Saturday, August 14, 2010

Red Letter Media vs. Star Wars: New Trilogy - Reconciliation

It's no surprise that Red Letter Media's reviews of Star Wars (Episode 1 and Episode 2, currently) have become a big hit. The editing of these extensive videos (about 70 minutes and 90 minutes respectively) is incredibly meticulous, and the detail into which these reviews delve is almost unfathomable. Narrated by a character known as Mr. Plinkett (Harry S. Plinkett, get it, Hairy Ass), a self-proclaimed sociopath who reveals his strange behavior slowly throughout all his reviews, the lengthy commentary becomes humorous in addition to its intelligence. The new style of "review" is strange, because at times Plinkett really hones in on basic plot holes and poor characterization, but at other times changes the dialogue in the film or yells at specific characters. It's somewhat of a cross between Riff Trax, Zero Punctuation, and Jeffrey Dahmer. Some argue they're not entirely reviews, and in some sense, they're right. The Plinkett Reviews are more than a review, they are story in themselves, with their own characters and plot developments. Whether this is an additive to the intrigue or grows too large and distracts from the reviews is up to the fans.

The first YouTube clip of the Episode II Plinkett Review, so loved that when taken off YouTube, accused of copyright infringement, the overwhelming response to have it brought back, referring to "Free Use," resulted in the YouTube video returning after an extremely brief absence.

It's also no surprise why people hate the New Trilogy of Star Wars. After years of build up and excitement for new Star Wars films, people had successfully idealized the Old Trilogy over the past thirty years. It didn't help people that the story was centered around Anakin Skywalker, Luke's father and eventually Darth Vader. Such a story demanded depth, intensity, and some heavy, dark moments. After Episode One's release, it became very clear to fans that this was not what George Lucas had in mind. His vision was much more childish, and the underlying drive was something equivalent to a money printer. Lucas was too aware of how much money these films could make, painfully aware, and this overtook any artistic vision. That being said, the films were big blockbusting hits, despite the heavy critical response, and George succeeded at his ultimate goal. And even still: the number of Star Wars fans skyrocketed. Were they all kids who adored Jar Jar and C3PO and their antics, and the droids flailing around screaming "ow?" The invention of the Fan Film is proof enough that teenagers and even twenty-something adults felt differently than all the critics. Recently, at Celebration V--a Star Wars convention--there was a panel held known as "Why We Love the Prequels" that had a large turnout and response. In the linked article, the writer uses the phrase "Eat that Red Letter Media," clearly harboring some distaste for the infamous Plinkett Reviews and their breakdown of two of the New Trilogy's films. It seems the fans of the New Trilogy, or Star Wars in general, view Red Letter Media as an adversary, but this may be a mistake.

"For well over 70 minutes (eat that Red Letter Media) we discussed the finer points of story and detail that made the prequels great."
Red Letter Media posted a link to this article with the commentary: "...Wow! That total disregard for any kind of critical thinking is scary."

To most, it would seem rather clear that Red Letter Media and the Plinkett Reviews are enemies of the New Trilogy, and any fans should hate them or respond with anger. These fans adore the New Trilogy just as much--if not possibly more--than the Old Trilogy. Younger fans attached to the New Trilogy much like older fans had attached to the Old. These fans adore Revenge of the Sith for bringing the two stories together, showing Anakin Skywalker's fall from the power and promise people saw in him, and how he felt tricked and trapped to The Dark Side of The Force. They love Attack of the Clones for its intense action sequences, seeing Obiwan Kenobi and Anakin forming a bond of friendship that would later disintegrate. And they love The Phantom Menace to see Anakin's power and innocence as a child, and why he was taken under Obiwan's wing. To the fans who feel this way about the New Trilogy, it's no wonder they buck at the Plinkett Reviews and their tearing apart of these idealizations, bit by bit, in such a thorough and critical-thinking fashion. The problem is that these fans have become irrational due to their love of Star Wars. It happens to anyone who truly attaches or identifies with something, especially at a young age. Though some could argue against a few specific, minor points raised by the reviews, it's either impossible or merely a grasping justification to deny the majority of the points in these reviews. The problem is that just because the fans love these movies, does not make them immune to imperfection, or even extreme failures.

Red Letter Media became such a well known and highly popularized phenomenon with many articles about it. The following is in Spanish but can be translated via internet, and is about the Plinkett Reviews and their unique review style.

Though fans have a right to be upset with people trying to ruin their idealizations, they don't have the right to proclaim that what they love is perfect. As the Red Letter Media Plinkett Reviews have pointed out, there are many flaws within these films. In the first film, the plot is extremely convoluted in getting to the Pod Race, a very forced action sequence that involves an enormity of risks that most Jedi should not take. Obiwan never really liked Anakin, and only took him under his wing because of his dying master's request. In the second, the bond between Obiwan and Anakin is hardly shown, though they talk about times they had fun together, the scenes we see them in, they argue and fight in front of everyone, and then talk poorly about each other behind their backs. Finally, in the third film, Anakin's fall is hinged on only a few basic details that the Chancellor had no way of foreseeing, and if he had, how close he came to dying is utterly absurd. Ultimately, as well, it makes the end of Return of the Jedi unbelievable, without justifications from fans pulling The Force Card out at every turn. These are valid points made in the Plinkett Reviews, and to deny them is to fight against the obvious for the sake of an unnecessary idealization of one's fandom.

Though Red Letter Media has not reviewed Episode III, it is widely believed that they will, eventually, though the reviews take some time to put together due to their extensive material and the elaborate video editing. Here they are joking in their own style about how they have not created the review, yet, and how aware they are that their followers wish to see it.

Fans do not need to fear these reviews, or react with distaste. There are many films people love, despite plenty of plot holes. There is no reason to deny the plot holes in order to protect the love of a film. Fans of the Old Trilogy have plenty of irrational love for original films, despite its imperfections. There is nothing wrong with admitting that the love one has for these films comes from the love of action, another world, and the fantasy of being a warrior for peace known as a Jedi. There is, however, something wrong with claiming that one's personal attachment to these films corrects all the flaws within these films. Instead of bucking at the first sign of an intelligent breakdown, fans should embrace the Plinkett Reviews, for many reasons. Aside from being hilarious, they show an attention to detail that is unprecedented. Fans should want to dig into these films as deeply as possible, and discover everything they can about them. More importantly, these reviews are an inspiration for critical thinking and creative writing. If fans opened their minds, they could look at many things more critically, and, if so inspired, write their own work with this attention to detail in mind. Finally, fans could be honest about why they love these movies and accept them as they are, rather than pretending they're something they're not. The best, truest fan, passes beyond the honeymoon stage of love, and reaches a point where they love their fandom honestly and for what it is, much like the basis for a true, happy marriage.

Red Letter Media's Plinkett Reviews are not an enemy of Star Wars or the New Trilogy. They are merely an advocate for free thinking, critical thinking, comedic thinking, and recognizing things for what they are. Fans of Star Wars and the New Trilogy needn't fight this way of thinking, but would rather be much better off embracing it.

1 comment:

The Director said...

This is true.

I loved 4-5-6. Its ok too see the plot holes within them. It doesnt make the films any worse.