November 2, 2005

It's not hackery, it's an elaborate meditation on the dialectic between chance and order

It's official: Star Saga is no longer the funniest, most deadpan satire of the making of Star Wars.

Update: Having long ago abandoned the faith of postmodernism (while still quite enjoying some of the ritual, mind you) I thought I'd simply commit the cardinal sin of asking the -- gasp -- author what was on his mind. I admit I was slightly reluctant because I know firsthand that nothing kills a deadpan joke faster than coming clean, but Wasley, clever chap that he is, found a way to reply that gives away just enough without quite spoiling the fun. His complete response, under the subject line il n'y a pas de hors-texte, is as follows:

Ghost of Obi-Wan [to Luke]: So what I told you was true... from a certain point
of view.

Luke [incredulously]: A certain point of view?

Ghost of Obi-Wan: Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling
to... [spectrally sitting down]... depend greatly on our own point of view.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


John Scalzi, usually just about the sharpest tool in any shed, unfortunately took the piece completely literally. I saw it as a great piece of humor writing (indeed, incredibly deadpan humor writing) that really takes the stuffing out of Lucas.

Um, I guess I'm missing something because I'm pretty sure the author is 100% serious.

Boy, this is an interesting question. If it's serious, then the guy is indeed an absolute idiot. But doesn't he have to be kidding when he says that Lucas himself doesn't even realize what he's achieved? "As Obi-Wan would tell him, the Master's nostalgia for his artsy youth is misplaced. That Force has been with him, always." That's serious? Pshaw.

I can't believe you're really surprised that someone would attempt to write a serious academic piece about Star Wars. People do take this stuff pretty seriously, you know?

Well, okay, I'm still confused. So let me just say that satire loses a bit of its punch, when it is an exact replica of what you might be making fun of. How do you tell the difference?

I don't think he's satirizing postmodern theorizing, I think he's satirizing Star Wars through the lens of postmodern theorizing. I also think that he's so steeped in this stuff that he himself doesn't know how much is satire and how much is serious, and, more importantly, doesn't even think in those terms. He really believes that whether this is satire or not depends not on his intent, but on the reader's perception. At least, that's what I would have thought when I studied under people like him.

I came away from that article with, alas, a Simpsons gag in my head:

Teen1: Oh, here comes that cannonball guy. He's cool.
Teen2: Are you being sarcastic, dude?
Teen1: I don't even know anymore.

I don't think there's a difference. The essence of American mass media postmodernism is defensive dishonesty. One feels a certain way about Star Wars and wishes to express it but one also feels shame for this feeling, affection, and fears opprobrium for what is, let's be honest, flawed aesthetic judgment. Rather than go through the effort of learning, changing, training onesself to differentiate between good and bad, one turns to the ever elusive snidely allusive language of misapplied theory. Is he kidding? Is he serious? He'll never tell! But he'll wink. Or will he? There is fundamentally no difference between this Slate article (which, serious or not, is true) and Salvadoran death squads; the ephemeral epiphenomena of the Capitalist id.

The movies are all bad. Some are enjoyable. They made a lot of money. Death to our enemies.

Sorry I didn't read the update. Forget everything. Except 'affection.'

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