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10 of Kathy Shaidle’s Greatest Hits

These are some of the Canadian culture critic's most memorable broadsides and inspiring provocations. Volume 1.

by
Kathy Shaidle

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April 26, 2014 - 3:30 pm
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1. February 1, 2012:

Five Reasons Star Wars Actually Sucks

So a human comic book with a stirring soundtrack, bad jokes and loud zapping noises is one of the top 10 highest grossing films of all time. Yoda wept. Related: Geek Rage: Star Wars Comments of the Day

In a previous column, I noted in passing that I fell asleep during Star Wars.

I have this dim (repressed?) memory of getting dragged to see it by a high school boyfriend. (So it must have been during a theatrical re-release — I’m not that old.)

I remember:

a)    Harrison Ford = hot
b)    remarking loudly that we shouldn’t be able to hear those rocket ships or whatever they were because, as everyone knows, space is a vacuum and you can’t hear explosions or anything else.

Then I gathered my jacket around my head until the house lights came up.

I figured I was free and clear. Little did I know that, well into the next century, Star Wars detritus would be washing up onto the shores of my life each and every damn day.

I’m talking about stuff like this:

And this:

And whateverthehell this is:

 

Seriously: isn’t there some cancer you could be curing?

If you’re trying to make adults with refined tastes and a real religion hate your favorite movie even more, congratulations, Star Wars fans: mission accomplished.

Star Wars actually sucks. Here’s why.

1. THE MOVIES

First of all, I’m not going to employ those pretentious, post-market locutions like “Episode V” or whathaveyou. If you are a grown up, then there are “the three old Star Wars movies” and “the three new Star Wars movies.”

Now: let’s look at all the other people George Lucas got rich ripping off, the way Picasso did with the Africans.

First, Joseph Campbell. This toxic troublemaker earned his academic reputation for his theories on “the hero’s journey.”

That is: Campbell discovered that, in every culture, in all times, societies had myths.

About heroes.

Who went on journeys.

Damn, I wish I’d gone to college.

Campbell also coined the insidious Baby Boomer, New Age bumpersticker motto, “Follow Your Bliss.”

Now, most people know that the sign over Auschwitz read “Work Will Set You Free.”

Fewer people know that the sign over Buchenwald read “To Each His Own.”

What nobody knows yet but me is that when Concentration Camps 2.0 are erected, the signs over their gates will be “Follow Your Bliss.”

(Or, hey, maybe even “Welcome to Comic-Con”…)

Influence #2: Kurosawa. Star Wars is The Hidden Fortress in space. We nuked Japan and stole their movies! (They only deserved the first former.)

Influence #3: Flash Gordon, the boring-beyond-imagining 1930s film serial.

We’re meant to be impressed that Lucas was also inspired by John Ford’s The Searchers (1956). Except that almost every American film made after The Searchers (and not a few foreign ones) was also influenced by The Searchers.

So a human comic book with a stirring soundtrack, bad jokes, and loud zapping noises is one of the top 10 highest grossing films of all time.

Yoda wept.
2. THE DIRECTOR

George Lucas is a plastic toy manufacturer who makes mediocre movies on the side.

He is the Ringo Starr of the “Easy Riders and Raging Bulls” who put the “New” in “New Hollywood” back in the 1970s.

Compared to Spielberg, Scorsese, and Coppola, however, Lucas’s film oeuvre is nothing but juvenilia, from American Graffiti to Star Wars to… well, he’s never made anything else.

It’s like his career has the opposite of Progeria.

It’s not just that George Lucas has the kind of face you just want to punch, although that doesn’t help.

In what must be a unique phenomenon even within the complex and mysterious ecosystem of fandom, even Star Wars fans hate George Lucas.

(A note to those of you fond of tossing around the glib expression “George Lucas raped my childhood”: unless it also contains the words “stepfather,” “Catholic priest,” or “Jerry Sandusky,”‘ you don’t actually get to use the words “raped” and “my childhood” in a sentence, m’kay? Please get another First World problem.)

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're taking this WAY to seriously. Star Wars is a kid's movie. Its not supposed to be realistic, its supposed to be fun....and its a ton of fun. Who cares if they have ray guns and sound in space? What counts is that they blast the bad guys to smithereens. Besides, who can resist Carrie Fisher in a metal bikini? You don't like George Lucas? Yeah, I bet he's weeping about that every time he looks at his bank statement. Get over yourself and stop whining about other people.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The FIRST Star Wars released is the only one worth watching... right from "empire" it was a merchandising machine that lost all appeal....

