The Biggest Mistake Disney Made With the New Star Wars

I would say that the dust surrounding The Last Jedi has settled, but I am not entirely sure that this is true.  As I was preparing some other things I wanted to write about The Last Jedi, it suddenly dawned on me that Disney made a tremendous mistake before even beginning the story.

The brought back the original cast.

No, don’t go away, here me out.

For the past 40 years(!), two generations of fans have wanted to know what happened after the end of Return of the Jedi.  Many fans turned to the expanded universe novels (a friend in high school considered the Heir to the Empire trilogy to be Episodes VII-IX) but more frequently, fans simply developed their own head cannons.  In other words, they made up what they wanted to see next for the characters.

This presents a number of problems.

First of all, the vast majority of Star Wars fans wanted two things that are diametrically opposed to one another.

1 They wanted a new chapter for the heroes.

2 They wanted the heroes to persist in Happily Ever After.

These two wants cannot be reconciled.  The essence of drama is conflict.  If Luke, Han, and Leia persist in Happily Ever After, then there is no new chapter.  If the Heroes get a new story, then they will no longer persist in Happily Ever After.

This is why the audience is so upset that Han and Leia’s marriage didn’t end well, and that their only son fell to the Dark Side after neither one of them did a particularly good job of raising him.  They feel that this discredits both Han and Leia, who should have had a happy, conflict free marriage with perfect children and rainbows and bunnies and sunshine.  Unfortunately, if that’s what happens, then there is no story.  They cannot have it both ways.

Second of all, as soon as the original characters show up, it undercuts the audience’s attachments to the new characters in the trilogy.  So many people watched Episode VII thinking that the original characters were the most important characters, and that the new characters exist to complement them.  This is backwards.  The original characters exist to complement the new characters.  This is one of the main reasons why Luke is the way he is in Episode VIII; because Rey’s character needs Luke to be the way that he is. 

If Rey had been seeking out a Jedi we had never met before, say Luke’s great-grandson or a random Jedi, the audience would have had no difficulty accepting the character’s portrayal.

We see the same thing with Kylo Ren.  Kylo Ren needs parental figures who failed him terribly.  But because the audience sees Han, Luke, and Leia as the heroes of this trilogy, they want to bend the new characters to accommodate Han, Luke, and Leia.

Here’s what Disney should have done instead.

The opening crawl should have started with the following lines.

It has been 100 years since the end of the Empire.  The heroes of the rebellion are but a dim memory.  

This would have given the writers the freedom to do what they needed to do to move the Star Wars story and universe forward.  Rich Evans (and Red Letter Media) is correct.  The Star Wars universe is incredibly limited and there are few stories that they can currently tell.

In large part, this is because they have not made the effort to push the universe beyond the boundaries of what Star Wars is and could be.  (Basically, Star Wars needs a Deep Space Nine.)  By bringing back the original characters, they locked themselves into a world of fan service and rehashing images and stories from prior films.  The limited themselves creatively.

Why would they do that?

Oh yeah.

To be fair, it’s not entirely Disney’s fault.  As Just Write points out, films are so expensive today that one failure can hobble a studio.  This means that they try to be completely loyal to the source material, even at the expense of making a good film.  Lucasfilm is so terrified of doing anything other than rehashing prior films that they cannot make the decisions that they need to make the universe more expansive.  (For the most part.)  We need to encourage creative people to be creative and to use pre-existing stories as a jumping off point for their own visions, and we need to encourage fans to be open their visions.

It’s far too early to guess how Episode IX will end and how the film will be received.  (I have very little faith in J.J. Abrams, see Star Trek Into Darkness.)  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Mike Stoklasa’s prediction that Episode IX central conflict will involve a giant Super Weapon that’s shaped like a sphere ultimately comes to pass.  But if the trilogy is ultimately disliked, I truly believe that it will be because they decided to include Luke, Han, and Leia in the film.  In a most unfortunate blessing, Carrie Fisher’s death will give the filmmakers the opportunity to create a film without the original cast members.  And yet, I fear it may be too late to undo the damage.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Glitter and Be Gay Natalie Dessay

 

This is a very good recording of Glitter and Be Gay from Candide by Leonard Bernstein.  The coloratura is really very pretty.  I love the way the song swings between the flashy, exuberant coloratura and the slow, sad portions.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Primer on Sexual Abuse in USA Gymnastics

For the past couple of weeks, Larry Nassar and the sex abuse scandal at Michigan State University and USA gymnastics were everywhere. My Tumblr dashboard was overflowing with links to newspaper articles, videos from victims in court, tweets from prominent people, opinion articles and so on. All these new pieces of information and answered two […]

via What we learned from the abuse scandal in USA gymnastics — Spotlight Gymnastics

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

600th Post!

