Thursday, March 23, 2017

Star Wars and the Return of the Pulp Tradition

Star Wars is now the great juggernaut of Science Fiction. Its presence, influence, and reach surpass all other contenders- yes, even over Star Trek. It's been like that for decades now, and the overall business that George Lucas built up and sold off a few years ago prove that fact conclusively. There are consequences to this multi-generational phenomenon, above and beyond the Oroborus behavior of fans not going outside the brand and thus becoming increasingly illiterate as to what historical and cultural developments informed the creation of the property.

We are now at the point where this illiteracy reaches the premiere products of the franchise. Both The Force Awakens and Rogue One (and the Han Solo film appears to be) were tone-deaf retreads that didn't pick up, or feel at all like the original films, until the third act- and then, if not for fan-service that sentiment wouldn't exist either. As seems to be the case, and has been for some time, the claim of these films being "official fan-fic" is accurate, apt, and devastating in its truth.

Because those now creating for the franchise, with a few exceptions, lack Lucas' education on mythology and background in pulp fiction we're in the copy-of-a-copy problem of continued degradation from the original due to a Cargo Cult mentality. This is not a corporate directive; this is the result of fans growing up, joining the business, and ascending up the ranks to where they are now at the helm- but they don't comprehend why they're doing what they're doing or how it works, for all their experience in dealing with it.

For now, the top-tier offerings will still meet business expectations; the folks doing the selling do know what they're doing, how it works, and why it works even if those making the stuff to be sold are lacking in those respects. That won't continue for long, and we're already seeing signs of this in reports over the intended story for the stand-alone Young Solo film. Rather than despair, or freak out, or whatever most fans will likely do I know what should be done- what some of you are already doing.

You're making better Star Wars than the Mouse is, because you're already going back to the same roots that Lucas did and making it your own as he did, and thus reviving what formerly was the norm in Science Fiction: adventures of a Romantic flair, filled with action, heroism, exoticism, and all of the other elements that audiences now reflexively go to Star Wars to get from their Science Fiction. (This is what drove the change in Star Trek in recent films away from being the pre-eminent "Men With Screwdrivers" form of Science Fiction; Paramount wanted that Star Wars audience.)

If there is an irony to be found in this situation, it is in the trends seen in the narratives of the active show (Rebels) and the primary film trilogy; both of them have themes of returning to the source of their cultures to find strength in the face of a powerful--but increasingly soullesst--threat. By reconnection to those roots, and the truth of existence therein, the smaller and materially-weaker upstarts can and will defeat the threat because they beat them at the Moral Level of War first and foremost. Again, those who deny you your culture and history dream of your extinction.

Like we're doing now, with the Pulp Revolution and the Superversive Movement and so on. Today Tor, tomorrow the Mouse, and onward to the return of our culture to Civilization- and the annihilation of Boskone.

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