Monday, December 1, 2014


Okay I have two more in me. First, I want to talk about light sabers some more.

The light saber is one of if not the iconic image of the Original Trilogy. Yet part of its power is that it is used so sparingly. Only three characters ever wield a light saber (and the fact that for the first two movies Luke wields Anakin’s old light saber is deserving of analysis all on its own), and duels are fairly scarce. In fact in the three movies there is more time spent on effete robots arguing with tribally-coded aliens than there is spent in light saber duels.

It’s special. And we value things more the less we see them. In the real world this often leads to bad implications of people denying themselves good things in order to retain specialness, but in art the symbol is more powerful and the inefficiency loss is less real, so we can stick with this value-through-scarcity thing as a somewhat okay thing. It would be very hard for Lucas not to have recognized this.

And so we get the most blaring shot from the trailer of the Phantom Menace.

After Episode 1 came out, some friends of mine did a skit about light sabers. If a two bladed saber was cool, then an elephant wielding three blades must be even cooler. And thus they christened Darth Pachyderm, with a sword in each hand and one grasped by his trunk. They then theorized that this would lead to Darth Porcupine with… you get it. Good times, everyone laughs.

The thing is this is exactly what happened.

First in Attack of the Clones, we get a giant colosseum scene with dozens of Jedi each fighting with their own light saber, each waving their own glowing phallus around. Yoda goes to town and shows us his own wild ninjitsu with a light saber, which audiences loved.

They took the logic “If one light saber was cool, then two are even cooler” to the logical conclusion of “more more!”

Where does it end, if not with Darth Porcupine?

Remember, the top two were spinning.

Guys, I think Lucas is in on the joke.


Which is saying what then? The same thing as midichlorians and the decadence of the Republic and the whininess of Anakin Skywalker.

If you take something holy, and demand more of it, what you get does not have the same feeling. You can not simply ask for “more Star Wars.” Which can be fairly nihilistic, but it also means parsing what you actually liked and pursuing that.

Figure out what you like. Some might say “the three act structure and a Cambellian hero myth”. That’s more fundamental, but you can get that from many many more movies than Star Wars.

Some might say it was the dialogue, but that’s hard to believe. One of the most biting comments about movie dialogue ever was by Harrison Ford speaking of the script in A New Hope, “you can type this shit, George, but you sure can't say it.”

As fans prepare for JJ Abrams final three movies to end the… nontology?... there’s a lot more theoryizing about what they “wanted”. Since the Prequel Trilogy was very clean and had lot’s of CGI, there’s a demand for a return to the dirtier, rustier aesthetic of the 70’s movies and less CGI. But is that any more likely to be the thing people actually loved about Star Wars?

Was what you liked “light sabers”, or their sacred feeling? If the latter, see how to incorporate the sacred into your life. If the former, you are a fundamentalist who should be satisfied with midichlorians and porcupines.

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