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The Caffeinated Collector: Episode 13 – Hey Hey, My My, These Star Wars Will Never Die

The Caffeinated Collector: Episode 13 – Hey Hey, My My, These Star Wars Will Never Die

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This past Sunday I watched the Academy Awards for the first time in years. I’m a huge movie buff, but the last few years it’s just been tough for me to keep up with anything other than comic book movies that I needed to watch for podcast reviews. This year, I made a concerted effort to venture out to the cinema to see a few films that were recommended by friends or other critics. As a result, I saw three OUTSTANDING films: Whiplash, Nightcrawler, and Birdman. Nightcrawler was woefully under-recognized by the Academy, but that happens. Whiplash won several awards, including Best Supporting Actor and Film Editing, both of which were well-deserved. Birdman is one of my favorite films of the last decade, and will end up in my top 10 films of all time, so I was very glad it won Best Picture (along with Best Director, Original Screenplay, and Cinematography), because that means a wider audience will check it out. I don’t expect it to resonate as much with most people as it did with me, but at least I’ll have more people to discuss it with.

What does all this have to do with my STAR WARS blog, you ask? I’m glad you asked that question. As always, I have to tell you a story before I can tell you the REAL story. As I’m watching the Oscars, Neil Patrick Harris is singing an opening number about how great movies are, and at one point a step-line of Stormtroopers appears, and I giggled like a little boy. I actually said “Look! Stormtroopers!” to my girlfriend. She smiled dutifully and continued watching. I think she’s getting used to that sort of thing from me, which is a good thing, since it will happen again. And often.

I’m very excited about the possibility of The Force Awakens being mentioned on next year’s Oscar telecast, even if it is “just” in the technical categories. What struck me last night was that most people in my world STILL talk about the Original Trilogy when discussing Star Wars. We didn’t see Clone Troopers dancing at the Oscars, we saw Stormtroopers.  People don’t make references to Jar Jar Binks, they still reference Chewbacca, and when they reference Yoda or C-3PO or R2-D2, it’s typically a reference to the OT as well.

I’ve heard people say (and I’ve said it myself) that The Force Awakens SEEMS like it’s going to feel more like the OT than the prequels, and that’s generally considered to be a good thing. I know there are many people reading this who hold the PT in just as high a regard as the OT, and I don’t mean to ruffle any feathers with this blog. I make no secret of the fact that I STRONGLY prefer the OT, but I have never dismissed the PT completely. There are some great moments in those films, especially in Revenge of the Sith, that I think bring a lot of weight and gravitas to the Star Wars saga. I was just struck last night at how little the prequels are considered by the general public. I know a lot of it is just the way we consume media these days, nothing lasts in the public conscience for a long time like it did in the 70s and 80s, so it’s partially a result of the era in which the films were made. However, I am amazed at how little discussion is given to the PT by the general public (or “normies” as I like to call them).

I think this is actually a positive indicator for how The Force Awakens will be received. If, as I think we can all agree, the general moviegoing public generally thinks less of the Prequel Trilogy than the  Original Trilogy, I think it shows what a strong property Star Wars is. If it can survive an entire trilogy of films that failed to really connect with an audience on the scale of the Original Trilogy, and still have people tremendously excited at the prospect of new entries in the saga, then George Lucas has achieved something even greater than any of us imagined. Think about The Terminator series, or Alien, or Robocop. As those film series kept churning out work that paled in comparison to the original film (or films), interest in them has degraded along with the work.  The originals are still held in high esteem, but there isn’t the same groundswell of excitement when a new film is announced. People are seeming to take a “Wait and see” approach to most of them, whereas with Star Wars, it seems like the vast majority of people are just excited and ready to be taken away to the Galaxy Far, Far Away yet again.

It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan. The fact is, it’s ALWAYS a great time to be a Star Wars fan. Even when the culture at large isn’t as invested as us fans, it doesn’t take much to get people talking again, and just a little bit more to get them actually excited.  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to be able to have a positive conversation with someone who’s just “into movies” about a Star Wars film. No more of this “Yeah, those new ones just aren’t as good,” or “Eh, the first ones were good, but these new ones have kinda turned me off.”  How amazing is the universe that Mr. Lucas crafted? Even after all this time, people are excited about it! We even have Stormtroopers at the Oscars!!!!

How about you, dear reader? Are you as excited as I am, or are you wondering why it took me THIS long to figure this out? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Marvin says Hi.

