Police arrested a man who allegedly assaulted three people with a blue light saber at a Hayden Island Toys R Us Wednesday night.
A 9-1-1 caller reported the incident about 9:50 p.m. and said the man was inside the store, 1800 Jantzen Beach Center, swinging the “Star Wars” weapon of choice at customers, said Sgt. Pete Simpson, a spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau. While the caller was on the phone, the man then left the store — light saber in hand — and walked out to the parking lot.
Officers tried to arrest the man, but he kept swinging the light saber at them, Simpson said. One tried to use his Taser on the suspect but the device didn’t work.
Another officer used his Taser and made contact, but the man knocked one of the wires away with the light saber.
The officers finally arrested the man after grabbing him and pinning him to the ground. The suspect, identified only as a 33-year-old Hillsboro man, was treated by medics at the scene and taken to an area hospital for a mental evaluation. He faces “several criminal charges” after he is evaluated, Simpson said.
None of the victims of the light saber assault needed medical attention, Simpson said.
Though women fighter pilots were seen amongst the crowd within the Rebel Cruiser briefing room earlier in RETURN OF THE JEDI, it was believed that none were seen in the actual final battle above Endor…until now, with the Blu-ray revealing that one of the brave A-wing pilots was indeed female (as seen in the above image) but, for reasons unknown (probably an accident made during the Post Production dialogue re-dubbing phase in the US) replaced with a male actors voice instead (with one line: “Got it”).
Ok so I was at this show on Saturday night. Same place, same burlesque dancers. I came to the conclusion that I’m (unsurprisingly) far too into Star Wars to be going to these sorts of things. For one thing, the MC didn’t seem to actually know shit about SW and kept hodging his lines up.
That said, the women were incredible atheletes/dancers and really made an effort so it was a good show none-the-less.
A few costuming choices that didn’t really work e.g. the Imperial Guard above is the complete costume. No cloak, no staff which I feel really would have added a whole lot more in terms of reveal etc.
And not one set of rebel/imperial pasties which is frankly unpardonable.
As expected this show caters very much to a mainstream audience who wouldn’t really notice that the MC flagged a few obvious SW faux pas (referencing Aunt Beru as Luke’s mother for instance). I’m not expecting the world but really, no one loses if your narrator has more than a passing familiarity with the franchise.
If you’re a die hard fan you’re probably not going to get much out of the Sydney edition of Star Wars Burlesque.
With regard to Disney’s pending purchase of Lucas Film and its various subsidiaries, watch the above video. Frankly, as much as I love Star Wars there’s nothing Disney can do to it that hasn’t already been done.
Further to that, Lucas has stated that he’s effectively using the 4 billion to start an educational charity. All things considered I think that forgives a multitude of sins with regard to the franchise.
Improving Star Wars #5 - On Smurfettism in 4,5,6.
The original trilogy is a pretty crappy place to be a woman. For one thing, you only have a few other women to interact with. Odds are you’ll be eaten by a Rancor or perhaps enslaved by a vicious Hutt.
When considering the entire trilogy (Hope, Empire and Return) I can think of only 3 female characters with speaking roles. Leia, Aunt Beru and the nameless admiral of the rebel alliance.
Thinking briefly of our own planet, we know with a high degree of certainty that there 100 women to every 101.3 men. (I got this figure from wikipedia which I think we can all agree is a reliable and valid source for basic facts such as this)
With this in mind is it likely that these sort of balances would occur throughout the galaxy on human (and alien) worlds? It seems fairly likely that there would be some degree of balance (perhaps guided by the force?), ensuring a fairly even ratio of women to men.
And if we then consider women in our society, what sort of positions do they hold? Of course there is still gross inequality and a definite glass ceiling in place but women hold positions of high authority in governments, corporations and organisations the world over. Certainly not as many as we might hope but a hell of a lot more than are represented in the trilogy.
Going back to the number of female characters, we do see a relatively steady trickle of women in background roles throughout the films, particularly in Empire and the early scenes of Return. In saying that, it should be safe to assume that roughly 50% of the population in most places with humans would be female. Why don’t we see more of this?
It may well be “a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away” but the series attempts to present itself as a more advanced and hopefully egalitarian society. We see Leia and the admiral in positions of power certainly but where are the female rebels, the lady fighter pilots, god forbid, even female sith?
This illustrates what Feminist Frequency calls “the Smurfette principle”. Essentially, Leia represents the only true woman in an entire universe of men. She’s the only woman with a personality and any true importance to the films. She’s the one they go to rescue in Hope, the one who rescues Han in Return and also the one who falls victim to a number acts of violence from various parties.
