Yesterday the Internet emerged from Star Wars opening weekend in the middle of an asteroid belt that wasn’t on any of our charts. We had a bad feeling about this, but it was too late; we were locked into a tractor beam, drawn inexorably onward by the gravity of a cultural event too large for anyone to ignore, but too universal for anyone to really win, either. That was no moon, it was: An Entire Tabs of Star Wars Content.
Episode VII was great, but did anyone else think the crawl didn’t exactly track with what happened pic.twitter.com/JfILKHg1Ds
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) December 21, 2015
Vox explainered the confusing politics of Republic / Resistance / First Order and the film’s opening weekend income, and attempted to sort of pre-explainer the question of who Rey’s parents are. Buzzfeed reminded us about jizz music, drew out one easter egg to full-post length, and made this incredibly painful red carpet video of some rando harassing Harrison Ford. And Jacobin took home the Rodin award for Best Thinkpiece, with Sam Kriss’s reading of the Rebel Alliance as right-wing death squad.
Most Star Wars content was illustrated with this image of Rey, Finn, and BB-8 running from a bad take
But then I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out: “IS IT FEMINIST THOUGH??” Jezebel’s Stassa Edwards said it is, because there are women cast in roles that are neither mother nor princess. Yes, the bar is legitimately that low. The Atlantic’s Megan Garber agreed, focusing mainly on protagonist Rey. And in a rare reverse-Slate-pitch, Laura Bradley agreed as well, observing that today’s crop of girls are finally going to have real heroes to pretend to be. National Review, of course, somehow managed to argue that this SW is just SJW in disguise and, separately, that the original trilogy was #actually feminist. And then there was the whole Mary-Sue thing, which was inevitable but dumb.
Another solid content angle was The Fans. Fusion explored the (pretty convincing!) fan theory that Finn and Poe are in love, making this suddenly feel like a Star Wars / Night Vale crossover. In L.A., a whole theatre full of fans got spoilered by the projector itself and basically lost their shit. Elon Musk launched and, for the first time, landed a Falcon-9 rocket, which I am classifying as a somewhat excessive fan tribute. NY Mag dug up some people who changed their names to Star Wars characters, and America’s most humorless TV scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson chose a random smattering of scientifically impossible plot points to complain about from a movie in which literally every frame contains a dozen scientific impossibilities. The fans were not pleased. This may prove to be NdGT’s nerd Waterloo.
And there were The Lists. Plot points that overlapped with the original trilogy. Easter eggs. Easter eggs and cameos. More cameos. The same cameos but elsewhere. You can Google if you need more but frankly the pool here is broad but very shallow. Once you learn that Finn’s number, 2187, is a reference to the cell where Princess Leia was held on the Death Star, which was itself a reference to Arthur Lipsett’s short film “21-87,” those depths are fully plumbed.
And finally, there were the actual reviews. Motherboard’s Brian Merchant captured the general gestalt1, which was basically: it was fun to watch but it’s just a reboot of the original trilogy. There were a lot of reviews that said that, I don’t feel like we need to read every one? The Amazon Post found a 1977 review of the original movie in what may have been just another way to suggest that this is a reboot. The Guardian’s Mark Kermode, by virtue of being an Old, was able to experience the full joy of a Star War for the first time. The Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said it wasn’t evil enough. Which figures, I guess? Star Wars superfan and pioneering jorts-ista Kevin Smith basically recapped it in real time. And Mac DeMarco did… this. Of all the reviews I read though, I am terribly ashamed and disturbed to say that the one I agreed with most was… was… just give me a moment to collect myself here, ok? [deep breath] …was Jonathan V. Last in The Weekly Standard.2 I know, I know, but he’s the only one who saw what Kylo Ren was really all about, ok?
And all that still just barely scratches the surface. If you’re interested in the 2015 content industry at all, spend a few minutes on Google News, because there are content angles I’ve never even seen before on this thing.
Ok I think that’s enough Star Wars for about a year. Intern José, get us out of here!
Intern José will be back one more time tomorrow, for his full-issue Graduation Tabs,3 and I think we will be seeing more content from him elsewhere in the near future. José, it’s been a pleasure to be the Palpatine to your Anakin, and see you give in to the Dark Side over the course of this month. Remember: fear leads to anger. Anger leads to takes. And takes lead to… etc.
Not Star Wars: Read Carrie Frye’s terrific essay about polar exploration and book writing in The Awl.
Today’s Song: Chastity Belt, “Lydia“
~All the Whos down in Who-ville like tabs a lot.~
That’s it for me till January 4th! Thank you for helping me squander another perfectly good year on Today in Tabs. Thanks to Fast Company and Tinyletter, and thanks to everyone tweeting your tabs, without whom this probably wouldn’t happen at all. You can always follow me on Twitter @rustyk5 where I tweet a fair amount, or @TodayinTabs where I do not. And if you like Today in Tabs, tell a friend about it. Don’t worry, by the time I start posting again, they’ll have forgotten it was you who told them.
Easter egg: General Gestalt was the squid-like creature from Return of the Jedi who yells “It’s a trap!” ↩
Except for the part about casting which is entirely wrong. Harrison Ford was the biggest drag on this film, by far, and I am not hopeful about Mark Hamill next time around. ↩
Aka “Rusty gets an extra day off before Christmas break.” ↩