Posts Tagged ‘commentary’

The Frustration With Bashing: Commentary

September 1, 2016

Maybe it’s because prequel fans are becoming more vocal (“The Prequels Strike Back” is due out soon), maybe it’s because there’s always another Star Wars movie around the corner now, but it seems to me there has been a bit more hostility toward the prequels in the media and in corresponding comments over the past few weeks.  I don’t go looking for it, if you can believe it, but I’m finding it.

I admit, it’s frustrating as all get out.  It is upsetting and discouraging to see the same tropes repeated over and over.  I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way.  I liken it to driving down the street, minding your own business, when some jerk in his Midlife Crisis or Douche-mobile cuts you off or needlessly tailgates you even though you’re going over the speed limit yourself or almost causes an accident.  Honk your horn and he flips you off, then speeds away laughing, because he knows you can’t or won’t do anything about it.  Only in this case, said jerk is a big time celebrity with his entourage following in big Escalades and they almost run you off the road trying to keep up with their boss.  To add insult to injury, the cops pull YOU over for going 37 in a 35 mph zone while they let the celebrity get away (probably because this is L.A. County and they know full well any star will get immediately released due to “overcrowding,” but I digress).  The celebrity is the popular geek site editor-in-chief, Hollywood trade or entertainment journalist, or someone else big in geek circles.  The entourage are the bashers who attack you in the comments or on Twitter for daring to stick up for the prequels.  The cops are other fans or even the powers that be.

That feeling of frustration when you’ve been on the receiving end of rude or reckless behavior on the road is the same frustration you might feel when you encounter media prequel bashing.  That feeling is powerlessness.  It’s never easy as fans to see people not only trash what you love but by extension trash you because you don’t agree with them.  It’s not easy to see how this has had effects far beyond some random guy spewing on a blog.  One can never expect everybody to love everything but as far as I’m concerned, the frustration especially comes from a lack of opportunity to give another perspective.  There have been those willing to break from the narrative but right now, there’s not only still a great deal of hostility aimed at them, I have to wonder what chances a prequel fan would have ever getting hired as some media outlet’s “geek editor” or at Entertainment Weakly, Hollyweird Report, Variety, i09, Huffington Post, Daily Dot, The Mary Sue, etc..  Not so much because that’s the first thing they’ll ask in an interview but if it were to ever come out, I think either you won’t get hired or you will never be asked to write about Star Wars.

On other sites, those with “heretical” views are punished with a bunch of flaming, trolling, and other obnoxiousness from commenters.  It doesn’t exactly encourage those to  take a stand.

At this point I don’t care what they think; what I do care about is that one, we’re not allowed to enjoy the prequels without a bunch of strangers telling us we’re wrong and dumb, and two,  the bashing continues to influence people.  The prequels are great films and they deserve to be judged fairly, not having their reputation determined by a bunch of shallow “geeks” with a big soapbox and a bizarre axe to grind.




My (Further) Thoughts On The Trailer (Spoiler Alert For Those Staying Pure)

October 20, 2015

If you’re avoiding anything about TFA, including the trailers, go click on something else now and definitely do not read the comments.


Here are some of my additional thoughts:

What has continued to strike me about the third TFA trailer overall is its somber tone. Even ROTS’s trailers still had a touch of pulp. There’s no humor, no comic bookish arch exchanges, no sense of wonder and high adventure, no silliness and whimsy except for a couple of peeks of BB-8. This almost had the tone of a dystopian YA novel-turned-into-a-movie. I thought it was interesting someone on the nets said it reminded him of the trailer for “Divergent.” While the second trailer in April had that pulpy grand adventure exhilarating tone we’ve become accustomed to in previous Star Wars trailers, this was like listening to the slow, slow-paced version of Tears For Fears’ “Mad World” by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules. In fact, you could probably set the trailer to that cover of “Mad World!” Is this the overall tone of the film? Or is it JJ Abrams being his schmaltzy self? If you’re familiar with the Abrams oeuvre, you know he loves emotional displays like that. I just hope that people get to crack a few jokes or smile every now and then. That said, I absolutely loved the part with Han and Leia. Sure, it looks like they’re not having a good day but then again, Leia might be giving him a farewell hug before he goes off on some mission and gets emotional at him leaving again.

