Wednesday, December 27, 2006

CP and the "Star Wars" block

In 1977 I was sent away to live with a foster family for part of the summer, due to some extraordinary problems my parents were facing at the time. It's not as shocking as it sounds, because it wasn't really a foster family - it was close friends of ours who had always been like a second family to me.

The parents of this family were excellent role models for both me and their birth children, and I have always felt they saved me, at least somewhat, from turning out as crazy as my brothers. They taught me that one needn't behave like a raving lunatic to lead a normal life.

Trust me, spending extended periods of time in their house was a real eye opener.

The father of this family thought it would be a special treat to take me to see "Star Wars" when it opened. So he and I went, just the two of us. It's like it was supposed to be some special father-foster-son outing for the day. How nice.

Unfortunately, although I generally loved going to the movies, I can't say that I enjoyed "Star Wars" at all. Not even the tiniest bit. In fact, I pretty much hated it. I got confused about the plot almost immediately, and at one point even fell asleep. Here is a summary of what I extracted from the film:

* Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia were the good guys.

* Darth Vader was the bad guy.

* There were these other guys named Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi, but I had no idea what their deal was.

* Artoo Deetoo and C3PO were these silly robots who ambled around doing a "Laurel & Hardy" routine and seemed to be there mainly for comic relief.

* There was a Bigfoot-type creature named Chewbacca who grunted a lot and otherwise served no purpose that I was aware of.

* A LOT of REALLY BORING spaceship flying scenes and sundry battles took place, and then Luke swung Princess Leia somewhere on a rope.

That is pretty much what I walked away with. So much for our father-foster-son outing. But at least I got popcorn, from what I remember.

When I got back to school in the fall, I noticed that all my friends were gaga over this movie to the point where they could talk about little else. I felt left out and inadequate. I was downright ashamed to admit I had seen the film and couldn't make heads or tails out of it.

Over the years I have seen a few of the other "Star Wars" films and walked away similarly confused each time.

Apparently, I've been suffering from a "Star Wars" block for almost thirty years.

Flash forward to today. Twice in the past several weeks I heard about people watching "Star Wars" to comfort themselves in times of need. My brother-in-law recently had some heavy-duty surgery that required an extended recuperation period, and according to my sister he spent the first day out of the hospital watching all the "Star Wars" movies back-to-back.

Then my friend KC reported that her toddler son, who just had his tonsils out, spent part of his first day home sitting in front of the television, completely absorbed in "Star Wars."

"Ok, this is fucked up," I thought to myself. "I'm a fucking Georgetown graduate and yet am unable to comprehend this movie, while my friend's pre-schooler is totally into it. This just can't be. I have to figure this out."

So off to Blockbuster I went, and rented "Star Wars." I came home and immediately inserted the DVD.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

I remembered this part, with the text rolling backwards, diagonally into the screen.

Then I read the rest of the paragraph. Something about a civil war... wait, what was that?

I hit rewind. I read the paragraph again. Still, no fucking clue.

I finally understood what the problem was. This is a classic example of something akin to my occasional aural comprehension problem that I described in a recent post. For some odd reason, I found it almost impossible to absorb the meaning of this paragraph, and had to rewind about five times to make any sense of it.

What the FUCK is my problem? What????

Anyway, once I read the paragraph numerous times and absorbed the meaning into my pea-sized brain, the rest of the movie was a snap. But I can see why I was so confused all these years. Without understanding the basic framework of what was happening, as explained in that opening paragraph, it would be kind of difficult to piece together all the intergalactic shoot-em-ups and laser sword fights and all that.

I then watched the movie from start to finish and understood everything that was going on.

Now I feel like I've accomplished so much. At least for a retard.

Still, I can't say I'm overly impressed with this whole "Star Wars" obsession that seems to occupy about 95% of the rest of the world. In fact, it seems to me the filmmakers went on quite a while about a plot that can be described in under three minutes.

For any of the other retards out there who were unable to comprehend "Star Wars," here is a synopsis for you:

* Princess Leia reigns over a population that has been conquered by an evil Empire, headed in part by Darth Vader. The Empire knows she's up to no good and captures her. She wears her hair in an attractive cinnamon pastry bun style.

* Leia has stolen some plans for a Death Star that the Empire plans to use to blow up planets and other shit. She stored information about these plans in Artoo Deetoo and is hoping to get help from Obi-Wan Kenobi.

* Luke Skywalker knows Obi-Wan and gets recruited by him to help in the struggle against the Empire. Luke also develops the hots for Leia.

* Luke and Obi-Wan hire Han Solo and his lackey Chewbacca to fly a ship for them. In a deleted scene available only on adult pay-per-view, Han and Luke get into a wresting match during which Han completely overpowers Luke, rips off all his clothing and puts him in a dog collar. Luke turns completely subservient and becomes Han's little prison-bitch. (Ok, wishful thinking.)

