After a two month hiatus, during which I pondered the meaning of life and the worth of continuing this blog series, Star Wars: Deconstructed is back!
After I finished deconstructing the Phantom Menace, I was actually excited and energized to continue into Attack of the Clones, but I found that about halfway through Clones I became overwhelmed by the sheer amount of bad writing, thoughtlessness, poor planning, and half-hearted work that had become Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy. The more I thought about the films and tried to comprehend the bizarre characters, strange plots, and haphazard story elements the more I just could not find a coherent line of reasoning or a reason to continue. I was forced to come to the decision that no one had really cared enough about the story to actually make sure that it was a decent one, much less a good one.
If George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, could not be bothered to imagine a good story, I wondered what exactly it was I thought I was doing when I was deconstructing his films. Was I wasting my time? Was I wasting effort on something that was/is irrelevant? Perhaps.
But then I took a miniature vacation while my wife was sent away on a business trip. It was a very early flight, and the airport was mostly deserted. I walked right up to the ticket counter and began the usual handing over of my ID so that my reservation could be called up, and hefting my bag onto the scale so that it could be tagged for the flight. The woman who was assisting me was probably in her mid thirties (about 10 years older than me) and I really didn’t pay much attention to her. I’ve flown many times in my life, and the process is so routine that I can go through it pretty much on auto-pilot (no pun intended). Anyway, I had to pay for my checked bag, and I pulled out my wallet and handed over my Mastercard, which has a picture of Darth Vader on it. (This fact really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, and actually this was my first credit card which I applied for through StarWars.com….also not surprising.)
Over the years that I have used this card, it is either ignored, or I get a “hey, cool card!” but this time the woman behind the counter glanced at my card, then at me, then said “I just let my son see that movie for the first time last night. I thought he was finally old enough, so I showed him the original Star Wars. My husband and I had a hard time deciding whether we should show him the old ones or the new ones first.” Just like that, without preamble or introductory remarks. So, me being me, while she finished the transaction on the computer, printed out boarding passes, and tagged my bag, I engaged in a brief conversation with her about why it was a good decision to start with the Original Trilogy and why it was an even better decision to think seriously about ignoring the Prequel Trilogy completely. The airport was still empty, and I had enough lead time before my flight, that I actually stood at the check-in counter for a few more minutes rounding out the discussion. She had as much to say to me as I had to say to her, and in those few minutes, I realized why this blog series was so important:
Shakespeare’s plays, the Bible, and the earliest stories told by man are not really about the characters, the plot, or the story lines. The stories are about connections. They are about one human connecting with another human, and about how and why both react to that connection as they do. This is true: it is impossible to encounter another human being without having some reaction. Even willful ignorance of someone is a reaction. Therefore, in understanding and deconstructing exactly how the connections in Star Wars are or are not flawed is another step in honing the ability to understand the connections of every day, real life. Literature has always been a lens through which writers and readers understand the world around them. In the 21st century, film and television is our literature, just as books, and campfire stories were once the dominant “literature” of their eras (not that oral stories or written stories are passe, just not so dominant).
And, by having an understanding of something as hugely popular as Star Wars, I have an immediate connection point to other people, and a way to meaningfully interact with them, even if it is through a picture on a credit card and a ten minute conversation about children and Star Wars and a minor discussion over “correct viewing order”.
As is often the case, the people who helm the check in counter are usually the same people who take your boarding pass, and in my case, the very same same woman was also a flight attendant on my flight. I knew her, however superficially, and when I saw her later at the gate, and later still on the plane, we were able to share a smile, and a connection. That was important to me, and I would like to imagine that it was important to her as well. I was happier that morning and had a smoother flight than I think I would have ordinarily. Extrapolating to a larger scale, I know that that was an important connection, irregardless of the minuteness of it, because humans are social animals, and we live and grow through the connections we have with other people. Even a small interaction can produce positive feelings of confidence, belonging, and success, and those feelings can go a long way towards how a day, or a life, turns out, at least mentally and emotionally.
With that in mind, I continue my deconstruction of Star Wars, not only to analyze them as literature on an intellectual level, but also to evaluate them as tools with which to understand the connections around me, and to evaluate them as schemas through which to view the world (or not, depending on how badly Star Wars is or is not written). I hope that as you read these blog entries, perhaps some of what I write can enrich you, even if it is just a tiny bit, like a brief conversation at a check-in counter.
Star Wars Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith (00.00.00)