"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.
A 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. ...
A Princeton PhD, was a U.S. diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Central/Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. After leaving the State Department in order to express opposition to the planned invasion of Iraq, he taught courses at Georgetown University pertaining to the tension between propaganda and public diplomacy. For many years he shared ideas on the theme "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" with Eurasian/European delegates participating in the "Open World" program.
Brown’s articles have appeared in numerous publications. A recent piece is “Janus-Faced Public Diplomacy: Creel and Lippmann During the Great War” (published in Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future; now online).
He is the author (with S. Grant) of The Russian Empire and the USSR: A Guide to Manuscripts and Archival Materials in the United States. In the past century, he also served as an editor/translator of a joint U.S.-Soviet publication, The Establishment of Russian-American Relations, 1765-1815.