This is my first thread and post. Nice to be here at KMC forums.
My question is to whether or not there has been a change in the meaning of Star Wars in popular culture. I watched the prequels first and grew up as they were being made. So, I don't know what influence the original trilogy had. But something I noticed is that Star Wars now is a much more video-game-oriented franchise. What Star Wars means today to kids (and the general public) is lighsabers, jedi, sith, force lighning/push, clones, droids, blasters etc. all fighting in some type of video-game environment. While in the original trilogy what mattered the most was the story and characters. Star Wars was Luke, Leia and Han and their efforts to survive and later defeat the empire. Now Star Wars is a series of video games, CGI cartoons and toys. Star Wars has become something physical rather than mysterious and intangible.
What are kids going to grow up thinking Star Wars is with CGI cartoon?
It's seems to me that what was a great film trilogy has been transformed into a money-making franchise cow.
Was it always like this or did it start at the birth of the prequels?
You're right. And all those toys and video games made my childhood so much fun.
I remember getting my green Qui-Gon Jin Lightsaber and Darth Maul's double edged sword on my 10th birthday. My friend Jesse and I played Phantom Menace so many countless hours.
I would sell out too if I had the chance to make millions or billions of dollars by making flahsy movies, toys and video games that countless children around the world adored.
And for Charlie....well before the PT, their were isles in Walmart and Toys R Us dedicated to Star Wars merchandise. I remember distinctly all the Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker Lightsabers, the toy models of the Millennium Falcon, the Han, Chewie, C-3PO, Leia, Vader, Luke, Emperor action figures...etc. There's no doubt the PT helped revive their toys, but the OT is not guilt free of selling out either.
In fact, only 2/3rds of the OT was dedicated to story and characters.
ROTJ was botched by Ewoks so they could make a profit on Toys.
The only difference is people refuse to fault anything OT related because it's on a precious pedestal.
They're great movies, but like the prequels, they're far from perfect. ESB was maybe as close to perfection as you can get, and I myself, feel that movie is just a tad bit overrated.
Last edited by Sith Master X on Dec 21st, 2011 at 05:12 AM
But the OT still had obviously the toys and lots of video games and cartoon spin offs. cartoons were "the droids" and "ewoks"
and video games in the arcade and home consoles, atari empire strikes back, nintendo star wars and empire, super nintendo "all 3 films" pc games like x-wing and tie-fighter and x-wing alliance. and these were before the PT came into being.
That was what I was saying. SW in a way launched the entire idea of merchandising. On this scale at least. But it would not have worked without a successful film. Today a lot of publicity and toys preceed the films creating a lot of expectations that cause people to go and see a film, good or bad. I think that is a big difference between the OT and PT and their toys.
If that caused the PT films to disappoint... I dunno. I just blame Lucas.
(Sigh) The argument that will never end. Star Wars has become just like politics or religion to some people.
News flash: the toys were around back in the 1970's and 1980's and they were huge! George Lucas didn't build his fortune on his slice of the profits from the first Star Wars alone; he took less up front money from Fox in exchange for the merchadising rights, something they (and no other studio) had vision for at the time. For all the box office mega millions Fox pocketed from the first film, that decision put billions in the pocket of George Lucas! And gave him the rights to all things Star Wars from that point on. Giving him independence like they did, it's a mistake no other studio has repeated since.
So stop complaining about Lucas and his toys from the PT. They have always been around. And if he cared about the money and nothing else, he would have turned the films over to someone else after ROTJ, and collected cheques. Instead he put Star Wars on the shelf and went & raised his children, until he felt ready to return. Find any other producer out there, except for Speilberg, who turns down money for control like that.
And Lucas does care. His interview in 'The Beginning' documentary on TPM DVD, he tells the interviewer how this is not like making a movie -"This is like a marriage. I'm going to devote years of my life to this thing, so I have to be in love with it."
My 12- year old nephew and his friends are all huge Star Wars fans, and love everything - the cartoon series, the OT and the PT. This generation of fans are thankfully replacing the cranky old geezers who dispute everything Lucas does.
(If they aren't fans anymore, then why do they keep hanging around? Do they think they can pull a coup someday?)
