Star Wars Analysis by Neal Stephenson

Over at the NY Times: Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out

The first “Star Wars” movie 28 years ago was distinguished by healthy interplay between veg and geek scenes. In the climactic sequence, where rebel fighters attacked the Death Star, we repeatedly cut away from the dogfights and strafing runs – the purest kind of vegging-out material – to hushed command bunkers where people stood around pondering computer displays, geeking out on the strategic progress of the battle.
All such content – as well as the long, beautiful, uncluttered shots of desert, sky, jungle and mountain that filled the early episodes – was banished in the first of the prequels (“Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” 1999). In the 16 years that separated it from the initial trilogy, a new universe of ancillary media had come into existence. These had made it possible to take the geek material offline so that the movies could consist of pure, uncut veg-out content, steeped in day-care-center ambience. These newer films don’t even pretend to tell the whole story; they are akin to PowerPoint presentations that summarize the main bullet points from a much more comprehensive body of work developed by and for a geek subculture.

There’s something about this article that got me thinking about the Metaverse from Stephenson’s classic, Snow Crash. About how Julia became more famous than the rest of the programming team because she worked on the faces of the avatars inhabiting the Metaverse, to which peopled turned out paying most attention.
Or the way the barons of bandwidth and media controlled the seething masses… It’s happening right before your eyes, at this very moment! Run away!

1 thought on “Star Wars Analysis by Neal Stephenson

  1. Clone Wars

    Only Neal Stephenson can make the Star Wars prequels sound interesting as inadvertent social commentary. And it sounds as though I need those six Clone Wars novels (via C. Buddha). Anakin wins that race by repairing his crippled racer in…

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