Saturday, November 25, 2017

Star Wars Saturday: Luke and Leia's Losses in Episode IV


Everyone calls the original Star Wars an amazing film from start to finish. The effects were revolutionary, the story was entertaining, and it was exactly what the world needed when it was released.

However, people don't usually call it a perfect movie. It has a few flaws, whether you look at the original or the special edition.

One of those flaws is how heartbroken Luke gets over the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a man he's known for about two days, while Leia seeminly has the galaxy's shortest grief period after her entire planet is destroyed.

So why the discrepancy?

When we look at the real-world implications, Leia gets less screen time than Luke and Han in the movie. While the boys are off blowing up the Death Star, she is stuck in Yavin IV staring at readouts and hearing the battle. Although she is shown to be a snarky badass, she still doesn't get enough to do - especially at the very end of the movie.

In the 1970s the feminist movement was going strong, but there were a lot of hurdles to jump in the entertainment world to give female heroines their chance to shine. As a result, all of Leia's grief has to take place off screen.

(And she does grieve - in the canonical book Star Wars: The Princess, the Soundrel, and the Farm Boy we see a bit of Leia's mourning as she waits for her own execution in cell block 2187.)

But let's step into the galaxy for the rest of this article. People find it ridiculous that Leia is comforting Luke in the Millennium Falcon after Obi-Wan's death, especially after what she's been through. (There's even several memes about it.) But Leia is doing exactly what she would be doing at that time. She has endured her own grief, but was forced to do it in private based on her situation. When she sees Luke dealing with it, she empathizes and knows to be that presence that he needs. She's not internally thinking, "Yeah, buddy, let's cry over a guy you barely knew" or something like that. She understands, and she comforts.

Luke has only known Obi-Wan for a day or two, yet his grief is real. His shock at his new mentor's death is shocking and hearbreaking. Why?

I like to think it's because Obi-Wan wasn't a new presence in Luke's life. Just like his aunt and uncle, Obi-Wan has always been there. In his case, though, his presence was increased thanks to the Force.

The Force has shown itself as something that can sense the presence of other people, whether it's Luke sensing Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi or Leia sensing Luke in The Empire Strikes Back. Obi-Wan has been with Luke since he was born. Even though Obi-Wan was in the shadows, his presence was something that was always there for Luke. Luke didn't even realize it.

But when Obi-Wan was cut down, that presence (in its corporeal form) disappeared. It's like having a life vest or floaties on when you swim, but then they are taken away and your confidence in the water is gone.

This isn't to say that Obi-Wan completely disappears from Luke's life. But when Obi-Wan becomes one with the Force, he returns in a completely different manner. One that Luke doesn't really understand until The Empire Strikes Back. 

For the Skywalker twins, loss is always present in some form - from the death of their mother to the death of their best friend. In all three movies, the two of them share comfort in each other as things around them crumble. With all my heart, I hope they reunite in The Last Jedi, because that sibling bond is so strong after years of love, trust, and comfort.

My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!


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The State of Star Wars Fandom

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Star Wars Saturday: The State of Fandom


It seems like every day there are more and more people who are joining the Star Wars fandom. Some join with mild interest and others dive headfirst into everything on which they can put their hands.

There are so many entry points for Star Wars fans, too. People don't just have to join up because they've watched the movies. They can join because of television, comics, books, video games, theme parks, and even music!

Star Wars didn't always enjoy this massive size. Thirty years ago after Return of the Jedi had made its way into theaters, there was nothing else. There was a comic for a while, but the most ardent Star Wars fan had a hard time keeping the dream alive.

That certainly isn't the case anymore! While this is a lovely problem to have, it also has turned into a bit of a problem. Longtime fans of Star Wars have gotten upset at some of the new entries into Star Wars canon because they don't like it. They take their displeasure onto social media and rant and rave about how Star Wars is being "ruined" by the people at Lucasfilm, or a certain writer, or a certain group.

I think the state of Star Wars fandom is that it is in a large amount of flux. Star Wars is looking to reach every single person they can, from children to grandparents and women to men and diversity of all kinds. Many people embrace this inclusiveness, but others declare that it isn't "their Star Wars." And instead of just disliking it on their own, they attack those that manufacture it, or - even worse - attack the people who actually like it.

