Saturday, December 19, 2015
Arts Express - Star Wars: The Emperor's Old Clothes
First, the disclaimer that no, I am not now nor have I ever been a Star Wars junkie. Which may make for a far less receptive critique in the face of those throngs of worshipful masses in question. But on the other hand, an exceedingly more impartial position viewing a film that should stand on its own merits, and not propped up by a built in fan base. Or for that matter, clearly intimidated critic colleagues who may say one thing publicly, but whisper something quite different off camera. Though which situates any neutrality in the discomforting position of say, an atheist taking to the podium at a church service.
Brandishing both a wand and a wink at audiences and splitting itself in catch-all mode somewhere between colossal and cartoonish, the latest, future ironically as past preaching to the choir Star Wars saga continues with this seventh entry billed as Episode VII - The Force Awakens. And the first financed by Disney.
Embarking as a brand new trilogy, and make no mistake with equal if not more emphasis on brand as in merchandising, The Force Awakens follows as aftermath to Return Of The Jedi.The inter-generational proceedings find Ford's Solo and Carrie Fisher's Leia mixing in with newcomers John Boyega as black intergalactic superhero combat soldier turned whistleblower Finn. And Daisy Ridley's fierce female insurgent Rey, with an obedient robotic boy toy following behind. Along with a hide and seek narrative as second fiddle to the main character centerpiece - war and weaponry - encircling a lost and found plot point quest for Luke Skywalker.
And though slim plot points are dangled before enraptured audiences who essentially need none because just being there is what it's all about, the real main attraction as the farce awakens so to speak, is blowing things up. And in more ways than one, whether the interminable explosions or offscreen blown out of proportion franchise collectibles to come. Or have very likely already arrived.
So what inevitably ensues is less of a focus on all the paradoxical cartoonish carnage and mayhem in progress on screen, than interest in what's up with the popcorn and Kool-Aid ingesting swooning audiences in the theaters. And the strange notion of this breathlessly anticipated theatrical event in a nation traumatized by endless wars in the real world - in a country that even before its founding has been at war for 214 out of the 235 years of existence. And with most in the audience never knowing a time in their own lives without US wars, assaults and invasions around the planet.
So why the massive flocking to theaters to pay for more war and massacre, military slaughter, fear and terror as spectacle - and dare I say, entertainment. Perhaps in bizarre, safe space psychological mode, akin to controlled demolition of buildings - as opposed to say, the helplessly unanticipated public trauma of 9/11.
And war itself, co-starring state of the art weaponry, as the biggest moneymaker for this country enriching both the military industrial complex and Hollywood. Along with the Pentagon's lucrative sideline as the major props department in movies, with inevitable final cut privilege over how they get portrayed.
Okay, my two cents, there it is. And likely the fate that awaits this intrepid critic: Let the haters be with you. Bring it on.
Arts Express: Airing on WBAI Radio in NY and the Pacifica National Radio Network and Affiliate Stations.
*George Lucas Thumbs Down Review Of The Force Awakens - But He Won't Be Told Like Me, That His Vagina Hurts
The Dark Side Of George Lucas' $4bn Star Wars Sale: Filmmaker Compares Disney To 'White Slavers'...