Leia is obviously a capable leader and most likely a skilled soldier given her proficiency with a blaster but she, more than any other member of the core party is subject to violence to advance the story. Consider, she is first captured and tortured by Vader in Hope. She makes it through Empire mostly unscathed but then is not only captured but also forced into slavery by Jabba the Hutt (with a great deal of sexual undertones) during Return. Finally she is the only one to get shot on Endor.
She’s so sexy she’s making me sexist…
Don’t misconstrue this as a criticism of Leia, she’s an interesting enough character (who could do with a little more development but that’s another story), what we’re asking is WHY IS SHE THE ONLY CHARACTER? Any other female in the films is simply a cut out provided to illuminate the next chapter of the story. In Aunt Beru’s case, her death (along with Owen’s) serves to drive Luke into Obiwan’s clutches and off goes our favourite story.
I know these films were made in the 70s and 80s which were hardly the most enlightened of times but still, this was in the middle of feminism’s “second wave”, it would hardly have been shocking to have more than one strong female character.
We’ll come back to discuss further issues relating to feminism in Star Wars but for not lets stick to Smurfettism.
So, how do we solve this? Short of reshooting the whole film I’m not really sure. Perhaps with the addition of more ladies in important roles in the background, some female X-wing pilots perhaps. More core female characters are difficult to introduce given the fixed nature of the film medium. Course… there’s no reason Chewie couldn’t be female. Or Lando (with some digital tweaking of course). Or any one of a number of key characters.
I’m sure Jimmy will want to have some input into this later so I’ll leave it at that for now.
Improving Star Wars #4: Comic Relief
Comic relief is, I think, a fairly important technique in the repertoire of a good filmmaker. It allows you to provide counterpoint to dramatic tension and somewhat ease the emotional burden that tragedy, horror or other serious situations in a drama place on the audience. It can also be pretty funny. The Original Trilogy used comic relief in a fairly responsible way. Up until Return of the Jedi, the comic relief was largely carried by C3PO and R2-D2.
One of their purposes within the narrative, other than to provide some form of narration and occasionally move the plot along, is to provide comic relief. For the most part it’s not over-done and it allows a nice break from the tension. They do this in the Prequel Trilogy as well but I feel like they either don’t get quite enough screen time together (Revenge of the Sith) or they are ill-used (Attack of the Clones). At any rate they are an example of comic relief done well in the Star Wars films. They fit in the tone and style of the films, they aren’t visually and emotionally distracting and the humour they use is amusing without being the focus of whatever scene they’re in.
“No, I don’t like you either.”
Other characters throughout the franchise have similar roles. Most of the main characters throughout the Original Trilogy and even in the Prequel Trilogy are used well. Han Solo and Leia’s exchanges aren’t just about sexual tension but prickly humour. Obi-Wan (in the Prequel Trilogy) has some wonderfully dry lines that break up what are otherwise abysmal scripts. Even Yoda gets a good line in Attack of the Clones about Obi-Wan losing a planet. I have no problem with these examples of comic relief because they’re appropriate to the tone of the films, don’t detract from the scenes they’re in and are not distracting.
And then we have this guy. This fucking guy.
This fucking guy right here.
There’s a reason Jar Jar Binks is one of the most reviled characters in the Star Wars universe. Actually there are several reasons but I’m not going to go into all of them. The reason I’ll focus upon today is that Jar Jar is a very clear attempt at comic relief with a single, glaring flaw: he’s not funny. In a subsequent post we’ll talk about the general pandering to children that the franchise engages in but right now let’s focus on this…malady of a character. Jar Jar Binks talks funny (not ha ha funny, obviously). Aside from his squeaky, juvenile voice, he says things like “Exqueeze me”, “Dat smells stinkowiff” and “How wude”, phrases not unlikely to be heard coming from “cute” (read: punchable) children in early 90s sitcoms. He constantly fails to follow simple instructions immediately after receiving them (getting his own head zapped by a power coupling, pictured above), and genuinely has one character trait, being clumsy. He also supposedly looks funny, some sort of humanoid, aquatic lizard with overly large and floppy ears, eyes on stalks and big buck teeth. I could go on about how everything about the character is tritely, deliberately and with malice of fore-thought engineered to be appealing to small children and a vehicle for a specific kind of comic relief (slapstick) but I won’t because it annoys me too much.
