Sunday, December 20, 2015

I Come To Bury Star Wars, Not To Praise It..

Dear Star Wars,

Yes. I am aware that I am speaking to you in a voice that denotes your existence not unlike that of a sentient being with its own soul and sense of free will. And it isn't without merit. There are a great many things I must thank you for as someone who has grown up with your presence ever near, even when paths led you astray, and allowed relations to fray with many the galaxy over. There are a great many things you taught me over the course of my life, and it is within the walls of this personal site that I am at last able to happily willing to place a date of expiration next to your name. Oh, please do not feel sorrow for such a choice. What I am saying? Your existence and spirit does more than well enough without me, especially now that you have an entire new generation of admirers and friends to keep you company deep into history.

And please do not think that this is completely borne out of some angst-ridden schism between you and I. Far from it. While we've certainly had our ups and downs over the years, your very role in the adventures of my days goes so much deeper than an attraction to all effects special, or the promise of escape from an existence surrounded by oceans of sand in every direction. You sheltered, and inspired me when those who would hope to be a beacon flickered. As a child of divorce, your earliest tales informed and comforted me with notions of both toil and redemption that few other grand stories ever could. You helped me understand that even the most forthright of heroes had their dark days, and that we are often placed firmly between angels and demons. You helped me understand myths beyond those bound by a cross, and illustrated the conflict that makes for the bulk of my life. And that good was a responsibility, and not merely a face to wear for benefit. That light and dark were but facets of the whole. It was through you that I became interested in stories, storytelling, human psychology, philosophy, metaphor, and gained a yearning for writing and teaching.

And as we at last witness the first official new installment of your saga, a part of me feels that it is more than time to step away, and to seek tales anew while markets readjust, rendering you into something wholly different from what you once were. Again, this is no slight onto you. Far from it. But part of me reside deeply within the fleshy matter of human connection. Elements that drew me most to your fire. As we watched technology and visual mastery evolve, as we have also seen storytelling evolve into new forms, for both better and worse. After seven features, several television films, animated series, novels, merchandise, and a holiday special, I cannot help but feel that this is all I ever truly needed from you. The notion of a friend for all time, while a genuinely sweet and noble ideal, is far from a realistic one. Ships must inevitably disembark, and tides must again tug and sway. Otherwise, there is always the possibility of a relationship finding fissure. Fissures that often rear themselves after too much exposure.

There are also matters of why you remain here, and why it's so important that you tale see itself reinterpreted, and it isn't always for the most earnest or personal reasons. In fact, this is perhaps where I am most willing to depart. Any good thing in life can ultimately turn against the very ideas and feelings that made it so important to my personal evolution. Much like a child growing up and candy lover, at last faced with a genetic predisposition to diabetes. There is a certain point where our greatest joys can give way to harmful repercussions.

Looking at your history as a global crowd-pleaser, I can definitely see why many out there feel that is is you who could save the landscape from great change. But I also believe that change is paramount for life to evolve. So to see your soul taken wholesale in the name of saving a previous business model, a part of me cannot help but sigh in mild dismay. And while it is indeed true that a lot of Episode VII:The Force Awakens, carries with it an aura of what made you so special, it too harbors the decay and facade of a loved one, long dead and shambling about under well-meaning, but misguided control by powers out to rescue us from the current day. Again, while a lot of the heart flesh remains, there is barely enough to allow it to move emotive or intellectual powers that once seemed so easy to access. We've been here before, and a mere few augmentations here do very little to hide the little brother wearing grandmother's glasses, dancing about in strange voices, trying in vain to make us smile the same way again. I do care and thank you, but it seems that studios and a dying multiplex infrastructure needs you a lot more than my heart does.

It's also deeply important to me that people see the face of you, not so much the mask. I still see so many enamored with the idea of you, rather than your ideas. The brand, and not so much the personality within. While I do understand the appeal, I cannot help but feel that there was always a great deal more to you during those early days. It's true. There is no going back. But if your legends cannot offer new and challenging responses to your soul, then all we're doing is looping. When all we probably needed to do, is look back. (Provided your father was willing to allow us to do this unreservedly - I know this is something of a sticking point.

Apologies for bringing this up.

We need numerous gardens to explore, not merely several pickings from the same batch. Homogeneity, even from you, sounds rather unhealthy.

