About three seconds after Mitt Romney ceded the presidential election on November 6, the major news outlets began posting articles about GOP contenders for 2016. So used to around-the-clock election coverage were they that it became impossible to stop talking about it (despite the rest of us begging otherwise).
Within hours, the alleged contenders were taking to the microphones to trash Romney. Why, he was nothing but a rich, old white guy out of touch with everyday American’s lives! Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was first out of the gate, talking inclusiveness and hoping in futility that people would finally forget about that bizarre speech from 2009 that ruined his aspirations for national office.
Florida senator Marco Rubio also jockeyed for position in the party, trying not to scare away evangelicals while still appealing to swing voters by saying he doesn’t know anything about science, so he’s not in a position to talk about evolution and stuff. Meanwhile, the governor of my home state and pre-Sandy darling of the GOP, Chris Christie, said, “Mitt Romney is a piece of shit. Tell that fucker to watch his freakin’ back if he stops foot in Jersey. You gotta prollem wit dat?” Or something.
Yes, it appeared as if we were all doomed. Just like Christmas is slowly becoming a year-round retail event, the news media intended to make election coverage an unending four-year cycle of speculation and prognostication from a bunch of highly paid morons who are never held accountable, and Nate Silver.
Then it happened. The real news story broke. The event that will alter the course of mankind for the next millennium.
George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney.
Actually, the sale was announced a week before the election, but some news stories are so epic that the human brain cannot grasp them at first. Once it sunk in, Americans decided we didn’t want to hear about the 2016 election, we want to hear about the 2015 Star Wars movie.
We don’t care of Bobby Jindal can redeem himself from delivering a cringe-inducing speech. We want to know if Lucas can be redeemed from having written such cringe-inducing dialog in the prequels. We don’t care if Marco Rubio learns how evolution works. We care if Luke Skywalker learns why light saber beams stop at three feet. It doesn’t matter if Chris Christie has a future in national politics. It matters if Jabba the Hutt has a son who can continue the secondary-villain tradition.
See what I did there? Christie = Jabba. A fat joke about Christie. Aren’t I clever and original?
The hysteria over a two-hour and ten-minute film that isn’t coming out for almost three years would be comical if it weren’t so sad. And by sad I mean AWESOME! Really, what is more enduring than Star Wars? Not only did George Lucas write bad scripts, hire the wrong actors, and replace drama with computer graphics in the prequels, he also chained the beloved original trilogy to the hitch of a tractor and dragged it repeatedly through horse manure. To the degree that the phrase “Greedo shooting first” is synonymous the world over with “What were you thinking?”
Yet, despite all that, people are so intrigued and excited by the series that it continues to infiltrate every aspect of modern life. For random example, the tattoo-themed competition show Ink Master devoted an entire episode a few weeks ago to Star Wars tattoos, and there was no shortage of human canvasses willing to have a character or scene permanently inked onto their bodies by the contestants.
The big topics, of course, are “Who is writing the new movie?” and “Who is directing the new movie?”
We already found out who is writing it, and I’m proud of the geeks for not freaking out that it’s the guy behind Little Miss Sunshine, a quirky road movie about a children’s beauty pageant: Michael Arndt. Hiring him is Disney’s way of saying, “We think the prequels were soul-sucking CGI-fests, too.” In other words, it’s the characters, stupid.
No, the freak out came when it was rumored that Empire Strikes Back scribe Lawrence Kasdan and some other dude named Simon Kinberg were coming into help. One headline read, “Can Kasdan save Star Wars?” Because, clearly, Michael Arndt has turned out to be a fraud and is singlehandedly ruin… Oh, wait. They were hired to write episodes 8 and 9. Even though we don’t know what 7 is going to be about yet. Double wait! It turns out Kasdan and Kinberg are working on prequels or spinoffs. Or a TV show! Or… or maybe we can just wait a bit and find out for sure.
That’s nothing compared to talk of potential directors, though. As soon as the unstoppable hype machine took flight (the secret to self-sustaining energy is in there somewhere, I believe), big names started getting thrown around. Joss Whedon. JJ Abrams. Peter Jackson. Spielberg. Hitchcock. Kubrick. Fritz Lang.
Then the rejections came. Whedon is doing Avengers 2 and might not have quite enough time to film a second epic blockbuster on nights and weekends. Abrams is kinda the Star Trek guy right now, and maybe Disney doesn’t want the same person directing the world’s biggest rival sci-fi franchises. Then there’s Peter Jackson, who, rumor has it, is directing the Hobbit trilogy. See Joss Whedon at the beginning of this paragraph for why you can’t put in 18-hour days on two movies at once.
Mini open letter to the fans who are screaming, “No one wants to direct Star Wars? I don’t get it”: Famous directors don’t get to direct every movie they want. It’s called a scheduling conflict. It’s one of those movie-business things. The only reason this non-issue is all over the news is because you lot won’t stop talking about who is going to direct Star Wars. No one bothered to ask Joss Whedon if he’s going to direct Spiderman, the next Nicholas Sparks movie, or Harold and Kumar Sit in the Dark and Think About What They’ve Done because they already know he is directing the next Avengers movie. Hence, no controversy.
It now appears that Matthew Vaughn of X-Men: Fist Class is the biggest and most plausible buzz candidate, though David Fincher’s name keeps popping up. I’m not sure Fincher is a great choice, unless Princess Leia’s head is going to end up in a box at the end. When people say they like Star Wars to go dark, they mean between the big action scene at the beginning and the super happy ending with dancing Ewoks and exploding death stars. They don’t want Luke and the Evil Emperor to be the same person all along. They also don’t want Chewbacca trapped in a prison colony for the entire film, where he must shave his body hair get rid of lice.
My choice? After seeing Skyfall, I wouldn’t mind Sam Mendes at the helm. Whatever weaknesses that film had were in the screenplay, not in the excellent visuals and character tension. That is, if my dream team of Edgar Wright directing a Woody Allen script does not come into being.
In any case, it usually makes sense to laugh when an outer-space kids’ movie pushes national politics out of the news. But we’re talking about Star Wars, here. Unless Yoda plans to seek the GOP nomination, I don’t see how electing the president of the world’s most powerful nation is even worth discussing.