Monday, May 21, 2012

Oh God It's Happening Again. Hyperspace Hoopla 2012.

I have been a Star Wars fan for nearly my entire life, but the one thing that really stretches my fandom is the Hyperspace Hoopla, a live Star Wars character dance off stage show that appears at Disney Star Wars Weekends. Now, I totally understand that Star Wars is big and rich enough to cater for all types of fans of all different ages, and if this is not for me then I should be mature enough to look away - but I think this little stage show is systematic of something much darker that is currently occurring in the Star Wars universe and I would like to use it as a springboard for a larger rant.

Here is a full 19 minutes of this year's Hyperspace Hoopla which I don't honestly expect you to watch. but skip through it a bit if you want to sample the flavour.

Now to hear me unleash, join me after the jump!

Firstly, who is this for?

If the answer was kids, then we could all be satisfied with that, close up shop and go home. But are
kids really the target? To begin with it is hyper-sexualised, and I don't just mean the obvious titty-shaking and ass-waggling of every female character from Slave Leia to Zam frigging Wessell, but rather I'm also questioning the merits of a Gamorrean Guard humping the air or Chewbacca aiming his crotch at your kids while dancing to I'm Sexy and I Know It. Now I'm no prude, but it all seems pretty tawdry in the context of a family show at Disney. And is Chris Brown the role-model you want for your kids?

And while I'm probably not the person to comment on this, I personally find the way they deal with racial stereotypes to be pretty loose. Let's just say that if I danced around in an afro wig and a gold chain, thrusting my hips and pretending to be a rapper, it would probably be frowned upon. Then why is it suddenly OK for Artoo and Chewie?

And doesn't it all just kind of suck out the fun? Don't you remember being a kid when Star Wars was all about magic and myth? It was something special. But what's special about this? It could at least be funny, but instead it's Holiday Special dumb.

I certainly don't believe that Star Wars is sacred, and I think that you can definitely play around with it and subvert expectations. Recent examples of this which have really worked have been the brilliant Lego: Padawan Menace, or the Robot Chicken specials. But they are clever, genuinely funny shows, produced with a lot of passion and a lot of craft. Sure, the Hoopla doesn't have that kind of time or budget, but what's the unifying vision behind this? And who is at the helm?

I had very similar misgivings when I saw the footage from Star Wars Kinect, when I saw the Donald Duck Darth Maul, and more recently when I saw this:

Sure, there's a lot of... stuff... coming out, but where's the real content? For the first time in over 30 years I am weirdly beginning to feel unexcited by Star Wars.

If you've been jaded since the 1997 special editions then you'll probably feel like I'm extremely late to the party, but it's the die-hard fans that have stuck through all that who I really want to address. Do you feel like something weird is going on with Star Wars? I can't help but feel like another dark time is coming and that Star Wars is going back into hibernation.

Collecting has always been a huge component for me but the action figures have become incredibly sporadic and sparse, even online. I'm not sure if the 3D Phantom Menace had nearly the impact or excitement that anyone wanted it to. I love the Clone Wars but know of few people who have even seen an episode, let alone watch it regularly. Our favourite Lucasfilm ambassadors to the fans, Steve Sansweet and Bonnie Burton were both laid off, and even here on our own site, the news has dried up and people just don't seem to be reading what little we have. 

Still, Star Wars has had a phenomenal run and has endless potential for comebacks. So maybe a little down time is OK. Maybe it's better to sneak out quietly and lay low for a while until an appropriate time for the next reinvention? I don't know. But goddamn that Hyperspace Hoopla pisses me off.

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