The Nightmare Trilogy and the Karma of Heroes

Speculah published in a British SF magazine in 1996, reprinted here without permission because it made me laugh. The Phantom Menace wouldn’t be released for another three years. Irony, thy name is hindsight.

Of course, it wasn’t Kenneth Branagh and Macauley Culkin – we got even less impressive actors. And that bit about Twiki – well, given the choice, would you take that over Jar Jar Binks? I would. Plus, 30’s style retro design? YES PLEASE. And Amidala dying of a terminal illness that wasn’t ‘the vapors’ would have been a vast improvement on the final character.

nightmaretrilogy

Star Wars: The Nightmare Trilogy (Nov. 1996 SFX Magazine)

The original movie – the very first one- was groundbreaking on a number of levels. Unfortunately, it’s since become a victim of its own success, as the things that made it special have now been beaten into the ground through imitation and cultural overexposure. Empire Strikes Back a was stunning and dark sequel that actually infused Wars’ prototypical cast with accessible human emotions and a certain kind of spiritual core. But Return of the Jedi promptly fell into the black hole of merchandising (lol Ewoks) and marked the beginning of the series’ eerie slide into calculated sentimentality and emphasis on effect over story.

When do we, culturally, ever let our heroes rest? Good guys, their missions complete, are suppose to ride off into the sunset at the end of their labors to go to either a place of peace or the next adventure – beyond the veil, over the horizon, into the sun. The implication was that they would move on to a place we couldn’t follow – even if it was just so they could return reborn in another aspect or form, like old Hindu gods, constantly reincarnating and rediscovering themselves.

Now, instead, we attach chains to the ankles of our heroes and never let them leave, change, or grow. Instead of getting new heroes, we drag the same tired old bastards out of the dungeon and make them dance around again, and everyone can tell that the puppets are pale and worn from the passage of time, but we all lie and sit there clapping our hands even though every single aspect of what we’re doing is a farce. Sometimes we just shove them into newer bodies and call it the same thing as a rebirth, but it isn’t. Old wine in new bottles and all that.

Nobody learns anything. Nobody gets the chance to be reborn. Instead, we just sit there, stuck on the same wheel, as the pop culture universe rotates in smaller and smaller circles around itself.

Same old heroes. Same old story. Same as it ever was.

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