"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 7 February 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

The Feature with 1000 Faces



We've always appreciated being

spoon-fed a little identity

along with our information, but

the dose is getting dangerously

large now that magazines have

become more concerned with the

business of brand-building than

the quaint work of reporting

stories. In the strange case of

what we've been calling Star

Wars 2.0, the articles we read

say more about the publications

they're in than the movie.

Perhaps it's because the

national media haven't had such

a swift-selling blank canvas

since OJ 1.0 - when nearly every

editor alive assigned a story

that reflected his magazine's

agenda more than the actual



Like OJ, the continuing Star Wars

saga (and we don't mean the

film) offers the kind of

symbolic struggle editors love -

and can do almost anything with.

As "independent-minded auteur

who turned quirky, uncommercial

vision into box-office bonanza,"

Lucas is as archetypal as his

hayseed turned hero, and his

story has enough Joseph Campbell

resonance that it's no surprise

the hype has reached mythic

proportions. The glorified remake

was celebrated as crucial

kitsch by The San Francisco Bay

Guardian, sized up as mogul

hubris and a business gamble by

Entertainment Weekly (which

presumably sees Microsoft stock

as something of a long shot

also), and reduced to a series

of sound bites by the

ever-attention-span-conscious Details.

Time was a week late - for

consistency's sake, we suppose.



Like many myths, such stories

reveal more about the teller

than the tale. Everything's

ironic to the average urban

weekly, and how could anything

be old news without making the

cover of Time? Lucas' story

rings universal enough to fit

near any editorial agenda.

Predictably, Wired wants to make

Lucas' space-age fable seem

central to the Third Wave

(appropriate, in a millennial

countdown sense, as the film's

cinematography owes much to the

Fourth Reich). More surprising

is Lucas' refusal to be pulled in

by the magazine's rhetorical

tractor beam - the only tangible

connections made between the

film and the future are made,

with Wookiee-sized leaps of

logic, by the interviewer. In

between soliciting Lucas'

disappointingly analog comments

on digitization's effect on

film-making ("it doesn't change

a thing") and the nature of

copyright in the digital age

("it has nothing to do with

technology"), Wired actually

tries to get Lucas' take on the

web. The query - "Are you

surfing the web these days?" -

has all the subtlety of Jabba

the Hutt, but none of the

weight. Still, we understand why

the digerati would want to

relate - remind us again of how

many websites grossed over $36

million last weekend?


Nearly as much was revealed about

Salon, which seems unable to let

anything perceived as a blow to

high culture pass without

comment. The story takes its cue

from print forefather The New

Yorker, but treats the event

with a gravitas The New Yorker

left behind when it traded black

and white coverage for Brown.

The site that would civilize us

all weighed in with an essay

that credited the original film

with all but ruining American

cinema. Apparently the

blockbuster age Lucas ushered in

left little room in Hollywood

for smaller films that

concentrate on character. We

guess R2-D2 must share the blame

for Independence Day, but we're

also pretty sure the notion of

giving the people what they want

predates 1977. Either way, the

piece establishes Salon as a

staunch defender of high culture -

and proves their uncanny

ability to find the least

relevant facet of any given




Other pieces have even less of a

relationship to reality. After

offering a dubious theory that a

Star Wars-related video game

could generate more hype than

the rereleased movie itself,

David Lauren's ad-anemic Swing

makes heroes of two

slacker-hackers - one of whom

worked as a copy-shop clerk and

a waiter before hitting the

jackpot of videogame design.

Forget the franchise itself -

what the article really says to

audience and advertisers alike

is that even the underemployed

can come up with the cash to buy

Polo. Talk about staying on

message. Not one to let a

bandwagon pass unmounted, but

obviously showing some

uncharacteristic restraint, Spin

offers a short interview with

Mark Hamill. (Speaking of




Given the film's huge opening

weekend, there's still plenty of

time to examine additional

facets of the film - perhaps a

Martha Stewart Living piece

about creating your own special

effects for an Alderaan-themed

dinner party, or a Baffler essay

illustrating the parallels

between the Empire and the

"culture industry." What's more,

alert readers will note that

Suck has yet to weigh in with

anything even approximating an

insight on the film itself. What

does that say about us?

courtesy of Dr. Dreidel


Dr. Dreidel