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Geek Week: Day One

May 16th, 2005 - 9:30 am

Fair warning: You can look forward to a lot of “Star Wars” content this week. Hey, what did you expect–you’re reading a web site whose owner posted pictures of his Lego Star Destroyer. Deal with it.

First up from this side of the pond (I have it on good authority that Steve has already arranged for midnight-premeire tickets somewhere near Picadilly Circus, by the way), there’s the reported anti-Bush political content in Episode III.

Short version: I don’t much care.

Long version: It’s no particular suprise that George Lucas is a leftie. The guy’s been marinating in the moonbat stew of San Francisco and Marin County for most of his life, and he’s also one of those unfortunate people who romanticizes the Viet Cong. In numerous interviews over the last 30 years, he’s talked about how the rebels (and Wookies, and even Ewoks) in “Star Wars” were loosely based on the Communist gurellas from Vietnam, who in Lucas’s imagination, ‘defeated’ a technologically superior enemy. If you go back and look at the very early Star Wars writings, including the first page of the Lucas-directed novelization (actually written by sci-fi hack Alan Dean Foster), it’s very obvious that the Emperor was based on Richard Nixon.

That’s all pretty funny, at least in my mind. It serves mostly to illustrate that Lucas bought into the post-hippie mythology of the Vietnam War, instead of studying the actual history–otherwise, his rebels’ greatest victories would come courtesy of sympathizers in the Imperial Media and dissenters in the Imperial Opposition Party (and that’s not even mentioning the postwar Ewok boat people or Wookie concentration camps).

To Lucas’s credit, however, he kept this stuff very much down in the subtext for the original three films, and they were all the better for it. Unless you’d heard him talking about it, you’d never have picked up on the specious Vietnam analogy, just to pick one example. When “Star Wars” first premeired in 1977, one of the film’s main selling points was its complete lack of political baggage. After a decade of “China Syndromes” and “All The President’s Men,” or even “Dirty Harry” on the other side, “Star Wars” came as a massive relief to audiences who were sick of being lectured to by movie makers.

Unfortunately, Lucas let his oddball Marin politics creep into the three “prequel” films, with references to the “greedy trade federation” and other villains drawn from the “banking guild,” and there are a few other rather silly asides (one villain is named “Noot Gunray”–please, even Al Franken would be embarrased by that one), but even then, the dorm-room political hackery is overwhelmed by the overall story and bombast, and I expect that to still be the case in “Episode III.”

Let me put it bluntly: I’m not much inclined to take Lucas’s politics seriously either way. He’s proven himself to be a pretty unsophisticated political thinker in the past, to say nothing of a raging hypocrite, as Jim Geraghty aptly pointed out a while back. I compare my reaction to alleged Bush-bashing in “Episode III” the same way I viewed the Wachowski Brothers’ lame politicizing of the two “Matrix” sequels: the ideological musings of anybody dumb enough to take Cornell West seriously aren’t worth getting worked up over.

Ditto for Lucas. Come Thursday (very early), I plan to snicker at the politics and enjoy the moviemaking instead. As Lileks said going into “Episode II,” my requirements are simple: just don’t suck.

More tomorrow, so like I said, consider yourselves warned…

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