Stairs, Wiggling

David Blue
Written by David Blue
‘Twas the night after Christ­mas (I think,) and I was in the same scro­ogy mood I must main­tain for con­sis­ten­cy of appear­ances & equi­lib­ri­um of fam­i­ly dynam­ics every year. Every­where, there were words on the newest Stair Wiggling…everywhere THEY were wig­gling… And I was being wit-bit­ter on the TL. For you, I’d planned on con­tin­u­ing in the usu­al way, so as not to star­tle your pre­cious Hans Zim­mer-embossed heart.
I’m sure you’re a tol­er­a­ble being, and there’s noth­ing you’d rather read less at this hour (what­ev­er hour it may be,) but I real­ly despise going to the movies. I always end up get­ting sick from the pop­corn, which I buy every out­ing because I have grown weary and weath­ered, and can­not sit for two straight hours with­out con­sum­ing some­thing, so trou­bled is my stom­ach now with Big Boy woes.
I can nev­er escape the ambi­ent breath odor — even in an emp­ty the­atre — and I can smell the filth in the seats on my clothes and in my hair until I show­er. This is at least an hour-long process, so we’ve racked up a sig­nif­i­cant trau­ma bill with­out even account­ing for trav­el time.
Furi­ous 7 was the last the­atre expe­ri­ence I’d had, and it was a def­i­nite excep­tion. Despite watch­ing ten min­utes of the end­ing on YouTube before­hand thanks to much-appre­ci­at­ed warn­ings from friends, I spent the final few frames before the cred­it roll hon­or­ably com­bat­ting the indus­tri­al weepy forces in my throat with trip­plet labor breath­ing exer­cis­es while my dusty ducts pid­dled but­tery tears all over my jack­et.
As we age, straight­for­ward­ly emo­tion­al expe­ri­ences (like watch­ing a movie) become exhaust­ing­ly more com­plex and fick­le. I don’t remem­ber ever REALLY dis­lik­ing a film as a child, for bet­ter or worse. I think I gen­uine­ly enjoyed all ~40 times I’ve sat through Cadet Kel­ly.

Star Wars, though, is a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent thing.

To chil­dren, choco­late is like water [insert dystopi­an, but prob­a­bly more metaphor­i­cal­ly effec­tive food exam­ple here] — it’s some­thing you’d reg­u­lar­ly con­sume as it is made avail­able. Per­haps some food­ists trea­sured it more, but I wouldn’t both­er debat­ing it. Star Wars, though, is like choco­late and Corvette. It’s SUCH an indul­gence that even chil­dren are self-aware enough to rec­og­nize it, which is espe­cial­ly notable con­sid­er­ing how many indi­vid­u­als I’ve known as they’ve lost noth­ing BUT their unlim­it­ed want­i­ng when they “became” adults.