So while I do intend to be near you for one more film, I would love to very much make my intentions more than clear. There are parts of me that are truly warmed inside by your new cast of characters. They are charming, energetic, and come from an earnest place. Make no mistake, these are worthy heirs to your legacy. And even though I really do wish to travel alongside them a little more, there is a feeling that there is little else you could possibly share with me that I am not already familiar with or understand. You are the most fanciful of bedtime stories. You grant people light when so much seems so dark. Sometimes, you're willing to illuminate that these things aren't so alien to one another. But it's hard to imagine art and expression working themselves through with a necessary amount of freedom confined to a single myth instead as opposed to the broadness of genre. The powers in charge would like to think this is an answer, but I cannot agree to it. You mean a lot to me, even when parts of me have denied it in the past. It's true. You were a spark that led to a flame. But the wood has neared its end, and I need new elements offering with them fresh and healthy amounts of oxygen. I'm only looking out for my health you see. I only wish to do good by what you imbued within me.

Even if it means leaving you behind soon.

Trust that I'll always keep you close, even if I'm not there.   

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Status Of The Force: Some Personal Thoughts

I hadn't initially planned to spill anything about my thoughts on next week's events, but since many are airing out how important the Star Wars saga has been for them, it suddenly felt right to place them into a snug place like this. Like so many kids of the seventies and eighties, the original trilogy holds a powerful sway upon my relationship to all things genre. And as I grew older, discovering just how much it carried within it legacies of mythology enriched my appreciation for them more. Be it through the mountains of merchandise even young first generations experienced throughout the early 1980s, or those hopeful days before the release of Episode I in the latter 1990s, the flirtation with longer exposure to the world of space knights, hyperdrives, and galactic empires seemed more like a junkie's promise than an organic and necessary expansion of a beloved universe. 

But to hold them in such high esteem while the medium of film has evolved into a sort of mass production machine, coldly aiming for those nostalgic nerves in hopes of igniting a new generation, parts of me grapple with the notion that we have moved so far beyond this spark, that it often feels redundant. And to that end, rife with the ability to strip thin bones that would sooner provide the blood cells necessary to spur further discussion between kids. Talks that even a small me was willing to have with fellow kids, and even adults about the nature of good and evil, themes of fate, and questions about revolution. Perhaps this isn't the most common person's view of Star Wars, but it was mine as far back as grade school. I wanted to know why our relationship with nature decided where we were as people. A notion fathoms beyond the average kid who often found themselves enamored with fantastical tech, and grand scale space warfare. The mystery of the force, and how it binds all things was what granted a pull for me in the wake of spiritual chasm that were the revelations at the end of Empire Strikes Back. Where even the wisest could find themselves in the wrong for lying. Coming out of a separation after parents divorce, and seeing in both film and in real life how adults couldn't hold to their word despite their assumed station was a pivotal door for me to walk through at an early age. And perhaps this granted the series more depth than I was able to comprehend at the time.

That's right. A part of me feels like there's little else more Star Wars can truly offer except for new variations of the same thing. And unless the model is willing to take some bold leaps away from the tired and gunshy positioning the departed George Lucas undertook as far back as Return Of The Jedi, it may be a venture unwilling to do more than cycle endlessly. What made the films so special to me, were the operatic touches, the relationships, and a clear understanding that heroism can quite easily morph into villiany. It's meat and potatoes grand myth. So perhaps the only real way to acknowledge the most important updates the saga, is to look sharply at the new cast, and to celebrate the shift in focus that potentially will reside. It's true that there is real, hard hitting possibility in the series' new heroes.

But what I'm truly hopeful for, is a glimmer of revolutionary honesty beyond the blasters and destruction of machines. That our heroes will indeed observe a new world with unprecedented potential. To see past the demographics, and offer up means to respond to mythology of the past. Star Wars, served as an important window to what became my love for anime, classic westerns, samurai cinema, as well as the works of Joseph Campbell and Carlos Castaneda. So a part of me is not sure we were ever meant to linger in one place. New myths can offer new bents to classic tales, and perhaps illuminate truths that often the most rudimentary stories often find themselves unequipped to explore. Which isn't to say that I don't believe this is possible. But there is a doubt that there is enough room, or hook in one universe to do so. I would very much like to be proven wrong, but as it stands, Star Wars has become more a place of comfort, rather than a means to challenge. It's a reliable old pal at this point.

But just because a friend invites you over, doesn't mean you should overstay your welcome.