Comments on: The Force Re-Awakens: Star Wars, Repetition, and Nostalgia, Part 2 Responses to Media and Culture Fri, 12 Feb 2016 19:35:04 +0000 hourly 1 By: Jon Moon Wed, 13 Jan 2016 16:53:34 +0000 There are a few problems here. I will freely admit that we tend to give some sequels a lot of leeway in being reiterative of their parent material, but some of your examples speak volumes about the difference between that and what went on in Episode VII. To wit:

“When we return to Godfather II and find out that it’s still a gangster film (yawn) obsessed with family members (oh, how original) who sometimes lie to each other and operate behind each other’s backs (never heard that before), while jockeying for power with other families or contenders (ripoff!), is this ‘fan fiction’?”

This is an impossibly vague description of the plot of a film. If the complaints about Episode VII were that it was still a space western obsessed with force wielders who sometimes come to blows with each other and engage in a massive struggle for control of a galaxy that borders on full-scale interplanetary war, this would have been a great analogy. But that’s not the complaint. The complaint is that the elements within that overarching narrative–the young desert-dweller with the fated past and powerful force abilities, the evil galactic empire with the planet-destroying super-weapon and the leadership of a mysterious and evil hologram of a decrepit old man, the thrilling flight of an X-Wing Squadron into battle against the single (relatively) small weak spot of said planet-destroying super-weapon–all of these elements were employed in almost exactly the same ways as in Episode IV.

I can accept that the emotional resonance of Han’s death is different from that of Obi-Wan’s. That’s a reasonable thing to say. Had that moment been a single referential moment (albeit a variant one) within a film that was otherwise substantially different from its predecessor, it would have been a very satisfying call-back to Episode IV. As it stood, however, it felt like one more repeated voice in a chorus of echoes.

By: Willis Tue, 12 Jan 2016 02:06:12 +0000 Take this with a grain of salt, since I’m no StarWarologist (I literally forget, have no image of, Death Star 2.0 mentioned above…) but after re-seeing “A New Hope” recently, followed by “Awakens”, I offer some thoughts about how the above seems unsatisfying…

Perhaps the problem with ‘The Force {Re]awakens” is that what repeats, what Mr. Gray’s “slipshod” critics are pointing to, can’t be lined up well with Mr. Gray’s instances of (fruitful) repetition.

The relationship between the Death Star in “A New Hope” and the Starkiller Base in “Awakens” is not like the relationship between earlier and later James Bond weaponized cars – because the weaponized planets are, well, cosmic – are overdetermined metonyms for Evil As Such – rather than cool personal gadgets making yet another cameo appearance, along for the ride, which are very far from providing the basis for the orgasmic climax and moral organization of the movie as a whole, as the weaponized planets do.

On the other hand, Mr. Gray’s other analogy, from the Godfather II, for the repetition we are confronted with in the new Star Wars, is also philosophically unsatisfying. Mr Gray: “When we return to Godfather II and find out that it’s still… obsessed with family members (oh, how original) who sometimes lie to each other and operate behind each other’s backs (never heard that before), while jockeying for power with other families or contenders (ripoff!), is this “fan fiction”?” It’s not fan fiction because the fatal continuation of these themes is a theme in its own right. But the Death Star/Starkiller Base continuity is not coherently theorized as a continuation of theme.

What is that continuity, then? I haven’t read the “slipshod” critics’ cries, but I still think it’s important to militate against this Star Wars (as against “A New Hope”). Mr. Gray’s post gives us the elements of a more succinct takedown, more damning than what he recommends: when “Awakens” in effect positions it’s Death Star 3.0 as the thematizing of a continuation of themes (like the family dynamics of the Godfather movies) we instead feel how it is really much more like the case of the Bond weaponized cars. These are, after all, gadgets (we now realize, watching “Awakens”) even if they can destroy (other) planets – and the First Order inhabits its vehicle in much the same way Bond complacently straps into his comfortable machine of your choice.

The audience is being taught to expect that a fundamental drama-generating element, a “theme of themes” is, and can be – a gadget. (Perhaps in the same way we do in fact fetishize our gadgets. It would be as though The Smartphone was a phoenix-like cosmically regenerating structuring principle of the moral and political realms…There is something deeply comforting about this reappearance of the Death Star…)

“Awakens” is like a Bond movie that thinks Bond movies were only ever about Bond’s car/gadget IN THE SAME WAY THAT the Godfather movies were always only about families. “Reawakens” is fan fiction of The First Order.

By: Vrej Wed, 06 Jan 2016 20:56:11 +0000 Another great article. To be fair though, Finn didn’t initially quite know how to destroy the base. He lied in order to get a trip down to the surface to rescue Rey.