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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What Star Wars Is

posted by on June 13 at 12:58 PM

The substance of the remake of The Hidden Fortress:
da_trash.jpg I bring this up on the Slog today because I learned last Friday that the idea had never occurred to our very own Star Wars expert, Jonah Spangenthal-Lee. But at the bottom of all that is in and about Star Wars is junk. The leading motive of the movie is junk: what to do with it, how to get rid of it, and how you can be confused with and crushed by it. The Millennium Falcon is a piece of junk, a whole race of little Arab-like people survive by selling junk on desert planets, and robots have only two conditions: being junk and being not junk.

Now for a little Marx. The base from which this fear, this preoccupation, this nightmare of useless stuff arises is the real problem that America faced (or felt it faced) in the 70s with consumer garbage. At the time, recycling was not yet considered to be a real solution to the problem, and so the only solution, and one that was a doomed solution, was to keep finding new empty places (spaces) to dump consumer junk. The problem is still with us today, but it’s not dominating the American mind as it did back then, at the beginning of the end of the 20th century.

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Dan just told me that you can go home early. Drive carefully!

Posted by Oh, Charles. Should Be A Friggin Sitcom | June 13, 2007 1:04 PM

It's not about junk, it's about imperialism!

Posted by Gitai | June 13, 2007 1:08 PM

Do you just make this stuff up to piss people off?

Or do you have like a Magic 8-Ball that you shake to see what you should say?

"Magic 8-Ball says, 'Marxism and Star Wars'"?

Posted by Huh? | June 13, 2007 1:09 PM

Do you just make this stuff up to piss people off?

Or do you have like a Magic 8-Ball that you shake to see what you should say?

"Magic 8-Ball says, 'Marxism and Star Wars'"?

Posted by Huh? | June 13, 2007 1:09 PM

Launch garbage at the sun. It will safely burn up.

Posted by elswinger | June 13, 2007 1:24 PM

The problem of what to do with solid waste exists in all societies, whether capitalist, socialist, or purely imaginary. It is in fact the rich capitalist countries that have dealt with this problem most successfully.

And the reason we're no longer as preoccupied by it as we once were is because we realized that, contrary to the fears of scaremongers, there is now and always will be plenty of places to put our garbage. People used to fret that there was only "two years left" in the landfill, but every landfill has ALWAYS had only two years left. Then you build a new one. Solid waste is not a particularly serious problem after all. It's the kind of thing that solves itself, over and over, always has and always will.

Posted by Fnarf | June 13, 2007 1:26 PM






Posted by Mr. Poe | June 13, 2007 1:28 PM

For a philosophical layman like myself, most of Charles' postings are gibberish to me. Finally, thanks to the Star Wars references, I feel a greater understanding of his weirdness.

Posted by Hernandez | June 13, 2007 1:30 PM

I think Star Wars was about, you know, lasers and shit.

Posted by Jason Josephes | June 13, 2007 1:38 PM

Wow. What a simplistic and literal interpretation. It’s like you have to take everything back to the shallowest possible criticism of materialism, even if there's a perfectly obvious alternative relating to milieu or just plain old artistic influences. What’re you, a fucking first year film student? I mean, try this one on for size:

The 1970s were the apex of middle class flight to the suburbs. The cities weren’t totally abandoned, but they were, to some extent, materially frozen in the 1940s by the exodus of capital to the suburbs and exurbs. The low rents and high vacancy rates attracted artists who occupied the hollow shells of the defunct urban industrial infrastructure and turned them into work spaces. The cumulative result of this trend was the post-modern movement; much of the art of the late 1960s and 1970s was constructed out of the scraps of old technology and architecture that had been abandoned by middle class America. This is where you get your collage art and such. Andy Warhol’s “Factory” is a direct reference to this state of affairs, and his art is obviously all about commenting on post-war "abundance" iconography by recontextualizing popular images from the first age of mass media to call attention to the failures of that paradigm (referencing the materialism you're so fixated on). Meanwhile, to someone living in the city it seemed like everything was made out of the junk of a fallen empire; the fallen empire of post-war boom America that had withdrawn like Rome and abandoned the cities to a kind of Dark Age (like the old Republic in Star Wars). Most of the junk imagery in Star Wars references the notion of fallen empire. There are dinosaur bones in the desert, suggesting a recent catastrophe. C3PO is a bright golden color-- but he’s tarnished and beaten up. People constantly reference a more elegant bygone age, and everything is made out of the bits and pieces of what went before. You can see more of this kind of thing, by the way, in other fantasy fare of the time, such as Wizards and particularly Escape from New York.

But nevermind all that. I’m sure you’re right. It was about American materialism and the fear of landfills because we didn't used to recycle.


Posted by Judah | June 13, 2007 1:41 PM

Having majored in Film, I can assure you that even the worst first-year film student could never produce these words.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 13, 2007 1:47 PM



Posted by Mr. Poe | June 13, 2007 1:54 PM

One person's junk is another person's treasure.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 13, 2007 2:00 PM

The Stranger Slog: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy... we must be cautious!

