Savant here. I just returned from GeekLand, aka, the San Diego Comic Convention… I’m a bit strung out, a bit sunburned, a bit pissed off and ripped off (I got conned in the parking lot by a ‘parking space pimp’, resulting in a $40 parking ticket — fuck you San Diego, you’re beautiful on the outside but somehow your fucking white and black trash community is more stuck up and even more corrupt than Los Angeles. I hope the Chargers get Ryan Leaf back. Cock-Fuckers!)
While I was there, I wandered around… picked out some comics that I dug… bought a trippy sword so I can play “Xena: Lesbian Princess” from the naked comfort of my bathroom… and I even attended the ultra-pathetic media cockstroke that was the “Revenge of the Movie Webmasters” panel. I tried and failed to breach the panel, but in retrospect, I’m glad I wasn’t up there to embarrass myself. Not to name names, of course, but I suppose if MY website was providing a cushy existence for my fucking donut and porno compulsions, I’d be hesitant to piss off the fucking studios too. Yeah, I kept a low profile, because I really didn’t think it would be professional to start chucking shit at the stage… if you’re disappointed, I don’t give a shit, only 25 people were there anyway and 24 of them were all side-industry, not moviesite webmasters but guys like our buddy Jon from the IMDB and legendary filmsite scooper Smilin’ Jack Ruby. Whatever. Someone said to me I should get on next year’s panel… well sure, I’ll do it, but I’d rather just host my own panel with naked chicks and dudes with phallic guns.
During this panel, someone asked someone else something about “Star Wars,” specifically, Episode One, The Phantom Menace, and the seeming menace that was Jar-Jar Binks. I’ll come back to this in a bit. You see, this Comic-Con was the first time I really got to abuse my press credentials. I arrived very late for the Kevin Smith panel and stormed my way in past legions of homosexual teenage security guards (I’m not making this up) while flashing my press badge. One of the managers stopped me and said something to the effect of “We’re full. Don’t cut in line.” I just flash my press badge and growl, “Hey, my STAFF is in there! What’s your namer” And I’m not bluffing either, what, you don’t think I have the power to put that fuckhead’s full name on this website for all you good people to harass him one dayr He let me in, smart man. So I get front row seats, Kevin comes out, and you’ve heard all the rest. However — one fucked up fan asks him, for the umpteenth time in his life, Did Kevin Smith like The Phantom Menacer Hey, I thought y’all were Kevin Smith fans! The motherfucker wrote a great review where he states that TPM is #2 behind Empire. And I agree, man.
I rant about this because I’m starting to put a few things together in my shifty little brain. I’m just now realizing how ‘hip’ it is for these fucking greasy fanboy pansies to diss Episode One. But please, let me backtrack again.
The first time I was forced by my family to watch “Star Wars,” I was probably 8 or 9. The film, to me as a kid, was cute, but by no means something mindblowing. Keep in mind, I grew up on “The Transformers” (Generation One, for those keeping score) and “Voltron” (Generation 2, with the Power-Ranger preceding Lions, rather than the 50-Borg-Beetlebots that make Freakenstein) and other forms of early 80’s Japanime… shit that was action-heavy but incredibly intelligent and intense too. I had no “Mister Rogers.” I had no fucking “Pokemon.” And I certainly didn’t have Barney. I had Optimus Prime and Megatron, the eternal battle between good and evil, whatever. I was used to grand tragedy, drama, and well, whatever. When I saw “The Transformers Movie,” it fucked me up… that’s the first kids’ show that I can recall that killed off (and I mean KILLED off) about 80% of its main beloved characters. I watched Orson Welles eat a fucking planet, okayr I watched Leonard Nimoy’s Transformer murder and execute innocents. So watching Vader cut down Obi Wan wasn’t exactly traumatic for me, especially when Sir Alec’s ass just disappears into the folds of his crusty robe.
As I grew older, I grew to love and hate “Star Wars.” I never grew up on that old Flash Gordon crap, but I understood its appeal… those mindless serials never enthralled me, again, I’m a child of Anime, and continue to be (instead of Transformers, now I have Eva). I still, to this day, demand some kinda meaning behind things. “Star Wars” is just mindless action fodder crap, but it’s GREAT crap. And as I understood more and more about things, particularly story, I grew to love Empire, loathe Jedi, and forgive A New Hope for being a film with so many plot holes that it leaks camp. I personally wasn’t affected, but I could understand how the effects blew people away back in the day. The first film that did that for me, and for many in my generation, was Cameron’s “T2.”