Jeff can be heard weekly on Assembly of Geeks (www.assemblyofgeeks.com) and on his own podcast network, MarvinDog Media (www.MarvinDogMedia.com) where he hosts The Pilot Episode, Talking Toys with Taylor and Jeff, and Bantha Banter: A Star Wars Chat Show.

Follow him on twitter: @jeffmcgeeactor and @marvindogmedia

Email Jeff at jeffm@coffeewithkenobi.com

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6 Comments

  1. Brian47
    February 25, 2015 at 10:35 Reply

    What bothers me among fans is treated this whole things as if it’s a competition between trilogies. This article to me smacks of “Haha, the Oscars referenced the OT instead of the PT, I win being an OT-only fan!”, which is just annoying. It would be as if there were a reference to the original Star Trek series and I threw it in the face of someone who prefers Star Trek: The Next Generation (which I do, incidentally).

    This isn’t a competition. The reason there are more OT references is due to the group of those writing and producing the entertainment media these days. In another 10-15 years you might be seeing more references to the PT and The Clone Wars series in general media as the younger fans age and enter the world. But the fact is that the OT comes from an age when more people simply saw the movies and they’ve had more time to permeate the pop culture. You are correct that it’s tougher for this to occur now because the sheer mass of entertainment bombarded our culture, there is a distinct lack of permanence, regardless of the quality of the entertainment.

    And I happen to be an original OT fan who loves the PT-era as well, just so you know where I’m coming from in this.

    1. Jeff M
      March 5, 2015 at 17:22 Reply

      Brian, thanks for the reply. You make a VERY good point about the media being produced being done by those of a certain generation, and I would not be surprised if we started to see more PT and Clone Wars references in the next decade, and I hope that we do, because it means the saga as a whole is staying in the public conscience without ever getting stale.

      I DO take issue with your comment about the blog presenting it as a competition, I don’t see where I made a value judgement about my fandom as opposed to someone else’s, especially since that’s a prominent issue among many fandoms, and one that I would love to see die a quick death, but that’s part of perception, so if you saw something like, there’s a chance others did as well, and I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. Unfortunately, all media is seen as somewhat disposable these days, so my hope is that we can swing the pendulum back the other way so we can savor things a bit longer before moving on to the next big thing.

      Thank you for reading, and I look forward to your thoughts on future blogs!

  2. Melinda
    February 26, 2015 at 14:17 Reply

    Jeff, you can discuss “Birdman” with me, if no one else. I LOVED it!!! And it was MY pick for Best Picture. 🙂 I’m glad the Academy voters agreed with me. 🙂

    (I haven’t seen “Nightcrawler” yet; “Whiplash” was wonderful! 🙂 )

    1. Jeff M
      March 5, 2015 at 17:24 Reply

      BIRDMAN!!!!! Good grief, that film spoke to me in a way that no film has in years. I will warn you that Nightcrawler is pretty dark, thematically, but it’s a great film, and well worth the watch. Whiplash was amazing, and gave me a bit of whiplash, actually, from cringing at everything that was being spewed 🙂

  3. Melinda
    February 26, 2015 at 14:30 Reply

    You are absolutely right, Jeff. ANY TIME is a great time to be a Star Wars Fan. 🙂

    I know some facets of the general public and some Star Wars fans had a hard time with the Prequel Trilogy. Quite frankly, I enjoyed them. But, then again, I did not go into the theater with any expectations — other than the excitement of being whisked away to that galaxy far, far away. 🙂

    My way of thinking of why the OT happens to be thought of more often — as far as the general public is concerned — is that it has been around for a lot longer than the PT. One doesn’t necessarily have to be a Star Wars fan (egad, did I just say that? 😉 ) to recognize a Stormtrooper. They are just as iconic as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han & Chewbaaca and those loveable droids. The Clones might resemble the stormtroopers, but their armor is different enough that they might not be as closely associated with Star Wars as the stormtroopers (at least in the minds of the general public). Imagine if it was a dancing line of Bith, Hammerheads or Aqualish that appeared at the Oscars? They were in the OT, but who but a die-hard Star Wars fan could identify them? 😉

    Great blog! 🙂 Please say hello to Marvin for me. 🙂

    1. Jeff M
      March 5, 2015 at 17:27 Reply

      GREAT points, as always, Melinda, Star Wars is in the public consciousness, and there will always be SOMETHING that will be shorthand to the general public, and I feel like it will always be something from the OT, mostly because, like you said, they’ve been around longer. But, like Brian said above, who knows, in 20 years, maybe we’ll see Cad Bane or even Jar Jar in a kickline!

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