This negativity, thankfully, has spawned a strong rebuttal. People have spoken up in defense of those new Star Wars releases, like Forces of Destiny. They have embraced Star Wars and have come up with two incredibly important points:

1. Star Wars is for everyone, and

2. you don't have to like everything in Star Wars!

People are different. We all have different likes and dislikes. Because Star Wars wants to cater to everyone, it will pump out content for everyone. And people just won't like stuff. I tried for four seasons to like Star Wars Rebels but just couldn't. Some of the Star Wars comics were strange.

This issue is making a point to criticize fans of that stuff. I can state my reasons, but if I were to take a tweet that states "I ship Kanan and Hera so much" and say "You're such an idiot for liking that show," that is a problem. And that's what some people do (and worse).

The easy thing to do is respect what people like and don't like. If you don't like it, that's fine. Like I said, you don't have to like everything in Star Wars! Just promote what you like and let others promote what they like.

Let's face it: if Star Wars fans keep complaining about stuff that Star Wars does - are you really a Star Wars fan?


My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!


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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Star Wars Saturday: The Disney Parks and Star Wars


Since Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012, the presence of Star Wars at the Disney Parks around the world has steadily increased. Each new item added has only improved upon the Star Wars brand, in my opinion, and helps fans to immerse themselves as we've wanted to for so long.

There are growing pains with every transition, but I have loved all the changes that Star Wars has brought to the Disney Parks Let's take a little look at how things have changed:

Pre-Lucasfilm Acquisition

Star Wars became a permanent resident in the Disney Parks in 1987, when Star Tours premiered in Disneyland. Two years later, the attraction opened in Tokyo Disneyland and MGM Studios. It was a simple trip to Endor that goes awry thanks to your terrible pilot, Rex.

That iteration of the attraction lasted until 2011, when the simulation became randomized and guests could visit two planets while trying to sneak a Rebel spy through Imperial space. 

The attraction has always been a lot of fun, and the update in 2011 was perfect. (Plus they say that the re-opening of the attraction was where George Lucas suggested that Disney buy Lucasfilm!)

The Jedi Training Academy was brought in as a Star Wars Weekend attraction, and parents loved it so much that they made it a year-round attraction with four or five shows a day. In the past few years the plot has turned from a pre-Episode III Jedi Academy to a pre-Episode IV Jedi-on-the-run story to its current mix of every era. 

Another Star Wars part of the parks was Star Wars Weekends, a Hollywood Studios special event that took place from 3-5 weekends in May and June each year. Along with featured hosts like James Arnold Taylor and Ashley Eckstein, there were various Star Wars movie actors and voice actors that did a motorcade and meet-and-greet throughout the days. There were a few special shows, some character meet-and-greets around, and a famous party to close out the days called Hyperspace Hoopla, where Star Wars characters danced to non-Star Wars songs. 

The Weekend was a really fun experience - I got to do it once and had a lot of fun. Eventually it was phased out after 2015, which was disappointing for a lot of fans. But there was a reason it left: Disney was making room for more Star Wars!

2012-2018

On the heels of The Force Awakens came a few new Star Wars opportunities in the Disney parks. Instead of the lighthearted, occasionally-self-parodying shows we were used to, the Star Wars brand brought in was a bit more serious and reverential of the IP. 

In Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, there have been two Star Wars nighttime spectaculars: Symphony of the Stars and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. The former was a nice little fireworks show that took place behind the Chinese Theater and had John Williams music attached. However, the nighttime show that started last year uses a ton of projections on the Chinese Theater, lasers, and fireworks combined with that iconic score and audio clips. I have seen it on YouTube and really hope to see in person soon. 


There are several shows that take place throughout the day as well. The first takes place completely on the center stage in the Studios: Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away. The show brings lots of familiar characters to the center stage, including lots of droids and villains. The second is the March of the First Order, where First Order stormtroopers march down the boulevard with Captain Phasma at the lead. 

