The Burnt Offering

The Ambivalent Side of the Force

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  • The Burnt Offering is where Stu Horvath thinks too much in public so he can live a quieter life in private. 

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    This is a reprint of the letter from the editor in Unwinnable Weekly Issue Seventy-Four, the I Love Star Wars issue. You can buy Issue Seventy-Four now, or purchase a one-month subscription to make sure you never miss an issue!

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    I get a lot of shit for not caring about Star Wars anymore.

    In fact, there’s a pretty good chance one of two thoughts just flashed through your head upon learning of my ambivalence. First, and most likely, is that you think I am a hater, embittered because George Lucas somehow destroyed my childhood by making three crummy movies. The second possibility is that you think I am lying and secretly continue to love the franchise as much as I once did.

    Sure, like an ex-girlfriend, I did love Star Wars once. Seeing those movies was a tremendous, formative cultural experience. I am still fond of the original trilogy. I am also happy I read some of the other material when I did, like Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn novels in the early 90s. Sometimes, on rare occasions, I even enjoy riffing on the endless reams of Star Wars trivia I have locked in my brain.

    Despite those warm feelings, I have no desire for more Star Wars. The last meaningful interaction I had with the franchise was with Knights of the Old Republic 2, a little over a decade ago. I didn’t watch The Clone War cartoon, despite reports that it was the only good thing to come out of the prequels (hell, I didn’t even watch Attack of the Clones). I have no desire to check out Rebels or The Force Awakens.

    You do? That’s cool. About a billion people are right there with you. That’s fine. I am happy that this movie at least looks to be doing a reasonable Star Wars impression, which is more than you can say about the prequels. Go on, have fun, but I am going to stay over here. I’m full up on Star Wars.

    I mean that in all honesty. I don’t have the space or the time. There’s so much cool stuff out there right now, I’m more interested in hunting that downUW74-small than adding to the sizable pile of Star Wars stuff already taking up space in my brain.

    And, I don’t know, I watched a trailer for a new Star Trek movie today. Yesterday, I finally watched Mr. Holmes, an excellent movie that portrays the great detective wrestling with his growing senility. A few days ago, I saw Macbeth in the theater, the latest film adaptation of Shakespeare’s 1611 play. If I were to click on Facebook right now, there’s a pretty good chance that I will see a post debating the merits of a one of two movies based on comic book characters that are several decades old. One of my favorite TV shows this year, Fargo, is based on a 1996 movie. Another, The Man in the High Castle, is based on a 1962 novel.

    That’s already a lot of new things based on old things, you know? I am on the lookout for new things. Given the billions of dollars of investment on Disney’s part, I can’t see there being room for anything genuinely exciting in The Force Awakens. New is risky, like Star Wars was back in 1973. The vast media empire of modern Star Wars is the exact opposite of risky.

    I could be wrong, of course.

    I will see the new Star Wars movie for any combination of these three reasons:

    Han Solo dies in spectacular fashion.

    Luke Skywalker is revealed to be the villain of the final three movies.

    My mom wants to see it.

    I don’t think #1 is going to be a factor. Han’s end will be brief and in the service of developing one of the new characters, much the way Ben Kenobi’s death served as a way for audiences to learn more about both Luke and Vader in A New Hope. If I had to guess, I’d say he is dispatched unceremoniously by either Kylo Ren or an unfortunate explosion. Or both, maybe? I reckon Abrams used his one great heroic self-sacrificing death scene up with Captain Kirk’s dad.

    As much as #2 makes sense within the overarching themes of failure and redemption throughout the series, and as much as I would love to see it, audiences would lose their minds if Luke Skywalker is a villain. Too dark to bet billions of dollars of revenue on. Disney simply isn’t that brave.

    #3, though, that’s the wild card. But, like #2, it makes sense within the overarching themes of my life that I should take my mom, who took me to God knows how many showings of the original trilogy, who bought countless Star Wars toys and books and games for me, to see the new movie.

    Eh, maybe, in this respect, I care about Star Wars. Just a little.

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    This issue was born of that idea that the original Star Wars movies made indelible impressions on people, not just in terms of influencing the kinds of movies they like, but on a deeper, more personal level. What did Star Wars teach kids about being human, about life, about love?

    Each writer this week focuses on a single character: Sara Clemens on Luke, Gavin Craig on C-3PO, A. J. Moser on Leia, Jill Scharr on Han and Evan Hayles Gledhill on Chewbacca. They all share the same starting point — a childhood crush — and go on to surprising, and illuminating, territory from there.

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    This is the last issue of the weekly. We’ll be back in January in our new, larger monthly format. We’ve got a bunch of cool stuff planned for it — I can’t wait for you to see it.

    On behalf of all the writers and editors here at Unwinnable, I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year.

    Stu Horvath,
    Jersey City, New Jersey
    December 14, 2015

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