My problem with slapstick (as used in Star Wars, I don’t mind it in general) is that the films are otherwise fairly serious. Now I know that it’s science fiction with space-paladins in starships fighting space-robots etc… and I know there’s a lot of people that don’t think science fiction is as worthy as straight up drama but there’s a tone to the Star Wars films which is completely at odds with the scenes in which Jar Jar creates some sort of havoc with constant ineptitude. It’s jarring and honestly one of the most confusing flaws. It’s not just Jar Jar Binks either. The farting eopie before the pod-race in Phantom Menace. The Trade Federation’s droid army, largely inept and not terribly threatening - given their mediocrity I can only assume that their presence in the film is supposed to be for comic relief. The CGI additions to A New Hope, specifically in the pan across Mos Eisley. The Dragonsnake eating and then spitting out R2-D2 on Dagobah. Paploo the Ewok stealing a Stormtrooper’s speeder on Endor. All of them are eye-rollingly unfunny and don’t make a great deal of sense in terms of the overall tone of the series.
I’m firmly of the belief that comic relief can, is and should be used properly in Star Wars but for it to work it has to be in context. Throwing in random slapstick nonsense is just lazy and, to be expanded upon later, smacks of pandering to small children and idiots (and their idiot children).
Improving Star Wars # 3: On language
If you think about the universe depicted in Star Wars, hundreds of different species, presumably with thousands of different languages, are regularly depicted. Throw in a handful of unique droid communication methods (beeping, computer interfaces, text windows etc) and you have vast and complex linguistic landscape.
Throughout the original trilogy if I’m remembering correctly the non-human species all have their own languages and speak with their own mannerisms as one would expect (with the exception of Admiral Ackbar and his cohort). Interestingly they more or less seem to be mutually intelligible either by one or by all of the humans.
For example Han clearly understands what Chewie is saying while many of the others do not but do pick up on his intentions through gesture and emotion. To really geek out on it for a moment, given Chewie’s facial structure, somewhat akin to a dog’s, it’s unlikely he could speak English anyway.
Similarly when Jabba the Hutt is shown in Return his speech is translated by C3PO and shown on screen in the form of subtitles. He may not be immediately understood without translation but the droid is there to fill that role.
Han also obviously understands Greedo’s language or he wouldn’t have gotten his ass executed.
Now, do we assume Han is some sort of insane polyglot or is there some form of universal translation in play for the more well travelled characters? It doesn’t matter at the end of the day because in the original trilogy, language is a nice character and plot building device that helps to make the aliens seem more alien while also giving them human characteristics (Greedo’s greed, Jabba’s stubbornness etc).
The point I’m working toward is that the variety of languages is crucial to the world of the original trilogy.
Why then in Phantom Menance, do none of the Aliens speak their own languages and instead rely on the common human language?
I feel there are two simple answers to this question. 1. Lucas has attempted to make the prequels child friendly to the point of idiocy 2. Lucas forgot he was constructing a universe and instead focused to closely on the few key characters at its expense.
Really they look more like the standard depiction of little green men than Asians
Some even go so far as to label the depictions of the trade federation (Neimoidans?) and the Gungans as racist as they could be seen to represent stereotypical Asians and Caribbeans. This I think is a somewhat fair accusation although I don’t believe it was wholly intentional on Lucas’ part. More than likely I see it as him getting bogged down in avoiding subtitles to keep little Timmy and Sally from having to strain their poor child brains.
He therefore falls back on the dreadful ploy of having these aliens speak accented English. Accented to show that they’re clearly not speaking their own language…
These are problems that are easily fixed thankfully. We can remove accusations of racism and pandering to children in one fell swoop simply by replacing all the Trade Federation and Gungan dialogue with their own languages and subtitles. Plaintext subtitles, not papyrus, this isn’t Avatar for god’s sake.
I personally believe without the accent the Trade Federation wouldn’t have anything to make them seem particularly Asian; we see flat faces and angular eyes as Asian in the context of Asian accents but with the key signifier removed the problem would disappear.
Meesa never shuts the fuck up
Similarly replacing all Gungan speech with Gungan instead of English we kill two birds with one stone in that not only are we resolving the language problem, we’re also in a position to cast JarJar as a far less annoying character. With his dialogue erased with can get rid of all the incredibly stupid things he says and trim the film by several minutes by getting rid of his comic relief scenes. They don’t advance the plot and they serve only to develop the most reviled character of the film (frankly I find Darth Sideous more relatable than JarJar and that’s really saying something).
JarJar cannot be removed entirely as he is a useful introduction to Gungan society which in turn gives Quigon and Obiwan a means of traversing the planet. However, we can cast all the Gungans in a more favourable light with this relatively minor change.
