Sunday, January 10, 2016

Force Awakens is a good-natured, winking hunk of junk: Note for a lecture, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

Philip Martin,

"New rubbish dialogue reaches me every day, and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable."
-- Alec Guinness, writing from the set of the original Star Wars
The droid BB-8 and Rey (Daisy Ridley) bond in the desert in Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens.

I finally saw Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens.
I liked it a lot better than I liked the prequels, probably better than any Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. It's corny, it's derivative and it is essentially fan service, a valentine to the culture it was created to exploit. I'm glad it made a lot of people happy, because there is real value in that. I worry about what it means when a product like this occupies so much space in our lives, when it blots out the sun like a looming Death Star.
Star Wars movie is an event around which a lot of people coalesce, but people also come together in the wake of natural disasters and terrorist attacks, and no one suggests those are good for us. Star Wars movies are just movies, just light and noise, but they have somehow attained an unassailable place in our culture. As I'm writing this I'm acutely aware of the probable backlash -- the inevitable accusations of trolling and contrarianism that follow any attempt to parse the unearned popularity of what is essentially a good-natured, winking hunk of junk. ...

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