Thursday, October 13, 2011

№ 51. Star Wars

Back in the early 21st century, Spider-Man 1 was shown in tandem with the much maligned Star Wars Prequels (I, II, III). My friends were surprised why I preferred the Lucas film over the arachnid marvel. Spidey was on many accounts better told and more engaging. The prequels were a disappointment, read: Jar Jar Binks.

Jar Jar

First, I'm a sucker for sweeping strokes and the macro-enterprise. The allusions to the aging Roman Empire on the brink of collapse, the Senate horsetrading and grandstanding, clash of ideals and ideology, the memory of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (1980s!), hyperdrive and  light saber proved too strong a pull towards the dark side.

To me, although Peter Parker's arc was more accessible---hello there angst and secret identities---his crusade belonged just to a lone ranger. He alone had to carry the burden of his gifted bite. No one else could. I suppose, I found this heroism hemmed in by a form of micromanagement: oh, quick there's fire on the corner of 32nd, a baby's trapped, hurry!; bank robbers just hijacked a police van; et cetera; and, please don't forget your pepperoni delivery, Penthouse A.

His spider senses just did not reach enough demographics to be elevated to the grand arena. Sure, he was saving humanity---but in retail, one damsel at a time! We're tallying body counts here. Let me be fair, though. The timeline of the movie was before he joined the Justice League, which would have addressed this small kink.

Ergo, the sad, sad prequels.

Second, it's also mainly morality versus politics, if I were to really simplify things. Peter was engaged in soul wrenching struggles at the individual dimension. And, no doubt, everyone else has experienced dilemmas somehow. Hence, our empathy for his troubles. It's far easier or even simpler to see ourselves lost and seeking a moral compass in an urban decay than in Tatooine in a binary system.

The Skywalkers and the Jedi, on the other hand, had to stake morality on a much bigger scale. Galaxies and worlds were pawns that could be sacrificed for the greater good. Alderaan, was made an example and reduced to collateral damage in pursuit of hegemony. Peace and order, trade federations, civilizations, planetary systems and alliances, ethnic ecosystems, legions and armadas were managed on the cusp of political choices.

No, it wasn't nearly sufficient to discern from the vantage of a solitary conscience. They had to tap into something bigger: the Force. An individual conscience couldn't exert enough leverage to wield the fates of millions, even billions. The Force was needed, a collective conscience of some sort.

Maybe Lucas will rewrite the entire franchise and mine the complexities of geo- or galactic-politics. And while he's at it he can also re-imagine Queen Amidala without the ensaymada buns.

The midichlorians are stirring. I sense disturbance in the Force.

Bento Box:

Blame this article for the long rant (or brain hemorrhage): Use the Force, Daddy!

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