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You’re all witness and actors of the largest  ever contemporary postmodern art work/experiment. I do have many issues with the Star Wars franchise, more than I can count actually, and it really pains me to do an article on it, especially under the circumstances, and even more so to praise its glory, but I would be remiss considering my passion for post modern art if I let you guys miss out on something so huge and elegant. I cannot in good conscience not point it out for you.

My issues with Star Wars start as early as episode 4. The whole movie is riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies, biggest of which being the fact that a massive technologically advanced space empire would undertake something so huge as building a planet-sized weapon and leaving a literal hole in it. Straight to the center. And though I have to admit it’s somewhat elegant to have a movie centered around a gigantic plot hole that is actually a giant hole, there are many things with it that do not make sense.
But you know me, I’m a tireless optimist, always trying to shoot for the best and trying to see the best in everything around me, though sometimes it’s really really hard. I just couldn’t accept the success of something so inconsistent among my peers. And then it hit me. Star Wars – A New Hope was actually a societal criticism of overcomplex bureaucracy, which would lead to flaws this outreagous in projects this big. It would mirror the countless project fails from the real world, as an illustrative cautionary tale.

The cliche characters and repetitive catch phrases would now make sense if you look at the movie through the lense of societal criticism. It becomes a somewhat efficient kid-targeted sarcastic parody (postmodern deconstruction can save anything). It even soothes the outreageousness of the plot of 5 and 6 being « let’s do 4 all over again ». Cause mankind never learns, be it IRL or in a galaxy far far away. Semper eadem sed aliter.
Now I know what you’re thinking, Georges Lucas may not have intended for this interpretation. But even if art/beauty/meaning is clearly in the eye of the beholder, and the paternity of a work of art can lead to so many debates, I think you’re not giving the guy enough credit. He recognizes and advocates the parallels within the… let’s call that a plot. And let’s not forget that he wanted to move on to episodes 1,2 and 3.

Now more experienced, he could move on to wiser and more subtle societal considerations, which is clearly what the prequels are all about. Anakin’s story arc is a deconstruction of the nauseating manicheism that plagues the original trilogy. Right and wrong are really blurried now. Anakin ends up on the « Dark Side » while purseuing seemingly noble interests (love, passion…). The goodies are sometimes stubborn fools clinging to inconsistent imperialistic values.

The irony of « only sith deals in absolute » is no accident. Lucas goes a long way into the deconstruction of the original trilogy to highlight that the world is nowhere as simple, thereby offering a very elegant meta-criticism of its former simplistic work. The light is now on how society erroneously builds up manichean arbitrary distinctions, through many media including movies like the original trilogy, and idolizes them to power conflict.

On a less meta note, this is litteraly what the prequels are all about. The plot is centered around the manipulations of Palpatine to create tensions all around the galaxy so that in the midst of the chaos the people would ask for and welcome with open arms a totalitarian regime imposing order. The parallel to real world dictatures is not even hidden, considering how Hitler’s rise to power is the result of democratic elections. The prequels culminate in this amazingly elegant phrasing: « so this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause ».

Mankind is its own worst enemy, asking for its own leash/destruction. The prequels are a classic cautionary tale about how man, left to themselves, will so easily follow a trend and descend into hatred, extremism and annihilation. It warns us about the worst sides of mankind, about the dangers of brainless following and manichean demonization in a very cute and meta way.

And so people thought it was over and continued to praise the worst movies of Lucas career entirely unaware ot the gigantic irony they were partaking in, doing the very thing the work (by no means unflawed) was warning against. And the world seemed to have reached some kind of peaceful status-quo going on as it always had, moved mainly by the terrific inertia if mankind. But then Lucas gave the right of Star Wars to Disney. I guess his motivations were manifold, probably centered around the prospects of a quiet money-filled retreat. But it turned out to be exacly what the franchise needed to sublime its meta-reflection about society.

