Okay, simmer down, Poindexters. Yes, the Slate article is a bunch of ridiculous garbage. But calling it the silliest thing they’ve ever published is just ridiculous over-the-top hyperbole. It’s Slate, the poor man’s Salon. And yes, the article is astoundingly pompous and pretentious. But then, so is writing a blog post that uses the word “pomo” about a thousand times, mixed in with liberal use of the f-bomb.
(And while I’m thinking of it: screw you, Kevin Smith! Since you came along, you’ve given a million nerdy white guy imitators free license to write this same type of garbage all over the internets. Suddenly it’s okay to pontificate about the most inane of topics using the most pompous and over-blown speech imaginable, as long as you throw in enough swears to make it clear that you’re down. Stupid topic + a thesaurus + expletives = insightful pop culture commentary.)
So the article — apparently written by a teacher at my alma mater, as if I didn’t need enough shame in my past — is ludicrous, even for cinema studies. But so is the rebuttal; for once it’d be nice to see some self-proclaimed intellectual talk about Star Wars without feeling the need to completely dismiss it. Bitch about summer blockbusters and space operas and Joseph Campbell and The Hidden Fortress and Muppets and bad dialogue and acting all you want; that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a lot the series does exactly right.
Like directly paying homage to the old serials without turning them into camp or parody. And creating a huge world that’s both alien and accessible without having read 10,000 pages of the history of the Freemen, or The Simarillion. And taking a space action story and giving it all a sense of grandeur and history just by making everything look old and using the right music. And, at least at the beginning, telling a classic fantasy story about good vs. evil, when everyone else was going for realism — they’re the ones that seem dated now, while Star Wars, even with the haircuts, still has a timeless quality about it.
And the bit about how the shaky-zoom camera thing in Attack of the Clones was just an attempt to outdo Firefly? Please.
Four of the six Star Wars movies are still pretty damn good, and two of them are still brilliant. They don’t deserve the reverence that a lot of the fans give them, but that’s what sci-fans do. It’s their thing. They don’t deserve to be completely dismissed, either. You can still keep whatever cinematic legitimacy is important to you while acknowledging that they’re good movies. You don’t have to compare them to Prospero’s Books or anything. For starters, the Star Wars movies have the definite advantage of not featuring a naked John Gielgud.