its decision to invade Iraq.
Police in Springfield, Illinois say a man wearing a Darth Vader mask walked into a movie theater, shoved an employee out of the way and grabbed a bunch of cash.
Investigators say the robber didn't display any weapons- not even a light saber.
Interestingly enough, I got what appeared to be a spam email telling me to go to that Tool of Satan site late last night -- which I had fully intended to do earlier in the day, but completely forgot. Thanks spammers!
I think the group trying to get the Burger King promotion ended has a really good point, one I had not previously thought of. I think part of the problem is that the tie-in was well underway before the movie earned its PG-13 rating from the MPAA, it may be possible that neither party fully expected it and felt it was too late to back out.