Hike in Forest….filled with peace.

Just recently I was up in the Pacific Northwest again where I truly feel at home and at peace.  I love the climate and forests.  I want to desperately move back there and find the beauty and harmony that is that region of the country.  I took some photos since I am a picture hound, and thought I would share these images on my WordPress site.

slug in forest

I have neglected my blog lately because I have had so much on my mind and no one wants to hear about how sad I am concerning the loss of someone.  Not even sure if people believe me.  And besides, I am inclined to believe that people need more uplifting than all the irrational anger that I see on the news.  Perhaps some quiet reflecting in places that you like best will help center one’s thoughts to more important matters.  Then I can discuss how someone like Peter Mayhew meant so much to me.  How he gave me hope.  So, please enjoy my pictures of the forest and hopefully you will find a path to inner peace.

I am often amazed at how small these trees make me feel.  Small but not frightened.  Like they are giants here to protect me or look over me as I walk through these woods.  Great experience it was.

G. Winkler copyright ©2019

 

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Posted in Digital Photography, Inspiration, Photography

Chewbacca and the Nobody

Recently Peter Mayhew, the actor who famously played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, passed away at age 74.  This hit me pretty hard.  Who am I?  I am just a nobody, but I got to work with him for a couple of years on a project.  He was my literary agent.   He changed my life.

He’s a had a couple of health scares since I first  got to known him and there have been times in his life when he has been forced to be in a wheelchair, but that did not keep him from living a full life.  At least from what I knew of him.  I met him through my friend, Bill, in 2016.  My husband and I talked Bill into cosplaying Gungi, the young Jedi Wookiee, and I have no idea how my buddy managed to get in contact with Peter Mayhew.  But he did and even got an autographed picture from him.   But Peter wasn’t just a movie star.   He cared about people and the world around him.  He started a foundation to help people in need called the Peter Mayhew Foundation.  And he was a writer.

 

I am a writer, but no one ever believed in me.  My high school teacher complained that I wrote like Ray Bradbury, she hated Science Fiction.  My high school boyfriend read one of my manuscripts without permission and told me he hated it.  In college I never felt comfortable with my fellow writers and the courses never seemed to make me a better writer.  I submitting manuscripts to publishers and always got a xeroxed response of no thank you.  Being a novelist was like being a fine artist.  You were meant to starve and succeed only after you were dead.  Becoming a novelist was a battle I had no idea how to fight, so I set it aside to focus on things that would put a roof over my head and food on the table.  When I lost my job in 2008?….I think…(It was a horrible place where I did three people’s jobs and got paid for one not to mention that the people didn’t care about me), I started painting again since I was stuck at home.  I also started writing again because my friend, Laurie, mentioned something called NaNoWriMo, which is a writing event that happens every November.  I gave it a try.  I wrote a story about a kid that went to a school for Knights.  No outline.  Just free form spilled out of my heart and mind.  I shared it with my husband and our best friend Bill.  They both liked it, but every writer knows that friends and loved ones will always be kind about art projects.  For some reason Bill wanted to show it to Peter Mayhew and I said alright.

This was the start of my friendship with the man who created what a Wookiee should be.

He really liked it, and we discovered that we had some interests in common.  He wanted to know if I had an ending for it.  And I said no, and that I was currently working on a Star Wars story.  Remember the story of a kid going to a Knight’s school was done without any planning.  I wasn’t sure how to end it.  Still don’t.  But the Star Wars story had been outlined for the upcoming NaNoWriMo event.  Why write a Star Wars story?  Well, I have loved Star Wars ever since I saw the first movie as a kid.  I’m a big Darth Vader fan.  I liked him when it wasn’t cool.   Trust me, I got some strange looks for liking Darth Vader.  I even tried to explain that he was one of the main characters like a hero but not one.  I was a kid.

So once I had my Star Wars story written and edited a couple of times to make it readable, I let Peter Mayhew read it.  After he read it, he asked if he could be my literary agent!  No kidding.  I was excited and shocked all at once.  I kept wondering if he was messing with me, but I was told that Peter had a reputation for being a straight shooter.  No bullshit and he would say it like it was.  Also, why would a busy person like him waste time on a person like me if he didn’t think I had potential.  You see, it was hard to believe because no one had ever been a mentor to me or ever taken an interest in the projects that I worked on.  He had me do a few things to set up my work  to help protect it.  He also explained how the Star Wars Universe actually worked.  People don’t submit stories to them, they contact writers and tell them what to write.  Only one writer had done what I wanted to do before in the Star Wars Universe.  He actually wanted to introduce me to her.

