A while back, I wrote about George Lucas’ constant tinkering with the Star Wars movies and how this revisiting and revising childhood is distressing.
It’s put me in mind to ponder at the near religious level of competition between the Star Wars fans and Star Trek fans. Yes, moderates and let’s all get alongers can and do enjoy both, but there is a rift in organized fandom that is almost on par with the Catholic vs Anglican split.
But, at least, SciFi, unlike religion, has not resorted to violence or social discrimination over the difference of opinion, but then, in this metaphor – reality is on the side of SciFi, not religion – so we recognize that there’s nothing to actually fight over.
Aside: We cancelled TV several years ago and exclusively watch DVDs. Paying for TV, we realized, was paying for a 24/7 service that we barely got the use of when you factor in working hours, commuting, shopping, sleeping and that when we did sit down to be entertained, we generally put DVDs in. So, why pay to not watch?
We’ve watched over the past few months, every night, back to back Star Trek Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and we’re into season 6 of Voyager.
Star Trek is a fun universe to romp around in and it’s created in a way that the universe is explorable from a variety of viewpoints – the main crew of the fleet’s flagship, the blue collar management of a space station at the front line of a galaxy conflict and a yuppie exploration vessel lost in another galaxy.
Star Wars doesn’t offer that flexibility of story telling, it’s the rebels vs the galactic empire – but with so little context that it’s easy to think, one person’s rebels are another person’s terrorist – and other than that the galactic empire is supported by, well, adherents to the bad side of an ancient religion, we really don’t know what the empire is about other than order and stability.
Which, can at once draw shallow comparisons to the Nazi party of old or the current Republican party.
I had always been more of a Star Wars than Star Trek fan growing up, although I preferred 1970’s Battlestar Galactica and 1980’s V – having experienced them as first run rather than through syndication – and the recent reboots of both demonstrated the complexity of both of those scifi explorations of humanity and how we are and can be.
Which is what George Lucas needs to do with Star Wars – not twiddle with dialog or background creatures. Leave the original Star Wars to childhood memories and let us revisit that more innocent and hopeful time when we need a break from the present – but make Star Wars relevant again with a reboot of the series with a graphic novel feel.
Instead of Luke being passionate, sweet, well intentioned – make Luke be more like his father – all passion and fire, barely contained by Uncle Owen.
Instead of being obedient, make Luke a younger teen who tries to leave to join the rebels and brings retribution down on his family, with his aunt and uncle paying the price. Luke, having lost his family and their farm, finds his way to Obi Wan, who trains the disoriented and repentant Luke to a Jedi and towards redemption.
Luke as Peter Parker with a Batman sensibility.
Then let Luke loose to save Leah, or assist with her own daring escape. Give Leah a Gabrielle from Xena-Buffy the Vampire Slayer personality and kick ass ability.
There’s no end to how much more vital and relevant Star Wars – the idea of standing intentionally against evil, against conformity and uniformity, against banal bureaucracy and the arbitrary destruction of peaceful planets, detention practices and other oppressions and lack of freedoms that the empire stands in for.
Dear George, we need the hope that Star Wars embodied, but we need a new hope for a new era, not a tinkered, tweaked and overworked and overproduced nostalgic trip.
Further reading: The People v George Lucas