How will the Jedi understand the Gungan or the Trade Federation? For one thing, they’re council representatives so you would expect a degree of multilingualism. Or we can simply follow the path of the original trilogy and not explain it, it’s not necessary to do so.
Imagine that, The Phantom Menance without racist stereotypes and a defanged JarJar, what a wonderful thing.
I definitely feel that as it stands, at least the prequel trilogy portrays non-human species in an unfavourable light, even if it is mostly just the language thing (however I’m wracking my brains trying to think of a non-human species in those films that aren’t portrayed negatively and all I can come up with is some of the non-human Jedi who for the most part don’t even have any lines). The Neimoidians are portrayed as a cowardly, bureaucratic, manipulative, callous, largely ineffectual race. These aren’t even common stereotypes of Asian people but as soon as you throw that accent on, it comes across badly. Then you have the Gungans whom I’m almost convinced are a race of quasi-primitive, bumbling Noble Savage-types. Boss Nass, the Gungan…king? Chieftain? Supreme Mugwump? Is portrayed as a fat, slimy, drooling, toadish creature. He’s almost villainous, only agreeing to help defend his own planet (of which he is probably the indigenous inhabitant, rather than the human Naboo/Nubians?) after Amidala begs him on her knees. Jar Jar Binks is a “comically” inept jester character whose speech seems to be a mixture of Caribbean and Spanish accents and/or words. At one point in Episode One, Captain Tarpals says to Jar Jar “Here Jar Jar, take-um booma!” Reminiscent of stereotypical Native American speech in old Westerns.
Take out the problematic accents and put in subtitles and all of these problems go away.
Improving Star Wars #2: Uncast Jake Lloyd
One of the things I always hated about Episode I: The Phantom Menace was one of the most inescapable things about it: Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker. Now just to be clear, I don’t have a problem with Jake Lloyd as a person or an actor. I’m not shitting all over the dude but the fact is that he should never have been cast in that role. Not because he wasn’t a skilled enough child actor but simply because there was no reason for Anakin Skywalker to be portrayed as a 9 year old. He should have been about the age of Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, or at least no younger than 15-16 years old.
Had Anakin been a little older it would not have changed anything about the character, save to make him less annoying, less cringe-inducing and much less creepy. He still would have been a slave boy with no choices about his life, rescued from a life of drudgery by Qui-Gon. He still would have been an uneducated child who had managed to build a complex Artificial Intelligence to help his mum around the house, his own pod racer and the only human with reflexes fast enough to pilot it. He still would have been apprehensive about leaving his mother and everything he ever knew to travel the stars. He still would have had a hard on for Natalie Portman (Riz: and that hard-on would be rational).
Furthermore, it would make more sense in terms of the series as a whole. The arguments the Jedi Council give against Anakin’s training is that he is too old and therefore won’t be able to control his emotions. If he’s 9 years old when he begins training he’s still got a good 3 to 5 years before puberty hits and he has to deal with teen drama and angst. Have him be already in the middle of that and his portrayal in later films as rash, emotional, selfish and ulitmately corruptible makes so much more sense.
If Anakin in Phantom Menace is more or less the same age as Luke in A New Hope then it creates a sense of poetry, one that Lucas says he’s trying to create in the behind the scenes featurettes of the dvds but one that he, in my opinion, completely fails to imbue. It would create a juxtaposition of two characters, father and son, both growing up in unillustrious settings, coming into their power and taking two very different paths.
Further to Jimmy’s ideas, it just doesn’t remotely make sense for a nine year old to be so incredibly mouthy and frankly, aggressive. He shouts down a well known, thuggish pod-racer and saves the idiot comic relief (JarJar) from certain violence. A fifteen or sixteen year old would be full of testosterone and might be just big enough to argue down a well known gangster.
Similarly, the first conversation between Anakin and Padme doesn’t sound like friendly banter, it sounds like an awkward teenager hitting on someone way out of his league. Wouldn’t seem strange for a young adult but seems truly bizarre coming from a child.
About an hour into Phantom Menace, not a single line would have to be removed to make Anakin a teen. I’m willing to bet that the whole film could pass and all that would need removing is that “Yipee” and “Hurrah” that he seems to keen on uttering at the first sign of excitement.
I feel as though Lucas hasn’t interacted with a child, even an incredibly gifted one, in a long time, if ever.
My personal preference is to create a digital composite of Mark Hamill as Luke in A New Hope, make it look a little younger and then hax the dialogue (as is) and replace Lloyd entirely. Sorry Jake, your career is over anyway…
If they’re going to keep Anakin as a nine year old in a remake, at least have him played by a good actor… like Peter Dinklage.