Saturday, May 14, 2005

Star Wars III - The Phantom dilemma...

...or how I learned to stop worrying and love George Lucas again...or not.
I can't decide whether or not to go see Star Wars III. I'll say this. When I saw Episode I, I was caught between crying, vomiting, and burning down the theatre. Three words. You guessed it. Jar-Jar Binx.

I know very few Black people who didn't writhing in anguish every time Jar-Jar appeared on screen, much less opened his mouth. You may count me among the writhing. I was also immediately struck by how the trade council sounded like an Asian stereotype, and how Anikan's slave master seemed like a horrible Arab or Jewish caricature.

I know, I know. It's just a movie, and a fantasy movie at that. In fact it's a fantasy movie set completely outside the context of America, Earth, and all the stupid prejudices, bigotry, and deep history of insults and injustices that have shaped American history in particular, and world history overall.

Believe me. All the physical writhing I did in my chair at the theatre was nothing compared to the mental and emotional writhing in my head as I reminded my bruised and battered psyche that it's a movie, it's fantasy, it's fun for kids. In The Matrix, Cypher had a point. "Ignorance is bliss."

Too bad I'm not ignorant. What's more, I don't think Lucas can rightly claim ignorance either. The fact that the best defense he's mustered for himself is that the flim is a fantasy totally outside Earth's context only tells me that if the story were placed within Earthly confines, people like me (and a lot more folks like him than he probably thinks) would then have every right to be offended. To add insult to injury, he angrily blamed critics and "the media" - which I suppose would include the humble blog - for getting all us good colored folks worked up over nothing is a patent insult in and of itself. I guess to Mr. Lucas, we are all just sheep with no agency of our own. Critics, he explains are not doers or makers, simply destroyers. So I guess it's the dumb leading the stupid.

Thanks, I feel a lot better now.

Lucas isn't the first to hurt me so, and he won't be the last. In fact it's largely because of the slings and arrows my heritage and therefore my ego have suffered at the hands of Hollywood that I'm determined to become a screenwriter. So artist to artist, and audience to artist, know that I have forgiveness in my heart, and forgiven so many before you.

With that, I most likely will go see Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, in the theatre. It actually looks like it will be a decent story this time 'round, finally worthy of the name Star Wars. Good art can sometimes transcend one's personal failings. Hopefully this episode will be that start.

And even if it doesn't, know that there remains in me the 4-year old who was indelibly changed by a film at the time inexplicably subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope.