The primary subject of the second episode of the Epic Meta Podcast (“EMP”) was the nine movies that made up the three Star Wars trilogies. But before we got into that discussion we talked about our second, failed attempt at a podcast.
The Art of Podcasting Continued
The subject of that failed attempt was an analysis of two time travel related stories. The first being, “The Man Who Folded Himself” by David Gerold and the second, “Predestination,” a movie staring Ethan Hawk. Interestingly, in our first episode we discussed talking about these two time travel stories (as it seems the topic of any future podcast in our series will be based on some piece of a topic discussed in the previous episode) but we had no idea that the plots of both stories shared such striking similarities. Most notably, both stories involved a protagonist who went back in time, interacted with a previous version of himself and in the process became his own father. It is unclear whether both stories individually arrived at this as a natural consequence of taking the time travel phenomenon to its logical conclusion or whether one story was based on the other. Unfortunately, although the conversation was an interesting one, the audio on my end did not record properly and we had to scrap the episode. This disappointment associated with loosing content for technical reasons is an experience I suspect is likely experienced by many pod casters.
There were a few aesthetic problems with this pod cast I noticed when I listened to it. First, I have a few pet phrases and words that I repeat too often including you know, sort of, certainly and um. There were background noises as well including my chair creaking, some kind of crackling sound I will attribute to Thang and a bird chirping. I also noticed at least one time where our dialog repeated itself. This is something I have noticed on other podcasts and think it has to do with corruption during the upload. As for the pet phrases, the only thing I can do is try to be more aware of saying them. The creaking chair can be replaced. A closed window will muffle the sound of any bird. Although, I do not mind the sound of the bird all that much. Everything else is part of Thang’s domain.
The original trilogy of Star Wars movies (Episodes IV, V and VI) were very important to me in my youth. They were important because they seemed to satisfy every desire I had in terms of entertainment. The movies were a cut above other sci-fi as to realism and story telling. Other science fiction movies at the time seemed sterile and fake looking by comparison. The Star Wars universe, however, was “lived in” with dirty, dented ships and hardscrabble moisture farmers. The original trilogy also possessed compelling characters with developmental arcs. After seeing Episode IV, I impatiently awaited the release of V and VI. For the most part I was not disappointed. One might argue that the Ewoks were a poor choice but I did not mind them as much as other people did and on the whole, I found the trilogy immensely satisfying. This satisfaction was evidenced by my vast collection of “action figures” and trading cards which have since vanished over time.
By contrast, the prequel trilogy (Episodes I-III) seemed to violate many of the qualities that made the original trilogy great. One violation was in the area of dialog. In the original trilogy, the characters (for the most part) spoke in a formal, almost Shakespearean tone. Whereas in the prequels there were many moments when the characters spoke casually in a manner that broke my immersion. Child Anakin saying, “that’s a good trick” and young Boba Fet calling Jengo Fet “Dad” rather than “Father” come to mind. Another violation was the reduction of the force to metachlorines in the blood. This violated the brilliant wedding of science fiction and mysticism of the original trilogy. Jar Jar Binks goes without saying.
From a high perspective, the prequels were ambitious. They set out to describe the fall of the ancient Galactic Republic and Jedi Order, the rise of the Emperor and the Sith, as well as the transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. They accomplished this in an extremely flawed manner but they managed to do so in a way that still kept me invested me in the characters (most of them).
By contrast the sequel trilogy (Episodes VII-IX) did not even do that. The hope of Episode VII was to redeem the series after the flawed prequels. Taken on its own Episode VII accomplished this by introducing new characters, bringing back older beloved characters, setting up a framework for a heroic journey and doing so in a manner that did not violate the feel of Star Wars too egregiously. After seeing Episode VII, I questioned the dramatic choice of having a new version of the Empire replace the old, thus undoing all the work of the original trilogy. But at that point I had faith that by the end of the trilogy all would be explained and set right. Unfortunately, the subsequent episodes did not justify this faith. By the end of the trilogy I was no more invested in the new characters than I was prior to Episode VII. This was largely because they remained the same from beginning to end. Nor were any of the dramatic choices brought to a conclusion in a satisfying way.
In short, Star Wars started out as an important, powerful and beautiful creative presence in my life. As it aged, it became tainted and corrupted. A portion of this might be a function of my own age. I was a young child at the time of the original trilogy. Perhaps I was more open to wonder and less critical in terms of details. At the time of the prequel trilogy I was a young man and at the time of the sequel trilogy I was a middle aged man. But I believe the corruption lies not only with my more refined sense of literature and aesthetics. I truly believe that the writing and the ideas in the latter trilogies were of lesser quality. Perhaps all things become corrupted over time. But I do not want to believe that that is necessarily so.