No really. I kind of hate George Lucas (the re-up).

 I felt a great disturbance in the force. It’s as if a million voices suddenly cried out in terror and were driven to social media, where they complained very loudly. 

And so, in light of the news that Lucas Film is to be bought by Disney and Star Wars Episode VII is planned for release in 2015 (yes really, and yes really), I figured there was never a more auspicious time to re-up the following. Because I really kind of hate George Lucas, but for real, y’all.

Pretty much the only person who doesn’t need to be ashamed of what went on in the prequels.

So after all these years, and all those movies, and all that hype and excitement and fanguish (why yes, I did just coin that term), and prompted by the already-infamous-yet-still-brand-new Darth Vader “Noooooo!”, plus the recent viewing of Episodes IV-VI with my family — I have finally figured out why I really kind of hate George Lucas.

So yes. Here we go, another nerdy blogger is going to write about hating George Lucas on the intertrons. Quelle surprise! But a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do.

I remember going to see Star Wars (back when there was just the one) with my mom. I remember leaving the theater and walking to the car and being enthralled. I’m not sure how many times I saw the first one as I waited for Empire Strikes Back, but it was probably a lot, given that when Empire came out, I cut school in order to go downtown for the opening (back in the olden days, openings were matinees) — and subsequently spent the summer watching it over and over. The arguments among my friends regarding Luke’s parentage were long, loud, and filled with genuine emotion, and one night, we all went to the early show, didn’t leave, and watched it again. I think I saw it eleven times before school started that fall. I have no recollection of the first time I saw Return of the Jedi, likely because the wheels were already coming off — stuff went on and on, or appeared, kind of out of nowhere (that chase scene on Endor, for instance, can now be seen in its true light, as a brutal precursor to the seemingly eternal pod race in Phantom Menace),  and like all my budding quasi-socialist friends (we were 18), I suspected the Ewoks reflected less about a galaxy far, far away, and more about Lucas’s increased understanding about merchandising. And yet: It was Star Wars. And it was still pretty damn good.

Fast-forward to 1999. I’ve just moved back to America after 14 years away, and George Lucas has finally made the first prequel — the movies that my friends and I used to talk about in tones reserved in other circles for prophecy and magic — and: BOOM.

Oh my God. Oh my God! I had to see it twice to make sure it was that awful, and oh my God. There is so much to be said (and has been said) about just what a terrible turn Lucas took with Phantom Menace (and I have already mentioned the endlessly endless pod race of endlessness), but I will say only this: Midichlorians? Are you fucking kidding me with this?! Either the force is “an energy field created by all living things [that] surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together,” or it’s something in communication with microscopic beings within our blood for which we are (and I quote) “symbionts.” Take your pick.

I so hated Phantom Menace that I never intended to see the other two prequels, but life and the advent of a child warranted otherwise. At some point I caught the boy up on the first three films with great joy, and ground my teeth through the prequels (only the last of which had any redeeming qualities, if you ask me. And Ewan McGregor deserves a trophy for being the only actor among a large group of excellent actors to actually do any good with his terrible role) and I seethed. Like any good old-school Star Wars fan, I have been seething for 12 long years, and every time he tinkers and changes and adds and subtracts and releases some new damn version, my fanguish grows and I hate George Lucas a little bit more.

BUT I FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHY.

Broken down into parts, the first three movies are not particularly great, certainly not by today’s standards. In light of my immersion in the cinematic world of Lord of the Rings, I find myself particularly bothered by the way that whole cultures pop up, unremarked, and then disappear, again unremarked, as so much set dressing. You never get anything on anybody who isn’t front and center to the story, and even then, you don’t get much. And then there’s (some of…) the acting. And, of course: Bechdel Test. Of course.

And yet! The sum is clearly so much greater than all of those parts, all of those flaws, even all of the moments of greatness — when seen in its entirety, all together, it told a story of such sweep and such emotion that it fell straight into people’s hearts and hasn’t let go since.

But Lucas didn’t make that story — he recognized it.

The stories are out there. If an artist is lucky, he or she gets to be the one to tell a particular story, and if the audience is lucky, he or she is skilled and respectful, and the story is served. That’s what happened in the first three (well… two and a half) movies.

But ever since, Lucas has been pissing on his own work, and jerking canon around because he felt like it, and disrespecting his audience — and disrespecting the story.

And that, my friends, is my bottom line. It was a long walk to get here, but at least I’ll be brief: I’m a writer. Stories really, really matter to me. Words matter to me. Truth-that-cannot-be-weighed-and-measured matters to me. And it matters that we try really, really hard to respect all of that. The stories, the words, the truths do not belong to us. If we’re lucky, we get to recognize them.

And stupid George Lucas was lucky! And then he messed it all up.

The end.

Though of course, as we discussed the other day, there’s always the possibility that this is what really happened:

We live in hope.

*****

More credit where it’s due! Go read this by Lev, over at Library Grape — he definitely jogged my mind on all of this, particularly with regard to the differences between Lucas’s re-fashioning of his films, and the recent-ish remastering of the original Star Trek series.

PLUS: On the very day that I decide to add to the endless stream of internet anti-Lucas sentiment, the extremely cool Shortpacked did the same! Click here to see one more reason (I really couldn’t go into all the reasons on my own) that the prequels suuuuuuuuuuucked. 

Thoughts both random and jumbled.

“Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012. At the time of this image Sandy was the strongest hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.” – http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/tc_pages/tc_home.html

Now that the storm has passed (at least for we Americans – Canadians in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes have their own Sandy to face as I write) I’m finding it impossible to grasp its enormity and implications.

Which I suppose marks me as The Average American, but I really am overwhelmed trying to think about it. For instance: New York City without full power for as long as a week, maybe? How does that not become bedlam? What’s happening with the folks for whom a blizzard is still blowing, what about people with live wires and flood waters all up and down the mid-Atlantic, what about the sewage pouring into waterways, what about the 80 homes in Queens destroyed by a fire surrounded by water last night, what about all the millions of people with their millions of individual troubles? NPR reported this morning that there are 7 million people without power today — I turned to my son and said “That’s like everyone in the entire state of Israel.” And what if power isn’t back in time for election day?

And then I think about the election, and how nauseatingly anxious it makes me to think about the election, because now it has this aura of a reality show gone horribly, horribly wrong. And it’s only the future of our country hanging on it. (Not to mention the future of disaster relief for the most populous and economically/culturally/politically significant part of our country — and I say this as a proud Midwesterner, but some things are just facts).

And I realize that I really, really want to believe that a President Romney would step up and meet the challenge of a post-Sandy America and also be capable of handling any other future disasters well — and yet, as non-partisan as I try to be, there is just nothing about the man, his candidacy, or his career that gives me any sense that Romney has that in him.

And then I realize that every single, little thing I’ve heard about the Romney/Ryan campaign has irked me, angered me really, ever since yesterday afternoon, and that that’s pretty much because I want him to be a mensch and acknowledge that what this country needs is a second Obama term and announce that he’s throwing in the towel. And that’s not really a reasonable expectation.

And I think about all the people I know and love who were in Sandy’s path, some of them people I’ve never met, two of them people who dropped out of my life for reasons that are either inexplicable and infuriating or just plain infuriating, and I love them so much and am so worried about them, and I cannot tell them, and that makes me want to punch a wall.

I know everyone says at this point in a developing disaster that “we’re Americans and the good thing about Americans is we pick ourselves up,” but really, everyone pretty much picks themselves up, as best they can. No one people has a lock on that, really, nor on the impulse of kindness toward strangers and neighbors in the wake of disaster.

What we do have here that’s different from a lot of places (such as the Caribbean) is a lot of resources and a lot of wealth. We have not, traditionally, always spent our wealth particularly wisely (suddenly the infrastructure conversation is very, very interesting, isn’t it America?), but we have it and we can draw on it. The challenge will be then to use our resources, both human and treasure, wisely.

And that brings me right back to being anxious about the election.

 

Sandy, day two – open thread.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Ta-Nehisi still has yesterday’s open thread up, with 509 comments (as of 9:45 am, Tuesday) so…. [UPDATE: In the meantime, he's posted about hurricane coverage]. Here’s a quieter place to gather if folks are looking for one.

Much love to all our East Coasters – let us know how you are, ok?

xo,
ellaesther

An open thread for the weary.

I know Ta-Nehisi has an open thread up, but I also know that clicking “more comments” eight times to get to the bottom of more than 400 comments (as of 4:00 pm EST Monday) is – how you say? – not fun. I furthermore know that some Hordians have a very hard time with the new Disqus system, for a variety of reasons, and thus might not be able to participate at all.

So I figured: Folks might want a quieter alternative.

FOR THE HORDE.

Reflections in this mirror may be distorted.

‘Nuff said:

*

via my Twitter pal (and fellow Chicagoan!) La Shón P

Rape tolerance and actual facts.

Trigger warning: Please take care of yourself and be aware of your own limitations whenever you read anything about rape.

I had a bit of a thing the other night when I discovered this article: “Rape flier causes outrage; Arizona sex assault victim speaks out.”

The flier, posted in a men’s bathroom at Ohio’s Miami University, read in part: “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape: 1) Put drugs in the woman’s drink, therefore she wont remember you… 6) Sex with an unconscious body does count, so don’t back down if shes sleeping; 7) Practice makes perfect, the more you rape, the better you get at it….”

Seeing this in the very week in which we have been assailed (yet again) with a new rash of rape apologism was just too much. My blood started to pound, I was suddenly crying, and I was filled with a powerful sense of emotional nausea (if that makes sense), reactions that are all overcoming me again, even as I type.

Women live with this every day of our lives, it’s in our leader’s mouths, it’s in the jokes we hear, it’s in the very air we breathe — and then we’re told that rape is our fault. To put an aspirin between our knees. To prove that we didn’t like the rape. To bear the rapist’s child. And to drown in shame.

I’ve been feeling all day that I really should write about it all, but I just can’t. I’m too exhausted by it, too worn down, too emotionally nauseated. But luckily, someone with a slightly bigger soapbox has written a piece filled with both righteous fury, and reams and reams of data. I’m cutting and pasting some of it below, but really, please: Click through and read the whole thing: “50 Actual Facts About Rape,” by Soraya Chemaly.

And men of good will? Please, please share this with your friends, your brothers, your uncles, your father. Please.

Remember facts? Remember facts about rape? Because it turns out that a whole lot of people know less than nothing about the subject. Indeed what they think they know is a whole lot of something that is wrong and dangerous to our heath, safety and well-being.

… For months now we’ve been subjected to surreal revelation when it comes to what people think and understand about rape, god and women’s magical bodies. Here is some real, fact-checked information from a list originally published last week in RHRealityCheck…..

1. Low estimate of the number of women, according to the Department of Justice, raped every year: 300,000
2. High estimate of the number of women raped, according to the CDC: 1.3 million
3. Percentage of rapes not reported: 54 percent
4. A woman’s chance of being raped in the U.S.: 1 in 5
5. Chances that a raped woman conceives compared to one engaging in consensual sex: at least two times as likely
6. Number of women in the US impregnated against their will each year in the U.S. as a result of rape: 32,000
7. Number of states in which rapists can sue for custody and visitation: 31
8. Chances that a woman’s body “shuts that whole thing down”: 0 in 3.2 billion

Had enough? Me, too. And, believe me, this is the Cliff Notes version. Some people are offended by frank conversation about violence, especially sexualized violence. I’m offended by tolerance for these assaults, scientific denialism, entertainment at the expense of people’s safety and bodily integrity, and shame-infused legislation that hurts children and women and is based on the belief that all men are animals at heart.

Rape happens everywhere . All over the world rape acceptance, rape tolerance, rape denial and rape ignorance at best are used to restrict women’s reproductive rights and impede women’s equality. At worse, rape is used strategically and with violence and malevolence as a weapon in war and as a tool of active oppression. Keeping the reality of rape in the shadows has obviously done us a massive disservice and provided cover for rapists and their apologists. So, even though it’s not easy information to digest, it’s important. Maybe information is part of god’s divine plan.

…Akin, Mourdock, Ryan, et al are the distortions. If men like Mitt Romney really doesn’t agree with them then he should grow some ovaries, so to speak, and stop playing in the same political sand box….  All of this goes hand-in-hand with Facebook rape pages, Daniel Tosh rape jokesReddit rapist threadsmusic, videos, movies, ad infinitum. This recent political display of religiously convoluted rape “reasoning” in legislation is a national shame with deadly consequences for women here and abroad.

To read the rest of “50 Actual Facts About Rape,” please click here.

The I-give-in open thread.

