Months behind the curve here but I finally watched The Force Awakens–rented not bought from iTunes–on the laptop, while eating fish and chips at my desk. What do you call this? It’s like Star Wars has become an archetype. Now a direct copy––it’s not even a remix––is acceptable. An instance. For a piece of mass (hysteria) media to be so derivative shrinks the collective psyche. In order to subscribe to liking it (a separate thing from actually liking it or not) you have to forget.
Of course, the new copy is aimed at people much younger than me, who would not put up with the archaic SFX of the original. Perhaps it’s just a Generation X thing––jilted overgrowns watching kids movies and feeling left out that the makers haven’t kept them in the loop. Maybe the believe-yourself stuff pumped through Hunger Games etc is as good as any esoteric codex. Maybe kids grow up pumped with the star-seeded hero’s journey narratives of today only to end up aspiring to golf and corporate mafiadom anyway. Everything and nothing changes.
Now the Deathstar is ten times bigger and sucks energy from the sun and we must pretend for the sake of getting our money’s worth that Mark Hamill simply doesn’t and didn’t have the right face for the King of the Jedi. We may as well have had Michael J Fox. We miss Alec Guinness. After LOST I wanted more from Abrams. Only edgy thing he has done here is set the bar even lower for pressing out simulacra. Harrison Ford’s action movements are getting ludicrously ponderous, but maybe he and Chewie kind of rescue things on the nostalgia front. Maybe it’s sort of edgily cool that JJ casts English and Scots people in the Reich-like staff of the Deathstar, until you remember that the original had Peter Cushing. End of day that’s it for Star Wars, as Prometheus was death knell for Alien, as it will be for Matrix and Avatar if the rumoured prequels or sequels ever come out. I probably would collect an Agent Smith plastic figure out a cereal packet.
Which all goes to show that, everything–even (or perhaps especially) allegory about the entrapment of human consciousness–is eventually assimilated into the default post-modern, ‘scientific’, atheistic banality we are continually persuaded is “the truth”.
It’s a war of attrition, if nothing else. A relentless canoning of images at the re-uptake sites in the brain. Which is pretty much the mechanism of Evil itself–iteratively reinforcing the correctness of the ego, which will buy let’s face it pretty much anything. There is then a connection between the machine and the ego and evil.
Machines essentially repeat. Which is something different from natural production–the propagation of plants and animals etc. There is something mechanical about repeating the post-modern consensus that what there is (often delineated by rapping on the solidity of the wall or tabletop) is all there is and that is the way it always was and ever will be. You won’t hear Richard & Judy or Eddie Muir, say, say it in as many words. It is the point of view implicit in what they are saying and not saying. For the most part it is an unexamined point of view–often held by people who do not even know they are holding a point of view. The worse case is when the point of view is known to be a point of view, but is maintained for other, usually selfish, reasons. Worse still is where the point of view is known to be false and is maintained for selfish reasons.
In the Force Awakens we have a very crude awakening. The African-American child-being Fin is awakened by his conscience when he witnesses the ethnic cleansing of a village. Within a few beats he is helping the rebel pilot escape the Death star. And from there, like everyone else, he follows a character arc computed by an app or a widget in Microsoft Word. He might wield the light sabre for a moment, but Fin is basically Driving Ms Daisy. It would have been edgier to have made cast a Syrian or Afghan or Kurd.
But forget edgy. Of course the New Star Wars Movie was never going to be edgy! But ff that’s our point of view we need to urgently examine it! Is there not resignation in this acceptance that the New Star Wars Movie is pure simulacrum, fodder, mechanised distraction, laced with blue pill not red. Is it acceptable for a movie titled The Force Awakens? Is it alright that the movie encapsulates whatever might have been alluded to by “the force awakens” in the algorithms of Normal, in the mechanics of Evil? Is there anything new about the new Jedi in the movie other than that she is female? What force awakens in her and what does it do for her or anyone else? Maybe in the kamikaze X-wing pilots penetrating like sperm to the Deathstar egg we can read spirit’s impregnation of the void. Is Abrams channeling something in having the Deathstar suck energy from the sun or simply repeating what has already become an archetypal instance, a subroutine, a preset in the machine of plot-with-esoteric-reference?
Or to sum the whole thing up: is it okay to watch something called “The Force Awakens” and then go play golf*?
* I often use golf as a convenient epithet for all that is Evil.