Perception strikes back

It really has been a slow month with next to nothing of value hitting the screens. Not only that, it seems to me that apart from some scarce casting news, there isn’t much happening at the minute in the greater world of film. Sure, there still are festivals and some minor announcements here and there, but not enough for me to have an opinion about – and that saddens me deeply, as I shan’t really write for the sake of having something new up there. I genuinely hope things pick up come September, because it’s just silly to be picking on sequels all the damn time.

Well… Having said all that, I had the privilege yesterday to observe the vocal collective of overzealous movie lovers go batshit crazy in the comment sections of every major movie blog/news outlet and I think I’d like to say a few words on the matter as well. I could theoretically join any of the already existing threads, but I won’t simply because every single one of them has been derailed by the movie-goer equivalents of religious fundamentalists and turned into hate-spouting shoutfests. We all know you can’t really have a mature conversation with someone convinced that repeating himself and shouting will get his point across.

In the interest of keeping things concise (well, relatively), I’ll just get to it. Ok, so why exactly has the Internet exploded with rage? Well… Sequels… But not just any sequels. It turns out that Joss Whedon (the man behind “The Avengers”, if you don’t know) during a recent interview has voiced – and not for the first time, I might add – his very strong opinion on “The Empire Strikes Back”. Do you feel the tension in the room? Well, basically, he admitted not to be a big fan of this film’s ending. Granted, he started off by naming “The Empire…” an example of a sequel done right, but he then went on to say how displeased he was with how the film concluded. And to him, it didn’t conclude at all, thus resembling an episode of a TV show rather than a stand-alone full-feature film.

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You could imagine that the second I read it, I immediately scrolled down to the comments to check for hate-speech. Suffice it to say, you can’t tamper with film classics of that caliber without getting a good chunk of the Internet up in arms. Especially when the said classic is a cornerstone of a substantial culture nurtured and expanded upon over the last decades. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that having someone that prominent in the geek-world say thing like that will provoke a strong emotional response from the community.

But… are you sure the man doesn’t have a point? As a person interested in the truth and hearing both sides before making hasty judgments, I’d like to stop and think what Joss Whedon tried to say in the first place. He didn’t dismiss your (and mine) beloved “Star Wars” at all, and if you felt offended, then you are also incapable of having an unbiased opinion that brings anything of value to the table. The only thing the man said was that he didn’t enjoy the ending to “The Empire…” because of its totally unresolved nature, because he had to wait another three years to see how everything came together. And it is a genuine concern based on his experience.

I think it’s safe to assume that the overwhelming majority of the offended commenters have never seen “The Empire…” or “The Return of The Jedi” when during their original theatrical runs. I sure didn’t because I wasn’t even born at the time. Therefore, it is imperative that before making any comments on Joss Whedon’s credibility, we should try to see the problem through his eyes. We often forget that we take certain things for granted and simply assume things like The Original Trilogy has been there always. Sure, for me it was… At any given point in my life I was able to sit down and watch all three Star Wars films back-to-back without even thinking about how any of the respective episodes would perform on their own. I have never had any issues with how “The Empire…” ended, because every single time I would just pop “The Return…” on and continue the journey. And that, my dear Internet, is a luxury you didn’t get back in 1980.

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Joss had to wait three years to see Luke become a full-blown Jedi and rescue Han from the slimy hands of Jabba the Hutt. If you look at “The Empire Strikes Back” this way, you might actually notice that its ending was far from perfect. It was completely different from the original “Star Wars”, which was conceived as a stand-alone feature and was only expanded to a set of three following the amazing box office results, because at that point George Lucas knew very well he would get the financing for a whole trilogy, so he decided to leave so many loose threads and end “The Empire…” on a cliffhanger. That’s a risky move on its own, because it was very much designed for the viewers to exit the cinema not satiated and longing for more. And three years is a long time to wait for a follow-up to something as awesome as “The Empire Strikes Back”, so no wonder people did get emotional about that.

So, as a person who not only has grown up with The Original Trilogy at his side, but also had enough resolve to look past the attempted vandalism done by its creator in the form of the revamped Special Edition and the Prequel Trilogy, I can only say the following: before you draw your sword and jump in your crusader’s armor, make sure you’re fighting for the right cause. Blind faith and jihadist zealotry never go down well in a discussion, while cogent arguments always do. Calling people names, because he happens to be of a different opinion (and perfectly valid at that), sadly does not look like a result of sound reasoning.

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