And Carrie was scrawny and loose in that bikini....too much weight loss too fast to be "sl*t-hot" by Hollywood standards, rather than showcase her natural beauty....that wholesome round-faced, almost Motherly Beauty she had with her hair down in the Medal Ceremony after destroying the first Death Star, is by far the loveliest moment of The Princess on screen.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
All of them are merchandising machines. Its kiddie entertainment, that's the point. My dad, and every other kid his age, had a Davy Crockett coon skin cap.....Star Wars is no different.

Scrawny? What, is this fat acceptance week? You can have Lena Dunham, I'll take Slave-Girl Leia any day of the week. I'll pass on motherly beauty, it does nothing for me. I like em slender, young, and underdressed.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
OK, Kathy...

For all the reasons you mention, "star wars" (notice the lower case?) as it became a Social Phenomenon, does indeed suck, and in a rather embarrassing way for those of us who saw it in its first release, BUT….

The First (and, IMHO, only one worth watching) Original Release was a PHENOMENAL Motion Picture in and of itself. I’m sorry you slept through it. I'm sorry you weren’t old enough to see it before knowing nearly all about it. It was ruined for you, already a cliché before the theater darkened that night, and that my dear, is a very sad thing…

Because, for a certain generation of Adventurous Boys, ones who’s Dads and Uncles were in WW-2, kids who built endless models of Spitfires and Messerschmitt’s believing The Battle of Britain was the ultimate in manly, righteous chivalry, kids who ran home after school to watch Steve McQueen OWN those freaking Krauts (even after he got caught, AGAIN!) in “The Great Escape” playing on the 4:30 movie, like, three times a year for a decade…..

Well, for us, Star Wars (caps this time, sugar!) was THE culmination of every hero-fantasy we ever imagined, and by God, it was OURS. Not in black and white, not John Wayne on a horse, not some “tail end of the studio era” re-run of a movie that was originally released the year before we were even born….No. This one was Ours. Today. And it was GOOD.

Because it was, for one gleaming moment, a vision of who we KNEW we were supposed to be, reflected back at us for the first time, in REAL-time…

Cocky, idealistic, proud of our heritage, brave…militaristic in the POSITIVE sense, fighting the Krauts AND the Hessians all at once as Home-Spun Patriots taking to arms, but with Starships and Blasters instead of Muskets and Mustangs…

Star Trek was wierd, we didnt quite get it...Set for Stun, and The Prime Directive..who are the bad guys, are you going to kill these aliens or not? WTF are you DOING there in the FIRST place!?!

No, Star Wars was different...It was all of our fathers and big-brothers heroics transformed FOR US, even AHEAD of us, in a way we already understood, but though was only in the past…battles we never would be allowed to face, reduced to pretending to BE our fathers, when we knew we never could…No, Star Wars gave us a vision of Ourselves, Brave Into the Coming Future, and it was GOOD.

It was indescribably awesome to see in its original release, in a REAL theater, way before Darth and Luke and the Droids became embarrassing merchandise for effeminate geeks…right from that first opening scene (Oh. My. GOD! How big is that thing!?) to the fast-paced final battle, we saw who we could be, tomorrow…

Technically skillful AND Physically capable of necessary, righteous violence, with clear confidence to judge good from evil, to CHOOSE the right side, and to nobly face the possibility of Death, with Honor.

The Blessed Spitfire, that sacred ghost of a past we could not be worthy of, was an X-wing…. and the future would wait for us to fly her, in OUR time, we could fight evil, and too, be MEN.

Amazing stuff for a 12 year old, growing up in That Last Twilight of Real American Boyhood, between the Shadow of Viet Nam and The Dawn of The Nanny State….

Pity my son will never know of such things.




18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Root 83. That was an awesome post my friend. I completely agree with the sentiment, although for me that experience came from a different source. Ms. S. perhaps can't really understand this, tis a boy thing. FWIW I lived near an RAF base in 1972 and I can tell you that the memeory of the Spitfire was alive in the minds of many young English boys: when I saw one in the Imperal War Museum, I could think of NOTHING better than flying that thing over France and blasting away at the Messerschmidts.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you, Eightrock

What that film WAS and what it BECAME are so tragically opposite it makes me weep. I just tried to watch The Original with my own son for the first time on DVD, and the clumsy sacrilege of the Lucas Ego has utterly ruined it.

We will see no more of this franchise in our household....

Spits, Hurricanes, Mosquito's, Lancasters, I built them all...and lets not forget the Swordfish pilots who crippled the Bismarck...if ever a tiny fleet was sent to battle The Death Star, it was they...and you do know much of the "combat dialog" in S.W. was straight from "the Dam Busters" right?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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