Here it is, my 600th post!  I am amazed that I have 600 posts, considering that I started this blog simply so that I could comment on other blogs, and then decided I needed to use it.

Here is a self portrait by Frieda Kahlo, along with the mirror that accompanies it.

20160909_175540

Here is Shape of You by Ed Sheeran.  This song is basically my jam.

Here is the Gardner’s House at Antibes by Claude Monet.  I have a post of this in my room.

20170625_155641 (1)

Oh, and last, but not least, I present Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.  I was privileged to hear this piece performed by The Cleveland Orchestra, which a reviewer in the New York Times recently called the greatest orchestra in the country.  I know.  🙂

This is not the Cleveland Orchestra, but enjoy it anyway.

 

Here’s to the next 100 posts!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Aly Raisman’s Speech

I was never a big Aly Raisman fan, but I am now.

As another survivor said, Aly Raisman has grown from a frightened girl to a strong woman who has come back to destroy Dr. Nassar’s world.  I hope that she and all the survivors have wonderful, fulfilling lives.  And I hope Aly Raisman runs for public office someday.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dreams by The Cranberries

There has been all this talk about The Cranberries since  Dolores O’Riordan died, far too young at the age of 46.  No one mentions this song!

I heard this song the first time in the trailer for the Babysitter’s Club.

The song always brings to mind the idea of youth, friends, summer, and young love.  Even though I was pretty miserable when I was in middle school.  You couldn’t pay me to relive those years.

RIP Dolores O’Riordan.  You were truly special.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tragedy of Princess Leia’s Character

*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*

 

 

I want to talk about the tragedy of Princess Leia’s character.  No, I am not talking about the fact that she Force flies in space.  Nor am I talking about the fact that she will not be in Episode IX due to the fact that Carrie Fisher died last year.  I am talking about the fact that Princess Leia is the most static, disposable character of the original trio of main characters.

This is not a popular opinion, given Princess Leia’s place in popular culture, especially for women.  Princess Leia was definitely a subversion of people’s expectations for a princess in need of rescue.  And yet, when I think back on what Princess Leia actually did in the original Star Wars Trilogy, I have to conclude that her story has no arc, and her actions are rarely relevant to the plot.

1 Princess Leia has no arc.

Luke Skywalker and Han Solo both have arcs within the trilogy.  Luke Skywalker’s arc is one of coming of age.  At the beginning of the trilogy, he is an impulsive, immature, teenager.  He is a Jedi and a man at the end of the trilogy.  Han Solo starts out as a selfish smuggler who only cares about money.  At the end of the trilogy, he is a general willing to sacrifice his life for a cause.  Princess Leia starts out as a feisty member of the rebellion against the Empire.  By the end of the trilogy, she is a feisty member of the rebellion against the Empire.  The only major transformation her character undergoes is to fall in love with Han, but this does not change her character.  She stays exactly the same.

2 Princess Leia’s actions are rarely relevant to the plot.

The most significant action she ever performs is to put the Death Star plans on R2-D2.  For most of the movie, she is a prisoner.  When she arrives on Yavin 4, she literally stands around listening silently while Luke and the other soldiers destroy the Death Star.  It is much the same in The Empire Strikes Back.  She is shown as a leader with decision making power at the beginning of he movie, but then she is immediately stripped of this power when Han takes her on the Falcon.  She spends most of the movie complaining about Han’s choices to no avail, after which she is captured and then rescued.  The only other decision she makes is to take the Falcon back to rescue Luke at Cloud City.  In The Return of the Jedi, she is a participant, but not a leader.  She participates in Han Solo’s rescue, freeing him from carbonite and killing Jabba the Hutt, but it is not clear how much influence she had on the actual plot.  The focus is on Luke saving everyone.  At Endor, she is once again relegated to a participant.  Han is promoted to general.  It is this lack of decision making power that robs her character of a chance to grow.

None of this is to say that Princess Leia is a bad character or that it is wrong that so many love her and are inspired by her.  However, her character is only a shadow of what it could have been.  We know that Disney was planning to feature Leia in episode 9, much as they featured Han in episode 7 and Luke in episode 8.  Despite the outrage of fans, I actually like how they handled Luke’s arc in episode 8 and I am fine with what they did with Han in episode 7.  I like to believe that they were going to give Leia what she has never had in the series: the chance to grow as a character.  It is sad that we will never see it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments