Tuesday, May 24, 2005

But Isn't This What Fueled the American Film Renaissance of the 70's?

Isn't this what breathed life back into American film-making all those years ago? Where's the problem here?:

'Star Wars' Exerts Force in Earthly Politics

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A year after Michael Moore weighed into the 2004 presidential campaign with "Fahrenheit 9/11," both sides of America's partisan divide are debating the political messages of a far different movie -- "Star Wars."

Even before it opened in theaters last week, some observers were drawing unflattering parallels between the story of interplanetary treachery in "Star Wars: 'Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" and the Bush administration's war on terror and its decision to invade Iraq.

"Star Wars" creator George Lucas has insisted that his themes of corrupted democracy and the rise of a fear-mongering tyrant were outlined decades ago, informed by Watergate and the Vietnam era, as well as Hitler's rise to power, rather than today's politics.

But that has not stopped liberals and conservatives alike from reading anti-Bush metaphors into the film and its dialogue.

Anakin Skywalker, the troubled young Jedi falling under the influence of the "dark side," warns his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy" -- reminding many of Bush's post-Sept. 11 declaration: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

Likewise singled out as a jab at Republican ambitions is the line uttered by Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) as the galactic senate cedes power to the evil Emperor Palpatine: "This is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause."

Last week, as the film opened, the liberal advocacy group MoveOn PAC launched an ad campaign seizing on "Star Wars" imagery to depict Senate Republican leader Bill Frist as Darth Vader's villainous mentor, Darth Sidious, in his showdown with Democrats over judicial nominations.


"People already know that checks and balances are a core part of the American system," said Ben Brandzel of MoveOn PAC. "But when you put it in terms that are as clear as the 'Star Wars' story, it helps people decode what is going on in Washington."

For its part, the Republican National Committee shrugged off comparisons to "Star Wars."

"It's an interesting cultural phenomenon, but if you look at the last few elections, the force has been with the Republicans," party spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt told Reuters. "And I would add that we're not taking our cues from Darth Vader, C-3PO or Yoda."

Nevertheless, the response of some conservatives has been so angry that one Web site called Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood recently added Lucas to its list of enemies.

But Paul Levinson, a communications and media scholar at Fordham University in New York, disagreed with the analysis of "Revenge of the Sith" as an anti-Republican diatribe.

Instead, he saw the film in terms that Bush supporters could rally around -- a cautionary tale about the menace posed by evil if not fully eradicated, as in the resurgence of Darth Vader after his inconclusive battle with Obi-Wan.

Applied to current events, he said, the message could be: "When we're confronting terrorism we have to do more than wound it -- we have to completely annihilate it ... because if even one drop of it survives, it could regain its power and do us enormous damage again."

Levinson said the politicization of "Star Wars" is a reflection of the highly charged partisan climate that persists after last year's bitterly fought presidential contest.

In the absence of an overtly political film like "Fahrenheit 9/11," Moore's scathing anti-Bush documentary, "people are seizing on something that has some political content and making the most of it."

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Story originally found on Routers

Where to begin?

First of all, great filmmaking is almost always fueled by political or social concerns and opinions. Without a decisive message to be found in at least SOME films, the artform itself will cease to be an artform, only to be reduced to what it all too often is: a bunch of happy-pappy crap aimed at pimple-faced high schoolers.

The revolution that occurred in American cinema in the 1970's came about because there were a generation of filmmakers (George Lucas included) who were fed up with all the non-sense fluff that was available in theaters, and decided to make films that meant something. By following the lead of their foreign idols Akira Kurosawa, Michelangelo Antonini, Federico Fellini, and others, Americans began to make films that had a voice. Whether you agree with that voice or not is one thing, but to question and condemn the fact that a film tries to convey a political or social message is a horse of a different color.

Now to address the two groups mentioned in the article. First. MoveOn PAC and MoveOn.org are a bunch of crazy, fanatical, "anything that isn't Republican is great, anything that is Republican is evil," nonsense spreading assholes! I hate that they even have anything to do with this movie, even if it isn't something endorsed by either 20th Century Fox (distributor) or George Lucas.

Second, there is actually a group called "Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood?" I wish that I didn't know that. This has got to be one of the most ridiculous and unnecessary groups in the history of ridiculous and unnecessary political advocacy groups, and believe me there are plenty of them out there. I'm all about American Patriotism. I'm filled to the brim with love and respect for my country and the principles it was founded on, which means that when necessary, being Anti-American is just what we need to right what we see as wrong.

I'm so sick of people being called traitors anytime they disagree with the current administration. In all my life I've never heard so many accusations of treason as I have since September 11, 2001, and the start of the war in Iraq. Agree or disagree with what your government is doing, it's still your right to feel any way you damned well please. Not only that, but you can talk about it until you're blue in the face, record an album about it, and make a movie about it if you please. Just don't expect everyone to listen to you because they've got the same rights that you do; the right to not listen to you, not buy your album, and not see your movie, which is exactly what this group needs to do. If you don't like the message, DON"T WATCH THE MOVIE AND STOP CRYING ABOUT IT!

Understand that I do see the irony in my statements about the above mentioned group. Sure, they have the right to not agree with George Lucas' politics, but to call him "Anti-American" for it is just outrageous.