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Star Wars: Entering an uncivilized era


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11 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

And I'm not sure what 'thinly-disguised racist caricatures' there are in the other movies. Watto just isn't Jewish, just as Jar Jar isn't a black guy.

Good to know that if I ever need to hide from you, an unconvincing false moustache will do the trick.

11 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Clichés are used to actually add texture and depth to different species.

Texture and depth? The characters talk and behave like appalling racist caricatures. That... does not add either texture or depth. It's the very reverse. That's the definition of a caricature.

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The prequel trilogy is good on the background and worldbuilding but poor on the moment-to-moment execution, directing and acting. The sequel trilogy is awful on the background and worldbuilding and (mostly) good on the moment-to-moment execution, directing and acting. The ST is much easier to watch because any given scene will almost certainly be much better than any scene in the PT (unless you go for the extreme outliers, like Order 66 or Anakin's wordless decision to join Palpatine versus "Somehow, Palpatine's returned,") but it has no coherent throughline, whilst the PT has a coherent throughline but almost every single scene is a joyless slog.

The OT combined a pretty good background or sense of the background with a well-executed storyline and well-directed scenes in the moment, as Rogue One and The Mandalorian did (and Solo was kind of okay at both). Obviously there's lots of caveats to that overall (Ewoks) but if I had to make a sweeping generalisation of the problem that I think is it.

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Posted (edited)

The only character I liked in the prequels was the Emperor. That should say how much I enjoyed them, lol

Edited by sifth
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10 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

The OT had the advantage that it only ever had to hint at background and didn’t need to answer too many questions about the universe, the blanks were filled in by other people or in your imagination. 

I dunno, the first film alone states that the Old Republic has transformed into the Galactic Empire, the Senate has been disbanded, there's tension between the military and political apparatus, there's a rebel uprising, a lot of planets and people just don't care and are keeping their heads down etc. The OT is great because it does a convincing amount of worldbuilding to explain what's going on without going overboard. The ST, on the other hand, refuses to address fundamentals of WTF is going on, leaving even casual viewers scratching their heads.

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1 hour ago, Werthead said:

I dunno, the first film alone states that the Old Republic has transformed into the Galactic Empire, the Senate has been disbanded, there's tension between the military and political apparatus, there's a rebel uprising, a lot of planets and people just don't care and are keeping their heads down etc. The OT is great because it does a convincing amount of worldbuilding to explain what's going on without going overboard. The ST, on the other hand, refuses to address fundamentals of WTF is going on, leaving even casual viewers scratching their heads.

The main reason why, is J.J. Abrams sucks at expositions. The guy loves action and moving things at a fast pace, but sucks when it comes to the slower moments all movies need, to create character development.

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3 hours ago, mormont said:

Good to know that if I ever need to hide from you, an unconvincing false moustache will do the trick.

Texture and depth? The characters talk and behave like appalling racist caricatures. That... does not add either texture or depth. It's the very reverse. That's the definition of a caricature.

To each their own ... whatever it is.

But the idea that we talk about 'racist caricatures' if you take aspects like accents and give them to fantasy creatures who have no physical resemblance to the people those aspects were taken from ... and have all that play out in a universe where the planet Earth isn't even existing as far as we know then the phrase 'racist caricatures' is clearly not exactly well-applied.

For this one would have to present the beings in an ugly light - which neither the Gungans nor Watto are - and one would have to make the other people look down on them because what you would describe as racism there is something the others look down on them for.

And when you actually look closely at the themes in TPM then the Gungans - and especially Jar Jar - provide the solution for the Trade Federation problem. The Naboo are a decadent and helpless people, hiding their weakness behind their stately robes and statuesque make-up, whereas the Gungans actually have the tech and the ability to fight back.

This is reminiscent of the ridiculous idea that Rowling's goblins in the book series are anti-semitic caricatures because some of them are greedy bankers.

I mean, what comes next, are General Grievous and Darth Vader ableist caricature because both are evil and one of them is coughing and the other has apparently severe breathing problems?

Regardless of this - I very much enjoy it when movies (and Star Wars can be great at that) take aspects of various cultures and reappropriate them to add color and depth and a sense of difference to fantasy beings.

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10 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

To each their own ... whatever it is.

But the idea that we talk about 'racist caricatures' if you take aspects like accents and give them to fantasy creatures who have no physical resemblance to the people those aspects were taken from ... and have all that play out in a universe where the planet Earth isn't even existing as far as we know then the phrase 'racist caricatures' is clearly not exactly well-applied.

For this one would have to present the beings in an ugly light - which neither the Gungans nor Watto are - and one would have to make the other people look down on them because what you would describe as racism there is something the others look down on them for.

And when you actually look closely at the themes in TPM then the Gungans - and especially Jar Jar - provide the solution for the Trade Federation problem. The Naboo are a decadent and helpless people, hiding their weakness behind their stately robes and statuesque make-up, whereas the Gungans actually have the tech and the ability to fight back.

This is reminiscent of the ridiculous idea that Rowling's goblins in the book series are anti-semitic caricatures because some of them are greedy bankers.

I mean, what comes next, are General Grievous and Darth Vader ableist caricature because both are evil and one of them is coughing and the other has apparently severe breathing problems?

Regardless of this - I very much enjoy it when movies (and Star Wars can be great at that) take aspects of various cultures and reappropriate them to add color and depth and a sense of difference to fantasy beings.

I like all this.

My question would be this... what does it say about us that we see a greedy slave owner and automatically say "Oh, he's Jewish."?  Really?  Do the Toydarians read the Torah regularly?  Can we not just recognize "greed" as a universal trait without ascribing it to a certain faith or race?  Who is the racist here?

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

The ST, on the other hand, refuses to address fundamentals of WTF is going on, leaving even casual viewers scratching their heads.

It also basically just repeats the same story as the OT. In TLJ it's suddenly rebels vs empire again, as if the end of ROTJ never happened. The galaxy hasn't advanced at all in the Sequel Trilogy.

This is why I don't buy this idea that TLJ was "bold" and "took the story in new directions". It was even more derivative than TFA, it's basically a repeat of the plot of ESB but without any likeable characters. They even had a snow (sorry, salt  :rolleyes:) planet in it.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Heartofice said:

I think people give the Prequels credit because the underlying story is sort of interesting.. it’s just that the actual story at the front of the movies is utter dogshit. I get that people like universe building and get heavily involved in the fantasy politics of it all but that all seems pointless if it’s hidden underneath layers of incompetence.

I don’t think one man makes a movie , it’s a team effort and if you have the wrong team then it won’t work. It seems like the prequels were just George and a bunch of yes men. 
 

History i think has re-examined Lucas’ talents and there just seem to be too many occasions where he’s come up with some decent ideas but they needed refining or pushing back on, and maybe without that he’s kind of exposed as.. as bit of an idiot.

The sequels have increase my appreciation for the prequels in that at least the latter had a story, a vision. The fall of Anakin and the decline of democracy (in a space setting), they're interesting story ideas just horribly executed.

The part about Lucas being surrounded by "yes men" for the prequels is pretty key. For the OT there was a lot more collaboration between Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan and  Gary Kurtz. Also Lucas' wife basically saved ANH in the editing room.

Edited by Darryk
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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Darryk said:

It also basically just repeats the same story as the OT. In TLJ it's suddenly rebels vs empire again, as if the end of ROTJ never happened. The galaxy hasn't advanced at all in the Sequel Trilogy.

This is why I don't buy this idea that TLJ was "bold" and "took the story in new directions". It was even more derivative than TFA, it's basically a repeat of the plot of ESB but without any likeable characters. They even had a snow (sorry, salt  :rolleyes:) planet in it.

That "it's salt" line, might be the most insulting line from TLJ, IMO

It felt like a reshoot, just so the audience wasn't aware they were copying something. Your totally right about the ST basically just copying TO, which is really sad. Though you know, it's the small things that annoy me, like how Abrams tries to make Luke's lightsaber the most important thing in the universe and then just forgets that he did; "a good question, for another day" or how Han and Chewbacca are smugglers again..................weren't those two generals when we last saw them, WTF.

I still don't even understand what the point of all of the visions Rey got when she touched looks lightsaber were suppose to mean and why her specifically touching it triggered them. Was she suppose to be Luke's student or possibly his daughter in TFA and they just dropped that plot line or something?

Edited by sifth
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7 minutes ago, Rhom said:

I like all this.

My question would be this... what does it say about us that we see a greedy slave owner and automatically say "Oh, he's Jewish."? 

 

The problem is that he's not a greedy slave owner, it's that he's a greedy slave owner whose physical appearance and behaviour is an exaggerated alien version of characteristics present in very well known anti-semitic tropes. The people calling it didn't just make those tropes up. 

 

The thing is that most people aren't suggesting that it was conscious on Lucas/the designers' part- more that these racist associations are so ingrained that when a cartoonishly greedy character was needed, that's what came out of it.

 

The same is true of the Harry Potter goblins really, even more so because the physical stereotype of goblins was already existent independent of financial greed and Rowling clumped it together with banking with really unfortunate consequences - but it being unintentional doesn't mean it's not there at all.




 

29 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

I mean, what comes next, are General Grievous and Darth Vader ableist caricature because both are evil and one of them is coughing and the other has apparently severe breathing problems?

 

Coughing and having breathing difficulty are not traits typically associated with ablist stereotypes in the real world, so this is a meaningless comparison.


 

2 hours ago, Werthead said:

The sequel trilogy is awful on the background and worldbuilding and (mostly) good on the moment-to-moment execution, directing and acting. The ST is much easier to watch because any given scene will almost certainly be much better than any scene in the PT

 

I feel like I've potentially replied this exact thing to you sometime before, but I feel like this is true for the first two but the scene-to-scene plotting in RoS is so ruinously bad that it completely negates the competence of the acting and in-scene directing as far as watchability goes. It's so heedlessly committed to undoing not just the previous film but its own plot twists within seconds of them happening that even perfectly well-delivered moments become ludicrous in context. Mind you, I'd also say that it has more patently stupid writing line-by-line too - from 'somehow Palpatine has returned' to 'they fly now' to 'I'M THE SPY!!!' it's pretty damn dumb in that respect too.

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

The prequel trilogy is good on the background and worldbuilding but poor on the moment-to-moment execution, directing and acting. The sequel trilogy is awful on the background and worldbuilding and (mostly) good on the moment-to-moment execution, directing and acting. The ST is much easier to watch because any given scene will almost certainly be much better than any scene in the PT (unless you go for the extreme outliers, like Order 66 or Anakin's wordless decision to join Palpatine versus "Somehow, Palpatine's returned,") but it has no coherent throughline, whilst the PT has a coherent throughline but almost every single scene is a joyless slog.

The OT combined a pretty good background or sense of the background with a well-executed storyline and well-directed scenes in the moment, as Rogue One and The Mandalorian did (and Solo was kind of okay at both). Obviously there's lots of caveats to that overall (Ewoks) but if I had to make a sweeping generalisation of the problem that I think is it.

I think you let the ST off the hook to easily. TFA is very much a remake of ANH - a ANH version where the guys only find Obi-Wan Kenobi in the very last scene. The PT does have quite a few well-directed scenes - most scenes with Ian McDiarmid are pretty good, for example, but also many a scene in TPM is not bad due to the acting of Liam Neeson.

The story of the PT was too big for Lucas to tell (in only three movies) ... but the ST doesn't even have a story to tell. It began as a retelling of the OT ... and then it failed to even do that with TLJ.

And it failed to properly develop any of the OT characters. Had remained the smuggler, Leia the rebel leader, and Luke was turned into a depressive caricature of TESB's Yoda.

The idea that Luke could fail as a teacher could be interesting - but if you want to go with that then actually show us how he fails. Make the story about that. Don't ruin everything by presenting us with the ruin of a man he is in TLJ.

But since they waited this long to continue that particular story the way to go would have been to start with them in whatever roles they should have had 30 years after ROTJ - and then allow them to succeed or fail in those new roles, not the travesties these characters were turned into.

I mean, Mark Hamill seemed to suffer quite heavily during quite a few of his appearances during the promo tour for TLJ, constantly apologizing to fans in advance should their expectations of what Luke Skywalker was wouldn't be met. Luke Skywalker is, strangely enough, actually some kind of cultural icon and personal hero. I myself was very much surprised how much I enjoyed young Luke's appearance in the second season of 'The Mandalorian'. That had a kind of powerful magic to it, really.

4 minutes ago, Rhom said:

I like all this.

My question would be this... what does it say about us that we see a greedy slave owner and automatically say "Oh, he's Jewish."?  Really?  Do the Toydarians read the Torah regularly?  Can we not just recognize "greed" as a universal trait without ascribing it to a certain faith or race?  Who is the racist here?

I get it where the Jewish aspect with Watto comes from ... but he still isn't Jewish. He isn't even human. And while he is kind of stopping the plot of TPM and thus certainly a hated figure ... he isn't even a villain. He doesn't mistreat either Anakin or Shmi in the movie as such, he even allows the boy to do what he loves best - doing pod races.

You do have to want to see him as a Jewish caricature for it to being there, and that's something the audience have to do for themselves. This is, I think, where one has to drawn the line between actual and imagined caricatures (especially in fantasy stuff). A real caricature is when you cannot but realize what's going on, and the caricature is imagined if it up to your interpretation whether it is there or not.

17 minutes ago, Darryk said:

It also basically just repeats the same story as the OT. In TLJ it's suddenly rebels vs empire again, as if the end of ROTJ never happened. The galaxy hasn't advanced at all in the Sequel Trilogy.

This is why I don't buy this idea that TLJ was "bold" and "took the story in new directions". It was even more derivative than TFA, it's basically a repeat of the plot of ESB but without any likeable characters. They even had a snow (sorry, salt  :rolleyes:) planet in it.

TLJ is basically a bad fan fiction rewriting of TESB in a world where TFA was the ANH version the writer of TLJ didn't really like.

The movie is a constant 'Fuck you!' to whatever genuine elements TFA set up. And the entirety of its appeal during a first watch is drawn from it constantly commenting on and referencing TESB and ROTJ. You really start to wonder in what sense this is going to be different than those movies. Because it clearly tries to be.

1 minute ago, polishgenius said:

The problem is that he's not a greedy slave owner, it's that he's a greedy slave owner whose physical appearance and behaviour is an exaggerated alien version of characteristics present in very well known anti-semitic tropes. The people calling it didn't just make those tropes up.

No, but you can ignore them and just take Watto as what he is ... and not what he could or might appear to be.

I must say especially this idea that Watto is 'hook-nosed' is far-fetched. I mean, the guy doesn't have a nose, it is a small trunk.

I'm not saying Watto is the best possible version of a fantasy character - but even if we would see him as the Star Wars version of a clichéd Jew. Is that really antisemitic? Is he a caricature? He isn't evil, nor is his greed presented as a particularly bad trait. He doesn't mistreat his slaves, he isn't into organized crime, he isn't allied with the Sith. We see Watto again in AOTC, and while he and Anakin don't exactly have a joyful reunion, they don't seem to be meeting and parting again on bad terms, either.

I think one can make a case that Watto is a more sympathetic, more positive character than Han Solo is in ANH - both might be in it only for the money, but Watto is no cold-blooded killer.

I'd also say that there is a difference there between fantasy worlds where we talk about imaginary cultures and species, and how you present 'exotic people' on earth. Indiana Jones is full of very bad clichés and racist stereotypes one better does not repeat these days.

But what we can say and should say, I think, in regards to Star Wars is that Lucas' species and cultures are not just badly created primitive or backwater people viewed through the eyes of the British colonial - unlike, say, certain things one sees in Star Trek, especially TOS and early TNG.

1 minute ago, polishgenius said:

The same is true of the Harry Potter goblins really, even more so because the physical stereotype of goblins was already existent independent of financial greed and Rowling clumped it together with banking with really unfortunate consequences - but it being unintentional doesn't mean it's not there at all.

Well, the goblins are not just bankers but also great craftsman in the magical arms department. They neither look Jewish nor are they human ... and the greedy banker as a trope exists independently of the greedy Jewish banker.

