Thursday, May 04, 2017

"May The Fourth Be With You"

...because it isn't with me.

There are an astonishingly large number of cultural things of which I am either semi- or entirely ignorant. STAR WARS is one of the biggest of them. 

Not *the* biggest; that's probably the entire Marvel universe and everything else out of a comic book. I shunned comics when I was a kid, dismissing them as childish. You have to understand, I was "the man of the house" at five, a role I embraced with alacrity. I had no idea what it entailed, but I figured out what it didn't: kids' things. 
The unspoken reason I didn't bother with comic books is that, since they are primarily a visual medium, I didn't understand them. My eyesight was poor, yes. But as with my coordination, my ignorance of all things mechanical, and a myriad of other things that (whodathunkit?) turned out to be kind of important, I didn't do anything to address the issue. Why would I? There were better alternatives. In the case of comic books, the alternatives were, obviously, real books. Books with words I understood in place of pictures I didn't. There you go, little Kenny in a nutshell, denigrating anything he didn't understand. 

STAR WARS is not a childish thing. I would say that out loud everywhere, especially just outside the convention, while inwardly laughing at the people playing dress-up, I mean, seriously, come on, grow the f--


STAR WARS is not a childish thing. Indeed, I recognize I was too young (five) when I saw the first instalment (the trash compactor scene scared the ever-loving shit out of me). I was MUCH too young for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. The political chatter bored the awake out of me. And I haven't bothered with any newer episodes. With each new one that comes out -- and is it me, or are they just making them to milk the cash cow now? -- the learning curve becomes steeper and steeper, and I become increasingly unlikely to ever bother. 

Which part of me recognizes as a shame. No, worse: I know, on some level, that I would love STAR WARS if I could somehow get all eleventy dozen movies osmosed into my head without, you know, the tedium of watching them. 

Why wouldn't I like STAR WARS? It ticks all my boxes: science fiction that's crafted to explore timeless themes; sprawling epic with endless reams of backstory to lose myself in; characters (I'm told) worth caring about; a hero's journey invoking the power of myth at every turn; it's almost as if Lucas created it thinking of the me I'd become

But. But two things, actually.

One: Outside of hockey, in which I've kidded myself I have a vested interest (go Leafs go, finally becoming something to be proud of again)...I don't watch television hardly at all. And I don't watch very many movies any more, either. Hollywood is obsessed with creating sequels, comic book movies, sequels of comic book movies, comic book movies, prequels to comic book movies,  comic book movies, and movies and sequels to movies (the Fast and the Furious endless series) that might as well be comic book movies...

It's a rare show or film that actually catches, let alone holds, my interest. Anything beaming out on me from a screen has to, after all, compete with my computer--on which I have access to damn near everything, not to mention nearly everyone I care about. I know that there is little difference physically between a couch potato and a mouse potato; mentally, to me, there seems a huge difference. I've been anti-television for a long time now, and like my disdain for comic books (and STAR WARS), I recognize it's irrational. It doesn't stop me, however. 

If a show or movie is going to grab me, odds are it's an adaptation of a book, or series of them. Yes, Game of Thrones, but also, this year, I plan on seeing The Dark Tower and IT, as well as pirating The Handmaid's Tale (since Hulu doesn't believe in Canadians). I loved all of these things in text form, and the screen will be judged against the text, and that's as it should be, forever and ever, amen. The last series I watched was CARDINAL, based on Giles Blunt's John Cardinal mysteries (highly, highly recommended, books and series both). 

(Why won't someone, anyone, adapt Spider Robinson? Or Guy Gavriel Kay?)

Back to STAR WARS. Its cultural cachet is obviously significant. It has its own day, today, "may the fourth be with you" -- tomorrow is obviously "revenge of the fifth", and hey, I even get that. Yes, I'd probably like STAR WARS quite a lot...except

Two: if anything (and pardon me for stating this preference, which is heathenish to many)...if anything, I'm a Trekkie.

Given what you know of me, is that really a surprise? You only need to examine the titles. STAR WARS is about, um, a war. I'm not a fan of war; really, I'm not. STAR TREK is about...trekking. Exploring "strange new worlds", etc. THAT, I like. But beyond that, Roddenberry's vision resonates with me. Post-scarcity economy, a genuine effort to observe and learn without interfering (the "Prime Directive"), huge emphasis on empathy, conflict that tends to resolve without people having to die...STAR WARS might interest me, but STAR TREK is a universe in which I'd like to live. And I say that even though ST:TNG is the only series I have seen in its entirety. (Passive television vs. "active" computer...see above). 

Every year I fall further and further behind, picking and choosing only two or three things annually so I'm not completely culturally deaf and blind. I've made my terms with that...usually. Sometimes, though, I realize just how much I have missed, and the realization is almost numbing. 

Happy STAR WARS day, for those of you celebrating. I did watch a great documentary on how the Death Star was built. I tell was...riveting

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