* Darth had been a student of Obi-Wan years ago, but is now evil. They have a neat laser-sword fight.

* A bunch of other violent stuff happens, and then Luke, Han, Leia and Obi-Wan win the battle.

The end.

Now that wasn't so bad, was it?


Anonymous said...

Is there medication for Aural Comprehension Syndrome?

Yeah, I don't get the fuss either over Star Wars. Or the Lord of the Rings movies for that matter.

Anonymous said...

oh man I didn't see star wars until the 90's after the wall came down and western movies were available in video stores (well you had to buy a VCR player first) I fell madly in love with Luke and thought Chewy was too cute. Still love the movies

Coaster Punchman said...

Grizzbabe, I don't think I'm ready for "Lord of the Rings" yet. I'm not sure I'm ready for that much plot. Same with "Harry Potter."

Dino, I'm happy for you. See my bit about Luke and Han - maybe you agree?

Anonymous said...

Wait til you see the pre-quels! Darth Vader used to be good, then I missed the end where he was put on the torture table by the evil empire.

Anonymous said...

Star Wars is nothing more than a metaphor.

For what, I have no idea. But I'm sure it's a metaphor.

It has to be.

Or else, what's the point!

Coaster Punchman said...

Oh no, Old Lady - you ruined part of the marvelously complex plot for me!

Keith, the first Star Wars (which I guess is really episode 4) had some pretty obvious Judeo-Christian overtones. I mean, why not???

wonderturtle said...

I never really got it either. I mean, I understood it (sorry) but I didn't GET IT. I thought that was because I first watched it when I was 18, not 8. But now I feel better.

Relying on textual exposition to introduce a story is kind of a weak plot device, in my opinion.

mdlarsen said...

Regarding the Judeo-Christian overtones...actually I think the Bible-beating Christians found a lot to hate about Star Wars. I remember my pastor at Faith Covenant Church preaching a whole sermon about the "Eastern mysticism" element to the movie (you know, "the force be with you"). Evil, anti-Christian stuff, apparently.

Coaster Punchman said...

Wonderturtle, I'm not surprised you were able to grasp the concept immediately; after all, you are brilliant.

Sparks, you would know better than I the beef the Kristians would have with the movie. I was thinking more in general terms, e.g. how the other leaders kept razzing on Darth regarding his belief in "The Force" etc. When you think about it, that could apply to many religions beyond the J/C family, so I would understand their issues. After all, there is only one true religion!

Anonymous said...

I have to say I agree with you I have no clue why people go nuts over the movie. I've seen the recent releases and I'm also unimpressed with them. I guess I need more than explosions and robots to amuse me these days.

Tumuli said...

To be honest, I have only watched one "Star Wars" film in its entirety: "The Phantom Menace." Saw no need to see another, comprehension or not.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, through all that, it was a pretty deep message: good is good, and bad, is, um, bad. The later movies get a little more into that good is not always so good and bad is not all that it seems.

Apparently Lucas was influenced by Joseph Campbell, who studied myths in many cultures and found that there were a number of nearly identical stories that appear in a lot of cultures. Bill Moyer did a series of interviews with him, and NPR plays them occasionally. They're pretty fascinating. In fact more interesting than the Star Wars movie.

Don't tell that to my son-- he's a big fan.

Anonymous said...

Your take on this was hilarious and much more entertaining than the films ever were.

I didn't really like the original movie at the time either but saw it again years later and enjoyed it and the subsequent films but mostly for the explosions and cheesiness.

Strange coincidence - I just wrote something about seeing a movie with my Dad in the 70s. Retards think alike? Something like that. I'm glad you had your 'foster' people!

Lord of the Rings isn't too hard to follow, again with the good vs evil. And Cate Blanchett narrates away a couple of hundred pages in the first 5 minutes.

Coaster Punchman said...

Molecular Turtle, at first I thought you had written you needed MORE robots & explosions. That made me laugh.

Tumuli, maybe it's an age difference. It seemed that seeing "Star Wars" and its progeny was required when I was a kid. I'm surprised to hear now just how many people couldn't care less. Maybe I'm not such a freak after all.

Johnny, yes, I would have to agree that Joseph Campbell would likely capture my attention more than these movies.

Dale, I'll keep explosions and cheesiness in mind next time I'm shopping for you.

Creepy said...

I heard some girl refer to the "racist undertones" in 'Star Wars' while sitting in the tattoo chair yesterday. Never heard that one before. Must be my occasional oral comprehension problem.

Coaster Punchman said...

I'm not sure what exactly the racist tones are - probably has something to do with how there are so many different species running around and they don't all like each other.

Anonymous said...

Racist overtones = Jar Jar Binks