Talk odd would you if puppet with hand up rear were you.
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 97 14:45:22 -0800
Subject: Talk odd would you if puppet with hand up rear were you.
Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <email@example.com>
Forwarded-by: firstname.lastname@example.org (Scott E Patrick)
-- by James Lileks
I think "The Empire Strikes Back" would have been more interesting if Darth
Vader had turned out to be Luke's mother. Someone brash and commanding, such
as Madge the Manicurist from the old Palmolive ads. The Dark side of the
Force? Why, you're soaking in it.
Unless I missed something in the course of watching these movies 60 times,
we never heard much about Mrs. Skywalker. Luke never asks Obi-Wan about Mom.
Maybe she left Luke's dad because he spent every night down at the Jedi
Legion hall and left her with two telekinetic brats. Perhaps she left Luke's
dad for Obi-Wan, and that's why Vader turned to the Dark Side. (If so, it
makes the scene where the two men fight each other with glowing wands a
little too Freudian for my taste.) Given Princess Leia's hairstyle, it is
possible Mrs. Skywalker died giving birth.
"The Empire Strikes Back" is my favorite of the Star Wars movies, simply
because it contains absolutely no Ewoks. Those nattering teddy bears ruined
"Return of the Jedi," turning the grand epic scale of the saga into the
Muppet Babies vs. the Red Army.
"Empire" is solid. Ewok-free. Darth Vader is evil throughout, unlike the
third movie, where he takes off his helmet and smiles. I can't quite see
Darth as evil anymore, because I know his head looks like your big toe after
you've been in the bathtub for an hour. "Empire" has the defining plot twist
of my generation, the no-Luke-I'm-yer-pappy line that absolutely stunned
me. (I'd kept my fingers in my ears for a week before I saw the movie, just
so no one could spoil it.)
Compared to this, the revelation in "Return" that Luke and Leia are brother
and sister seemed contrived, and made all the PG-sexual tension between them
downright creepy. What was next? Boba Fett is your second-cousin, Luke.
Jabba is your uncle, the one who always smelled of beer and cigars. He
developed a skin condition. Don't mention it, he's sensitive. Oh, and the
Wookie is your mother; after your father left, she stopped shaving.
Not everything in "Empire" is perfect. Consider the battle on the Ice Planet
Hoth. The Empire sends down a squadron of Imperial Walkers -- incredibly
cool machines, but probably the worst piece of military hardware ever
designed. Top-heavy, slow, prone to crashing: the Windows 3.0 of tanks.
Dropping the Walkers on an Ice Planet is like sending in a dozen Statues of
Liberty to fight on a skating rink. They probably sent fifteen Walkers to
do the job, but ten slipped and busted a tailbone.
And how did the Walkers get to the planet's surface? Parachutes? Unlikely.
There's nothing more ugly than two Imperial Walkers with tangled chutes,
kicking at each other. No, a ship delivered them to the surface. If that's
the case, the ship had to be very large. Huge. Instead of depositing the
Walkers, the ship could have sat on the rebel base like a sumo wrestler
squatting on an anthill. The Rebellion is crushed, Lord Vader. Really,
More faults: Billy Dee Williams confuses grinning with acting. The Yoda
scenes tend to drag the tenth time you've seen them. ("Stall we must.
Second act this is. Talk odd would you if puppet with hand up rear were
For all its charms and foibles, though, "Empire" and the whole Star Wars
universe is sadly out of date with modern society. When Han Solo slices
open the belly of his Hoth-horse to provide warmth, he is not immediately
picketed by Animal-rights activists, with signs saying "I'd rather go naked
than wear guts." Was there a seven-day waiting period before Luke got his
light saber? When the Death Star destroyed that planet, didn't they have
to file an environmental impact statement? Most telling moment: when Luke
slams his X-wing into Yoda's backyard, I realized something very odd about
the Star Wars civilization.
All that high technology, and they never managed to invent the air bag.
James Lileks is a nationally syndicated columnist for Newhouse News Service.
He's in the Washington Post now and then. His latest collection is "Fresh
Lies," published by Pocket Books.
© 1997 Peter Langston