In Disneyland and Hollywood Studios there is an area called Star Wars Launch Bay, which is basically a Star Wars exhibit with various props (movie-used and replicas) from the movies and television shows, along with various meet-and-greets. There are Jawas, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and Kylo Ren, and they're all worth meeting at least once, if not just to understand why Darth Vader terrifies the galaxy so much without even having a face that moves and contorts. Stormtroopers occasionally march around the area, promoting the First Order dominance and seeking out Resistance spies. 

The Future

After 2018 things start to change drastically. In Disneyland and Hollywood Studios an entire area of each park will transport people to a galaxy far, far away. It's called Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. This land will mimic The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that Universal Studios produced to near perfection in their American parks back in 2010. It is a highly immersive area, where not only the scenery, but also the cast members will transport you to a planet on the Unknown Rim, where there will be cantinas where you can eat, stormtroopers with which you can scuffle, and a certain ship that you can spot, tour, and even fly! (Hint...it's the Millennium Falcon.)

This was announced a few years ago, and last April Disney Imagineering released its first full look at the land from a microscopic scale. This is subject to change, but what was shown has looked amazing. My only worry is that they underestimate how many people are going to try to crowd into this land as soon as it opens. 

What's more, there has been a single announcement so far of a hotel that will also be greatly immersed in Star Wars lore, and resort guests will be assigned not only a room, but also a character that they will play in the resort. Not much is known about this right now, but it's going to be incredibly expensive and incredibly amazing. 


The presence of Star Wars at the Disney Parks started out a lighthearted, almost self-parodying display when Star Tours first opened in the 1980s. But now it is grabbing hold of canon and making it possible for every Star Wars fan to actually be in Star Wars. 

Get excited, people. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Star Wars Saturday: Fears and Star Wars Episode III


I would not be a passionate die-hard Star Wars fan if I didn't have fears and trepidation about the fictional galaxy that I know and love. I've blogged about my worries a few times, and I'm glad to see that most of my fears were unfounded. The cast as a whole has been fantastic, and it has bridged the trilogies really well. It has spawned a whole new generation of fans, and I geek out a little bit whenever I see a kid dressed up as a Star Wars character.

My current fear is story-related instead of production-related, which I guess is a good thing. Amidst all of the production hullabaloo that plagued Rogue One and was plaguing Solo and Episode IX this summer, director Rian Johnson has simply put together a movie with no controversy.

So what am I worried about?

I'm worried about the status of my favorite character, Luke Skywalker.

At the end of Return of the Jedi Luke proclaims, "I am a Jedi, like my father before me." He denies the Emperor the chance to improve upon Darth Vader and embraces his Jedi heritage.

I always loved that Luke's journey in the original trilogy ended on a high note. He embraces his friends, sees his now-redeemed father with his two masters, and cue the credits!

I guess it hurts to realize that his happiness didn't last, and that the trauma that bridges Episodes VI and VII is so effective that he becomes a recluse and all that happiness seems to be gone. Where did my happy Luke go? Isn't there a shred of a smile in that hardened exterior somewhere?

People keep predicting that most of the trailers and teasers we've been seeing is only from the first part of the movie, and that the biggest conflicts that are at the end aren't being shown. I just hope that Luke's sunnier moments are also there. I mean, even in Jedi Luke was laughing as Han tried to reason with a godlike C-3PO and rolled his eyes with Leia at Han's stupidity. Was Han's death the final nail in the coffin?

I hope they don't make Luke out to be a Han replacement - that's just not Luke's style. Luke and Han were two completely different characters whose backgrounds shaped how they reacted to situations. Han's confidence and cockiness did rub off on Luke for sure (in The Empire Strikes Back, both of them draw their weapons at Darth freakin' Vader first), but Luke started out with childhood innocence that we witnessed in his late teens. That kind of ingrained personality is hard to shake.

So where is Luke going to go? I'm pretty nervous. I just need to make sure to put my faith and trust in Rian Johnson. He's been a Star Wars fan for his entire life, and he understands Luke's OT development more than I do. If anyone is going to make Luke be even more awesome, it's gotta be him.

Right?


My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!


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