The visual effects look pretty good and nothing appears “old” to me at all.

The trailer focuses on the ST3 and Kylo Ren, which is fair enough since they are carrying this thing. You learn a little bit more about them but not very much. Ren is confirmed as a Vader fanboy but what does he mean by “Imma finish what you started” (paraphrasing)? Someone commenting in the open thread about the trailer noted that Han shows a very interesting character arc, going from being a total skeptic in ANH to being the one who brings the “story” to this next generation. Interesting indeed but the scene where he’s talking to the noobs about the Dark Side and the Jedi had me a little concerned. I mean, I understand Finn the First Order guy not knowing about this stuff after being steeped in propaganda for a good portion of his life but why doesn’t Rey know? Is she just playing dumb or what? Then it concerned me that none of the new heroes are Skywalkers. I don’t want the only remaining Skywalker a villain with about a 100% chance of death. That’s a copout. And it makes this crew no more special or consequential than if you had Iron Man, Doctor Who, and Katniss Everdeen in those roles instead. Star Wars is at its heart a family saga, it’s not just a sf/action series with interchangeable heroes. Kathleen Kennedy seemed to get that recently in an interview, but this trailer doesn’t allay my concerns on that part.

It also doesn’t allay my concerns about this being a very safe, very contained remake of ANH just with more 2015 angst. The scope doesn’t seem as “big” as previous films. Maybe there’s a lot more to be seen but you’d think they’d invent a new ship or two or weapons in three decades’ time or come up with a unique planet.

I still haven’t decided what I think of Williams’s new stuff. It doesn’t sound like the usual Star Wars music.

At times the trailer looks familiar and at other times, I can see the technique or style is very different. Some of the Abrams-isms in camera movement, angles, framing, etc. are quite apparent to me and I hope that while viewing the film overall it doesn’t become a distraction. I get that Abrams is going to put his own stamp on things but Irwin Kershner and Richard Marquand weren’t so radically different from Lucas you felt like you were watching something totally different.

Oh well, it’s just a trailer and they can’t all be like the prequel ones. The trailers for the first set of SW films wouldn’t have inspired anyone to see them but those were made in an era when trailers weren’t that big of a deal. What matters is the finished product, which in the end might turn out to be just fine.

By the way, where’s Luke?

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

July 14, 2015

It’s not my intent to make it Persecution Week at SWPAS but even before the SDCC panel, I’d intended to address the animated LEGO Droid Tales miniseries airing on Disney X D. A while back I’d seen the trailer for the show online and there was a joke where the characters snored through Threepio explaining the beginning of TPM. I saw the writing on the wall and didn’t watch. Sure enough, viewers reported that the prequels got dragged through the mud, including Amanda Ward and Jason Ward of Making Star The show’s writer Michael Price tweeted back to Jason Ward the following:

I have no problem laughing with Star Wars. I liked Robot Chicken. I would’ve liked the Family Guy stuff more had it not been for the creepy molester jokes.

Laughing at Star Wars? Meh, not so much. If you look at the old Mad, Crazy, Cracked, etc. takes on the OT, Mad’s jokes could be brutal. Which is why I preferred the gentler Cracked. (Though Mad did that to everything.) When it comes to laughing at the PT in particular, well, an awful lot of what we’ve had to put up with over the past 16 years doesn’t exactly leave me with a funny bone for that sort of thing.

It’s annoying enough if it’s an entity outside of the official realm mocking the prequels or Star Wars in general. But it’s extremely disappointing when that mockery gets an official rubber stamp. And they wonder why many of us think there’s an anti-PT campaign behind promoting TFA!

Sorry, I won’t be watching. I’ve had enough of this sort of thing.

