Okie dokellies, DA followers, chums, pals and scruffy looking nerf herders. Here we are in 2016, and I want to use my journal here to sound off about something.
All across social media, I've been seeing folks posting about going to see the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. And I've even had a few people ask me what I thought of it. But I haven't been able to truthfully tell them. Because I haven't seen it. And I never will. For one reason and one reason only. At this point, if you haven't seen the film, you shouldn't read ANY further unless you want to see a BIG spoiler for the film. There'll be no further warnings. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Before the movie's release, the internet rumour mill had already started to churn out some things. Things that are completely inconsequential in a world that's becoming ever more dangerous to live in by the day. But things that, if you are or ever were a fan of the adventures from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... kind of set you on edge.
In this instance, the big rumour was that the beloved, fan favourite charater Han Solo was going to be killed off. And as soon as I heard that rumour, I knew it would prove to be true. Things added up. Harrison Ford advancing in years... the involvement of J.J. Abrams, a film maker who leans too heavily on the 'kill characters' button for my liking... the somewhat manipulative way that Solo appeared in Disney's advance trailers, proclaiming 'Chewie, we're home,' to get us all welling up... almost as if it was a big wind up for a punch in the feels...
Yeah. Han Solo was checking out in this movie. We were being given all the clues. I could practically smell it in the air. And now the film has been and gone, and the rumour has become fact. Worse - established canon, for those who care about such things. And I am mad as all hell about it.
People evidently have their own opinions on this story development. I'll be blunt: I think it sucks.
I should, at this point, provide a little context: Like a lot of kids of my generation (was born in '77, the year the first Star Wars movie hit cinemas) I grew up with Jedi, Death Stars, Darth Vader and the assortment of villains who did his bidding, and the heroes who fought against him. It was a big deal. In the schools I went to, however much you didn't fit in, Star Wars was a second language. Everyone could talk about TIE fighters and X-Wings and Jabba the Hut and have something in common. And everyone loved the characters. As I got older, I cooled off. It got less interesting to me as I discovered other things. And when my school friends - some of whom were and still are lifelong pals - were still geeking out over the films at the tail end of secondary school and into further education, I was getting my kicks elsewhere. I'm even one of those guys who'll dare to suggest that - whisper it softly - most of those films don't hold up very well now. I find the 1977 movie really hard work now. But the characters... they were always great.
Something about the cast of Star Wars always felt right. It always made the films watchable. Always elevated the movies above whatever nitpicky criticisms I had of them. They're awesome. Awesome characters.
And last month, Star Wars Episode VII arrived and did some things to them that should just never, in my opinion, EVER have been done. Like killing off the coolest anti-hero-turned-outright-hero in science fiction.
Now, I'll be completely honest - I usually reserve contempt for people who judge a movie without seeing it. But you have to bear in mind, I already had A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS. I could sense what was coming like a ripple in the force. So I already wasn't sure if I wanted to see the film. But I was still curious enough to check out the plot synopsis when it inevitably appeared on Wikipedia. And there, the one thing I had never ever wanted to see in a Star Wars film was confirmed. Han Solo dies. And I have about as much interest in seeing that as I would seeing my best friend in the whole wide world die. Which is to say, none at all. I find the very prospect distasteful and rather upsetting. Please don't anaylse that statement too much. Just let it stand there.
I'm not gong to do anything as crass, at this point, as to suggest that somehow Harrison Ford, Disney, J.J. Abrams et al are all horrible people for brutally slaying a fictitious character in a non-existent fantasy world. But I am disappointed. Entertainment seems to be ever more ploughing down a path of serving up shows and movies where anyone can die. And while a lot of folks are lapping this up, I'm getting royally sick of it. When every show or movie does it, there's nothing shocking or clever about it anymore. And there are some franchises that shouldn't go anywhere near this territory. And even in those entertainment franchises that tread this ground, there are certain characters who should never die. When I hear from friends than Han Solo buys the farm in a Star Wars movie, reportedly in a rather inglorious fashion... that, my friends is a step over the line, as far as I'm concerned.
What surprises me is that there hasn't been outrage. That fans are accepting this, and largely okay with it. Some people have told me 'oh, but as a moment in the story, it's well done!' But I digress. It can't be well done. Simply because it's BEEN done. And that signifies a misstep to me.
"But wait a second!" You might say. "That's a bit of a childishly obstinate reaction to it!" I've certainly had remarks close to that flung at me for speaking my mind on the issue. But, actually, it's just the reaction of someone who doesn't want to see a character he grew up with, read further stories about and - yes - used to think was ultra-cool being killed on screen. No high minded justifications or intellectualised debates over this - I just don't wan't to see it. It's that simple. Star Wars ends with Return of the Jedi as far as I'm concerned. Because, however much anyone might take issue with me for saying that, after that point... it's breaking my heart. It's going down a path I can't follow. I don't want what it's become. So I'm not entertaining it.
You might read this and find yourself rolling your eyes. "For God's sake - it's not real!" You might say. And yes - if this were a matter that kept me up at nights worrying about it, your eye-rolling and exasperation would be warranted.
But here's the thing: it's actually a pretty big deal. Things like this, I believe, actually do matter.
We're living in dangerous, depressing and, frankly, scary times. The world governments are enacting policies and supporting actions that are no good for the people they supposedly have stewardship over. The means gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider. The world stage is seemingly primed and ready for another world war any minute. Financial experts predict that dire things for the world economy are imminent. And just as ever, we as a species of stupid, ignorant, self-interested people continue to invest our time and money in the worst things in an ugly world. We research ways of killing our enemies from afar when we could be curing cancer. We develop drugs to help the sick and aged while driving up their prices overnight. We're making the world an untenable place.
We need anything - no matter how slender or seemingly inconsequential - to give us hope. To give us something to feel good about. To have fun with. For me - and for others, as a glance around the internet reveals - Han Solo, a kick-ass space scoundrel in a fun but silly series of adventure movies, was a part of what made life fun and hopeful. And I resent that being taken away.
Wake up, Hollywood. If we want death and destrution, we'll watch the news. And Disney... if the death of Han Solo is what you call enertainment, I think I'd rather do that.
Listening to: Queen
Reading: tutorial stuff
Playing: Alien: Isolation (It's SCARY!)