So through my life, I’ve been a very casual “Star Wars” fan, observing the hordes of pimple-ridden youths scramble for the newest scrap that George Lucas throws them. Unfortunately, some of them are close friends, so I got roped into standing in line for 7 hours or so when Episode One opened… the first showing, at midnight, watching Chinese morons dressed as Darth Maul prance around with fake dual-lightsabers, mimicing perfectly the now-famous move that Ray Park does where his hand extends out as he’s activating the sabers. Whatever. I saw it on acid, too, and it was pretty good acid. Supposedly, I might be remembering a dream… yeah, that’s it.
When I walked out of that theater, I was giddy. I felt like a kid again. (A high kid.) I went in with low expectations, convinced that the film would fail my one and only test: it would not bear the same tone as the other “Star Wars” pictures. I mean, how the fuck could Lucas maintain that feel after an 18-something year hiatusr With different technologyr How could he do itr Fuck me, he did it. He not only did it, but he crafted a picture that piqued my interest, got the story rolling, connected all kinds of little ironies (wowwwww Anakin/Vader builds C3P0 as a bored, pretentious little slave brat… wowwwwwww) and gave me action that just made my fucking month. The audience I saw it with adored the film, everyone was cheering by the end credits. I said, right after I walked out, that it was #2 behind Empire. Just like Smith would say days later.
I have seen the film at least 3 times since that day, and my opinion of it has not changed. But wait a minute… how can I “feel like a kid again”r I never saw it in the theater as a kid. I dunno how to explain it. But I bring it up because it’s true… and because apparently, that’s exactly what it did not do for a select group of GFB’s who ended up tainting the opinions of an entire community.
Am I being forgiving of this filmr Sure. I can forgive Jar Jar, as lame as he is/was. I mean, shit, I survived the fucking Ewoks, I can survive anything; Jar-Jar bounces off me like a gnat. I can forgive the midichloridians… barely. I can even forgive George Lucas for what is an obvious money-machine that he plans to spend developing a new digital medium (the guy has more money than you will ever see in all your lifetimes combined, he doesn’t need more… he’s up to shit.) But these GFBs… the same greasy assholes that stood in line at Mann’s Chink Theater for 4 weeks… the same fuckers who fill up convention halls… the same 30-year-old virgins who hold rousing debates about Boba Fett’s history… these GFBs could not forgive this film. And the strong ones that felt this way… they made it very unfavorable to publicly like this film.
Now, mind you, this is the same movie is currently #3 at the all-time US box-office… the same movie that spawned a billion dollars worth of merchandising… the same film that was Amazon.com’s #1 pre-ordered DVD of all time on the first day it was even announced. For a film everyone hated, you’re sure all seeing and spending more on it.
But why would a film so spent-upon and a film so revered at its outset be so hated in public, to this writingr Here’s an idea… I cannot confirm this, but I have been told by multiple sources that both Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel gave this film ONE STAR during its initial release, and later, changed those reviews to reflect four star ratings. I believe “Star Wars” even made it into Ebert’s greatest films list recently. Ebert will deny this, regardless if its true or not, but it makes sense… he, and thousands of adults who saw it and hated it initially, grew up on Flash Gordon. On “Doctor Who.” On Buck Rogers. On shit that “Star Wars” was paying homage to… shit that wasn’t the same. Nothing is ever as good as we remember it to be, and that’s exactly why “Star Wars” is suffering now.
You see, the current generation doesn’t remember what an ass-crap film A New Hope is… they remember the exhilaration of seeing it for the first time, of being blown away. They remember that A New Hope was 500 miles away from its nearest competitors on a “WOW” scale… and they cannot forgive The Phantom Menace for only being 15 miles ahead of its current competition. This poor film cannot compete against the memories of its own fans! The expectations soar through the roof, and the film then ‘sucks’ because it can’t blow us away anymore. We feel betrayed. We wanted… well… more.
We wanted the next “Star Wars.”