SouthParkObamaWinsReview_GeekBinge[1]

For the franchise was now in the hands of mankind, completely at the mercy of its go-with-the-flow tendencies. And what would Disney do but chose the most comfortable non-risky option to make a shitbuck of munnies: recycle the scenario of the much acclaimed episode 4. Ponder how capitalism is by definition the driving force behing the self-sustaining drive of mankind towards mediocrity through catoring to the lowest common denominator, since it’s about providing people with what they want and keeping them in this safe state of content. The reflection was now de facto moved towards the intertwining relation of society and economy.

This has the very elegant side effect of adding to this new iteration of the repeating loop an extra layer of irony. I’m not even going to touch on the many many issues of the movie, this is not what this is about (take literally any moment of the movie and you’ll be bombarded with inconsistencies, plot holes and dumbing down). The release of SW7 was carried by an unrelenting imperialistic marketing machine, answered by the joyful praise of the masses welcoming the new level of parody of a parody like a new messiah. We’re surrounded by people acclaiming our new capitalistic overlord with a mirth equal only to the one which surrounded the rise to power of Palpatine. Everywhere, they were celebrating being taken advantage of.

If religion used to be the opium of the masses, Star Wars was most certainly its lubricant. How ironic to see that « with thunderous applause » was dying Nietzsche’s ideal of an Ubermensch, he who so proudly proclaimed the death of God. Maybe he should have realized that this also meant the death of an ideal to tend towards.

Which brings us to today. People everywhere praising the new opus with an hypocrisy equal only to the irony of the situation. Do we even dare bring up parallels with the real world political situation? Or the fact that this entertainment is the flagship of a country where evolution is taught in schools? Who knows what the future will hold, if the craze will cease or if people will stop being ecstatic about their exploitation… Will the mass turn its back to this iteration like it did for the prequels? I hope the beauty of this situation soothes the pain of Georges Lucas, because he did create a whole franchise and no matter how much problem it had, it must not be easy seeing your baby thusly butchered. As for me, I’ll try to stay away from any subsequent movie, and try not to suffer too much from the crippling lonelyness that comes with not being on the bandwagon. That being said, I’m super glad that my optimist side found a silver lining in all this. Considering my lifelong quest for irony, you can imagine how happy I am.

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Commentaires sur: "Postmodern deconstruction strikes back" (3)

  1. I just enjoy things as they are. A big event such as this one is promoting culture rather than killing it. If anything, despite how bad it may be by whatever standards set by « connaisseurs », it will encourage people who don’t see the mistakes or who see beyond them to watch more movies (if they weren’t in the trend already for some reason), and from there maybe to go off the beaten track to see whatever you’d consider worthwhile.

    • oh you hopeful dreamer ❤ thats pretty cute ❤ i dont think watching movies is an end in itself especially this kind of movie xD

  2. The original movie, isn’t about societal criticism of overly complex bureaucracy. Not even a bit. I’ll forget the fact that you don’t give any direct example of it and get right to what it’s about. The whole « plot hole » is just a shity sci-fi trope, not that important in the grand scheme of things as everyone in this movie acts retarded. Very literally. No one acts smart, because it’s just a pretext to go from set-piece to set-piece, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

    Anyway, the original movie, isn’t about societal criticism as much as it is about regurgitating pop culture as well as mainstream codes of every existing visual media up to that point in time.

    Flash Gordon vs. The Bad Guys: Episode 4:

    Lucas wanted to create his own « Flash Gordon » serial, and that’s what he did, by incorporating a lot of references to every other visual media that was parasiting is feeble mind at the time. War photography is the most important influence, but the newly created concept of « Americana » is another important part of what makes Star Wars what it is. The plot a unnecessary mess only used as a vehicle to regurgitate points of American history from the point of view of a soft 70’s Leftist. Add to that constant homages to the Hammer movies (the « brain » character played by Peter Cushing and the « muscle » character Dark Vador) and the passing references made to ninja movies and you’ve got everything.

    If you take a step back and use a bit of Auteur theory you’ll be confronted with THX 1138 and American Grafiti, two movies that embody perfectly two of the elements mentioned above: quaint sci-fi serials and americana.

