Dear Star Wars Cynics,
On the slim chance that you are willingly reading a Star Wars-centric piece of writing on the internet and are open minded, I would like to address some of the questions that you have posed concerning the new film. If not, let this be yet another independent blogger super Star Wars fan’s post about his emotions lost to the vast nothingness of internet.
Disney bought Lucasfilm because they wanted to tap the vast pool of money that was just sitting there. George Lucas is worth over 4 billion dollars just because of Indiana Jones and Star Wars alone and I would argue he should have signed off for more than that. I am not going to sit here and pretend that the cogs are not turning because of a bunch of rich people just wanted to get richer. This is absolutely the case. Lucas–a rich pretentious filmmaker–sold his only creative genius to other pretentious filmmakers, just to be more rich.
What I seek to hint at is that is was worth it. Emotionally, culturally and progressively. Regardless of my opinion and yours, Star Wars is the most influential pop culture franchise of all time, and that in of itself is powerful.
When I was eight years of age, The Phantom Menace hit the big screen. Other than The Lion King, it was the most important movie event in my life. The original trilogy stoked the fires of my imagination and creativity: I designed the blueprints for new spaceships, I wrote my own fan fiction, I learned the importance of duality in life.
Concerning the development of my personality, I cannot stress the importance of Episode One. In hindsight and with formal cinematic scholarly tutorship, I understand the film is not good. But in the moment, in that sold out theater, my jaw hit the floor and I grew as a human being.
Star Wars is successful not just because it expands our horizons, but because it is so universal. C-3PO and R2-D2 are genderless and anyone can identify with them. Leia, even in her limited role, was given more action leeway than most women in cinema. She is directly involved in the action and is even force sensitive. Lando–an African-American–pilots the Millennium Falcon in the final action sequence. Arguably the most infamous villain in cinematic history (Darth Vader) is voiced by a Black man.
But James Earl-Jones and Billy Dee Williams (Lando) are given a faceless and minor role respectively. The two main characters in the upcoming movie are played by an African-British actor and a woman. This is really important. I can say with the utmost confidence that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will become the highest grossing film in world history with a Black and female lead. This is of critical importance. The diverse cast ensures that Star Wars will retain its mass appeal and once again be inspirational.
Another critique I have heard is that by reviving the Star Wars story line it risks becoming bland. And why can’t writers come up with something new? Well, I would argue that they are. Star Wars chronology is fresh since they Disney did away with expanded universe canon, and every new story is an original screenplay. It is not adapted.
As for those working on the project, they care about the story and they want it to affect others as the original trilogy affected them. I do not think that money is the primary motivator. After pointing out a Star Wars graphic novel in a comic book store my girlfriend told me that graphic novelists don’t make much but are passionate about the story. A coworker of mine–who is in his 40s and cannot stop collecting mint edition action figures and lego sets–told me that he was also eight when he went to see the first movie. I am currently 24 years of age and continue to be immensely affected by the franchise. Most of those working on The Force Awakens are between 20 and 50 years of age and truly want to create something that makes today’s generation cares for as much as they.
On November 20, 2008, I was eating dinner at a local Chipotle and looking out the window at a huge crowd. The vast majority of them were teenage girls, and even though some were engaged in heated “Team Edward–NO! Team Jacob!” debates, they were all united in their love for the Twilight series. I read the first book and found the writing horrifically poor but I could not contain my pleasure in seeing the long lines for the midnight showing. To paraphrase my coworker–who has lined up for dozens of album signings for her favorite rapper–seeing people genuinely excited for something is magical and fulfilling.
I do not think it is a valid argument to say “A story should not be told if it makes people rich,” or “that story sucks and does not deserve to be adapted to another medium.” Telling stories is one of the most vital cultural experiences humanity has, and I believe that this alone should outweigh the gluttonous toy sale numbers and gross consumerism that comes with them. The film industry is far from pure, but in the end, there are children who are going to watch Star Wars VII and learn something amazing and beautiful. Not to mention that I shall be sitting in rapture starting at 4am on the 17th watching all seven films in a row on the big screen. The romanticism of Star Wars’ tale of good versus evil brings people joy and whether you like it or not, millions of others identify with the story and its characters. Griping against the inevitable is futile.