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left assaults Star Wars
By C.T. Rossi
Like one of his embattled Jedi characters, movie magician George Lucas is under assault. Film critics and academics, like legions of post-modern clone-troopers, are assaulting the filmmaker for creating what they view as a politically incorrect vision in his latest movie, Attack of the Clones.
While it is easier to mistake the diminutive Yoda for gargantuan Jabba the Hutt than to mistake the flannel shirt- and blue jean-clad Lucas for a political conservative, the creator of the Star Wars franchise is drawing the same type of rhetorical fire usually reserved for members of the John Birch Society.
A common thread in most of the attacks is the charge that Lucas is socially and artistically in retrograde - stuck in the '30s,'40s or '50s. It is very telling that while some may not approve of his art moderne style spaceships, more are fixated on Lucas' sexual mores. Note how Village Voice critic Michael Atkinson launches into his scathing review as he writes: "To answer the most pressing question first: Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), now a teenager on his way to becoming Darth Vader, does not do erstwhile princess/present senator Amidala (Natalie Portman). . .". Atkinson further derides the movie as "irrelevant preadolescent dreaming" in a review which seems consumed with an unfulfilled sexual appetite.
In a similar vein, Salon.com launches a telling stricture against the movie, "George Lucas is still a virgin, and he wants his audience in the same stricken state." The critic, David Thompson, mocks the on-screen love affair as "early '50s" where the love-struck protagonists "start talking about love and marriage - those classic parental alternatives to desire and pleasure." Love and marriage? How passe those concepts must appear to the enlightened Left at Salon. To them Lucas is once again portrayed as a man whose vision is trapped in the "dreams and longings of young people in their era of prepubescence."
When not being lambasted for Victorian prudery, Lucas is dodging accusations of racism. Utilizing a stretch of the imagination that would leave X-Files fans incredulous, Wayne State University history professor Jose Cuella is hypothesizing that Lucas has it in for Latinos. Cuella's theory rests on the premise that the character Jango Fett is the allegorical representation of Hispanics in Lucas' myth-based world. The only problem is that Fett is played by Temuera Morrison, a New Zealander of Maori descent. This, ironically, places Cuella in the same camp as white racists who see all dark-skinned people as some monolithic threat. Mexican or Maori really doesn't seem matter when you are trying to expose The Great White Lucas Conspiracy. Interestingly enough, Jose Cuella also notes that he thinks that Attack of the Clones is like "those Reagan ads in the 1980 campaign that suggested if Nicaragua went communist, you'd have wild-eyed Mexicans with guns running across the California border." This is of interest because the attacks on Lucas do show a similarity to those launched by Reagan's critics.
Reagan was painted by opponents as a political dinosaur trapped in a Cold War 1950s world. He was also called a racist. But the most frequent charge was that Reagan was an intellectual lightweight. Lucas faces the same charge.
Critic Rick Groen of the Toronto Globe and Mail makes Lucas-bashing a North American venture as he warns with true haughty elitism that you should not turn to Lucas "if you happen to belong to that tiny minority whose idea of fun . . . lies in a story with depth and characters with complexity and a theme with meaning . . .". Not to be outdone in snobbery, the New York Times review penned by A. O. Scott suggests that "the American moviegoing public will line up out of habit and compulsion . . .". True to form, when the unwashed masses deviate from the tastes of elite media (the supposed champions of people) they are branded as lemmings. The masses are counted as besotted when they vote for Reagan or listen to conservative talk radio, but have them vote for Bill Clinton and they become an enlightened Rousseauan commonweal lending its mandate to the great philosopher-king.
While being politically left-leaning, George Lucas is learning firsthand the secret power behind the dark side of liberals - envy. Lucas has grown too successful not to be a target for the politics of envy. Once a brash upstart young director, he defied studio norms and conventions to create Star Wars. But now, after a series of hit movies, an empire of successful spin-off companies and a legion of devoted followers, Lucas has become just another middle-aged, rich, white-man enemy.
C.T. Rossi writes on contemporary culture for the Free
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