Prequel Fans Have Heard The Dog Whistle

July 13, 2015

Friday’s San Diego Comic Con TFA panel was carefully constructed to generate positive, even ecstatic buzz. All of those panels are meant to do that, whether it’s a rare appearance from a huge movie star, the debut of a two-fisted trailer, an ensemble cast appearing together, or goofy surprise stunts like the new Spiderman showing up to ask a question in costume.

If you went by the happy, even joyous tweets from those who attended the panel and the free show afterwards (complete with fireworks) or the geek media reports, it was the best thing since sliced bread. I felt a bit stung that I’d missed out, especially on the concert afterwards. It was in an outdoor area where I could’ve seen and heard the event, even if I hadn’t attended the panel. As I put it on Twitter, it felt like a friend threw a party but didn’t invite me.

But it’s Monday and instead of every Star Wars fan chattering excitedly about what we’re getting in five months, a lot of prequel/saga fans in particular are steamed over the tone of the panel and the behind-the-scenes video shown to the mostly-unwashed masses in Hall H. There were things in that video we’d not seen before, like a MUCH better shot of TFA Leia and various creatures. Larry Kasdan at least had the decency to bring up George Lucas a couple of times and acknowledge his genius. The film’s villains were introduced for the first time. Having Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford together again in one place was a reunion most of us thought would never happen. The rest of it though was relentless emphasis on “practical effects,” “real sets,” “real deserts,” and “tangible” stuff. Plus the video confirmed the presence of prequel basher/bully Simon Pegg. We’ve heard it before at Celebration in April and in various interviews but there was something about this particular panel that broke the eopie’s back and many people noticed the shade being cast on the prequels. Look at some of these comments and memes…it’s not just me or just the people who comment on SWPAS. I didn’t tell these folks what to say or believe and I don’t know most of them:

Today Clone Corridor posted this piece that flat out calls the panel/video content prequel bashing. I posted a link this morning on the SWPAS Facebook page and now it’s all over my feed. I haven’t seen anything like it.

As most of you have realized, this is calculated. They’re the top echelon’s talking points about TFA and they are most certainly aimed at tickling the ears of those who hated the prequels. I have no doubt about it. They cannot come out and say, “The prequels were a horrible mistake, we’re really sorry, and we’re going to do it right this time.” It would humiliate George Lucas. So they are being more subtle, promising they are going back to the old cookie recipe of a “used world” look, 1970s-1980s visual effects, on location filming, and bringing back the Star Wars “we all grew up with.” Ah, that’s another popular talking point…this has everything we loved about the original movies. It’s like listening to that Weezer song “Back To The Shack”: we’re sorry for our previous efforts! We’re getting back to basics and our roots, guys!

The emphasis on practical effects over CGI and green screen deliberately plays off of the prequel haters’ argument that CGI and green screen were liabilities. It’s also deliberately contrary to the PR behind the prequels that emphasized all of the cool stuff one could do with digital effects. Most of you reading this know the prequels had a mix of digital and practical effects. Even ROTS, which was the only Star Wars film without on location principal photography, used real world shots mixed in with digital and practical effects. But why didn’t this panel or the one at Celebration or in any of the media interviews about the film make the point that this film isn’t doing anything different from its predecessors? Because they know if the anti-PT crowd hears “we’re doing the same thing as Eps I-III,” that crowd will turn on TFA in a hurry. Disney and Lucasfilm’s top brass live in mortal fear of the hateboys. They know what these keyboard barbarians are capable of doing. So the suits are putting on the charm offensive, hoping to win over those disaffected fans by promising to give them “their” Star Wars back. And part of that is relegating the prequels to the crazy uncle attic, where they can only come out for lesser-seen material like books and comics. In four days at SDCC, I saw virtually nothing prequel-related from the various licensed booths. I’ll bet a moisture farm you won’t see a single PT alum anywhere near any of TFA’s official premieres (meanwhile, OT alum did show up for prequel premieres).

Part of the reason they are going the “Back To The Shack” route is of course to gin up anticipation without having to tell anyone anything about the movie. Friday’s panel was very light on substantive information. But trying so hard to win over OT-only base and keeping the mystery box shut is kicking up the hornet’s nest of prequel fans. We’re not stupid. We can hear the dog whistles loud and clear. Even those willing to give the benefit of the doubt are none too pleased at the direction marketing has taken. I’ve written before they think they can get away with it because most of us will see TFA at least once anyway. After what I’ve seen online over the past weekend, I’m starting to wonder if Disney/Lucasfilm has gone too far and if fans continue to get riled up like this, they can’t taken for granted anymore.

What’s really dumb about this whole thing is that Disney and Lucasfilm should worry less about geezer fanboys and more about kids whose formative Star Wars experiences were with the prequels and especially Clone Wars. I know this is anecdotal evidence, but at SDCC yesterday I was sitting at a table eating lunch and across from me were two boys with their dads. The boys were around eight or nine years old and they’d just bought some Clone Wars stuff in the exhibit hall. They weren’t talking about the OT or TFA, they were talking about Obi-Wan and Anakin.

We’ve Seen This Movie Before: Commentary

April 20, 2015

When the TFA second teaser traile debuted on Thursday it was met with joy, glee, and excitement. Admittedly it was not hard to get caught up in the excitement. I did not camp out overnight at Celebration but I did get in one of the overflow rooms and saw it on a big screen anyway. I spent hours in line just to see the few costumes and models from the film. I even engaged in rabid fan behavior in the Celebration store, like a rat fighting for the last crumb of bread on the floor, in a failed attempt to snag one of the t-shirts. That story is for another day.

But of course people were thrilled…it was the first glimpse of anyone from Eps IV-VI since 1983 and it was more substantive in terms of presenting the post-ROTJ GFFA than the November peep show. Sure, it looks cool. Luke’s narrative sounds cool. There’s a mix of familiar faces (Han and Chewie’s anyway) and a bit more of the new kids in town. We got to see the new villain and more neo-stormtroopers. There’s a chase scene with the Falcon. There’s the Hollywood staple of people running from a big flaming fireball. There’s Williams’s music. What’s there not to love?

Yet later on when I was talking about the trailer with a friend at a booth, he said I sounded a bit hesitant. Well, if I had to nitpick the trailer I felt that since it is the Skywalker family saga, I’d rather have seen actual Skywalkers rather than their hands. It also doesn’t reassure me that this won’t be Rehash of the Jedi. Based on what I saw in the costume exhibit and what was in the trailer, there’s going to be a thin line between the repetition that’s part of myth and just plugging back into a familiar conflict. That story is also for another day.

I told my friend this is strangers making Star Wars and I won’t be reassured they have it right until I actually see the film. I also told my friend that it seemed to me the fan reaction was going to set people up for disappointment and backlash again.

We’ve seen this movie before and it came out November 1998. The reaction to the first TPM trailer was very much like the reaction to this trailer a few days ago. The media went nuts reporting about it and the hype machine for TPM fired into overdrive. People were saying this was going to be Biblical, epic, the greatest movie ever, a return to idyllic childhoods, the cure for cancer, and other over-the-top gushing. Then they got mad when the actual film didn’t deliver on their wild-eyed expectations and they’ve stayed mad for 16 years. This time around, TFA is going to be Biblical, epic, the greatest movie ever, a return to idyllic childhoods, the cure for cancer, a return to 1970s filmmaking (no thanks to Lucasfilm’s/Bad Robot’s own marketing), a rebuke against Lucas and the prequels, a retcon of the prequels so that they don’t exist anymore, and whatever the hell else they expect. I’m going to say right now that opinions on the film will be all over the place. Oh sure, I think Abrams will try to skate by on frenetic pacing, action scenes, nostalgia, and whiz bang, which will impress some people but it still won’t save him from the same kind of inflated expectations that TPM faced. Having read some spoilers/rumors, I can tell you if some of them are true, there will be fans who will find the fates/roles of the OT3 upsetting. And there’s at least one CGI character in the film.

It’s not to rain on anyone’s parade but to caution people. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised than to be bitterly disappointed.

So Why Did I Do This Site Anyway?

February 18, 2015

Seven years plus ago, SWPAS was born of frustration, like that early ’90s song. As I noted in my first post, I felt like somebody had to do something about the way the prequels were being perceived and treated. There were no sites quite like this one (though there have been PT-related fan sites for years) and very few fans who were outspoken about the PT.

The good news is that SWPAS is not the only game in town anymore and there are more people now who aren’t as shy about their support for the films. But has it gotten easier for any of us? Yes and no. People on various geek/nerd/comics/whatever sites who try to write anything even remotely positive about the films can still expect a gaggle of trolls and haters to fill up the comments with their bile. I’ve long said the obsessiveness of the haters outweighs the passion with which fans like us will defend the movies. A few people have commented negatively on that obsession but the internet, geek culture, and the media have fed off of it for too long. It’s everywhere.

I will admit that there have been many times when I’ve thought of quitting. Is SWPAS really making much of a difference or is it just flatulence in the wind? Taking on the hate machine can seem insurmountable and impossible. Fans can be very difficult to deal with sometimes and I don’t think very many people really understand where I am coming from. This is not a full-time job, it’s just something I do when I have the inspiration and the time. Even if this site was all about puppies, cupcakes, butterflies, and sunshine, there’s always the concern about keeping it fresh and not just phoning it in.

I want everyone to recognize that I don’t post inflammatory stuff just to stir the pot or as clickbait. I could sling red meat on here every day to keep up the numbers because controversy draws eyeballs. But I don’t do that, mostly because the focus here shouldn’t be on the latest jackhole to talk smack about the films, Lucas, or whatever. Now if that jackhole manages to get hired to write a Star Wars screenplay, that’s a different story. There’s a responsibility official fandom has to these films and to fans like us and when I don’t think they are living up to that responsibility, I’m going to say so.

It sounds like a cheesy cliché to say my readers drive me on, but there is truth to it. There’s a need for saga fans to feel accepted and validated and this is one of the few places where that can happen. The other thing is these movies and those who supported them were done a raw deal and that drives me crazy. Whether my Star Wars fandom fades over time or not, there’s a part of me that will never rest until that’s rectified. It sounds nuts but I’m being honest. Why else would anyone spend time on a site that doesn’t generate money or fame? I ain’t the Man Repeller or the Blonde Salad with magazine covers, big book deals, merchandising tie-ins, and freebies. I’m not even a big name fan.

It may be a quixotic quest but that’s my purpose in doing this site. Maybe one day I’ll walk from it for good. Maybe one day, I’ll realize my work here is done. But not today.

Promoting My Rant

January 28, 2015

On my Holocron page, I’ve posted a rant about conspiracies, rumors, and nefarious plans for the saga. I do a bit of prequel talk too.

Teaser Trailer Brings Out The Haters

November 30, 2014

With Star Wars upfront and center again, the ugly has come out of the woodwork from hate boys, the lame stream media, and the rest of the usual suspects.

Hunk A Junk in the Trailer Reax (11/28) comments referred to a post at The Atlantic’s web site about the trailer and its preposterous assertion that the Star Wars movies, particularly the prequels, are racist.

Here’s the truth bomb I dropped on the guy who wrote the Atlantic click bait:

“Real Star Wars fans know the saga is not racist and I’m not sure why anyone would waste too much time on these movies if he genuinely believed they are racist. If George Lucas was an anti-Semite he has a weird way of showing it, given that his long time close friend/collaborator Steven Spielberg is Jewish, the female lead of the prequels is Jewish, and two of his stars from Eps IV-VI are half-Jewish. If George Lucas was a racist, he has a weird way of showing it. He could’ve cast anyone in the world to play Jar Jar, and he picked a black actor. Lando Calrissian was not written to be a black character; Lucas wanted Billy Dee Williams for the part anyway. Mace Windu was not written to be black character; Samuel L. Jackson–a good friend of that horrible racist Lucas–asked to be in Star Wars and got the part. A black actor was cast to play Queen Amidala’s bodyguard in The Phantom Menace. Polynesian actors played Jango Fett, young Boba Fett, and another one of Padmé Amidala’s bodyguards in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Lucas originally considered a black actor to play Han Solo and an Asian actress to play Princess Leia. He considered Toshiro Mifune to play Obi-Wan Kenobi. Oh and have you noticed who the current Mrs. Lucas is? Or that he has a child with the current Mrs. Lucas? If he’s a racist, he’s not very good at it in my opinion. And no, I don’t think the movies are racist either. If you ask me, putting John Boyega in the flick, likely in a prominent role, is one of the most Lucas-esque moves I’ve seen so far.”

Jim Raynor, also in the Trailer Reax comments, noted that “The Hollywood Reporter” inexplicably dug up its 12-year-old review of AOTC just to beat up on it and Yahoo! inexplicably decided to link to it. There are many reasons why I don’t trust the lame stream media and why I especially don’t trust the “entertainment press.”

Exasperation Or Something Else?

August 22, 2014

Yancy alerted me to this earlier today from the official @starwars Twitter account:

When @starwars got an earful from some fans, it tried to address criticism by saying it had nothing against ol’ Jar Jar, it was sort of preemptively addressing the haters.

Another guy on my Twitter feed looked at the post another way, as exasperation:

My take on it is whoever it was probably didn’t mean anything by it, but that’s also part of the problem. I felt the same kind of irritation I get whenever they decide to pander to people who hate the Ewoks. Instead of pandering to or acknowledging the bashers/haters, @starwars could’ve just posted it without comment. Stuff like this keeps adding to my belief that official fandom doesn’t treat the prequels with the same respect as the OT and that beating up on them is acceptable in a way that it is not with the other half of the saga. Keep looking at the evidence: disappearing representation of the prequels, canceling Clone Wars, hiring a Lucas and PT hater to write one of the spinoff films, the not-terribly covert anti-prequel spin to much of the Ep VII promotion, celebrating famous PT bashers, etc.. What else am I going to think?

An Open Note To Andy Serkis (And JJ Abrams)

July 14, 2014

Dear Mr. Serkis:

I know you are a little busy at the moment, so I’ll keep this brief. So far I’ve been avoiding a lot interviews and stuff having to do with Episode VII, mostly because I don’t want to be spoiled, partially because I don’t want to be annoyed. The annoyance usually comes from the “journalist” who has to throw in some disparaging remark about Episodes I-III, but sometimes I get annoyed with the interviewee. This is one of those times.

In a July 13 interview with The Independent, there’s this little closer about Episode VII:

“But that’s the one thing that’s possibly safe to say: JJ is absolutely, 100 per cent honouring the original three movies. It’s filled with the love and sensibility of those films.”

As someone on the SWPAS Tumblr feed put it, “Hey, J.J. Abrams, there are six movies you need to honor.”

That’s right. SIX movies. Plus Clone Wars. George Lucas’s saga. Why do you guys keep forgetting that?

I know you’ve said some nice things about Ahmed Best’s work in the past. But remember, plenty of love went into Eps I-III and there are lots of us out there who adore those movies too. They mean as much to us as Eps IV-VI. Frankly we’re a little sick and tired of being ignored, slighted, and dismissed even if what we love about Star Wars isn’t being bashed outright. We want to see movies that honor ALL of what Lucas created, tie the threads of the tapestry that much tighter, and add something worthwhile. Why can’t any of you guys say something like that?

In your zeal to placate the media, professional nerds, and OT-only supremacists, you’re ticking off and alienating fans like me. Worse yet, you’re dishonoring what Lucas as well what as the cast and crew of the PT did, many of which took all of the arrows so your job got to be a lot easier.