He worked to find me the right people to work with which seemed to be an uphill battle.  He finally asked me if he could share it with his old friend, whom I call the Decision Maker.  Peter wanted to know what his friend would think of the story.  The Decision Maker liked the story and said he would help try and find editors and a publisher.  You see, stories that are part of a franchise have to follow certain rules set up by the owners.  I had several friends suggest self publishing, but that would not work because my work was set in the Star Wars Universe.  I have read many of the novels and comic books that are pertinent to the situations in my stories as well as seen all the movies and cartoons numerous times.  So when you see authors that say they had helpers do research, well, I did it all on my own.  It’s time consuming but a labor of love.  I did not want to let down Peter or the Star Wars fans.

Unfortunately, Peter’s health was not the greatest and he had mentioned to me that he wished to retire but was willing to see my story get published.  He was still very busy doing comic cons and movie stuff he couldn’t talk about.  So when I say I knew him….I knew him not as much as I would have liked to.  He was a busy guy and I needed to be patient.  I felt uncomfortable sharing with people that he was acting as my literary agent because I didn’t want to disappoint people when I couldn’t get them autographs and so forth.  This was a professional type of friendship.  Then it came to the point when his friend the Decision Maker agreed to take on my project while Peter recovered from some surgeries.  The Decision Maker was my “temporary” literary agent.  Both men have given me guidance and have done their best to navigate through the Star Wars Universe, which has become quite complicated.  Now that Peter is gone, I guess that means the Decision Maker is my literary agent.  I hope he doesn’t mind.  He’s also a very busy person.

I’m not going to give up on what Peter and I started.  I will make him proud of me.  I will be worthy of his faith in my skills as a writer and story teller.  I just need the publishers to treat the Decision Maker with more respect.  I don’t have any control over that.  The entertainment world is not a simple place.  Not sure it ever has been.

So that’s how Peter Mayhew changed my life.  I am still a nobody, but I don’t feel as much like a nobody inside anymore.  I know that he and the Decision Maker liked my book.  They believe that it is worthy of being part of the Star Wars Universe.

I know that I am not the only person that will miss him and many of you reading this will feel the same way.  It is my understanding that Peter’s family wishes that instead of sending flowers to them that making a donation to Peter’s Foundation would be appreciated.  Make Peter’s last action on Earth be to bring more  help to others in need.  I think he would like that.

G. Winkler ©2019

PS – I know this was not written very well, but it was written more for me than anyone else.  I just needed to say that I cared about him since I felt I had to keep his name secret because I don’t think I could have deal with people asking me to try and get autographs and so forth from him.

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Posted in Art, Star Wars, Writing

Snow inspired Hoth fun

Okay, so this is another one of my action figure photo series.  I think every writer should do stuff to get in touch with the characters they are writing for especially if the characters and setting are not based on reality.  I am currently writing Star Wars Universe stories.  I am a fan, but I don’t write fan fiction.  My writing follows certain rules like respecting the characters as they have been developed.  Acknowledging and understanding the setting as it has been established.

So what does that mean?  Darth Vader doesn’t need a hot babe to solve all his problems.  That would not follow with why he is Darth Vader.  That would show a blatant disregard for what has been established for the character and a serious lacking of understanding of who Darth Vader is.  One always hears actors ask, “What is my motivation?”  Well, that is important in writing as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong….some of the fan fiction out there is well written, and some of it should be flushed down the toilet where it belongs.  Fan Fiction gives people a chance to express ideas and improve their writing skills.  That’s not enough for me.  I want my stories to be published and shared with those that love Star Wars.  I want to return the joy that I felt as I watched and read throughout the years.

So the snow today has inspired my thoughts to turn to the planet Hoth where the  Empire Strikes Backs begins.  I have a few of those Hasbro Black Series 6 inch action figures.  So I gathered up a few that I thought would make sense for a Hoth inspired scene.  But being out in ultra white snowy bright conditions has its hazards….snow blindness.  Yes, that is a thing.  You end up with a headache and an aversion to bright light.  It takes about a day for it to go away, at least for me.  It is unpleasant.  Then the other problem to contend with….the camera, which is actually my cell phone.  It has great resolution, but the Moto phone doesn’t work as well as my old Samsung.  I literally cannot not see the screen while I am outside in such bright light.  Even pulling my sunglasses away, I cannot see the screen.  I had to set up my figures and guess how things would look in each shot.

The following are the results from my blind attempt.  Good thing I am not spending millions of dollars to film an action adventure scene while doing it with just the Force to see with.

These three look pretty much the same except with some mild lighting differences.  The giant shadow was me being in the way.  Another thing to be mindful of when taking pictures or filming.  Is the camera and operator inadvertently getting into the scene?

This is how the scene looked from above.  By crouching down on the wet cement, I was hoping to get that tunnel affect of being in an area with very high snow.  The previous images were all lacking the other figure that I wanted to be in the shot.  Because I could not see the phone screen while taking the pictures, I could not tell if I was at the correct angle or if I needed to move the figures around.

Here I changed camera angle to make sure my protocol droid was included in the scene, but once again….I could not see the screen on the phone, so I could not tell how much of the house and other illusion breaking items had gotten into the shot.  This probably would have been fine if a brilliant blue sky was the back ground image.  One could attempt to Photoshop the house and so forth out of the picture.  Below is my attempt to remove the unwanted background clutter that breaks the illusion.

It does look better. 🙂  The final picture is what I was hoping for, but what I got was blurry.  I wanted the white droid to be in the background like he was surprised or hiding from the Imperials as they discuss the Rebel captive kneeling upon the ground.  He was supposed to be one of those details that people notice only after looking at a picture for some time.  A blue sky would also be useful in this image, but it lacks the clarity that I wanted.

I hope you had fun looking at these and will be inspired to do even better photos.

May the Force be with you!

G. Winkler ©2019

 

 

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Posted in Art, Inspiration, Star Wars, Toys, Writing

Star Wars: Solo the movie and the book….

Han Solo book w1000

When I discovered that a series of movies were to be made concerning the character Han Solo from Star Wars, I was excited.  I am a Star Wars fan.  I saw a New Hope in the theater as a kid, and it made me believe that flying through space could be real.  I loved  the lightsabers, blasters,  and all the cool creatures.

So the idea of a Han Solo movie sounded terrific.  Then all the rumors….yuck.  I hate Star Wars media, which I suppose is Disney media.  So full of hype and lack of substance.  I think they could spend more time and money on good writing instead of all the stupid hype that we don’t need.  Star Wars will sell itself because of what George Lucas created along with all the great artists, actors, and technical people.  Great team work makes great films.

So the rumors were that the Han Solo movie was supposed to be garbage and that came from Disney.  At least that is what my husband understood from the articles he was reading.  That seemed strange like they were sabotaging their own product.   Then the main actor Alden Ehrenreich was rumored to be concerned about how the movie was being made.  Slap stick comedy?!?  Yikes.  I’d be concerned too if I had been in his shoes.  So there was a director change with Ron Howard taking over the helm.  Then the controversy about The Last Jedi and how bad it was created more problems.  Groups of people were so pissed off that they wanted to boycott all Star Wars movies without realizing that the “side” films and cartoons were not under control of the same people.  The Star Wars Universe and the Star Wars Real World is VERY complicated.  I should know, I am working on several Star Wars novels.  No, I can’t tell you about them. NDA. 🙂

But I can tell you that I do a lot of research into what is Canon and what is Legend and how to incorporate aspects of the Legends stories into what is currently Canon.  It’s not easy.  I also don’t have a team of editors and “people” helping me out.  And to make matters more complicated, I discovered from my literary agent that people don’t submit stories to be published for the Star Wars Universe, writers are requested to write them.  There has been only one other writer that did what I am attempting to do according to my literary agent, who is reasonably connected with the whole Star Wars thing.  My agent promised to introduce me to her.  But he’s been under the weather for about a year, but I think it was Claudia Gray.   I loved her book Bloodlines.  So it has been my plan to read every Star Wars novel that I can as well as some of the comic books.  Not an easy task for a dyslexic person.  But I am doing it, and I think it is making me a better writer and gives me a broader understanding of the whole Star Wars Universe.  I don’t claim to be an expert.  So don’t start quizzing me on details like Kobold flash handles being a droid caller, okay.

So reading Star Wars: Solo by Mur Lafferty is a priority on my list.  The movie was great.  I enjoyed it.  I could have done without all the social media drama.   I recommend Star Wars fans to just watch the movies, cartoons, read the books/comics, and play the video games.  Have fun.  Buy the toys and posters.  Ignore the nonsense.

sws-behan-the-scenes-dryden-vos

Please note the marks on his face and the suit of armor in the background.  To find more goto this link.

