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The following may be a bit off-topic, but STAR WARS worship extends far beyond the sci fi circle, and happens to be on my mind at the moment...

I’m Sick of STAR WARS!!!

This week I received a distressing YouTube link in my email inbox: an “A Capella Tribute to John Williams” consisting of a nerd divided into four quadrants, singing a litany of STAR WARS references to several of John Williams’ most popular scores.

     Now by any standard this singing nerd’s accomplishment was an impressive one.  He’s a decent singer, and actually manages to stay in tune with himself the entire time.  Plus--and this is key--he’s clearly intimately familiar with STAR WARS mythos.  So why in Hell was I “distressed?”

     Because I’m goddamned SICK of STAR WARS, that’s why! 

     Please understand: it’s not that I don’t like STAR WARS.  I, like many kids of my generation, grew up with STAR WARS and its offspring.  I’ve viewed STARS WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK more times than I can count, owned quite a few of the Kenner action figures and space ships, and even slept on SW bed sheets.  In fact, I literally can’t remember a time when there wasn’t STAR WARS. 

      I may never have been the type to dress up at sci if conventions, but I’d say my STAR WARS geek credentials are pretty secure.  When THE PHANTOM MENACE was in theaters I actually paid to see the thing not once, not twice, but three times in the belief that it didn’t suck as much as it seemed and that the fault was really with me (ditto RETURN OF THE JEDI, which I had similar misgivings about back in ’83, and so went back again and again in an effort to reverse my opinion).

     Need more evidence?  Well, during the abovementioned A Capella John Williams tribute I actually understood all the references (“Let the Wookie Win,” “Looks like I’m going nowhere,” “I am your Father,” etc.).  So let nobody say I don’t know my STAR WARS!

     But I also know I’ve largely grown out of STAR WARS and its ilk.  Yes, I appreciate and acknowledge its influence, but I’ve been able to put it behind me.  I’m not sure, however, that too many other children of SW have able to do the same. 

     It’s not just the STAR WARS sing-along that’s bothering me.  Matter of fact, were it an isolated phenomenon I’d probably appreciate the performance as a clever and spirited tribute to John Williams and George Lucas, much in the same way I once appreciated the short SW parody “Hardware Wars.”  Or Mel Brooks’ much longer SW spoof SPACEBALLS, which as I recall I quite enjoyed. 

     By the early nineties, though, it seemed like STAR WARS had largely faded from view, and I was quite alright with that.  If only I’d known...   

     The 1997 re-releases of Episodes Four, Five and Six (that’s STAR WARS, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI to you non-geeks) changed all that.  The nerd-alanche of parodies, tributes and so forth started with “Troops” in 1998.  A funny little film, it purported to be a COPS-like TV show about the exploits of Storm troopers on a desert planet dealing with an annoying middle-aged couple (who any geek will recognize as Luke Skywalker’s guardians Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru). 

     There followed “George Lucas in Love” in ‘99.  It was again a reasonably clever (if overrated) film, this time about a young George Lucas finding inspiration for his future opus around the USC campus--a stoner roommate babbling about “the force,” a wheezing dude, a chick with hair buns--that was actually a parody of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (at the time parodies of hit movies were considered a sure-fire way to get a foothold in the industry) which inadvertently caught the STAR WARS wave. 

     Around this time I began looking at Ain’t-it-Cool-News (did I not say I was a geek?), whose Jabba the Hut look-alike “Head Geek” Harry Knowles has an evident passion for STAR WARS--and likes to put animated gifs of himself in the upper left of AICN’s homepage, often in scenes from SW flicks.

     It was through AICN that I was introduced to a script called 5-25-77, written by Patrick Read Johnson and based on how STAR WARS irretrievably changed his small-town life (the title refers to the initial release date).  Since then the script has been filmed, and is set to premiere in 2009 under the title ’77.

     There’s also FANBOYS, another film I’ve been hearing about for years, this one about a bunch of dweebs on a quest to infiltrate Skywalker Ranch in 1998 and steal a copy of THE PHANTOM MENACE.  And MILLENIUM’S END and THE FANDOM MENACE, documentaries about the anticipation for TPM. 

     Let’s not forget Steve Odekirk’s THUMB WARS: THE PHANTOM CUTICLE, and the Turkish DUNYAYI KURTARAN ADAM, a.k.a. THE MAN WHO SAVED THE WORLD, which hit the bootleg circuit in the early ‘00’s.  The latter blatantly ripped off STAR WARS and incorporates extensive footage from it. 

     Then there’s virtually the entire filmography of geek-turned-bigger-geek Kevin Smith, who always works a STAR WARS reference into his films.  This includes his latest, ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO, whose characters try to make a porn called STAR WHORES.

     There are also the innumerable--and, from what I’ve seen, interchangeable--fan films, including “Essence of the Force,” “The First Sith,” “Hive of the Sith,” “The Third Twig,” etc.  Some of these are quite elaborate; “The Essence of the Force” contains an end credits roll rivaling those of most Hollywood features.  Makes me wonder why the filmmakers didn’t pool their energy and resources and make something original.

     That question could well be applied to all the abovementioned works.  However, my intent with this piece is not to lecture, and nor am I fundamentally opposed to parodies, tributes or rip-offs.  I’m for whatever works, and my beef with all this STAR WARS outgrowth isn’t a lack of originality.  No, my problem is much simpler: this stuff has gotten BORING.

     That’s why I was none too thrilled to find that John Williams song tribute in my inbox.  It’s more STAR WARS-inspired media, and, as the above indicates, that’s already been done.

 

--12/6/08
 


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