Despite my general distaste for George Lucas and all that he spawned, I quite like Star Wars 4 through 6, (and Indiana Jones 1 and 3, but that's a different post). I hate to reference "myth" in this context, because I hate all of Lucas' absurd references to the worst writer on mythology ever (I try to make it a habit to never mention the names of writers who I dislike, but his initials are JC). I came across Maud Ellmann's introduction to the novel "Dracula" though, which I think very aptly describes what I like about Star Wars, and b-movies in general. Here's what she has to say:

Bram Stoke's achievement was to free vampires from literature and restore them to folklore. For the Undead now live an independent life in the collective imagination, in which the details of Stoker's over-complicated narrative have long since been eclipsed by the luminous simplicity of myth. Unlike novels, myths depend on transformation for survival, each repitition altering the story while preserving its essential elements. The anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss has argued that the true substance of myth 'does not lie in its style, its original music, or its syntax, but in the story which it tells'. The strong the style, the weaker the story: a creaky novel like Bram Stoker's nurtures myth more effectivelly than the stubtlest artistry. In Dracula there is no development of character, no complexity of thought, no choiceness of expression, to distract us from the elementary components of the myth. The dead rise from the grave to suck the life-blood of the living - this is all we really need to know; other stock elements, like garlic, crucifixes, holy water, and so forth, are merely charming accoutrements of vampirism. Stoker's stroke of serendipity, however, was to transform his folkloric material into a myth of sexual initiation, in which the vampire seduces innocent young women into a world of voluptuous perversion. That Stoker's characters are flat and largely interchangeable is all the better, because their mythic function is never befuddled by the nuances of personality.
Nor does it matter that Stoker is a cack-handed narrator. His clumsinesses are notorious: his characters turn up at the wrong hotels, their hair changes colour inexplicably, and their speech lapses in and out of silly accents. More alarmingly, they conduct operations without anaesthetic, and transfusions without regard to blood-type. The text is peppered with exclamation marks, as well as with a liberal scattering of split infinitives. There are some groan-making puns: 'Is there not more at stake for us than for [Dracula]?', demands a vampire-hunter; and passages of unintentional hilarity: '[Mina] came into the room with an easy gracefulness which would at once command the respect of any lunatic.' Yet these ineptitudes do nothing to diminish the fascination with the story: the narrative tumbles along, unaware of gaffes and inconsistencies, as if compelled by a primeval force. For generations of readers who have found it un-put-downable, the novel wouldn't be so good if it weren't so very bad.

I know some of those people who have seen Star Wars once or twice, or thrice or six hundred and thirty-two times, might make the point that the characterizations in Star Wars are really quite strong, but that really comes down to Harrison Ford being charming, and not any inherent human drama behind the choice of being good or evil (depth of character is somewhat excluded from that dramatic battle). I watched the movie several hundred times before I could really comprehend that Han Solo was a jerk, but the basic idea (the force is with you), is accessible no matter how much of the plot you get, and the rest is just nice light saber battles and neat costumes... and the acting is fantastic in fact. Even Mark Hamill who is a bit of a ham actor, plays a whiny boy really quite well.

Of course Lucas is a pretentious idiot, so that means there ain't much too this myth. Except possibly that one should be prepared to kill bad guys (I believe George Bush has a missile defense initiative named after the movie, taken from Reagan). It was enough to sell millions of dollars in merchandise, but it should hardly give anyone a new hope.

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