Friday, June 17, 2005

Now there is an interpretation.

The inimitable novelist Neal Stephenson has an op-ed in the New York Times for 17 June 2005 that offers one of the best reasons I’ve yet seen for why Star Wars may survive as a cultural icon. Its Jedi are a metaphor for the Geek class of current society: “Twenty-eight years later, the vast corpus of Star Wars movies, novels, games and merchandise still has much to say about geeks—and also about a society that loves them, hates them and depends upon them.” Also an interesting comment on the march of technology: “In the 16 years that separated it from the initial trilogy, a new universe of ancillary media had come into existence. These had made it possible to take the geek material offline so that the movies could consist of pure, uncut veg-out content, steeped in day-care-center ambience. These newer films don’t even pretend to tell the whole story; they are akin to PowerPoint presentations that summarize the main bullet points from a much more comprehensive body of work developed by and for a geek subculture.”

phlog ::: from editor :::




Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 17 Jun 05 at 09:09 PM

I see this as mindless posturing to cover up the fact that, simply, Episode III isn’t a good movie (which is not true of a lot of the supplemental material). It is internally self-inconsistent, it has bad dialogue, and it thoroughly fails to engage with any of the characters. Saying “it’s just supposed to be the framework” is a cop-out excuse.

The second part of the “argument” - that the Jedi are hackers, is even purer tripe. Scientists and technologists got where they (okay, we) are by shameless education, years of practice, diligent problem-solving, digging until they figure out how something works, and not taking no for an answer. That’s hardly the same as being “adopted into the Jedi order, where he will develop his geek talents - not by studying calculus but by meditating a lot and learning to trust his feelings.”

I’m ashamed for Neil Stephenson for having written this, and doubly so for the New York Times for publishing it.

Posted by Adam Fields on 22 Jun 05 at 07:47 PM
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