[…] change was already evident in the advance publicity, as discussed both at Ordinary Times and at my own site – elsewhere treated as of discussable significance mainly among proponents of a racialized […]
[…] tempers flare, and sure the dialogue long ago largely (though not entirely) moved off the front page and into the comment section. But, brutal as it may sometimes get, […]
A more interesting point, is the scenario the sequel presents, 33 years on, the victory over the Empire, has faded into Myth, the First Order, somewhat like the Siloviki, reigns over certain corners of the outer rim, their ferocity also suggests the Islamic State,
I think the point is worth making that SDI only ever had a "projected, imaginary" form. It's value was entirely as a combination of symbol and provocation. To the extent that it could have existed "by the end of the century", now 15 tears ago and still an impossibility as an impenetrable, undefeatable net, it would have been an invitation to an arms race that would have made MAD seem sane.
I don't mean to minimize symbol and provocation in the least, but simply to define our terms a bit more precisely.
The scale of unraveling causality in that moment of history takes my breath away.
Pretty on point article: http://www.historytoday.com/peter-kramer/ronald-reagan-and-star-wars
A poll conducted in 1986 found that about half of all respondents saw the Empire, abstractly, as an embodiment of 'evil', whereas 24 per cent saw it representing right-wing dictators and 12 per cent saw it representing Communism. The real life equivalents of the rebels, as identified by respondents, ranged from the heroes of the American revolution and leftist revolutionaries in contemporary central America to right-wing so-called `freedom fighters'. When asked whether `the movie is in favor of the conservative idea of "peace through military strength"', conservative respondents overwhelmingly said 'yes', whereas the majority of moderate and liberal respondents said 'no'. This poll suggests that Star Wars allowed everyone to extract from it precisely the political meaning they were most comfortable with.
Kolohe, I don't think the AltRight venerates SW IV. I'm not sure that the AltRight has a collective characteristic view of SW IV, or for that matter of mid-20th C fascism. I think what's clear is that the trend outlined or co-realized in the transition from Star Wars 1977 Style A (and all those photos) to the jumbly and multi-cultural gender-equitable present is a (simultaneously political, economic, cultural, historical, ideological, etc.) trend further against their preferences and ideas.
The difficulty of talking about the "significance" of this topic is evidenced in the first comment on Roland's thread and the treatment of the AltRight as a contagion requiring quarantine rather than as proponents of one view among others. I'm not proposing that we relax that quarantine or tighten it. I'm not sure it's even up for decision.
somewhat disjointed thoughts ahead -
"Alt-Right is not wrong to point to a transformation whose existence is obvious, but whose significance is difficult to discuss. "
The Alt Right may be right in that is obvious, but they are wrong in that it is difficult to discuss. There is no there there for white supremacy to be a necessary underlying conceit for the movies made in the 70s - Hollywood in the 70s used American and British actors, who, due to the trends to that point, were overwhelmingly white. Now, casting directors - especially on a film with a global reach itself - have a global reach.
If you're saying that the alt-right has a particular fondness for mid 20th century fascism, they're showing it in a weird way by venerating a movie where the good guys (Triumph of the Yavin notwithstanding) beat the bad guys who have all the iconography save an actual Hugo Boss label of the same mid-20th century fascism. There may be some elements of the alt right that are nostalgic for 1930s Germany and Italy, but most of the strains I'm familiar with are more "white people need to live in white nations and shut the rest of the world out" - which wasn't Nazi Germany's ideology.
Speaking of iconography, I don't think the posters demonstrate the change that you imply. First, many critics of the 2nd trilogy point to the jumbled mess that the movie posters associated with them were, as emblematic of the jumbled mess the movies themselves were. The newest movie looks to be following the same design cues, much the detriment of fans of movie poster art. In contrast, the version of the Star Wars poster here has the benefit of the clean design, though very much itself a archetype (and lampooned by both the posters for Vacation and Army of Darkness).
What the old poster does not have is any semblance to what's going on in the movie. And really, striking a sexy pose in front of your twin brother is cultural norm I'm glad we abandoned. Speaking of Hugo, that was one of the weirdest arguments put forth in that bruhaha, when someone claimed back in the day, you could tell what a story was about from its book cover art.
Right - I understand what the Russkies and for that matter the Western peace movement thought of "Star Wars." That's why they called it "Star Wars," and meant it derisively. The fact remains that SDI's - projected, imaginary - form was of a shield against Death Stars, not as a Death Star. In that indirectly offensive and imaginary form, rather than overtly and directly offensive and actual form, it may have, according to the historians, been more effective, which was fine for Ronald Skywalker in his successful long-odds battle against the Evil Empire. If true, that conclusion would undermine the "Reagan was a pre-Alzheimery stumbler-bumbler and his voters were idiots" narrative, and tends to support "he and they were either a lot smarter than credited, or the Force was with them, or both."
While formally, SDI would have been a defensive system, the Ruskies perceived it as, in effect offensive, since it would have theoretically upset the MAD regimen. Assuming someone could get the thing to work, it could have enabled the US to make a first strike with some protection against retaliation.
