May the Force be Sleazy

Today is Cinco De Mayo. It's a holiday. I know this because the bus did not come this morning, so I had to ride my bike all the way to work and, therefore, I made it there fifteen minutes early. Buses in Oregon are- somehow, despite being powered by diesel engines and legally able to drive in the street- slower than any alternative method of transportation you can possibly choose in any given circumstance. Buses will always be the slowest and worst way to get there. I think it has something to do with time dilation. Things that are driven by maddening bureaucratic robots are apparently going to be slower than things that are not, every time.

Yesterday was May the Fourth. It's not a holiday, but apparently it means something to a certain subculture of nerds. It's Star Wars Day. The day in the year when I'm reminded of George Lucas' contributions to the world and and have no choice but to give thanks to the fact that, while my circumstances may seem grim at times, and my contributions to the world appreciated less than I'd like them to be, at least I'm not also a Star Wars fan.

I actually had a collection of Star Wars toys when I was a kid, because I thought they were neat. I didn't give a flip about the characters, I just thought, you know, robots and lasers-- what's not to like? I was a twelve year old boy, and I'm pretty sure that if somebody asked me to name what my favorite things were I would have said robots and lasers and also snacks. That was probably the most I could come up with off the top of my head.

When I was older, I saw the films.

I didn't quite get them. I thought they were boring, and slow, and had that sort of “THIS IS AN EPIC STORY” manufactured self-important tone behind the writing that I find so tiresome in all things fantasy (For that reason I still can't get into Game of Thrones).

Which was... really fine. I didn't get Star Wars. Everyone else liked it...I had the action figures, cool. I didn't need it. I had The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is precisely 2276709 times better and more clever than Star Wars in my opinion anyway. Cool. More people liked Star Wars. Nothing wrong with that.

Things started getting a little weird after the prequel movies started coming out. You know. Episode One and all that.

You know how when a movie comes out, Hollywood starts flooding the market with cheap gimmicky merchandise to promote the movies, and grocery stores start selling movie-themed toys to kids in their checkout lanes, and T-shirts start springing up with the characters' faces everywhere, and generally a bunch of movie-themed crap starts flooding the market that everyone will forget about in less than six months? That same thing happened with Star Wars, except on a much larger scale, and it never went away.

The thing about Star Wars is that it's not just a series of films, it's a culture. People identify with Star Wars, and wear costumes of its characters to cons... and paint paintings... and build sculptures... and paint their trash cans to look like R2D2 (lookin' at you darlin'). People have made a culture of Star Wars. And what has anchored their culture? What has tied the culture all together? What is the one thing that Star Wars fans can find common ground with?

I don't think that question has a straight answer.

The one thing that Star Wars fans like about each other and can identify with is the fact that they're all Star Wars fans.

It's not because they like the films. It's not because they like the merchandise. It's not even one thing in particular. Just Star Wars exists... and that's it. People have built a Star Wars culture around the fact that people have built a Star Wars culture.

Star Wars, as content, is mostly terrible. The first three movies people liked, really liked even, but everything that came afterwards-- really, everything-- has mostly just been falling flat on its nose. Yet on the culture still goes.

Everything that comes out with a Star Wars logo in it is mostly a sleazy way of getting money from Star Wars fans. DVD box sets, TV shows, video games, comic books, more movies (oh god the movies... they won't stop). And the Star Wars fans buy them up. They keep the culture going. Even though Star Wars itself-- the actual movies, that is, the thing that the culture is supposed to have come from-- is nearly entirely sub-par garbage.

I'm not alone in this assessment. Even die hard fans and intelligent, loyal analysts bemoan the fact that Star Wars mostly sucks, and yes, even make the suggestion that maybe, just maybe, there's too much Star Wars in Star Wars. So why is the culture still so pervasive?

Because Star Wars, that's why!

And now, Star Wars has achieved a new level of corporate, soulless, money-grubbing sleaziness. It's been bought by Disney. The company that corporatized princesses, whose most original movie was actually stolen from someone, who sued a day care center for daring to depict Mickey Mouse without permission.

Luckily, I'm not among the fans. Now that Star Wars is owned by Disney, I simply have no qualms about shaming fans of Star Wars. It was a sleazy omnipresent cash machine before (despite its colorful culture)... now it's reached a sort of sleazy critical mass that is doomed to explode some day.

I'm luckily among those proud few whose favorite work remains untainted by corporate monoliths. My favorite science fiction world remains clever, so brilliant, that Disney wouldn't dare touch it or ruin it or anything.



I feel bad for Star Wars fans. They've been through so much. They've put up with so much corporate misery and mistreatment. The movies and comics and video games that come out are consistently terrible, and yet, despite it all, they truck along. More power to 'em.

That is, I would feel bad for Star Wars fans if I didn't want to give them wedgies so much.


(Apologies for the poor sources. It's late and I'm not in the mood for crawling around the internet looking for things related to Star Wars).

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