To make an apt comparison: Thomas Mann's banker Kesselmeyer in 'Die Buddenbrooks' can be viewed as an antisemitic stereotype. He isn't explicitly Jewish, either, but he could very well be. You can read the book - and folks most likely did in the early 1900s - and say 'Well, another greedy Jewish banker. What a surprise.'

But Rowling's goblins are fantasy beings who don't seem to belong to any human minority, religious or otherwise.

1 minute ago, polishgenius said:

Coughing and having breathing difficulty are not traits typically associated with ablist stereotypes in the real world, so this is a meaningless comparison.

I was being sarcastic there, anyway.

In context, I think, one could also mention the case of Bill Kipsang Rotich, the guy who voiced Nien Nunb in ROTJ and, apparently, also the ST. They hired him to speak real world languages spoken in Kenya which caused him and the movie to becomes massively popular in Kenya. If you did that today, it would be kind of weird, fodder for the whole 'cultural appropriation' discourse.

But Nien Nunb speaking Kenyan languages doesn't make him a stereotype or a caricature or anything bad but rather adds another interesting layer to the character and the movie(s).

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Watto is a fucking awful character, one of many in TPM, and I kind of see the comparison to Jewish stereotypes, it's definitely there a bit. But it's also kind of not, the accent is all over the place, sometimes a bit italian, mostly kind of middle eastern. Physically I don't think hes living up to the stereotype too much, its just that he has this weird nose.

There is an element of projection going on there as well though I think.

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

Watto is a fucking awful character, one of many in TPM, and I kind of see the comparison to Jewish stereotypes, it's definitely there a bit. But it's also kind of not, the accent is all over the place, sometimes a bit italian, mostly kind of middle eastern. Physically I don't think hes living up to the stereotype too much, its just that he has this weird nose.

There is an element of projection going on there as well though I think.

I honestly never knew this whole Watto = a Jewish person, thing even existed, until you guys started posting it. I just viewed the guy as a greedy bug person, who was sort of a joke character. I honestly think certain people just randomly look for things to be offended over, if this is an issue.

Edited by sifth
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27 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Is he a caricature? He isn't evil, nor is his greed presented as a particularly bad trait. He doesn't mistreat his slaves, he isn't into organized crime, he isn't allied with the Sith. We see Watto again in AOTC, and while he and Anakin don't exactly have a joyful reunion, they don't seem to be meeting and parting again on bad terms, either.

I think one can make a case that Watto is a more sympathetic, more positive character than Han Solo is in ANH - both might be in it only for the money, but Watto is no cold-blooded killer.

 

The rest of the points I can see what you're saying even if I don't agree, but this is the weirdest point about a film I've seen in a week in which someone told me yesterday that Wes Anderson is a naturalistic filmmaker.  

 

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8 minutes ago, sifth said:

I honestly never knew this whole Watto = a Jewish person, thing even existed, until you guys started posting it. I just viewed the guy as a greedy bug person, who was sort of a joke character. I honestly think certain people just randomly look for things to be offended over, if this is an issue.

That it very true.

 

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

But the idea that we talk about 'racist caricatures' if you take aspects like accents and give them to fantasy creatures who have no physical resemblance to the people those aspects were taken from

OK, but in this case these creatures were (apparently deliberately) given physical characteristics that resemble the racist caricatures they're based on. Hook nose for Watto, thick lips for the Gungans, Orientalist dress for the Neimodians.

This idea that it can't be a racist caricature if a thing is standing in for another thing (small trunk for hook nose, alien for black/asian people) is astoundingly silly. Again, it just leaves me thinking you don't know what a caricature is, or have an astoundingly literal mind, or perhaps are being obtuse. It makes no real difference: the facts are what they are. The real world racism is right there on screen in the PT.

(And yes, racism can be present even when a character helps the heroes. Look up Ebony White, for example. Again, I'm just getting an impression that you struggle to understand racism in media, rather than an argument as to why this stuff isn't racist.)

 

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13 hours ago, IlyaP said:

"What if we have everyone say the same line three times?"

"It'll get the page break back onto the previous page in Microsoft Word."

"DO IT."

This is by far my kids favorite line from the entire series.

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