I even had an awesome comment for that first thread at Ta-Nehisi’s place today! But no. “Comments for this thread are now closed.” If ever there was a sign that he’s not at his desk, I’d say that’s it. So here’s a thread, both up and open.

Standard FYI clause: I generally wait about 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would typically open a thread (roughly noon, EST, back when such a thing was typical…!), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

On public insults and the nature of activism.

It’s ok to yell at Kahn, though.

It’s been a somewhat rocky couple of weeks here at In My Head HQ.

As a direct result of my Israel/Palestine activism and open enthusiasm for the current President of the United States, I have recently been called (in no particular order) a defender of anti-Semitism, a supporter of neo-Nazis, someone who spreads hatred of Israel, the anti-Christ, willing to murder in order to have an easy life, dumb, #biggestliberalasshole2012, a liar, willing to shrug away evil, and disgustingly indifferent to women of color (these are all direct quotes).

It has also been darkly suggested, by someone with 50,000 Twitter followers, that s/he “knows a lot more about you, and what you support, and what you are, than you realize,” and by someone else, with far fewer Twitter followers, that I am sexually aroused by drone strikes in which people are killed (my previous arguments against drone strikes notwithstanding). Oh, and something or other about me being too cowardly to argue with someone who was hectoring me.

And (I have very good reason to suspect) a great deal else that I know little about, because I block/spam/ignore people when they behave in such a fashion and thus don’t see subsequent insults, and I certainly don’t bother to go looking to see what folks might be saying about me or my work in the internet’s more extreme corners.

I tell you all this not to gain sympathy (well, ok. You can give me a little sympathy) but to make a larger point, one that starts with the fact that what I’ve experienced is as nothing compared to the flood of bad behavior endured by writers and activists with a higher public profile and/or full-time employ. Nothing.

Of course, there’s a point at which this is simple trolling: People with a nominal worldview who are mainly in it for the abuse. Whether it’s me liking Barack Obama, women who call out sexism, men who like Star Wars the wrong way, or teenagers who don’t know how to use internet slang, the fight’s the thing, the act of screaming insults the actual point.

And of course, there’s a point of simple incandescent anger, tinged with fear (you know: I’m a danger to Israel and Jews everywhere, etc and so on).

But there’s another point — a very important point — at which this sort of thing is about a difference in tactics and values (and not just the “don’t call people the anti-Christ before you’ve even met” one).

Because there are two different kinds of social activists in the world: There are those who think that change only ever happens incrementally, that we can only organize people where they are and not where we want them to be, that revolution (as an Egyptian revolutionary recently noted) is a process, not an event. And there are those for whom all evil must be relentlessly labelled as such and any change that isn’t instant is not fast enough.

And both kinds of people are right.

We will never change the world by refusing to talk about what’s wrong with it, and any change that isn’t instant is — really and truly — not fast enough. Lives are ruined or lost as we struggle forward, and the human race needs angry prophets who remind us of that.

Yet, for all that that is so, the fact remains that revolution is a process, not an event. That we can only organize people where they are, not where we want them to be. And change only ever happens incrementally. It’s genuinely unfortunate, but it’s also, simply, true.

I try to listen to angry prophets. I try to give them their due, and I try to incorporate at least some of their righteous fury (because, aside from anything else, while “reasonable” might be my brand, I’m always angry, Captain). I know that we move things forward by steadily making the list of that-which-is-infuriating broader and longer: Once it was slavery, then it was poll taxes, now it’s effigies of the President hung on front lawns.

But I cannot hear anyone while I’m cleaning “anti-Christ” and “murder” from my ears, and I can only imagine that the people who have a higher public profile and/or full-time employ have it even harder, because they hear so much more of it.

People stop listening when you treat them with derision — it’s really that simple. No change is fast enough, but if you want any change, you’re going to need people who are willing to listen to you.

Unfortunate, but true.

Obama on rape & politicians making decisions for women (or: My President’s a feminist, part the many).

“Rape is rape. It is a crime…. The second thing this underscores, though, is this is exactly why you don’t want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women’s health care decisions.” (And, it should be noted: The crowd goes wild!)

*

And furthermore: “These are not just women’s issues, these are family issues.”

Welp. An open thread.

Even if TNC doesn’t love us today, I love you always.

Standard FYI clause: I generally wait about 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would typically open a thread (roughly noon, EST, back when such a thing was typical…!), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,861 other followers