Posted by :: shawn :: | June 13, 2007 2:01 PM

You forgot to mention how Darth Vader represented how all black people are evil.

Posted by JC | June 13, 2007 2:14 PM

This is EXACTLY right. I am completely down with this analysis, and I agree that most good sci-fi movies deal with the question of waste. What makes Blade Runner, for example, such a powerful and lasting vision of the future? It's the fact that we believe in its vision of a junk future, expanded and exploded beyond all control. Visit any city dump in Mexico, in India, in Thailand, and you can see that the line between society and the junk heap is becoming ever more blurred.

As always, Patti Smith says it best: "The transformation of waste is perhaps the oldest pre-occupation of man. Man being the chosen alloy, he must be reconnected, via shit, at all costs. Inherent within us is the dream of the alchemist to create from the clay of man, and to re-create from excretion, pure and then soft and then solid gold."

Posted by Gurldoggie | June 13, 2007 2:19 PM

Darth Vader: the blackest brother in the galaxy. Nubian God!

Posted by Judah | June 13, 2007 2:20 PM

Vader Sessions!

Yo momz goin' on a date. Ya dig that?

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 13, 2007 2:22 PM

Wow, I didn't know Marx had anything to say about disposal of consumer waste in the 1970's.

Posted by Sean | June 13, 2007 2:26 PM

LOL because I never intended my movie to mean any of these subcontext elucidations. But you guys are smarter than I am. You could probably find meaning in Tango and Cash.

Posted by steven speilberg | June 13, 2007 2:34 PM

Mudede's thoughts are not just about junk, they ARE junk.

Posted by Pope Boniface VIII | June 13, 2007 2:45 PM

Tango and Cash is about dancing, and money,...and junk.

No one has yet pointed out that the Death Star was constructed entirely out of cheese.

Posted by Tim K | June 13, 2007 2:46 PM

Dammit, Poe's got me watching Vader Sessions again. That's what he gets for quoting my favorite line.

Link back at comment 18, should wash the Mudede taste outta your mouth.

Posted by Jason Josephes | June 13, 2007 2:54 PM

If the death star were made of cheese would ya eat it? I know I would. Then I'd help myself to seconds, and polish it off with a nice, cool Budweiser.

Posted by Harry Carry | June 13, 2007 2:56 PM

Yeah, now it's all I'm watching. Rock.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 13, 2007 2:57 PM

Budweiser, Yuck!

Posted by Yoda | June 13, 2007 2:59 PM

its so ridiculous that charles still has a job writing when he is a unidimensional writer.

I can just imagine that when he's giving proposals for articles, everyone in the office just rolls their eyes.

again charles is to marxism/racials issues as a pothead is to drug refrences. he always finds them where they dont exist.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 13, 2007 2:59 PM

to #8~

i have a degree in philosophy, and his postings are still giberish...

Posted by ddv | June 13, 2007 3:06 PM

WOW. Just WOW. Talk about being way off the mark.

Charles, try reading Joseph Cambell and you'll understand.

Posted by Michael | June 13, 2007 3:12 PM

To Steven @#20~

i know we are pals and all and it will be great to work on Indy 4 with you, but don't you dare try to rip off my crowning achievement. you've already got an academy award, let me have my Star Wars back.


Posted by George Lucas | June 13, 2007 3:16 PM


Posted by Ben | June 13, 2007 3:26 PM

I totally *heart* Charles Mudede.

I'm sure that I don't understand half of what he's talking about. But I can honestly say that in 30 years, I have never read quite that perspective of Star Wars before. I just thought lightsabers were wicked cool and Luke Skywalker was major hotness. I am completely humbled by Charles' analysis.

Posted by SDA in SEA | June 13, 2007 4:43 PM

just as we were all humbled by the rousing singing success of william hung from american idol?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 13, 2007 4:52 PM

Mudede for American God 2008.

P.S. Hidden Fortress kicked serious balls, another movie about trash, material wealth disguised as trash (like Star Wars perhaps?)

P.P.S. C.O.B.R.A.

Posted by Vooodooo84 | June 13, 2007 6:01 PM

Amen #23

"ooooh, Baseball."

Posted by karst | June 13, 2007 6:47 PM

I wish that people would stop complaining about Mr. Mudede's posts. I wonder how many people out there actually realize how hilarious it is that there's a guy writing for a weekly who considers himself a "Maker's Marxist" and (probably) a Hegelian (not that there is inherently anything funny about occupying these philosophical and theoretical positions--I think it's more the context that makes it funny). Maybe it's just me, but I like it.

Posted by David | June 13, 2007 7:02 PM

You think we arent laughing with you David? You think we don't get something out of putting Chaz down for his dopey ideas?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 13, 2007 7:09 PM

@29: Only if by "Joseph Campbell", you mean "pulp sci-fi".

Seriously, Lucas didn't start spewing Campbell unti well after the movies came out. The origins of the movies are in Dune, and Foundation, and the Lensmen books, and cetera.

Posted by supergp | June 13, 2007 9:30 PM

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