Hello and welcome to The Weekly Rhetoric, the one place on the internet where you'll find someone incoherently arguing a point with enough intensity to kill a baby iguana! Every week I'll take a subject, do the least amount of research I can, throw a couple paragraphs together in between episodes of Seinfeld, and pass it off as real journalism! For our first week out, we'll tackle one of the heavy hitters of the cinema world: Star Wars. What happened to this once legendary franchise? Why is it met with so much anger nowadays? And, more importantly...are you to blame?
I don't remember the time when Star Wars was beloved. Sad, isn't it? The rise of the Internet ran in conjunction with the release of Episode I, arguably the worst of the Star Wars films. Even before that, the 1997 "Special Editions" of the Original Trilogy were held under intense scrutiny for their multiple changes and sub-par decisions. But even then, it was only a big deal amongst the most hardcore of the hardcore ("Han Shot First" wasn't the popular moniker it is now, that's for sure). Even then, people were much more forgiving of George Lucas and his "edits" than they are now. In their eyes, the man had only made a few mistakes, and The Phantom Menace would SURELY redeem him in the public eye! That movie looked awesome!
Oh, how wrong the fans would be.
Phantom Menace hit theaters and, within the course of the next 11 years, George Lucas would be known as the devil incarnate. In no way, shape, or form am I going to defend George Lucas; he's a pretty crappy director who's made some pretty terrible decisions over the years that have turned almost all of his fans against him. There's almost no denying that.
With that said, let's just try to remember who we're talking about here; this is the guy who thought up both Star Wars AND Indiana Jones. Surely, there is value in that. I always stand by the fact that Lucas is a sub-par screenwriter, mediocre director, but fantastic storyteller. Lucas is the kind of guy who can think of some great concepts, imagine some fantastic stories, and spin a terrific tale. But when it comes to applying these ideas to film...well, he's much less capable there.
But this article isn't a defense of George Lucas; honestly, I'm not sure I could ever muster the enthusiasm to write more than a paragraph about that. This article is, for all intents and purposes, a rant, a self indulged rhetoric if you will (hey, that's the name of the column!). And to get the ball rolling, I'm just going to say this outright:
I'M SICK OF STAR WARS DISCUSSIONS
Yea, sick of talking about Star Wars. Five years ago, I'd never in my wildest dreams imagine saying that. But it's true; every little conversation, every little comment section I skim through, every little message board I scan, I skip the Star Wars conversations. Why? Because I'm tired of fanboys complaining. Just tired. I've heard this crap for 10 years now, heard every little complaint that the fans could possibly muster. At this point, Star Wars conversations have become a stereotype in and of themselves. There's always a comment that talks about "George Lucas raping my childhood," some dude talking about how Star Wars isn't cool, some guy claiming he doesn't "care" anymore, and one poor sap who says he doesn't mind the prequels getting bombarded by hundreds of insults. Like clockwork, the online community works its way into a frenzy.
Obviously, conversations like these are almost expected on the Internet, no matter where you go. But the thing about Star Wars conversations is this: IT'S THE SAME EXACT SHIT. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. And it's not like there's any diversity in these comments. It's unanimous that not bitching about Star Wars is just plain wrong. You just can't ignore it; George Lucas raped our childhood, goddamit! Yes, OUR childhood. OUR CHILDHOOD (I said it three times cause it makes it more dramatical!) It's automatically assumed that you watched the original editions as a child, and thus must HATE the Special Editions. You know what, I didn't. And maybe that's good, because I'm not letting nostalgia influence my decisions.
I really support the ideals behind the Star Wars movement. Preserving films in their original forms should be essential to modern day audiences. However, I've given up the good fight. I've laid down my blaster, put my Lightsaber away, and bowed down to my master who is George Lucas and his crazy methods. But it wasn't him who directly drove me to the Dark Side. It was a byproduct of his failures, the legions of fans who have let their nostalgia and pure anger blind them. Despite all the changes Lucas made, he can never take away how great A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back are (Return wasn't a great film to begin with, but that's another can of worms all together).
You know what does ruin those experiences? The Fanboys. They make me feel guilty for liking the Special Editions. They make me feel guilty for thinking Revenge of the Sith is great. They make me feel guilty for every little thing I do. I'm no Star Wars apologist; it's far from a perfect franchise, but when I get judged for buying the HD copy of one of the best science fiction film's ever (Empire), that's when the impact is ruined for me.
To be fair, not all Star Wars fans are irate, obnoxious jerks. Some are quite polite, can notice the flaws of the franchise, but still remain fans of it nonetheless. But the fanboys who so believe it is their duty to bash Star Wars have ruined the entire franchise for me. I hate to quote the Phantom Menace, mostly because it seems to be supporting the fact that I'm an "apologist", but the quote in particular seems eerily relevant. You've all heard it before, but just to refresh you, I'll write it again:
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
And that's exactly what happened with these Star Wars fans. When they saw The Special Editions, they were afraid of what George Lucas had done. When they saw the Prequels, they became angry that something so bad could exist in the Star Wars universe. And that anger, of course, led to the hate we know today. Who's suffering? While, I'll leave that for you to decide.
Finally, before I close off for the week, I'm going to leave you with a depressing thought: 30 Years from now, none of this is going to matter. The Prequels will be seen before the Originals. Furthermore, there will be no Original Editions; to that generation, Star Wars is just the Special Editions. Hell, it's already happen. Today, some kids have no idea who Luke, Han, Chewbacca, and Leia are. Some kids don't even realize that there are a Part IV, V, and VI. To them, Star Wars is Anakin, Padme, Young Obi-Wan, and Jedi Master Yoda. And I will agree, that saddens me.
But bitching about it isn't doing a thing. In fact, it's probably doing more harm than good. Sometimes, I wonder if irate Star Wars fans even re-read their comments, blog post, and status updates. If they did, they would surely realize how utterly stupid they sound. Seriously, I would read a message board about the changes to the Blu-Rays and just be amazed how angry, pathetic, and ignorant they all sound. That's just as sad as the lose of the Original Saga. These once friendly, happy, and enthusiastic fans are now reduced to blithering, bitchy whiners. All because of hate. I think I figured out who is "suffering" in this situation.
I support what the irate are fighting for; I really do. But half of me is looking forward to the day when the generation who grew up during the Star Wars boom and hate Star Wars with such a passion are, shall we say, "thin in numbers". And that's a horrible thing to say. But I'm just sick of all this whining. Surely there must be another way to fight the good fight...right? Because if there isn't...then George Lucas really has won. Maybe if the fans were more civil, more disciplined, and less bitter, they wouldn't be held in such low standards today. Because it's not the issue that's the problem; it's the way they are presenting themselves. I'm just tired of it, guys.
I'm so freaking tired.