Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Snooki and the Wookie

Like men, empires, and cultures, works of art go through a period of debasement before they vanish. Its pure, primal origins are lost to history and the vigor of violent birth is unknown to the generations. What began imperfect but mighty, the uttermost strain of the age's greatest minds, is polished in the perception of posterity to a glossy memory which takes on a life of its own. It walks about a hero in a lesser age, but still a shadow of the greatness it held in its own primitive age. It is often then recast in a style which attempts to relive the greatness of the past. In the ultimate phase it passes, metamorphosed from original to classic, to commodity.

Star Wars is entering the final process of this transformation. The original was rough, following in a traditional which it surpassed to near perfection. It then turned classic when the movie became known to be great and its successors aped its ingredients. The prequels attempted to rekindle the magic. The name Star Wars is now but than a piece of intellectual property gobbled up the greedy maw of Disney. When it is regurgitated, as Star Trek was, it won't be the result of a tireless director working at the edge of his abilities to bring a dream to life.

The movie will have been run through screenings, test-groups, and market experts, to appeal to every human on this planet. Everything potentially sensitive will be sieved out and a chowder of pop culture will be poured in, disguised as bona fide Star Wars material. And then it will die. The new Star Wars may turn out to be a good movie, but it won't be an authentic one, and that's why it won't matter.

This end is not the fault of George Lucas, either, but the natural end of greatness. Mozart is not to blame for the tchotchkes bearing his likeness, Homer for the pedants picking at his old verses, or Monet for the screen-savers which pass his pictures like so many cheap digital photographs.

Because it is unoriginal, the new film has to justify its place in the Star Wars universe. Sure, the thousands of people who work on the new Star Wars might give it an authentic voice, but I think we overestimate their chances.

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