krpalmer: (mimas)
[personal profile] krpalmer
It's been a while since I made a post on a Star Wars-related topic, and as that's still the common thread that binds the people who have me on their friends lists, it seems about time that I work through an idea I've been mulling over for a while now. I suppose it may be an attempt to "defend the indefensible," but I'm willing to try and make it anyway.

In the frenzy to condemn every instant of The Phantom Menace, the opening crawl prompted its own share of sneers, most of them about how a Star Wars movie was underwhelmingly "about" "the taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems" if I remember correctly. Nowadays, of course, bashing has become so degenerate that most of the "off-topic" blows I smack into without expecting seem to be just saying "Jar Jar Binks" with the smug certainty that the name alone condemns everything, start to finish, forever and ever, amen... when they don't just drop back to the Special Editions and complain about the cantina shootout. I've kept contemplating the opening crawl, though, perhaps because I can wonder if, had I been unlucky, it might have caught me as well. On seeing the first "Episode I" trailer, unconstrained by the spy reports I had been careful to avoid beforehand, I let my imagination roam and envisioned a galaxy falling apart in numerous small conflicts, with teams of Jedi (and Sith) out searching for "the chosen one." From that, I supposed that the teenaged girl asking "Are you sure about this?" was an apprentice Jedi, and the other teenaged girl in the white makeup and elaborate costumes was somehow just a background character... And yet, I was lucky enough to be able to decide leaving the theatre that the whole affair had been an elaborate ruse by Palpatine to raise himself to a position of higher power, and even if I wasn't clear on the exact details, not flying off the handle at the comic relief kept me from missing the point altogether.

I began wondering if saying that "Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic" because of a mere dispute over taxation just might be interpreted as a subtle way to suggest that the Republic, in fact, was in pretty good shape at that moment to be troubled by such a minor thing. Then, though, as I was transcribing the opening crawl again to be able to refer to it, a new thought hit me: perhaps I, like everyone else, had been thrown off by the paragraph break. I had already taken note of how "the greedy Trade Federation" was "hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships" (and that seemed very far from the pointless politicking some dismissed the movie for even as others dismissed it for what might be other exaggerations), but the third paragraph mentioned endless debate over "this alarming chain of events." All of a sudden, it seemed that the "turmoil" wasn't just about taxes, but also about the crisis that was blamed on it (while, of course, we in the audience ought to eventually figure out that the Sith are directing things from behind the scenes). Things were shifting on me, and I hadn't even got to the end of the crawl, with news of "two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy," (and it's hard for me to see how that isn't inspiring) being dispatched on a secret mission to resolve matters. I suppose, of course, that it's been easy for a while already for me to conclude that a certain willful ignorance is required to stay mad at the new Star Wars movies. This made it a little easier to believe that.

Date: 2007-10-18 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] may-child.livejournal.com
Frankly, I never understood the "TPM is underwhelmingly about the taxation of trade routes" complaint. It always seemed pretty obvious to me that the taxation dispute was really a cover for the underlying plot, which was the Sith returning to the galaxy, and, unbeknownst to the blissfully (if not willfully) ignorant Senate and Jedi Council, was among them, a seemingly beneficent Senator from the very planet the trade dispute afflicted.

But I guess it's just preferable for many people to sneer about "the boring plot of TPM...since when is SW about trade disputes?" Not only that, but if you try to point that the dispute was NOT the movie's central plot, etc., you get sneered at as "trying to find depth where none is" and "apologizing for the inept Luca$." We just won't admit it, we've been told: "Lucas is not as clever and deep as we wish he was!"

It's pretty frustrating, and all the more so because the bedwetters are bound and determined to ensure that any and all future viewers of the saga hate the prequels, or at least TPM, as much as they do. To paraphrase the much-mocked "you're not like sand" line Anakin Skywalker never uttered in AOTC (what he said was, "I don't like sand"), bedwetters are rough, and coarse, and irritating, and they get in everywhere. If you try to discuss anything with them, fifty more jump on you. It's not worth it.

Doesn't give me much hope for the future -- for the prequels, particularly TPM, ever getting a fair shake, because the bullies, bedwetters, and bashers refuse to let go of a) their hatred; and b) their determination to shove said hatred down the throats of as many people as they can.

Date: 2007-10-19 01:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krpalmer.livejournal.com
I know it can seem tough, but after feeling for a long time as if I was somehow turned the opposite direction from the rest of the world in wanting to "look on the bright side" (and in more cases than just this one), I happened at last on people who shared positive feelings... and for me, something's better than nothing. I don't intend to let go of a spark of hope that there will be other lucky people out there...

Date: 2007-10-19 02:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] may-child.livejournal.com
You have a good attitude about the PT and the you-know-who, krpalmer. :-)

I am getting more and more adept at preserving the same sort of attitude, which is hard-won, as you know from my previous replies to your LJ. But some days, like today, it deserts me. Some days, like today, I can barely even muster dispassion.

BWLS (Bad Week, Long Story)

Date: 2007-10-19 02:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lazypadawan.livejournal.com
TPM wasn't any more about taxation of trade routes than ANH was about stolen Death Star plans. It's a McGuffin.

Date: 2007-10-19 02:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] may-child.livejournal.com
Listen to lazypadawan, you lurking bedwetters should.

Date: 2007-10-19 01:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krpalmer.livejournal.com
Although that does make me wonder a little... penetrate beyond "the taxation of trade routes," and you get to "the rise of Palpatine." With the old movies, it seems a lot of people can read "the Rebellion against the Empire" right off the surface, and it's sometimes tempting to wonder if that "surface" reading is compared to the other, the development of the main characters being considered if at all just to brush past it...

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