"Everyone else may be an a**hole, but I'm not!" - Harlan Ellison
Last edited by roughrider on Dec 24th, 2011 at 07:49 PM
I am going to have to agree with LanceWindu here, he is right about the shift in focus of the franchise. Even though there were toys and other merchandise back then (its reasonable as every popular franchise has merchandise) the main focus was for the films themselves. The point of Star Wars was creating great films and continuing the story of Luke, Han, Leia and Darth Vader and less about the merchandise. Well, as some have pointed out at least until the Ewoks. Now, what the goal appears to me is to make Star Wars into every possible media and shove in as much stuff into the movies to make toys.
But aside from the merchandise aspect, what's more interesting to me and this was my original question, is what is the meaning of Star Wars today and has it changed since the OT? And by 'meaning' I mean what is it that the general public thinks about when they hear about Star Wars. Do they think of the movies and the story. Or do they picture cartoons and toys for kids. Is Star Wars something more for kids now (in the general view of the public)?
I dunno. SW is grounded pretty solidly in American pop culture. But it must be said that most iconic SW imagery is from the OT and hardly any of it from the PT (Maul being an exception maybe... and Jar Jar for different reasons). So that is it's meaning. It's part of life I guess.
The expansion to me makes it all more general, makes SW lose it's specialness. It's everywhere: it's toys, it's cartoons, whatever. But I do feel SW isn't exploring the world of SW really. In Star Trek they always explored a variety of moral dillemma's set in somewhat different arena's. I'm not a big ST fan, but at least there was some variation on typical ST themes.
With Clone Wars of even the PT there's not much exploration of character anymore. It's just stuff... like watching Spiderman of Superman cartoons. It has gotten very mainstream IMHO. Or maybe I should say: ordinary. It certainly isn't very striking anymore... not like the OT, says the old grumpy geezer. I thought Avatar (despite it's obvious flaws in the very shallow villains) was more striking that the entire PT. And that sucks.
I think very much along the same lines as roughrider here. As a film student myself, I know how much a director and storyteller is devoted to their films. And if we were all self made successful filmmakers, in position to fund our own films so we can make a film the way "we want them to be made" without studio execs hanging over your heads.......if all that funding was possible from a business perspective with the help of toy sales, I'd be hard pressed to imagine that none of us would do the same "selling out" that Lucas apparently does. And whenever GL does something to make a profit, it's a mortal sin.
Back in the 70's and early 80's, the internet didn't exist as a premium source for negativity either. All it takes is a little genuine research on SW history, and you would find that back during that era Star Wars received very mixed reviews from critics. ANH had mixed reactions, along with Empire and ROTJ. They got ripped apart for having too many puppets, special effects, and lack of human emotion. In many ways, they are right, because the fact that these films classically represent an old fad from an older time period, allows for people to miss some of the flaws those films had when applied to modern day cinema. Sites like Rotten Tomatoes took down a ton of negative reviews once the SE was released and replaced them with new reviews of the SE since the SW hype was going strong again and people were reliving their SW nostalgia on the big screen. Not to mention, now that time and several years had passed, SW had molded itself into a historical gemstone in cinema history. It is funny though, how on Rotten Tomatoes today, the majority of the critics actually like the Prequels. The good reviews outnumber the negative ones.
Point is, people couldn't get within a community back then and complain the way they can now, so negativity didn't spread as easily as it could have. Had the internet existed back then you can bet there would be the same number of people complaining about bad acting, dialogue, and Ewoks as there are now people complaining about the PT acting, Jar Jar and how George Lucas is a childhood rapist. Once a theory on the internet gets popular enough, it becomes accepted as truth by the mass audience. Ever wonder where "Keanu Reeves is a bad actor" spawned from? A viral video on the internet. After that video became popular enough, everyone was doing Keanu Reeves jokes "woah!"...and once the jokes started it propelled from there into "he's the worst actor to ever live." All because of the fricken internet. Just watch the movie "Speed" and tell me he did a bad job. His acting was superb..and he carried the entire movie on his shoulders from start to finish.
