Finally, something important. In the midst of so much pointless debate these days, here's one that counts--Star Wars On Trial
. In this book, they discuss eight issues:
1. The Politics of Star Wars Are Anti-Democratic and Elitist.
2. While Claiming Mythic Significance, Star Wars Portrays No Admirable Religious or Ethical Beliefs.
3. Star Wars Novels Are Poor Substitutes for Real Science Fiction and Are Driving Real SF off the Shelves.
4. Science Fiction Filmmaking Has Been Reduced by Star Wars to Poorly Written Special Effects Extravaganzas.
5. Star Wars Has Dumbed Down the Perception of Science Fiction in the Popular Imagination.
6. Star Wars Pretends to Be Science Fiction, but Is Really Fantasy.
7. Women in Star Wars Are Portrayed as Fundamentally Weak.
8. The Plot Holes and Logical Gaps in Star Wars Make It Ill-Suited for an Intelligent Viewer.
My peremptory conclusions:
1. True. Lucas makes feints toward democracy, but his heart isn't in it. And while we're at it, the Federation is a military operation.
2. False. The Force can be used for good and bad, and the good side (ignoring Lucas's cheap shot at Bush in Star Wars III
) is pretty easy to spot, and generally aligns with what we'd call religious virtues.
3. Haven't read the novels, though I assume they're not great SF. On the other hand, I doubt they're what's responsible for other SF not selling well--if anything, they've opened up the market.
4. False. First, there's a lot more SF because of Star Wars,
good and bad. Second, there'd be a bunch of FX extravaganzas no matter what--Star Wars
moved them in the direction of SF. Third, most of the "thoughtful" SF before Star Wars
isn't that great.
5. False. Star Wars
took an ill-respected cubbyhole packed with nerds and turned it into a popular universe packed with nerds.
6. False. The division between fantasy and SF has always been a bit overblown anyway, but as far as I'm concerned, it's got the hardware, and no elves, so that's good enough.
7. False. Women in Star Wars
, like women at Star Wars
conventions, are lonely, not weak. Sure, they tend to be damsels in distress, and the Jedi seem to be a patriarchy (Leia's alleged powers notwithstanding), but the women are still pretty tough.
8. False. Sure, there are plot holes, and a lot of Star Wars
was jury-rigged. But when you're creating an entire new world, you're gonna have some parts that stick out.
I hope that settles things. But if not, please let me hear what you have to say.