$100 funeral

first, simultaneous innovation, affirmed.
How is that the Royals hired Buddy Bell as their manager? Didn’t they just fire Buddy Bell? Anyway isn’t Buddy Bell just the Anglo Tony Pena (correction, that would be Eric Wedge).

I saw a not-very-belligerent panhandler wearing a Johnny Thunders t-shirt this morning.

Some notes on Star Wars Parts 1-6:

The first (4-6) movies are not actually good, it’s just that everyone watches them when they are children and lots of things seem good, because the only bad thing is not having things to like. For evidence I point to the people who sat behind at episode III, who were somewhere aged 35-45, which means they were 8-18 when the actual star wars movies began to come out. the ending of episode III, which is not as good as the beginning but is at least good because it reminds you that there is a part IV that you like and know, moved one of the old-ish people behind me to say “it sort of makes me want to rent the first ones and watch them” to which another one of them said “yeah, almost” and then laughed in a weird Lincoln-Square-i-like-my-pets-too-much way that suggested that by almost he meant “not at all” and he was going to go home and specifically not do that. which i took as motivation to think about collective imagination, the Star Wars franchise, literary merit and the elevation of marginal-quality sci-fi to cultural prominence in post-Watergate america.

the process of downloading that darth vader picture set off a conversation with a guy at work about seeing the new star wars movie. this conversation was awkward enough to make me not want to think or talk about star wars anymore, but let’s go ahead and finish what i started.

Some working notes for what we are about to go into:
1. Star Wars, the films themselves, is not terribly good. It has a pretty good but seriously plagiarized plot/mythology, god awful acting, inexplicably features Alec Guinness who seems like he just wanted access to the craft services trailer and would have accepted his brown robe as payment for the movie, and it’s breathtakingly dumb (space gangsters? a dashing smuggler? FLYING CARS?). it’s not any better, as “movie”, than, Starship Troopers, which is secretly good, or maybe a decently-crafted, historically aware soap opera. all of which you need to get over if we’re goign to get through this without inconvenience.

Right. These are bad movies written by a C-minus writer, that are indebted heavily to pulp texts of the preceding half-century, as well as religious mythology that anyone could have read off the side of a bus (well, reading it off the bus still counts for something, but whaterver). Still, the franchise enjoys massive success, and profitabilty/cultural prominence (which are increasingly the same thing), because literally everyone who is of voting age in america right now has seen all three original movies more than once. There’s a difference between knowing enough about the first three movies to get referents, to understand the general role of Star Wars in the larger conversation, and being the guy who waits in line, but not that much, in that the guy who waits in line pays more money but ultimately receives little more than the casual fan, except for the enjoyment of dressing up and making weird pencil sketches of spock in leather on a harley.

so their value as cinema (and i guess i should mean i’m referring to both star wars and star trek as a general grouped set at this point [ps, in interest of full disclosure, i used to really, really like star trek but in a secretive, semi-dignified way. like i had star trek books but i did not wear star trek t-shirts, or at least i dreamed of someday wearing star trek t-shirts when i was big enough to crush the lungs of anyone who mocked me]), ANYWAY, so their value as cinema resides mostly in everyone having seen them and sharing a smile at the Great Mystery, which is actually what George Lucas refers to something as in the movie but is useful as shorthand for why people like this crap. The value lies in a shared body of reference, the same way that people seem to enjoy “The O.C.” almost as much as a pretext for talking and viewing with friends as much as they enjoy it as a discrete artifact of literature (and then George Lucas goes and shows up on The OC). It’s worth mentioning that no one, outside of Larry David and like six other people, seem to have followed Star Trek past the end of the original series. The explanation for this is that Star Trek The Motion Picture is a terrible terrible piece of shit. Star Trek II, on the other hand, is the real shit to make you feel shit, despite being the first cousin, literary-merit-wise, to Star Wars. But anyway, Star Trek and Star Wars subsist on the echo they set off in the heads of impressionable children. fair enough. right, the post-Watergate thing. My whole big flourish there was to suggest that part of the expansive success of Star Wars and partial success of Star Trek lies in the fact that while their charm over children was manifest and undeniable, they managed, in the years from 1974-1983, to charm a generation of slightly older children and young adults who sought refuge from the Watergate-energy-crisis-Tehran boil by pretending to still be captivated by whooshing noises and faux-dramatic scores and LASER BEAMS. I can’t claim superiority, but I will point out that my favorite movie is still Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade, which is evidence of a weird festering kind of skipped-generation nostalgia that teaches us that the coolest thing in the world would be video footage of your grandpa beating the shit out of someone. Am I wrong? Am I wrong? I need a breather. I apologize for flashing the mid-tempo let’s-talk-about-culture sign when what I really wanted to do the whole time was just watch Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade. Why make up bad guys when you have Nazis, who aren’t just content with genocice and fascism but also want to claim a disproportionate share of important, fake early-Christian archaeological items. And that guy, who told like five months ago that Indiana Jones was bad because it was orientalist, I will fight you. You are Orientalist. You are Edward Said

2 thoughts on “$100 funeral”

  1. yeah, ok. According to my mom, Star Wars carries cultural cachet for one reason: unprecedented special effects. I’ve seen this repeated elsewhere.

    I think I agree. I can only add: unprecedented tie-in stuff, toys, etc., that built up the mythology. Seriously, would you be all batshit about Star Wars if you didn’t have the sheets, the toys, the underoos, and the potential for more?

  2. If we’re giving Star Wars credit for special effects, then we should give it credit for one of the most memorable musical scores in movie history. Both the effects and the score are ways in which Star Wars successfully “dresses up” the dumb mythology, etc.

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