Thursday, August 26, 2004

They don't make 'em like they used to... or do they?

Postmodern Barney has an interesting entry this week about various nostalgia series. I'm especially beguiled by Dorian's take on the Star Wars franchise.
I find it ever so amusing when I see Star Wars fans getting worked up about the perceived lack of quality in "Episode 1" or "Episode 2." Or getting angry about the possibility of Lucas making "Episodes 7, 8 and 9" because he will "fuck it up." Because, as we all know, the original Star Wars films were the most perfect works of art of all time. Utterly and completely flawless. For centuries to come they will be studied as the pinnacles of film-making, superior in all ways to what came before, destined to never be surpasses by antything that comes after. Oh, wait, no, my mistake. We were talking about the original Star Wars films. They were crap. Deliberate crap. The first one was an over-serious attempt to duplicate a crappy Saturday morning serial. It was Lucas himself wallowing in nostalgia for the cheap children's entertainments of his youth. And then the toys started selling and that was it. ...

So yes, I'm entertained when people complain about how the newer batch of Star Wars films "aren't as good" as the original films. As if Lucas, who waited years to do these movies, financing them all himself, was somehow not doing the best job he's capable of doing. The slightest glimmers of quality in the "5th" and "6th" movies were only there because people other than Lucas worked on them, and even then those movies weren't very good. What are the Star Wars fans expecting? Gone with the Wind and Citizen Kane in space? Not going to happen.

I almost can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree with him.

Earlier this year after catching a few minutes of the mind-numbingly awful "Attack of the Clones" on HBO, I tried getting Misty to watch the original "Star Wars" with me in order to convince her that it wasn't always this bad. She'd seen "Star Wars," but not in many years. She didn't dislike it, but she was never what you'd call a fan of the series. To give you an example of her indifference: She didn't know which character Yoda was.

So we popped in my VHS copy (George Lucas is a technological visionary, my ass) and began to watch. Fifteen minutes into the movie Misty says to me, "This is pretty stupid, isn't it?" I was dumbfounded. How could she say such a thing?

But after I scooped my jaw off the floor, I began to wonder: Is it really as great as I see it? Having loved "Star Wars" for so many years, it's hard to see it from an outsider's perspective. This is something I grew up with. It's ingrained in me. Like religion, "Star Wars" transcends the boundaries of the mortal coil — it simply is.

And that's where the problem lies. Having watched the film so many times since childhood, I've built a terministic screen that keeps me from objective opinion. Nevertheless, with much effort, I turned off the memorized scene-by-scene playing simultaneously in my head and actually listened to the dialogue.

The results were astounding. It isn't brilliant, after all. It's just as dopey as its contemporary counterparts.

Does this revelation diminish my enjoyment of the movie? Not a bit. "Star Wars" is, and always will be, one of the coolest damned movies ever. It's terrifically entertaining, and that's what really matters.

No, the only thing that's changed is my acceptance of the prequels. Previously, I had vowed to keep my daughter safe from the knowledge that they even exist. However, I may be reacting too harshly to my own dislike of them. If my entire generation grew up loving the campy "Star Wars," today's kids could just as easily fall in love with the world that "The Phantom Menace" brings to life. And who am I to deny my child such a wonderful fantasy?

I'm still going to try to seer her toward "The Lord of the Rings," though.

No comments: