I've Got a Bad Feeling About This

I've Got a Bad Feeling About This

Star Wars, Intellectual Property, and Cultural Expropriation
by Peter Gelderloos

To say I am a Star Wars fan would be an understatement. In high school, I could win the Star Wars Trivial Pursuit board game in one turn: I didn't get any answers wrong and kept going around the board until I had collected all the tokens (yeah, not many friends). Of course, as I got older, I realized that the Jungian archetypes, Daoist philosophy, and tale of rebellion against authority that had so enchanted me were mixed in with a democratic storyline of restoring a “rightful” government, along with plenty of racial stereotypes and settler tropes. Nonetheless, it is hard to disavow the fantasy worlds one grows up with. The total conversion of Star Wars into a “franchise” is occasion enough to comment on how we might respond when capitalism eviscerates an imaginary world we love. The kind of cultural resistance I want to explore also offers some tactics for dealing with problematic aspects of the original movies.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away

To discuss how capitalism ruined Star Wars, we need to chart the galaxy's long decline. My steadfast position is that the only real Star Wars is the original trilogy, Episodes IV to VI. I will later contradict this position, but for now, bear with me: all of the subsequent movies are shit.

When Episode I came out, I rushed to the theater the very first day. From the moment I walked out, for the next half week, I was dumbstruck, trying desperately to invent excuses for what was undeniably a troublingly clumsy movie. Once the trilogy had wrapped up, it was clear: George Lucas had lost his touch. Leaving aside the awkward dialogue, there were numerous plot contradictions, as though he had forgotten what had happened in the original trilogy.

Furthermore, he was unable to recapture the spirit of the originals. Granted, it had to be a different story, not one of an underdog rebellion, but of a decadent Republic and Jedi Order unable to fend off a growing threat. Unfortunately, Lucas does not create any interesting plot out of this conflict. A trilogy in which the bad guys win provides mouth-watering opportunities for reversing clichéd storylines or questioning moral assumptions, yet Lucas does not explore any weakness or flaw in the Senate or on the Jedi Council that lets Palpatine triumph (except maybe bad acting?). Evil wins in the prequel trilogy because, well, that's how A New Hope begins. And letting a storyline get carried along exclusively by the demands of the next installment is simply not good writing (though, as we shall see, J.J. Abrams has lowered the bar so much that the plot of the prequel trilogy starts to seem brilliant).

Lucas even seems to forget the genre he is writing in. Star Wars is not science fiction, it's fantasy in space, complete with knights, wizards, monsters, and princesses. His source material was not Arthur C. Clark, but Joseph Campbell, the Brothers Grimm, Tolkien, and Lao-tzi, and at no point in the original does he explain how things work or explore how technology affects society. Nonetheless, in Episode 1 he suddenly, inexplicably, tries to elucidate that the Force works because midi-chlorians. Which doesn't actually explain anything and also cheapens the most potent element of the galaxy and the one in least need of explaining.

What does any of this have to do with capitalism? It's not just that I'm disappointed in George, the way I might be—again, and again, and, ooh, ouch, again—with Terry Gilliam. In this case, there is a question of commercialization.

A long time ago, in a Hollywood far, far away, George Lucas was a cultural worker, creating awesome stories (c'mon, who can't love Willow? oh shit, more Eurocentric fantasy, urgh) out of myths and archetypes that are collectively elaborated and passed on. As a member of the most privileged stratum of the working class, he had the opportunity to become a property owner, and as soon as the commercial success of Star Wars made that possibility manifest, he seized it with both hands. He and his team were pioneers of visual and audio effects, but more than that, he was a pioneer of the cultural franchise, marketing Star Wars paraphernalia from the get go. And that has become his Empire.

The prequel trilogy was bad not because sometimes filmmakers lose their touch (and it's interesting how this happens much more in cinema than among novelists; perhaps decadence is proportionate to investment and returns?), but because for the decades between Return of the Jedi and A Phantom Menace, George's principle focus was on marketing and money-making. The prequel was bound to be crap. And his loyalty to the fantasy galaxy he had created was bound to be weaker than Disney's offering price.

It was no coincidence that the industry reproduced, on a meta scale, its own stylistic template: in a sequel, the villains have to be bigger and badder.

I Will Not Give Up My Favorite Decoration... There Will Be No Bargain

An economic subtext to this unfolding tragedy is that George Lucas had the democratic right to disappoint and betray millions of fans, first making a travesty, and then selling the whole galaxy to the McDonalds of video entertainment. He owned the Intellectual Property. And this technical mumbo-jumbo is so convincing a myth that among all the betrayed, I haven't heard anyone questioning Lucas' legitimacy in sending Star Wars through the slaughterhouse of dreams.

But there is an element we have overlooked. I mentioned that the prequel trilogy conflicted with several minor plot details from the original trilogy. This is something that Lucas clearly failed to notice, but the fact that it is known, that I can mention it, shows there were other eyes being more attentive. Tens of thousands of fans, in fact, commented on these inconsistencies, all of them, at that point, people who knew Star Wars, and cared about it, more than George Lucas himself.

Let us not speak of meritocracy. Show me the corpse! Who owns the Star Wars galaxy?

Now I Am the Master

The sad answer is, Disney, the largest news and entertainment corporation on the planet. And you don't get Death Star big by respecting art, but by blowing up everything that stands in your way.

Disney's method represents a whole new level of cultural production: compartmentalized, technocratic, eyes always on the bottom line. Their goal was to make the first in a long line of blockbusters. To do this, it wouldn't be enough to make something that would thrill Star Wars fans. Doing so would require esoteric references to the original trilogy and the target market would be in the tens of millions rather than billions.

So, a priori, they had to make a crowd pleaser, they had to make something visually stunning but plotwise, tame and safe. Why not a remake? The wave of remakes sweeping Hollywood is not a simple fashion, but a calculated marketing decision: movies that already got famous represent accumulated advertising capital, a brand that in large part will sell itself, and surely there is plenty of market research showing that Boomers and Gen Xers are particularly prone to nostalgia.

The first sign that the financial department, and not a squad of Star Wars nerds, were running things was the hiring of J.J. Abrams, just in from shooting a Star Trek movie. I don't believe it's impossible to like both Star Wars and Star Trek, but it's a total ignoramus who would suppose the two are similar and would think of recruiting Star Trek talent for the next Star Wars production, the way you might bring in Ridley Scott for Blade Runner after Alien was a hit.

Of course, I use the word “talent” ironically in that sentence. J.Bro Abrams' Star Trek flick was probably the worst of all of them, and there have been a lot. There is not a creative bone in that wretched man's body. His one, singular talent is to make buttloads of money off of perfectly mediocre storylines. But Episode VII, The Force Awakens, is an atrocity even for him. Perhaps, in a tragic act of personal homage to the man behind the myth, he wanted to slap together something so awful that people would have fond memories of George Lucas' prequel trilogy.

It seems to me that one of the first steps in writing a sequel is to look at where the original ends and figure out where to go from there, but the odious, insipid J.J. Abrams was incapable even of this simple task. Everywhere in the sequel trilogy his gross, latte-stirring, smartphone screen-swiping fingers probed, the result was nothing but a thinly veiled, inferior remake of the original trilogy plot.

At the end of Return of the Jedi, the Empire is mostly destroyed, and the Rebellion just has to waltz into Coruscant and put the New Republic together. At the beginning of Abrams' money-making vomit, the Empire is more powerful than ever, and the Rebellion is still a rebellion. Only the names have changed. Even the superweapons are the same, but a little more powerful, and with more obnoxious violations of basic physics (like, you can watch the destruction of a planet lightyears away in realtime).

Since I haven't yet pointed out what an ass J.J. Abrams is, let me take a little time to do so. In another of his productions, the execrable Cloverfield Paradox, they don't even know how centripetal force works (you know, the standard rotating spacecraft that creates artificial gravity with down being the outside of a rotating ring?) and they seem to believe that “up” and “down” are fixed directions in space, as when they are shocked to find that a constellation is suddenly “upside down”. Seriously, science fiction like this makes people stupider, it paves the way for Trumps and Flat-Earthers.

In one of the best trilogies of fan fiction in the Star Wars galaxy, Timothy Zahn thought hard about what conflicts would appear after the triumph of the rebels in Return of the Jedi, and though at times his books read like military scifi (Zahn's background), the result is compelling and exciting. Abrams accomplished none of that.

I have to salute Rian Johnson for intentionally sabotaging J.J. Abrams' more moronic story arcs: insisting that Rey's parents weren't anybody important, and abruptly killing off the Harry Potter villain who had appeared out of nowhere to lead the Empire and resurrect the Sith. I also think Johnson did his best to make a good movie in unpromising circumstances, and came close to succeeding. He captures the urgency of the Rebellion fighting rearguard actions against a more powerful enemy, reintroduces an actually anti-authoritarian element missing since the original trilogy when he takes the war to the rich (though making all of the galaxy's wealthy denizens not only aliens, but of varieties not heretofore seen comes too close to anti-Semitic tropes that are making a big comeback), questions the Tom Cruise maverick trope in a way that is both incisive and compassionate, provides a truly dramatic confrontation that comes to head in Luke's final face off with Kylo Ren, and makes a beautiful meta-jab at J.J. Abrams' total lack of creativity by creating and breaking the illusion that the middle-of-the-trilogy ground battle against the Empire is taking place on an ice planet.

The result, however, is a trilogy made completely incoherent as the two directors hired by the financial department have a hundred million dollar cat fight over conflicting visions and plot elements. The fact that Disney could allow this to happen shows how little respect and seriousness they have brought to the Star Wars galaxy. And the fact they brought J.J. Abrams back in to finish the trilogy off (and I mean this in the original sense of coup de grâce) shows they prioritized box office concerns over creative ones.

Episode 9 was pathetic. Truly interesting characters with mostly good actors just trundled along. Only Rey and Kylo Ren showed any complexity, and all the other characters who were vital to a large part of the plot experienced no development whatsoever. The big revelation that Rey was some bad guy's daughter was insultingly staid, again revealing Abrams to be shameless in recycling plot elements from the first trilogy, anything to avoid an original idea. Palpatine's back? I almost choked on my own yawn. Bringing back characters thought to be dead is a dead giveaway that the writers are gimmicky hacks, unless we're dealing with epics or cyclical legends of the Baron von Munchhausen variety, in which multiple deaths of the protagonist is a feature of the genre. (Okay, it was done to decent effect in the fourth season of Peaky Blinders).

Finally, the big victory felt meaningless. There was no ongoing relationship between the Rebellion and the rest of the galaxy, so when they showed up at the predictable, opportune moment to save the day, they were only so many anonymous spaceships keeping the plot from falling apart. And given that the Empire's reappearance in Episode VII was gratuitous, its sudden defeat was just as gratuitous.

I Fear Something Terrible Has Happened

Finally, forcing Carrie Fisher to act from the grave was just dystopian, fucked up, and disrespectful, and this will have major consequences for cinema. We already got a peek in the chilling, dizzying 2013 movie The Congress. Whereas the original Star Wars trilogy revolutionized movie special effects, this technological change to the bounds of acting represents the first salvo of a new weapon in an ongoing class war. When actors can sign over their image and be reanimated by CGI, Hollywood gains an inestimable victory over its highest paid workers. Since social media allow people to become famous on their own effort, Hollywood will have access to a growing number of beautiful celebrities with millions of followers and no bargaining power. Once the CGI does the acting, the bosses don't have to be as dependent on hiring established actors. Actresses, in particular, are vulnerable: as they age, younger versions of them can be kept in the warehouse, and as the technology advances, famous actors can be brought back from the past.

Of course, this is one of the limits of a class war analysis: there are plenty of means of production that should be burned to the ground rather than seized, and the Spectacle, for its part, cannot be occupied; it can only ever occupy us. The point is not to elevate workers but to abolish work and therefore abolish the category of worker. As concerns cultural production, the key is to break the paradigm of bourgeois art and end the separation between performer and spectator.

The Fans Strike Back

When rich people steal away something you love and destroy it piece by piece—whether it's something important like the planet or trivial like Star Wars—the only answer is to go in with blasters blazing and take it back.

When I said at the beginning that the only real Star Wars is the original trilogy, this wasn't entirely true. Parallel to those movies is an expansive body of fan fiction that fills in every last nook of the Star Wars galaxy. Part of that is the traditional fan fiction, distributed for free and therefore in a dimension where evil cannot touch her, to paraphrase Willow, which is to say, beyond the reach of Intellectual Property. And because Lucas was such a merchandiser, another part of that parallel fiction was tamed and brought within the bounds of Intellectual Property: the licensed novels put out by a major publishing house. In time, video games also began to be taken seriously a medium in which the history of the Star Wars galaxy could be developed, despite the necessary superficiality of plot and the imperative for impossibly high body counts.

Though this latter production was tamed, that doesn't mean it wasn't good. I have already mentioned the Timothy Zahn trilogy. In fact, I would say that all the commercial Star Wars fiction was legitimate fan fiction until the release of the prequel trilogy. Why was this a watershed moment? Because no serious Star Wars fan thought that the prequel trilogy was any good. This is where the domestication effect of Intellectual Property comes in: writers of true fan fiction are free to dispute George Lucas' terrible telling of Episodes I-III; those writing under contract for Del Rey Books cannot. They had to plug their noses and keep on writing for a paycheck, embellishing the outer edges of Lucas' impoverished story, but never contradicting it outright. Their first loyalty was to the regime of Intellectual Property, and therefore, they were no longer fans, in the sense alluded to by fan fiction.

The independence of the fan fiction writer has another advantage: through this creative practice, we can go back and challenge socially problematic aspects of a work we otherwise love. The Rebellion are actually just a bunch of authoritarian liberals? How about a story featuring true revolutionaries cast out of the Alliance as extremists? Owen and Beru raise Luke to be a racist settler? How about a story from the perspective of the Tusken Raiders?

In fact, the writers—and the assiduous readers—of fan fiction are something more than fans. Fans implies passive spectators, and the fan fiction crowd creates and adds to the fantastical world in question. These were also the people who called out the errors in the prequel trilogy, rather than passively accepting them.

The fan fiction crowd is also different from the passive mass of spectators for whom the Disney trilogy was intended, those infantilized, self-infantilizing recipients of cultural product called into being by the Spectacle itself, who loudly bray their opinions over social media and whose voice is by no means commensurate with a process of care or attention towards the Star Wars galaxy. They are mere consumers of culture. World-eaters. And in this case, the vast majority of them hated Episode VIII, and were largely pleased with Episode IX. These are people who, when they go to the theater, do not want to be challenged, and in fact want to see a movie they have already seen a thousand times, though each time with a different skin painted over it. And these are precisely the people Disney had identified as their market.

Help me [Fan Fiction], you're my only hope

I think we can evaluate the two parallel Star Wars movies—Rogue One and Solo—as fan fiction. Both films were clearly made by people who know the Star Wars galaxy and paid close attention to the original trilogy. The main difference, to me, is that Solo played it safe. There is almost nothing in the plot extraneous to the bare bones details we know about Han Solo from the original trilogy. Every feature is constructed and precision-fitted to deliver these details in a coherent way, and no part of his backstory is overlooked. In other words, they did a much better job with this movie than Lucas did with the prequel trilogy. The problem is, there's hardly anything else there. (Really, they should have taken a whole trilogy to develop Han but of course, that decision was Disney's and therefore, it was a financial and not an artistic one).

The makers of Rogue One, on the other hand, gave a completely plausible explanation for how the Rebellion seized the Death Star plans that fits coherently with what we already know from the original trilogy, but they also took the creative license to invent wholly new aspects of the Star Wars galaxy, focusing a good deal on conflicts within the Rebellion and giving us the radical faction led by Saw Gerrera.

The anonymous author of The Unquiet Dead argues that Rogue One “is a good movie, but a bad Star Wars movie” because the protagonists die rather than triumphing, and presumably also—though they are not very explicit on this point—given the lack of an Oedipal storyline. Though I would say that there is in fact a version of such a storyline between Jyn Erso and her father, Unquiet's analysis of myth is spot on. However, Star Wars cannot be read exclusively as myth, especially when dealing with the aspect of fan fiction, which exists in large part to fill in all the space around the central plot. And the protagonists of fan fiction are usually not the protagonists of that central plot; therefore they cannot obey the same mythical rules. If the good guys win in Star Wars' mythical grammar (an assumption the prequel trilogy already forces us to throw out the window), that same grammar cannot apply to fan fiction, since such a medium requires that we be able to make a couple of stormtroopers the protagonists of our story, or poor Greedo.

I always knew there was more to you than money!

The profit motive is antithetical to good art and good storytelling, and Intellectual Property exists to protect the right of owners to profit. Someone who creates a story can later betray it or neglect it, as in the case of George Lucas; or, someone can acquire ownership of a story without having done anything to contribute to it, as in the case of Disney. The ownership regime takes none of these things into account. The only thing that matters is the sacred right of people with money to make more money, no matter whom or what they destroy.

The creators of fan fiction dance in the face of the absurd pretension that a story can have an owner. And though they avail themselves a certain liberty by, traditionally, distributing their work for free, there is no complete freedom as long as capitalism exists. As we have seen, the owners of a story can create a market for commercialized fan fiction, as happened with Del Rey and the “Expanded Universe.” And writers making a paycheck will generally adapt their work to “the market,” which is nothing but a euphemism for the demands of the big publishing companies and bookstores, or in this case, the owners of the IP.

Since George R.R. Martin's seminal betrayal of his own work, the dream of the commercially viable writer is no longer to get published; it is to get published and then sell their story to HBO or TNT. Truly good, truly radical writers are taking this step without considering how it affects their craft, their story, and their readers.

As much as I love aspects of Songs and Ice and Fire and appreciate George R.R. Martin, I hope he goes down in history as the first one to sell a story he hadn't even finished, allowing a couple of Hollywood hacks to give the first version of the finale, because, well, they paid a lot. I don't wish him this infamy out of any grudge, quite the contrary. But, you know: for the good of the realm.

But, purity aside, writers who refuse to make these financial compromises or—more often—are never even given that opportunity, face rising rents and a miserable job market that leaves no time for writing. A society in which artists starve—which, in fact, can cavalierly normalize the starving artist as a cliché—is an unjust one. Simultaneously, it is not okay for artists to become millionaires, and in a Brechtian sense, more important now than ever, an artist who becomes a millionaire is by definition not a good artist. Someone who wants to sell their story to Hollywood, if you're going to give the money to prisoners or the YPG, hey, sometimes we have to sacrifice our babies. But it is absolutely not okay that the new definition of success among writers is to sell their story to Hollywood. On this front, we could all learn a thing or two from Alan Moore, who has had his work stolen from him by DC Comics and turned into one awful or at best liberal movie after another.

Seizing the means of production is not an adequate solution. All storytellers possess their own means of production at a small scale. And the big publishing houses, bookstores, Hollywood, and so forth are designed to exponentially amplify a small number of manageable voices, all in the interests of profit and social control, and not to make storytelling more participatory and more diffuse.

The answer, then, is to focus on the needs of writers and artists not to starve, and the need of everyone for good stories. And as the fire-fighting wombats of Australia can attest, the best way to answer a diversity of needs is with the logic of mutual aid, and not the arbitrary, cruel lottery system of today, by which one starving writer in a thousand gets published, and one in a million gets their story picked up by HBO.

Are more writers today telling Other stories featuring people left out of literature for too long? They need to be getting closer to those Others who are also dreamers trying to create Other worlds, rather than revalidating the continuous attempts of a sick, cruel, homicidal old world to recruit diversity and get more hands on deck to keep it from falling apart. It is dreams, after all, and not compromises, that are the stuff of inspiration.

Property is theft! Houses for those who live in them, the land for those who take care of it, stories for those who imagine them!

There are 56 Comments

w t f ?!!!!!


who handed in a last minute middle school essay on a free topic? XD

It's not that bad. I enjoyed it. Not every essay can be Daggers Drawn you know.

Bad acting, peurile script and liberal sentiments. TOTAL WASTE OF TIME.

Perfect position beautiful soul syndrome.

the classic anarchist disease theyll never cure.

The actors were great and did the best they could but an old object of fanboyism was shoe-horned by force in the text and made way too evident and the plot was extremely confused and convoluted too. Gelderloos raped my 2010s anarchy I want my money back, Disney!

Ok, finished reading. Happy to have something to send to the star wars nerds in life. Thanks

wtf did I just read?

Gelderloos now going to do collabs with the Red Letter Media dorks?

so this is not like a veiled message, like blinking to tell you're being held hostage?
or not a veiled diss at Willy Gilly or something?!!
why is this piece so bland and terrible?!
is it a "clever" publicity technique to get more eyes and engagement on twitter?
"Someone who wants to sell their story to Hollywood, if you're going to give the money to prisoners or the YPG, hey, sometimes we have to sacrifice our babies."
An attempt at a mainstream breakthrough?
Clever idea! Bad execution, I say keep trying, I wanna see you get it!

I think that line was maybe aimed at N.K. Jemisin. The article is clearly intended for fantasy writers and fan fiction crowds. Anarchist News trolls, not so much. But hey, kick out the nerds, Team Anarchy loses its best members

Sheesh. Shows how instrumentalist your thinking is.
Can't a nerd just nerd?

I fucking loved how Rogue One showed that the extremists will get shit done, and then the liberal establishment will steal all the glory.

The Star Wars Al Qaida was actually the only interesting part in that rather lame spin-off fan service of a flick. That and maybe that combat droid.

write fanfiction

while im on it stop asking for emails when commenting ?

The only good Star Wars movie was empire and Willow was always terrible

I think what a lot of EU stans miss on Lucas' prequel trilogy is that he wanted to give it that fully zany flash gordon form which he could not pull off back in the mid to late 70s and early 80s. He also wanted a world build that was akin to that dick cheesy Rice Burroughsian landscape. The EUers were a bit too much on the logical side. IF you can evaluate the prequels on their own terms they are basically good Star Wars movies albeit with significant problems(OH GAWD the dialogue). They needed better directors and screen writers and had they had them they might have been of equal quality to the OT(which had it their own problems).

What is beyond doubt is that Jar Jar is responsible for two of the worst Star Wars films ever made with TROSW being the diarrhea on top of the shit sundae. Johnson's film was at least auteurishly interesting though not as good as his fanboys like to claim and not as bad as the fandom menace says it is(they have a trad overly logical bent anyway which does not make their analysis of TLD very good either). It's not a bad film but it's also not the modern SW equivalent of Empire Strikes Back.

What makes this trilogy feces on the whole is just bad archetypal lead characters who(while played by good actors) are not comparable to the OT or the prequel characters who were memorable SW characters as a whole in an interesting kiddy zany flash gordanian world.

For me what makes good SW is balancing Lucas' vision with the EU stans. Disney did none of this and will likely oversee the decline of the mythos as a franchise. As Peter correctly says though, there is still the marginal fanfiction which can keep it alive.

i think the implication is that gelderloos proposes getting deep into writing fanfiction/reading in order to veil conspiratorial writing
this is not a comment SW...
this is not a comment SW...
this is not a comment SW...
this is not a comment SW....;_;

Back in the '90s Star Wars was a subject of irl discussion, and since the Sequels it's like, nobody dares talking about it, other Tho I heard people talking about Parasite irl and that's kinda nice to see how after decades of blockbuster dumbing down and self-symbolic zombie crap, young people can still enjoy some brilliant movies that carry a deep social critique like this one.

I can only think of Knights of the Old Republic games (and The Old Republic to some extent) as SW productions that are on-par with the original trilogy. Mandalorian of course is pretty good too, even if that's even more safe feel-good shit than the OT. Prequels were at least beautiful and had their moments, but it was mostly odd-ball spectacle that best represented the dementia of a rich geek boomer...

Anyone who "loves" Star wars should take their love elsewhere.

Is Star Wars the only movie that Peter Gelderlos has ever seen? Psssst -- there are a few others out there.

Anyone who needlessly uses scare quotes because they can't write should take their boring opinions elsewhere.

See, I can be mean for no reason too.

"What" "do" "you" "mean" "?"
"I" "think" "you" "were" "being" "nice" "to" "that" "anon", "considering" "how" "mean" "they" "were."
"I" "think" "it's" "a" "good" "idea" "to" "put" "our" "best" "effort" "to" "be" "nice" "in" "this" "site" "if" "we're" "going" "to" "use" "it" "to" "counter" "all" "bad" "vibes". "If" "not", "we" "should" "abstain" "and" "leave" "it" "to" "these" "haters".
"We" "can" "still" "find" "joy" "in" "annoying" "each" "other" "in" "petty" "ways" "without" "putting" "each" "other" "down" "or" "denigrating" "each" "other's" "dignity".

The day the earth stood still was a far more paradigm shifting proposal than the usual StarWars Empire based narratives.
Sorry,but that's the only way an intellectual can discuss scifi scripts in this era of pizza delivery drones!

Although science fiction is generally pretty childish and stupid, there are some striking exceptions out there. 'The Day the Earth Stood Still', with Michael Rennie as the Bowie-esque alien, is one. 'Start Bores' is childish dreck. Don't just take my word on that; see the comments Alec Guinness made about it to various people on various occasions.

Anon 20:21 here, yes agreed, and by the way, everyone can be Bowie-esque if they are individualistically inclined, and intellectual as well.

Day the Earth Stood Still was great, tho Rennie was a tad too normie for the times, not anywhere near a Bowie. I get that The Man Who Fell to Earth was trying to get in that direction, tho it would have deserved maybe a better remake... more of the likes of Under the Skin or that kind of odd eerie approach. Remake attempt with Keanu was another mediocre snorefest.

The things is that Hollywood is a good ideas crushing machine. Led by a bunch of gangsters consisting of hack frauds in suits with nice haircuts, it's continuously a terrible industry that hardly supports talent. A24 and Denis Villeneuve may have been the only new hopes in this cesspool of mediocrity, but they're not even Hollywood-born.

Douglas Trumbull movies were some of the best sci-fi made in the US, along with the much-forgotten Forbidden Planet (that's an insult on the side of the Star Trek franchise, for how the original series copied on this film to a point it's almost their actual pilot movie).

A friend and I were talking recently about how lucky we were to see and be overwhelmed by 2001 & Planet of the Apes when we were seven or eight years old during their initial theatrical releases in the summer of 1968. We commiserated about how bad we felt for unfortunate younger children whose first big film experience was the vapid childish dreck of totally uninteresting USC film school product and Hollywood bore George Lucas.

And could still remember back that far, those small sensitive thoughts we had as 8 year olds, when the emotion of empathy was not cluttered with fears which suppressed its expression, when it just flowed effortlessly through our minds. Scifi then was just an extrapolated dream about the future.

Okay, Michael Rennie wasn't full throttle Bowie, but to me, still quite Bowie-esque. And in that regard 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' was a real missed chance; Bowie at the total peak of his Bowie-hood but not used adroitly in a total crap movie. That one had the feeling of a class project of some not at all promising students with indulgent Dads with deep pockets in a J.C. film production class.

Silent Running is another missed chance -- audible explosions in space. Plus, it could have gain much by Joan Baez being a lot, lot less audible on the sound track.

2001 and Planet of the Apes are not remotely in the same league: 2001 is a dazzling work of cinematic art, and Planet of the Apes is more like a very good TV show of that era, 'The Prisoner' with a little light nudity, but seeing them as an eight year old kid, what a rush -- too young to get their narratives at all but not too young to be disturbed as hell by them! Instead of rating films like these for trivialities like sex and violence they should have an 'E' rating -- for Existential Dread. "May induce feelings of of vast, indifferent and godless the cosmos is in children ages 12 and under."

I recently re-watched 'Star Wars' for the second and last time -- ugh. No wonder Alec Guinness hated the fuck out of it. George Lucas is just an uninteresting puerile filmmaker. In the immortal words of Rex Reed about some other crap film by a crap filmmaker, I wouldn't trust that man with a Polaroid.

The Man Who Fell To Earth is a great fuckin movie. Make sure you see the uncut version, preferably on the big screen.

20:21 here. As Tarantino said, cinema can be put into 2 broad descriptions, Movies or Films. There can be an intersection between the different schools of aesthetics, which pleaes the most people most of the time. Lets face it, actors like to get paid these days, revenue drives the industry, freelance amateur cinema stays makes it to youtube and makes money 1 per million maybe, and often look like crap. Good a tors are drawn to Hollywood, and the whole industry is parodied beautifully in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but you'd have to be up on the 60s to laugh at the Bruce Lee segment. Pure joy to watch, script, acting, it deserves all the compliments its received. Now take political masterpieces, these are Films, not Movies for the masses, usually starting from books, like 1984, or the unknown ùnderrated THX 1138, or the more recent Snowpiercer, which combined the visceral desperation of apocalyptic futuristic scenarios with the old Marxist class warfare narrative, allegorical in its description òf the authoritarian hierarchical State. We are all in the end carriage, 99% , we've known this for centuries, for millenia. Revolutions come and go, like lemmings, Nature just chews us up and spits us out, and what do we remember, only from a photo of someone who meant something to us, who we felt for. Let them have their wealth and palaces, look at Priince what's his name and Meagan, even they know that this false hierarchy is ending. Scifi is about not having the alienation of the alien, of not being from Mars, Bowie's deliberate reversal of identity, to defeat the capitalist human's, who are the real aliens to the future of this world.

Great? How? If anything it needs to be tighter, not longer. It has that unmotivated feeling of something that was shot without a script. If you want shot without a script, or even a story, see 'Alphaville.'

Tarantino is absolute garbage as a filmmaker. He's a dull and vicious 13 year old boy who gets his rocks off burning insects with a magnifying glass. The only thing remotely passable I've seen by that turd is Jackie Brown, and that's cause he got an actual story to tell from someone who can actually tell stories, Elmore Leonard.

Look up this zero's list of his ten favorite films: dull, dull, and more dull. He can't even frame shots in a minimally engaging way. All the films he refers to were trash the first time around, and in his playpen they are half-digested recycled trash.

Hey, I began this whole thread about TDTWSS. I own THIS thread, and you should display some courtesy and RESPECT for the things I say. I KNOW Tarantino can be crass tongue in cheek parody master, but his cinema is the MOVIE genre, he admits it, that his movies are just about crass amusement and outrageous scenes with satire. I'm a discerning intellectual critic of cinema who has thousands of hours more experience and exposure to the broadest fields and genres in the cinema world, even porn. So before mouthing off if snarky shallow comments, try to adopt a more forgiving attitude to those who attempt to capture dreams and life on the silver screen!!

Take the three Tarantino films you think are his strongest work. Compare them to any three by Polanski. You will see a world of difference. There are great filmmakers -- and then there is George Lucas and violent pablum Nothingburger Tarantino.

Pulp Fiction craps on Polanski, that's why in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tarantino scripted an out of work stuntman for Hollywood action heroes kicking Bruce Lee's ass, and saving Polanski's wife and unborn baby by taking on the Manson family single-handedly and eliminating them. It was a ĺittle dig at the real ugly world truth and outrageousness being more bizarre than the fairytale fantasies that come from Polanski's pen and mind. Rosemary's Baby? Come on, that was inverted Catholic tripe which only appealed to the masses of X-tian Western religionists.
Django was a brutally real depiction of slavery never dared before to be revealed to the wider audience of the West. It broke taboos and myths, while Polanski's childish Vampire Killers and LA Detective, or whatever that drivel with Faye Dunaway was called was just a clichéd copy of Chandler-esque Spillane pulp fiction of the 40s and 50s. SHAME ON THE TEENAGE GIRL VIOLATOR, That's something Tarantino doesn't soil his reputation with!!

If the world is full of complex, engaging fascinating films, stuff that can enrich your life as much as a fine novel or a great album -- and then there's Burger King, why waste time and thought on Burger King?

Oh, so your playing the aesthetics moralist, critisizing freedom of choice, like vegans, inverting the Epicurian ethos of simplicity and pleasure and pushing for quality, fashion and complexity. If I like McDonalds French Fries, and I'm homeless and only have a dime to my name, I'LL EAT THEM!!

"Hahahhaahaaa uuu won't keep me from FULL shit consumerism FREE-DUM!!!" *proceeds to swallow an oversized bag of Doritos*

No, but, like, first you don't get anything about Epicurus. Then you claim vegans are after other people's freedom of choices. Then you're confusing mass consumerism with freedom of choice, then you go on proving your the dumbest chump around by telling us how it's important for you to pay for the crap they serve you, as if there were no other options on the table... All of this blazing poo, contained in a small paragraph. This is rich.

Just too bad you waste your precious pennies on toxic garbage, instead of saving and investing in order to pull yourself out of misery.

Return to Absalon
The Prophecy
Totall Recall

Seems like the /r/movies normies have found this site. THANK YOU,Gelderloos!

You mean Escape from Absolom. Anarchists could learn a lot from this old classic.

Of course, there's no right or wrong in this -- all in the eye of the beholder and all that. If you groove on that Andy Warhol film of a fly crawling up a woman's back, that's your call to make.

Having said this, I now generously assist you in expanding your film horizons beyond the violent pablum of the Mark Zuckerburg of Hollywood cinema, who has nothing to say and no cinematic chops to say it with, Quentin Zerotino:

Watch these instead:

Orpheus (Cocteau)

Touch of Evil

Le Doulos


Le Jette

Le Corbeau

A Man Escaped

Au Hasard Balthazar

Dr. Strangelove

The Sweet Smell of Success

Rosemary's Baby

Cries and Whispers

Tokyo Story



The Human Condition


Compliance (A really harrowing flick, about the conformist psychopathology of everyday life in the contemporary US. Like Ken Russell's' The Devils, the greatest horror films are always about what humans do to each other)

The Devils

Aguirre: The Wrath of God

The Wild Bunch

Two-Lane Blacktop

The Prisoner: ‘Many Happy Returns’

2001: A Space Odyssey

Juliet of the Spirits

Battleship Potemkin

A Page of Madness

Can Dialectics Break Bricks?

You forgot a BBC film Shooting Dogs aka Beyond the Gates, about the other genocide which everyone has forgotten about because yet it was far more brutal than the WWII one.

Yes, the great John Hurt R.I.P.
I am capable of appreciating classic masterpieces amongst the dross popular choices.

kk's top list, just to make sure everyone knows he's not actually a philistine but has the proper knowledge of cinema to be able to list some great films along with a bunch of pretentious wankfests that have no value as motion picture entertainment but he read some smart reviews of them a long time ago, so he had to add them.

I haven't seen it yet. This list should also include flicks by Truffaut and Fassbinder, who were both great filmmakers and political offspring of May '68. And I don't include films like Lawrence of Arabia, Taxi Driver and Chinatown, not because they don't deserve to be on a great films list, but because they are already on everybody's great film lists -- deservedly so.

the empire strikes back was the only decent one in the pack, imo.

but when i saw the first one when it came out in 1977, i was tripping my ass off, and that shit was fantabulous!

just curious what the fuck this has to do with anarchy?

Essentially, it's got a lot to do. Not plot-wise and even less production-wise. Gelderloos here has a good point on how fan fiction is a way to go for anarchos, instead of the typical internet complaining about whatever horseshit that the zombie business Lucasfilm has produced.

These are times where big studio despotism over fan fiction and other fan-made productions have become an online battlefront that is completely related to class warfare. Some anarchists and other radicals seemed to have missed that boat 'til now, but that is a huge matter of defending autonomy (in the form of reappropriated creativity) The problem with Star Wars ain't that it's a shitty fictional universe... on the contrary it's a rich one, or at least used to be, before they erased the so-called Expanded Universe and all that, but also has had a lot more potential for expansion. Some of the production team of the Sequels have said on the record that it's a limited universe, but it's really their minds as hack frauds that are scarce.

We've been fed with this stuff during our childhood, and let's admit it, it took a warm spot in the imagination of many people including me. The reason why we got pissed off by the later SW productions is due to the fact they went 1/14th of the way where our minds wandered to, as these movies were made by a bunch of self-important tools with fat paychecks. Tho that doesn't mean we can't do our own books, comics, games, etc either as détournement (a trend that got highly successful already with the gazillion of prequel memes and the "alternate endings") but also just as more serious fan fiction. My fav one may be the I.M.P.S. the Relentless short movies.

The Sequels themselves were fan fiction with far too big budget and support from a major studio. If their goal was to "kill" this autonomous imaginary by attacking fan's enthusiasm for it. It partly succeeded, while we can also just negate their shit spectacle...

You have the neolib 3rd way/worldist IDPols who want to stamp an ideology on it and there is definitely a controlling minority(Toynbee) who are backing it up. There is elective cattle call of particular critiques to defend it from 'toxic' fans. You will even see certain defenders of this crap from IDPol structured anarchists. I know William Gillis is on record of signal boosting Rian Johnson's fuckery of the mythos. As I've said before Last Jedi is not a bad film in an of itself, but it is definitely a part of this ideological agenda to inject critical values into a mythos that is really more built for traditional heroism which is just how I happen to like it.

Yes, these crass corporate Hollywood moguls dine with the Washington power brokers, they intersect, as depicted in the satire "Argo".
Just like Tarantino's satire "Once upon a Time in Hollywood", delving deep into the machinations of the subtle propaganda machine, complex sometimes, mostly banal, cinema mirrors the mass collective desires of any culture.


first you say "...it's got a lot to do" (with anarchy).

then paragraphs of text that do nothing to explain that.

please try again, and explicitly explain how this discussion of capitalist entertainment has anything to do with anarchy. seriously. maybe in as few sentences as possible.

not sure why this is surprising to some people? If george lucas was a prole like gelderloos says, i mean, i'm sure he knows what it actually means to work?! Nothing good even if the opposite end of the spectrum will drive people to suicide.

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