    In « A New Hope », the Empire is the embodiment of every enemy the US were faced with up the the end of the second world war. The primal influence of nazi imagery is obvious to anyone with half a brain, but what drives the characterization (and the actions) of the Empire in that first installment is the British Empire. The heavy accent of every imperial official should be the first clue. The economic situation (only hinted at by passing lines made by Han Solo) should serve as a second indication of the true nature inspiration for the Empire. The trade regulations in place favor the Empire, a point which should be familiar to anyone with a passing interest in the American revolution. Using his American big book of history Lucas crafted a multi-faceted villain that isn’t just « the nazis ». Their goal isn’t ever told. To me that’s a strong indication that this movie isn’t « about » this in particular.

    On the other hand, the plucky rebels, are the courageous Minutemen, spawned from the very Empire they’re opposing (see Luke’s and Bigg’s initial burning desire to join the Academy). Not much to say here.

    Going Full Retard: Episode 5 and 6:

    If we broaden the scope to the first two sequels we see new hints of the first hints of ideology driving the realization of the new movies. By « The Empire Strikes Back », we’re past the enemies of WWII and the Empire is now sprinkled with hints of Totalitarian Communist regimes (the ideology itself will however never be mentioned, only visual quotations and minor plot points will alude to it). Lucas isn’t involved this time around and if any of the original movies is about the weight of bureaucracy this might be this one. However the apparent weight is easily dealt with by killing and replacing the direct subordinates of Vador, now his own master, in a very Stalinistc fashion. In this movie Luke starts his Jedi training and is warned by Yoda that attempting to rescue his friends would jeopardize what they fight for. What he does is in the end useless and he losses a hand in he process.

    With « Return Of The Jedi » Lucas is back behind the wheel and creates a movie where the courageous technologically inepts locals fight against the oppressive Empire. Paralleling the wet dreams of the American left during the Vietnam War as well as quoting again from the play-book of the American revolution. This is where ideology and ideas start to creep into the franchise for better of for worse. Here our hero one again foolishly runs to attack the heads of the Empire without realizing how dangerous that is for everyone else involved.

    In the original trilogy the overall conflict is indeed a matter of absolute, as with any open military conflict. The reasons for that conflict are, however never really brought up which leads me to think that in the end, the movies aren’t really about that.
    While other sides exist to the conflict it in the movies (Cloud City, the Bounty Hunters, Jabba…) it’s not were sublty lies either.
    Things aren’t that simple when it comes to the characters themselves. Granted, the characters are weak anyway. The original movies are more liked because of the world they depict than the characters that partake in it.
    Luke goes from being an Empire sympathizer at the beginning of the first movie to doubting the choices he has made up to that point in the final act of the final movie. He endangers the Rebels just to save his friends, putting his emotions before the greater good up to the end. He is always faced with the consequences of these choices but he acts on emotions most of the time.
    Han Solo isn’t sure if he wants to be part of the conflict at all, he only feels invested because he kinda thinks with his dick sometimes. Other than that, he has much bigger and direct problems than the Empire and doesn’t care about petty politics.
    These two characters don’t deal in extremes while the Empire does, even if that’s not directed at them specifically.
    Leia is a shit character overall, but she’s the only one who really wants the Empire dead from beginning to end.

    With weak characters, weak motivation for the war it shows and an unusual focus on the world, I’d say that’s good enough to say that these movies don’t really have anything to « say ».
    Up to that point I’d say that Star Wars was pretty much about pretty light sabers, droids going beep boop, explody things (and pretty adequate cinematography saved in editing) for the most part. It’s more about showing a believable lived-in WWII influenced universe than anything else. The politics and profound meanings aren’t exactly there. In a lot of ways you could compare that to the Lord Of The Rings universe, it has the same appeal to the same kind of people for similar reasons. The fan appeal and the fact that Star Wars generated money meant is continued to expand thought.

    The Permanent revolution and the Expanded Universe:

    Peace can not exist in the Star Wars universe. With the release of the third installment of the original trilogy, the universe of star wars still wasn’t at peace. This was mandated by Lucas himself to shape the now defunct Expanded Universe and is also used to shape the sequels. If peace exists, it’s only temporary and used to fight a greater enemy. This is in essence the Marxist concept of « Permanent revolution » put in practice to keep the franchise « alive » to continue to cash in on it.