Meta­tots aside, it’s impor­tant to rec­og­nize how inte­gral the IP’s illu­sion of lim­it­less­ness is to its appeal. It is not con­tained with­in the future of human­i­ty, near or dis­tant. The sto­ries, char­ac­ters, species, cul­tures, and con­flicts come from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... There is no more per­fect­ly con­cise intro­duc­to­ry sen­tence to unshack­le us from our his­to­ry and our plan­et, spar­ing us from the ridicu­lous­ly irra­tional instinct to make com­par­isons between fic­tion­al real­i­ties and our own that so plagues and defines the con­sump­tion of sci­ence fic­tion.
These process­es are often wel­come, of course, but they teth­er us to our­selves and our famil­iars, which tends to hin­der the com­plete man­i­fes­ta­tion of the ulti­mate sense of adven­ture.
Even to the most pet­ty plot pon­der­ers, the time and effort it requires to arrive in Star Wars with exter­nal­ly-acquired fore­knowl­edge is not a worth­while invest­ment. This is why so many (includ­ing myself) look upon A New Hope with such fond­ness and favoritism — the pre­mier of the uni­verse was at its poten­tial apogee from the start.
Though it is invit­ing with its elipses and cool­ing hue, that title card is actu­al­ly say­ing “you don’t know shit about what you’re about to see. Don’t make the mis­take of try­ing to be the first one to dis­sect it, because you’ll fail, regard­less of how cul­tured or ana­lyt­i­cal­ly supe­ri­or you are. From this moment until you see cred­its, every one of you is an igno­rant lit­tle child…”
When expe­ri­ence can­not pos­si­bly be applied, it becomes irrel­e­vant. With­out your expe­ri­ences, you are an infant, wait­ing for iden­ti­ty. Over that Gen­e­sis, the cur­tains brushed aside any quan­ti­ty of mem­o­ries and made the­atres into a sort of cul­tur­al nurs­ery — clin­i­cal­ly lev­eled play­ing fields exist­ing in a pre­ci­sion of use­ful­ness that expres­sion will nev­er ful­fill again.
The real can­cer of the prop­er­ty is lore, and the par­a­sitic author­i­ties it enables have been unknow­ing­ly slurp­ing away its most enchant­i­ng (but not exclu­sive) val­ue since the moment they first pushed through those dou­ble-port­holed doors and, grog­gi­ly squint­ing, brought this supreme­ly strange uni­verse into the dank ker­nel-lit­tered cor­ri­dors of our own.
I blame con­tem­po­rary society’s depen­den­cy on com­part­men­tal­iza­tion for my dis­ap­point­ment in The Force Awak­ens, and, assum­ing you’re get­ting on a bit since I’ve kept your atten­tion, you should for yours, too.
I tried my senile best to be pas­sion­ate about “the new Star Wars movie” as Decem­ber approached, but I don’t think I fin­ished a sin­gle web arti­cle on the sub­ject. I had begun my brief return to The Old Repub­lic when the hilt­ed lightsaber image was leaked and dis­tinct­ly remem­ber over­hear­ing some very weary VoIP exas­per­a­tion from my (VERY mid­dle-aged) raid group. “It’s not gonna be the same, but nei­ther was J.J.‘s Star Trek, and I liked it…I think.” And it’s not sur­pris­ing that the con­ver­sa­tion even­tu­al­ly turned to the spe­cif­ic mechan­ics of lightsaber design, chrono­log­i­cal posit­ing, and the like, giv­en the con­text, but it real­ly empha­sized for me the mag­ni­tude of the his­to­ry and nos­tal­gia weigh­ing upon the col­lec­tive dad emo­tion­al bal­ance. A New Hope had the intend­ed effect on me, of course, but couldn’t pos­si­bly imbur­den itself as it had on those who were in the moment. In their psy­che, that expe­ri­ence will be eter­nal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the sense of unlim­it­ed poten­tial their child­hood igno­rance allowed for. These folk who are so often stereo­typed as dis­ci­ples of infor­ma­tion have begun to grow weary, and are des­per­ate­ly seek­ing sanc­tu­ary from the mass of all the knowl­edge they’ve picked up since. Their need made a mar­ket; J.J. made a movie. (Well, six.) Today’s moms and dads find their escape in the Roku, not the bar. The Force Awak­ens and the decade of revival­ist big-bud­geters pre­ced­ing it are the reformed druggie’s drug.
Because we both know you haven’t yet read any­thing you haven’t heard/read pre­vi­ous­ly, I’ve real­ly just been play­ing the role of a (more intel­li­gent) Ghan­di, but we’ve now final­ly arrived at some promis­ing insight into the real issue: this cul­ture is one of fatal con­tra­dic­tion. Despite its his­tor­i­cal pop­u­lar­i­ty, it’s ill-advis­able to want to know by day what you try to for­get at night. Since the PT Cruis­er was allowed to go on sale, you’ve all been caught up in a nos­tal­gic hell­ride that can only end with the ulti­mate destruc­tion of all cul­ture. You now know, defin­i­tive­ly, what role The Force Awak­ens was cre­at­ed to per­form. Depend­ing on whether or not you wel­come the end of every­thing, it fills it…adequately.
There are Bad­die Red Brits and Cool Brown Mod­er­ate Amer­i­cans in their X-Things, mov­ing swift­ly, act­ing in diver­si­ty, and gen­er­al­ly heav­ing moral streaks of ener­gy at the Intol­er­a­ble Impe­ri­al­ists, just as they should! Some­times, they yell and die! But it’s ok, because they’re all just loy­al mar­tyrs mak­ing their oblig­a­tory and patri­ot­ic sac­ri­fice for the rebel­lion against the Queen!
I mean…the Smug Cow­ards in their big tax­a­tion bal­loon!
I must con­fess that I did feel some­thing huge when the lights dimmed, the afore­men­tioned dis­claimer appeared, and the theme’s jar­ring intro­duc­to­ry chord hit me in the face, begin­ning the open­ing crawl. I actu­al­ly smiled invol­un­tar­i­ly, which is tremen­dous­ly embar­rass­ing to admit because the warmth I felt was exact­ly the sen­sa­tion that defined my child­hood expe­ri­ences with the fran­chise. I even had a gigan­tic mod­el of the Mod­er­ate Fash­ion, which would now be worth a lot of mon­ey (or so I’m told,) had it not been so dam­aged in my friv­o­lous stor­age.
Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that frisky feel­ing of adven­ture prompt­ly wisped through the screen’s grasp after the “oblig­a­tory” scrolling yel­low text -> “there’s a big space­ship mov­ing slow­ly” tran­si­tion. Aside from the adorably entranc­ing roman­tic ten­sion between Timid Trai­tor and Sen­ti­men­tal Squat­ter, there was noth­ing very Star Wars about any­thing I saw. The cards were a deceiv­ing gate into a world that was dis­tinct­ly NOT Star Wars. There’s no need to mess about; it’s clear­ly an alter­nate real­i­ty from the one we’ve known. J.J.‘s Star Trek was in such a way, too, but it was explic­it­ly iden­ti­fied as such by the pro­duc­tion. Tra­di­tion­al­ly, Lucas’ IP wouldn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly allow for this exemp­tion, but nobody’s been all that vocal in con­fronting it, to my knowl­edge.
The world expect­ed both of these for­ays to reju­ve­nate the fran­chise, which would serve my argu­ment, were it not for the (much prefer­able) alter­na­tive:
Despite mil­lions of dol­lars worth of pol­ish, they’ve still end­ed up feel­ing like a strange rean­i­ma­tion exper­i­ment.
Your son is DEAD, Georgino. There are some things man would do bet­ter by leav­ing alone and mov­ing on. Imag­ine all that cash and cre­ative tal­ent spent on new ideas instead of des­per­ate attempts to charm and cul­ti­vate the shal­low­est part of movie­go­ers’ spec­trum. So much sweat shed try­ing to recre­ate the new fran­chise bewitch­ment is embar­rass­ing­ly cow­ard­ly when one could just
cre­ate a new fran­chise.