To Snuff A Trailblazer

Among the gift cards I received for Christmas this last year was one for the iTunes store.  Whereas I converted to an iPhone last spring, it was inevitable that I would eventually break down and buy something from them.

Even though I asked for the iTunes cash, I’ve had a hard time spending it all.  It would seem that I have all of the music I want for now, and even the music I do want never makes its way into the good graces of the people at Apple.  In turn, I’ve looked to blow the $15 wad of cash on other assorted applications instead.  Naturally I entertained buying a ring tone which simulates flatulence, but that consideration was short lived when I realized that emitting the sound just isn’t quite as fun as participating in the actual activity.  Show me an app that allows you to change the sound, target the wind, adjust the volume, and churn the odoriferous emanations of good gas and I’ll happily spend the contents of my stocking stuffer on what could likely be the best selling app of all time.

Based on the non-existence of a good gassy app, I decided to look into some of the photography apps they have out there.  I’ve been looking for software which could simulate a camera flash, allow for video zoom, and generally make my entire film footage look like a bad acid trip.  Most recently, I found one which simulates an 8 mm effect on the video recorder.

It wasn’t completely what I was looking for, however this app is capable of making your recording look like old film, complete with light bleed, scratches, color fading, and the like.  I’d like to report that my first venture into recording with this software was nothing short of brilliance.  Any day now, I could look forward to an invitation to submit the film for consideration by the American Film Institute as a timely and poignant piece of work which deserves the utmost of awe inspired reverence.

While uploading the video to TharpSterTube last night, I did a little bit of blog surfing just to find out what my contemporaries who use the same tags I do were up to.  I ran across one entry which was particularly amusing.  As much as I would have liked to place a comment and offer ‘Kudos’, I couldn’t.  Comments were disabled on the entry, however I was able to mark that I liked it.

Upon reading the Star Wars inspired comic which appeared on the blog, I laughed immediately.  I read it out loud for the kids, and they found it just as amusing.  As I considered the comic further, the thing it implied about the Star Wars franchise became worrisome.

In the summer of 1977, I was 9 years old and free of any cares in the world.  New York City was ablaze under the threat of Son of Sam and what the Yankees were doing, yet I was completely oblivious to it.  My parents picked me up from baseball practice one day and we proceeded to the Rialto in order to see the big blockbuster that had everyone talking.  We took our seats.  I had my Hot Tamales in one hand and pop in the other.

Go ahead.  Laugh at the word “pop” in reference to “soda”.  That’s what they call it in Wyoming.  I don’t know why.

When the opening scene of Star Wars came on the screen and displayed the massive Star Destroyer making the rebel blockade runner its bitch, I was mesmerized.  To this day, I can’t eat a box of Hot Tamales without thinking of the first time I ever saw that movie.  For the five movies and 28 years that followed, I made it a point to darken the door at the movie theater on opening day of George Lucas’ continued attempts to catch lightening in a jar.

In 2005, while making my way through the lobby to get a seat to see Episode III,  I encountered a couple of gentlemen in their early twenties who had shown up dressed as Jedi and wielding toy light sabers.  Even more irritating was that they were re-enacting their own choreographed duel to the death in front of the entrance into the theatre that I was trying to get into.  Once my patience cast itself to the wind, I stepped into the middle of their dual and asked them a very simple question.  “Do you two ever expect to get laid by dressing up like that and acting that way at the movie theater?”

The truth obviously hurt because they couldn’t answer me.

Once again, I digress.

As much of a fan I am of the whole franchise, I do have my issues with Star Wars and the sequels that followed.  The dialogue was stupid, and the acting wasn’t always the best.  If I had a nickel for every time I ever wanted to throttle George Lucas for creating the likes of Jar-Jar Binks, I’d have just enough cash to edit the floppy eared goof completely out of the series and have enough left over fix the attempts of comic relief that  C-3PO represented.  I should admit at this point, that even though I’ve had my issues with the series, I haven’t turned a blind eye or deaf ear to the franchise in general.

The special effects were always the kicker for me.

Consider the trails which were blazed by that low budget flick in the 70’s.  Industrial Light & Magic along with THX are just mere examples.  The technology derived from these two entities has completely redefined how films are made.  Merchandising paradigms are up there with the technological advances as well.

Consider if it never happened though.

What would have happened if George Lucas didn’t generate the coin necessary to spin off all of the companies he did which subsequently revolutionized merchandising, gaming, and entertainment in general?  Director Kevin Smith has made a Star Wars reference in a majority of his pictures.  Family Guy did brilliant tributes to the original three.  Virginal geeks stage light saber battles in the lobbies of movie theaters.  All of this and plenty more have come as a result of George Lucas’ efforts in the mid 70’s.

So consider the cartoon which has caused me a deal of consternation.  Obi-Wan Kenobi was struck down by a light saber.  He would have been cut in half if he hadn’t used some cheap parlor trick to disappear right before the blade hit him.  Luke Skywalker had to give up his right hand to get out of a no-win scenario.  Count Dooku lost his head to a light saber, and Anakin Skywalker lost his arms and legs to the same type of blade.  Don’t forget Qui-Gon Jin and how the soon to be two piece Darth Maul ran him through.

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All of these individual who suffered at the glowing edge of a light saber were strong in the ways of the Force.  The only problem was that none of them, not one single student in the ways of the Force had that one skill that would have allowed them to win every single light saber battle they would have ever found themselves in.  If any of them had that power, there would have been no sequels.  There would have been no action figures.  There would have been no golden bikini-clad Carrie Fischer making you wonder if she and the big slug had gotten ‘jiggy wit it’.

What’s even more irritating was that it took me over 30 years to even come to this realization, and it came from reading it on a randomly selected blog.   Many thanks to TCRA1G and Doghouse Diaries for pointing out a big gapping hole in my favorite movie series of all time.

Randy Tharp

TharpSter is a husband to one woman, a father to two kids, a master to two dogs, an occasional cubical occupant, and unable to make up his mind on an adequate theme for this website.

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