Posts Tagged ‘Phantom Menace’
* Great episode of I Was There Too today starring Ahmed “Jar Jar Binks” Best, a genuinely fascinating figure in the Star Wars culture industry. I link this great EW profile of Best every few years. They talk about the Aftermath scene I didn’t like, and Best gives a nice explanation of why the treatment of Jar Jar as a character is so regrettable from a storytelling perspective in the context of defending the otherwise execrable Darth Jar Jar Theory.
* There’s an unexpected bonus episode of the Hello from the Magic Tavern spinoff Offices and Bosses out today, too. Truly, nothing can stop me now.
* Also at Marquette Wire: Marquette’s Live Poets Society breaks the silence with their poems on mental illness and suicide.
* Strange Horizons on “Kirk Drift.”
* United’s stock falls 1.1%, wipes out $255 million off the airline’s market cap. Maybe they should have offered people $2000 to give up their ticket? Just a crazy thought. Now they’re sorry. Does The Fine Print In United’s Contract Prevent Kicked-Off Passenger From Suing Airline? The Corporation Does Not Always Have To Win. And from the archives: The black art of overbooking. The Landing: Fascists without Fascism.
Sessions painted the matter in stark terms, saying that gangs and cartels “turn cities and suburbs into war zones, that rape and kill innocent citizens, and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders.”
“Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings,” Sessions said in prepared remarks. “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.”
When he delivered the speech, Sessions did not use the word “filth,” saying only “where we first take our stand.”
Sounds like the rivers will be running red with the blood of the unclean soon. #MAGA!
* The rule is you don’t talk about politics on the trail. The truth is you can’t talk about diversity in the outdoors without talking about politics, since politics is a big reason why the outdoors look the way they do. From the park system’s inception, Jim Crow laws and Native American removal campaigns limited access to recreation by race. From the mountains to the beaches, outdoor leisure was often accompanied by the words whites only. The repercussions for disobedience were grave. Hiking the Appalachian Trial while Black.
We want a SuperRace because we want to eradicate absolutely everything that terrifies us. We want SuperHumans so we can transcend that thing we are: human. But a SuperHuman would lack that crack in everything through which, as Leonard Cohen sang, the light gets in. There’s something in our suffering that we need. We’ve known this for millennia, and we make it clear in the stories we keep telling. The Buddha gave up his palace and meditated beneath a tree for a week. Jesus of Nazareth said yes to a cross. Our ache is our unfortunate, undeniable doorway. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, says the copper lady with the torch. When we walk into our pain, we sometimes find ourselves on the other side, freed of what we once thought we needed to feel free.
* The ACLU filed a lawsuit Friday against the city of Maplewood, Missouri, over a policy that allegedly evicts domestic violence victims and banishes them from the St. Louis suburb if they call police for help more than twice in six months.
* Laurie Penny says The Expanse is perfect…ly fine. I haven’t been able to muster the enthusiasm a lot of other people seem to have for the series, though I liked the first season well enough; I haven’t even started the second season yet.
* The DC Cinematic Universe turns to the only hero who could possibly save it: The Rock. The Rock can make anything good, but there are limits. There are limits.
An English major explains his career options to three mechanical engineers for fifteen minutes. How many beers will the English major drink in explaining that, really, he has it figured out as he’s applying to eighteen grad schools, and after the PhD, maybe become a professor, or go for a post-doc, maybe? What if he’s trying to impress someone? What if that someone’s also a mechanical engineer?
* The Tides of Lust: Samuel Delany reviews the first Star Wars movie, 1977. In the Butler archives there’s a ton of her thoughts on the Star Wars franchise, including her class notes for the Clarion classes where she discussed it. Really interesting stuff.
* And speaking of which: a CFP for a Butler essay collection.
* Evacuate? In my moment of triumph? J.J. Abrams also apologizes for Star Trek Into Darkness.
* People are still arguing in the mentions of this Tumblr post on jury nullification, over two years later.
* Out today: Adam Roberts’s The Thing Itself.
* I expected to find at least a couple prisons within a mile of a toxic site — after all 89 percent of all New Jersey residents live within a mile of a toxic site. What I didn’t expect is that over half of New Jersey’s state prisons would be toxic sites. The WNYC map, using information from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection website, identifies seven out of the 13 New Jersey state prisons as toxic sites. Plus, these toxic prison sites are often surrounded by more contaminated sites.
* The Disaster Most Likely to Cause Global Famine Is Not an Earthquake, Storm, Tsunami, or Flood. I knew it, it’s capitali–oh, no, drought, it’s drought.
General Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, said governance changes within the system were a matter of “when, not if,” and that university chancellors should be empowered to “truly be the chief executive officers.”
Vos added: “Does the role of allowing faculty to make a huge number of decisions help the system or hurt the system?”
The mere existence of child actors, it should be said, is strongly at odds with just about every other ideological formation we have regarding childhood; I’m pretty sure we’ve all decided to just overlook the contradiction entirely on the grounds that we like having movies to watch.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is not a rumination on the ravages of age, though early in the movie it briefly pretends to be. Nor is it an examination of the Cold War’s culture of paranoia and suspicion—though it has a little bit of that too—nor is it about the way power ultimately looks the same whatever uniform it happens to wear or which flag it claims to fight under, nor about Chariot of the Gods and saucer men from Mars. In the end, it’s about being an Indiana Jones movie, which is to say it’s all about car chases, booby traps, clever in-jokes, and the sheer, unstoppable force that is Harrison Ford’s charisma.
And it does this job quite well.
Now, if I were inclined to look at Indiana Jones with anything like a critical mind, I’m sure I’d find plenty of negative things to say about this movie, from a story that’s strikingly light on character or emotional depth (even for its genre) to more than a few embarrassingly silly plot moments to a characteristically Lucasian overreliance on CGI. (Don’t even get me started on politics, postcoloniality, or heteronormativity.) El Dorado is a good MacGuffin, but it just doesn’t pack the same mythic punch as the Lost Ark or the Quest for the Grail—and while I thought the alien stuff was pretty well-handled overall, fundamentally there’s a style mismatch here that approaches the level of category error.
And of course on some pure plane of aesthetic valuation it must be said that Lucas and Spielberg should have resisted the temptation to mess with perfection and let Last Crusade stand as the proper ending to this story it’s always been. In this sense Crystal Skull is actually worse than superfluous—the need to return to Indy, 20 years on, undercuts and arguably destroys entirely the narrative arc that somehow took the cartoon hero of Raiders and turned him into a human being. Last Crusade didn’t need a sequel; the trilogy was already a complete story, not Episodes 44-46 in the 108 Adventures of Indiana Jones.
Phantom Menance betrayed us right up front, and was pretty noisy about it. What Crystal Skull does is quieter, subtler, and perhaps ultimately more devastating to its franchise: it takes that human being from Crusade and turns him back to a cartoon again.
If I were inclined to look at Indiana Jones critically, I’m saying, I think I’d have a pretty ambivalent view of Crystal Skull. But tonight I’m not at all inclined to do any of that—I watched Indiana Jones tonight as I always do, with the spellbound eyes of my twelve-year-old self, and he liked the movie just fine.