After reading The New Yorker’s recent article: “The Mogul in the Middle” I felt compelled to see what might turn out to be Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster of all times: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” If ever there was a corroboration of the industry’s depravity and supplication to the market it is in Adam Fogelson’s (a new studio mogul) forthright analysis wherein he claims: “If you ask, ‘Can we make something great once or twice a year that violates a rational business model?,’ the answer is no!” Indeed, this is nowhere better articulated as in this new Star Wars franchise film.
Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of the George Lucas school of special effects and trans-phenomenal story telling. But there was such a buzz about this latest blast of cinematic extravaganza that I decided to give it a go. But before ‘the force’ would triumphantly blowup the evil empire (hopefully once and for all) those of us in the theater had to sit through preview after preview of generic Lucas inspired memes. All of them, of course, flush with violence, explosions, computer generated graphics galore, and the monolithic idiocy that characterizes the orgy of creatures that appear out of nowhere, as if the designers of these films were given free reign to be as ridiculous as the technology would allow.
The relentless assault of visual and audio effects in Star Wars and the myriad of similar genres that studios toss to the whims of the public, hoping maybe one in twenty will turn some kind of profit, is in effect, just a perverted variation of our market based economy. Even John Williams’ musical score in Star Wars becomes nauseatingly repetitive, only rising to the occasion when he tries to emulate Beethovian-like motifs and progressions only to retreat back into colloquial pomposity.
Perhaps The Force ‘Awakens’ by dint of its unforgiving energy. But what a film like this needs is an intermission...or two, or three, or more. But even one pause in the blitz might allow for some thought to percolate from the audience as to what in the galactic matrix of things is really going on in this joyless film? Yes, good versus evil is an archetype of our story-telling tradition. But Star Wars is so over the top in its inebriation with computer generated special effects that it loses touch with the grit of our best stories: That is allowing us to use our own imagination. When every scene, every character, every concoction of the designers vision becomes so dominant we can easily become concussed into submission, and a non-critical acquiescence to it’s creative exaggerations in the name of praise.
The fact, as pointed out in the New Yorker article, that studios rely on these memes to the detriment of reality based, human stories of nuance, purpose, and grounded inspiration only highlights the mainstream cultural degradation that we are enduring in these times. When America’s champion product...the movies... becomes so wedded to the almighty dollar and the caprices of international investments and their demands then it is no wonder that education in our country has become martyred as a result.
I would submit that the Star Wars franchise and its endless violent, inane spinoffs have done as much to diminish the general intelligence in this country as any of the countless philistine, digital distractions that are always available at a flick of the finger. And, considering how many gunshots per minute are fired off in these merciless expositions of bloodshed and brutality, it’s hard to believe they don’t play a part in the numbing proliferation of shoot ‘em up savagery going on today. As blogger Andy Borowitz puts it: “This country has a gun problem, but it also has a low IQ problem. The second problem makes it harder to fix the first.”
I confess that after seeing the last installment of the George Lucas company’s foray into the void my IQ has probably dropped 5 or more points...perhaps more. My hope is that in writing this commentary I can summon back some of what I lost in exposing myself to this one-hundred & thirty-five minute ravishment of the senses. I realize that I am not on the bell curve of the movie going public’s appreciation beat. But that can only serve to give me faith in myself, if not in Hollywood and its trollopian subservience to the forces of darkness.