I'm amused at what I read on the SW "Facebook page" People are crying already about how they are gonna have to go spend their money making Lucas more rich with the abomination that is TPM in 3D. Once again, people deluding themselves into acting like they are being forced into a theater to spend money on a movie they claim to desperately hate so much. Funny thing is, 9/10 people complaining about it will be the first ones in line to see it next month, guaranteed, and they'll be the first ones in line to see Red Tails as well.
Speaking of which, Red Tails is gonna get crapped on just because GL has his named attached to it...kind of like KOTCS. Don't blame Speilberg or Koepp, blame Lucas. Aliens, I've never seen a movie about aliens before. What a crazy idea. Well, in the event that Red Tails is a good movie, we all need to give GL the praise and credit...even if he didn't write or direct it. He just used 58 million dollars of his own money to fund it.....but, like I said, people will blame Lucas. "Those 58 million dollars made this film terrible because it came from GL's fat pocket! If it were Peter Jackson's 58 million this movie would have been great."
Just wait till GL passes away someday. And then everyone will shift from their negativity and start thanking him for all the wonderful SW memories he helped to create. I can just see the comments now. "You were a true visionary George. Even though the PT didn't live up to all my expectations, they still gave me many fond childhood memories. The film industry has lost a pioneer." Your classic example of a "hate me while I'm here...love me when I'm gone" sort of guy.
Point is...people love and hate these movies for the most part, for all the wrong reasons. I can't believe anyone truly loves ESB the most because it has the best plot, the best acting, or the best dialogue "all the things everyone says the PT doesn't have." People love ESB because of it's "tone." The entire film has the most "consistent feel" to it. It feels more "grown up" and the colors of the movie, from the dark and somber blues of Dagobah, the icy white of Hoth, and the golden/reds of Bespin create a movie with a very balanced tone. And I think that's what the PT lacked in a lot of areas. They were different, and had a different tone. They weren't the awful travesty they are made out to be by people who have a difficult time accepting something different.
But, these are just my thoughts, making the same humble points I've probably argued a million times over already. lol So I hope no one is offended. I think I'm done with it from here on out, because I don't know what more I can possibly say that I haven't said a hundred times alredy. Yes, the PT has short comings and they are flawed....but JP said it best..."don't care, love the movies period." My thoughts exactly. Considering that people still particiapte on a forum section dedicated to movies they hate, I'm willing to bet there's a part of people that feel the same way, but are just short of admitting it.
Last edited by Sith Master X on Jan 11th, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Two things are slightly flawed in your reasoning there.
1. Yes, Star Wars DID get mixed reviews... BUT BUT BUT from the outset ANH was a world wide phenomenon... I live in Holland and it took a few months before SW came out here. Holland was never a big SW country but even then the buzz of SW reached our dinky little country. It was supposed to be the bomb (we're talking 70s here, no internet at all). When Empire came out it was the most anticipated movie in a long long time. And Yoda got a lot of praise.
Now, simply put: the PT had a lot of anticipation, but it was far from groundbreaking. But technologically as well as dramatically.
2. The other poitn is George Lucas. You say we shouldn't JUST blame him. But people like Koepp and Spielberg also make films that exceed this Lucaslike characitaure of what once was a great way of film making (and it was: Star Wars, Indy movies -> groundbreaking stuff on all counts: story, technology and budgetting). Spielberg does very serious stuff (schindler's list in black and white (!!), Saving Private Ryan, Munich... he does comedy (Catch me if you Can), animation (TinTin) and now War Horse and Lincoln). Like Scorsese Koepp and Spielberg try other dimensions to filmmaking. Lucas seems stuck to me in one way and it just doesn't hack it anymore. I wish he had gone and start making the 'small, artistic movies' he said he would be making once SW was done. That would show if he still has that touch he once demonstrated so masterfully.
I agree, but in all fairness it was a lot easier for ST to do this because they laid all the groundwork in the original TV series first, then expanded into movies - retaining the core nucleus of the crew. After that the other series' TNG, Voyager, DS9 etc. were able to expand the universe further.
ST has stagnated too, just because they've re-imagined it doesn't change the fact they'll be pilfering ideas/characters/situations from the known ST universe with every film they make.