Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Scalzi: The Lie of Star Wars as Entertainment

I love John Scalzi's writings. I may not have much to do with his politics (which can be occasionally referenced in his bloggings), but that is neither here nor there in regards to his published work. Even the writing that he places up on his blog, I find witty and entertaining and informing - and I in general enjoy reading it, even when it delves into those politics that I can't honestly agree with.

Well, for whatever reason, he made reference today back to a previous blog entry, one that I had never read before, entitled The Lie of Star Wars as Entertainment.

Now, I had wanted to go in, read the article, then come here and make some snide comments on why I thought his assumptions were wrong.

Imagine my dismay, when I realized that he was right. Star Wars, the movie series as a whole, is not entertainment, though it can be entertaining. He makes a number of valid points and arguments in that article, and I cannot find anything with which I disagree.

Don't get me wrong, I adore Star Wars, but my love of the franchise builds more out of the books and comics than anything that ever appeared on celluloid. In fact my love affair with Star Wars did not truly begin until AFTER I read my first Expanded Universe novel.

The reasoning behind that, can be traced directly back to the issues which Mr. Scalzi brings up in his article.

Yet, all that aside, I have to quote, what I believe is the most amusing sentences in the entire article:

Star Wars is not entertainment. Star Wars is George Lucas masturbating to a picture of Joseph Campbell and conning billions of people into watching the money shot.


RJ said...

When I was younger, that kind of iconoclasm would have been right up my alley. Pick out a "sacred" topic and then rip it down.

Now, it just seems so tired and hacky to me. I see it in all aspects of entertainment that I enjoy. For example, in the sports world, there are hordes of blogs that are primarily vehicles for people to vent their insecurities about other people's success.

I don't think everyone has to like Star Wars. Hey, it's entertainment (despite what Scalzi says), so people can take it or leave it. If you think George Lucas has a Joseph Campbell fetish (can't argue with that), great. But, what always bother me is the consistently "holier-than-thou" tone of screeds like this.

You're not smarter, cooler or more insightful no matter what your opinion of Star Wars (or replace with whatever topic). Star Wars is particularly ripe for this because of it's vast popularity. People don't get this worked up about Buckeroo Banzai.

Stephen Wrighton said...

But like I said, Scalzi provides convincing arguments for what he's saying in his article. He is not saying that the movies are great movies. He is not saying that they cannot be entertaining (well, he's saying that about episodes I,II & III). He isn't saying that they're not a cultural phenomenon.

What he is saying is that they are not primarily entertainment, but rather they are primarily myths.

Don't get me wrong, I love Star Wars. I mean, my office is decorated with the stuff, as is my boys' room. Heck, even my blog's title here comes from it.

Yet, the movies sit on my DVD shelf and never get watched. Except when my son specifically asks to see one of the episodes - and it is ALWAYS an OT episode he wants to see.

Contrast that with my SW Books, which are entertainment, as Scalzi is defining it, and realize that there are are few that haven't been re-read multiple times. Some have been re-read multiple times this year alone.

Before I ever picked up a Star Wars book, I considered myself a fan of Star Wars, but I did not care about seeing them in the theaters when they were re-released. I didn't care about watching them on television. I didn't even own any of the figures. It just was not as entertaining to me as Asimov or Heinlein or even Star Trek.

And I'd had seen the movies probably a dozen times by this point.

Regardless, it was the books that brought me into my love affair with Star Wars.

I dunno, maybe my POV is skewed because I am such an avid reader, and always have been.

As for Buckeroo Banzai, do I really need to discuss the salient points of the black lectroids, and the fact that they are the true villains of the film? ;) Despite the red ones all being named John? Odd, how the front-enemy of the film has the only truly Caucasian sounding name of the entire cast list.

RJ said...

I don't have a problem at all with the myth viewpoint. I guess I just detected a different tone to Scalzi's argument, that may not even be there.

As for the movies vs. books, I am completely on board with you there. If there were no EU, I'd have fallen right back off the Star Wars wagon after ROTS had been out for a while. If the movies were vaporized and never seen again, I would still consider it my favorite fictional universe due to the books, comics, games, etc.

Stephen Wrighton said...

And frankly, your POV is perfectly fine. Like I said, I wanted to go in, read it, and come back here making snide comments, just from the title of the article alone.

Of course, part of the reason that I like Scalzi's writing is because of that tone of his humor. *shrugs*

And your last paragraph - exactly! Though, I may go even further and say I'm this fanatical DESPITE the films ;)

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