    Muh Hitler: Episodes 1, 2 and 3:

    Enter the prequels. While you claim this is the cycle that deals less in absolutes than the original movies, I disagree completely, if only for the fact that the original trilogy isn’t about anything at all.

    Gone are the multiple facets of the evil Empire. While it was a monolithic villain, it borrowed from multiple sources to attempt to piece together something new. In the prequels the villain is just Hitler, plain and simple. The prequels resort to using the writing equivalent of the Godwins Law, a trick so simple a cartoon can pull it off (and cartoons often do). This is a parallel so simple and devoid of , any kid could pick it up. It’s the most basic level of villain characterization you can ever come up with.

    The weirdest part of that is that Palpatine deals much less in absolutes than his opposition.
    Love, Fear and Anger are forbidden to the Jedi’s, to me that’s pretty fucking absolute right there. Noble or not, the strict order of the Jedi’s create a cultural and ideological gap by demanding its members to do away with human emotions that aren’t in and of themselves loaded with any quality or flaw. Instead of teaching how to use and handle these emotions with care, new members are asked to suppress them entirely, even if love can lead to reproduction, fear to self preservation and anger with ability to defend oneself.
    None of these interdictions are never explained, and any questioning is (surprisingly) met with anger and dismay.
    Add to that the fact that the jedi’s aren’t supposed to use their powers to attack, except if it’s to attack Dark Jedi’s and Sith Lords, and you’ve got a pretty hypocritical Jedi order who just brainwashes its members to keep its established power in the galaxy through senate.

    The senate is another sticking point for me, as it shows how disorganized and heavy the republic is. The endless bureaucracy needed to take any kind of political action in the universe of the prequel really should serve as a mockery of modern democracies and their heavy reliance on slow bureaucracy. This is the point were you could rightfully bring in the Asterix clip because getting a motion to make a military coup illegal (the Naboo invasion) seems really fucking complicated. It might be all orchestrated by Palpatine in the end, but the distensions within the senate aren’t of his own doing. In the ends he only wants to end all that pesky bureaucratic. You should really see him as a good guy ;^)

    I do like the act that a lot of the swashbuckling adventure aspects of the original movies is still in there. We’re still in Flash Gordon-esque territory, if only for the fact that Lucas was trying to be a bit mor original with his settings, species and overall imagery.

    Antifs Hall Monitors: Episode 7:

    And now we have a new movie. While it attempts to stay away from anything too political, it still has same weird part in it that go beyond the good vs. bad stuff of the original movies.
    Now we’re faced with a lawful Republic which probably spawned from the ashes of the Rebelion, and we have a Resistance too. Resistance to what? That’s not very clear. Much like the European Antifas they play Hall Monitor for an established mainstream body politic.
    We have a new villain, which is weak (but somehow has a super-weapon) and uses it to disband the new Republic, much like Palpatine disbanded the Senate at the beginning of a New Hope.
    The movie is just quoting past glory and should at least start in a world that should be at peace and somehow isn’t. The Permanent Revolution lives on in the Resistance. Fighting against the elusive New Order, which are again straight Nazis. Yes the British Empire aspirations are still there, but somehow I thing that it’s only there to quote the original trilogy. Their logo is red and black this time around, and we had a nazi speech about order and all. They found a way to take the complex Empire and make it even nazier than the portrayal of Palpatine. Great job Disney. At least this way every kid can understand who’s bad and who’s good.

    $$$:

    In the end however you should not forget that Star Wars is really about one thing: Merchandising. If you allow me to quote the great Yogurt: « Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made. Spaceballs-the T-shirt, Spaceballs-the Coloring Book, Spaceballs-the Lunch box, Spaceballs-the Breakfast Cereal, Spaceballs-the Flame Thrower. »
    This is what it was ever all about, looking for an interesting coherent narrative is a vain exercise because it was never meant to be scrutinized that much. Many of the choices of the original movies were made to accommodate that and you’re just looking too much into it, as I am.

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