Pop Culture
Aug 17, 2010, 08:28AM

Our Star Wars Obsession

Deleted lightsabers, aliens who make ice cream, and 30 years of geekery.

Very recently, the assembled geeks at Star Wars Celebration V were treated to some long-lost footage which had been left out of Return of the Jedi: a shadowy Luke Skywalker putting together his lightsaber and getting a telepathic message from daddy Darth Vader. The film clip is less than one minute long, but for countless Star Wars fans, it warranted euphoric screaming, followed by hours upon hours of careful analysis, which included harassing Mark Hamill who subsequently claimed that he never actually filmed the scene in question. Presumably, they just happened to have a stand-in with the notable Hamill chin-cleft. Or beat one up until they did.

George Lucas is a notoriously shifty guy, especially when it comes to delivering to the fans of his work. While his dismissive temperament regarding the demands of the public seem to say a lot about his steadfast artistic integrity, the directors who worked on Star Wars alongside him have openly stated that after the first Star Wars movie was released, Lucas’ interests immediately shifted to selling toys and merchandise instead of creating a coherent narrative. Judging by other “lost” scenes in which brother-and-sister pair Luke and Leia are about to engage in a full-on makeout party, these statements about Lucas’ wavering artistic integrity are probably true.

The excitement over unearthing lost scenes from Star Wars needs a frame of emotional reference for people who don’t feel an innate sense of dedication to the whole Star Wars thing, so let me translate this into a few other languages :

It’s like Robert Plant finding a song that was left off of Led Zeppelin IV on a tape in his attic.

It’s like someone lifted up a dresser at the convent of Siessen and found a stack of M. I. Hummel drawings.

It’s like [insert thing that you really like] was enhanced by the discovery of [insert lost element of that thing].

While I enjoy Star Wars a whole lot, and have even had some professional involvement with it, I find that I’m pretty far removed from a mentality which would vocally cheer an interesting, but essentially meaningless, addition to a thing which is iconic enough by itself. It’s this pervasive desire to extract every iota of enjoyment from any given property that sometimes ruins the thing itself - and Star Wars has been extracted far beyond what its original content was able to provide. Entire books have been dedicated to the exploration of the lives of creatures which appeared in the background for literally one second. Innumerable, very sightly different DVD releases later, and alongside the current hype for fancy (but highly conditional) a Blu-Ray set, Star Wars has been completely bled dry, and Lucas has strung up the corpse to puppet like a very, very sad marionette.

There comes a point when we depend on our enjoyment of something so intensely that we force it to take on a certain obligation to us, whether it likes it or not, and it stops being enjoyable. This principle played itself out in college when I was dating a music major whose desire to dissect every audible facet of every song had completely robbed her of actually enjoying music for what it was--an imperfect art made by imperfect people. I’m now a painter, but I once refused to take any painting courses while I was in school because I didn’t want something I loved to be torn apart and put back together again in front of me. This was a process that I needed to embrace by myself and make all of the necessary mistakes along the way.

Sometimes, our love of something is predicated on the parts of it that we don’t understand or which are not completely transparent, which is an idea that dates as far back as the Old Testament: Adam watches Eve being formed from the inside-out by the hand of God and is disgusted with the process and lack of mystery about scary woman-guts. Sure, I’d love to see every Star Wars line flub, cut scene and Carrie Fisher nip-slip - but I’m not going to pay extra for it. It’s like paying admission to enter a gallery where the artist only puts his palettes on display. We know that they exist--do we really need to cheer them?


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