It also seemed that part of Reagan's strategy was to intentionally intensify the arms race so as to cause the decrepit Soviet economy to collapse from the effort to keep up. So even if it didn't in fact work as a weapons system, it was an economic offensive weapon.
My impression is that this is more generally given more credit for contributing to the USSR's collapse than Reagan's Wall-side rhetoric.
AS I noted in passing in my last AG post, something like this has played out more recently with Bush's efforts to get ABMs in Poland, and erases to me, any distinction between offensive and defensive autonomous weapons.
But yeah, NR had the Star Trek thing, although I don't know the date - really could've been later than the 60's.
[…] Our own CK Macleod responded to Roland’s original post about Star Wars with his own, touching on Star Wars, leprous […]
To bookend the more extended analysis, we'd also want to look at the political function of "Star Wars" during the Reagan years. As I'm sure you will recall, the term was attached derisively to the "SDI" program, as though the ridiculous would-be emperor, ex-actor Reagan, was building his own Death Star, mistaking science fiction for reality. Reagan was notoriously stubborn about SDI/Star Wars - his aides and allies had to grit their teeth when he insisted on pursuing it - but the ironies mount when one considers first the defensive design of the projected weapon system, second the fact that it was never built, and third that, whether or not Reagan was having difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction, his Soviet counterparts in the "Evil Empire" apparently took the threat seriously (in other words the fiction had a real effect).
By the time we get to Dick Cheney as Darth Vader, and fellow travelers playfully advocating for the Empire, we are dealing with a very peculiar moment in political culture.
[A]s a child watching them, I wanted to be Chewbacca or Admiral Akbar. While the films have their share of cartoonish racial stereotypes and monsters, the fact that these characters were desirable role models and individuals to pattern our actions on seem to put them at a higher social level than mere foils/friends for our white heroes. But perhaps that is simply my childlike mind at work.
Not sure how old you were, but to me they resemble, or evoke, the talking animals of a Disney or Warner Brothers or Hanna-Barbera etc. cartoon. (It wasn't until adulthood that I realized that Sweet Polly Purebred was another dog. As a small child, I heard "Pure bread," and I didn't find it odd at all that Underdog and she were romantically entwined!) In theory, regardless of whatever conscious attachments you formed, the fact remained that the type or heroic archetype embodied in Luke Skywalker was being imprinted on your mind anyway, as for many millions of others.
Wait a sec - you're saying that way back when, ca. 1968 or so, National Review did a Star Trek extravaganza? That might indeed be worth digging up.
As I was pondering this it occurred to me that we are now twice as far in years from Star Trek as Star Trek was from WWII. Roddenberry was kind of a McGovern figure - the bomber pilot who returned from the war with a vision of a world that wouldn't ever need/want/have bomber pilots again. I'd guess that NatRev of the time would have accused him of selling communism via a particularly naive form of "one worldism."
A few years ago I ran across online the 60's National Review extravaganza on Star Trek. Last time I looked, NR had taken it down, but I wonder how that discussion, and this developing one compare.
Alt-Left. I will try when I am on something that doesn't require typing with only my thumbs.
Thanks, Roland, and, yes, let's continue to walk down this dangerous if not hopelessly suicidal path, intellectually hand in hand...
However, I don't think of my response as a "retort," since to me the word tends to suggest a counterattack.
how far it suggests that group is from, well, just about everyone in their view of the film and what we all seemingly take it to represent.
Which group - the Alt-Right or the "Alt-Left" (or both)? Assuming we can't track down a readable version, perhaps you can summarize the view.
Yes, hmmm... Not sure what's going on with it. It is linked among the socialist and anti-imperialist left with each new trailer (along with similarly unflattering takes on Campbell). What I find interesting, in the context of your post, I just how far it suggests that group is from, well, just about everyone in their view of the film and what we all seemingly take it to represent.
Something dysfunctional about the link, even when I locate it via Google search. Apparently a video, too?
Excellent response/retort CK. I am going to need to consider this in greater detail:
"Similarly, the alien representatives of the rebel alliance and the Empire’s lumpen-proles – the “diverse” population that Roland and OT commenters mention as though in rebuttal to the reactionaries’ reactions – are variously bizarre and ludicrous figures: The “colorful” allies are depicted via stereotypically orientalist caricatures or as cartoonish sentient animals."
Perhaps this reflects my own nostalgia related to the Star Wars films, but as a child watching them, I wanted to be Chewbacca or Admiral Akbar. While the films have their share of cartoonish racial stereotypes and monsters, the fact that these characters were desirable role models and individuals to pattern our actions on seem to put them at a higher social level than mere foils/friends for our white heroes. But perhaps that is simply my childlike mind at work.
Your take on the alt-right view of history is quite on, and really should be required reading for anyone interested in this cultural debate. You must know what someone thinks of the past to understand what they want from the future.
Obviously, I also agree with your first points about rejecting the "acceptability" police when it comes to political debates. There are slews of folks I disagree with vehemently, but assuming they are not trolls intending to steal my time, I have no problem engaging with said ideas. Life would be rather boring if we were to just speak with those who shared the same ontological foundation and political prescriptions.
We should keep this conversation going as I find this exchange enlightening.
Interesting. A lot to chew on.
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