So why read the book if you have seen the movie?  Well, there are tidbits of information that can be gathered from reading the books.  For example, I liked Rogue One and read the book and the novel that is prior in the time line that focuses around Galen Erso, Jyn’s father.  I gained a great deal of respect and admiration for Galen’s efforts.  You must read Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno especially if you loved those characters.   Director Krennic is such a jerk.  So since I saw the Solo movie first prior to reading the book, I had preconceived ideas about certain characters because of the way they were presented in the movie.  An excellent example of this was the character Dryden Vos, who is basically the main villain in Solo.  There are several questionable people that Han Solo comes across but no one more volatile than Dryden Vos.  After seeing the movie my husband and I pondered exactly who was Dryden Vos.  How did he get those horrible scars across his face?  Was he a soldier that got wounded in battle?  Was it Darth Maul, his boss, that punished him for some digression?  Was he part of Maul’s Mandalorian followers that stood by him and even rescued him in the Marvel comic books?  If you pay attention carefully, you can see a set of Mandalorian armor in Dryden Vos’s office in the movie.

Unfortunately, all these marvelous assumptions were wrong.  He is apparently some kind of race that has strange facial markings that change color when they have emotional reactions.  He is pretty much just a money grubbing douche-bag that uses people.  Some evil business guy.  I was disappointed.  I was wondering what the back story was on Dryden Vos………and well, now I don’t care.

But just because I was disappointed about Dryden Vos doesn’t mean that the book doesn’t have lots of other wonderful insights.  I loved Lando’s reasoning for all the capes.   The story behind L3 and why she is constructed like a biped.  What really happened to Qi’ra after Han left.   When you read the book, you get more information.

So why don’t the movie people put all these goodies into the movies?  Well, to be honest  sometimes there isn’t enough time.  Or an investor doesn’t like that part of the book.   Or they need to cut costs and need to decide what they actually need to tell the story and keep the flow of the film.  The movie has to make money and pay for all the expenses.  It also needs to make a profit or else there will not be funds for the next film.  It’s not personal,….it’s just business.

So if you were one of the people told not to see the Han Solo film, ignore that.  It is being shown on Netflix right now or you could buy the DVD.  Watch it.  It is a fun Star Wars movie.  And then read the book.  Just don’t expect Dryden Vos to be that impressive.  🙂

G. Winkler  ©2019

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Posted in movies, Star Wars, Writing

Nike ad campaign and it’s implications…

The Nike ad campaign is obviously designed to stir people up and create a buzz about the Nike product.  But when does advertising cross a line in the messages they sell and market to the population?  In the past rock musicians have been put on the spot for the content of their songs.  For example, the band Judas Priest was put on trial for lyrics that supposedly drove two fans to commit suicide.     Ozzy Osborne also had to deal with such accusations.  There have been many controversial ads in past years.  Some have been removed because people have found them offensive such as the H&M “Coolist monkey in the jungle” sweatshirt.   But this particular ad encourages people to throw caution to the wind and not think about the consequences to themselves or others.  Is this a good message during a time when the US has become so polarized?

My husband was browsing through people’s reactions to the ad campaign and read it allowed to me.  The first thing that came to mind was the Twin Towers in New York City.  I felt sick at the thought that this very phrase could encourage such darkness.  Average people think about their actions and how these actions will affect their future and their loved ones.  I am assuming that Nike was trying to encourage athletes to do their best, but  “Believe in something” does not stipulate that it has to be something positive or kind.  Something could quite literally mean anything good or bad.  They are also telling the public they should “sacrifice everything” and “just do it.”  I wonder how hard did they really think about what they were encouraging in this day and age of constant media bombardment.  With Internet trolls, school bullies, intense political hatred, and concern over social media and it’s affect upon US elections as well as our younger generations, is it wise to send this message to a fragile soul who may be on the verge of just doing something and sacrificing everything?  This is a message of extremes.

So my husband and I started brain storming of various situations of where this ad campaign could be used as a call for action.  We easily came up with some rather dark figures from history and I am sure we are missing many examples, but we started to grow concerned that there was no one positive that we could call upon.  We really had to think hard.

These are the dark and somewhat foreboding ideas that we came up with.  I think they speak for themselves.

The event known as 911.

 

 

 

Here are what I would deem as positive examples.  These are all tied to famous people, but I can imagine that many firefighters, police officers, rescue workers, and soldiers would also fall into the positive category of someone who believed in something and literally risked their lives to do what they believed in, but risking their lives does not mean sacrificing everything which would also include the people around them.  So it doesn’t quite fit.  The people that hid the Jews and other people hunted by the Nazis were actually taking a risk that would sacrifice everything, but I don’t know the names of these brave souls, so we used Anne Frank as an example of their belief in something.

Anne Frank, victim of the Holocaust during World War II – she was hidden by people who dared to defy the NAZI party.  We used her picture to stand for the unknown people that risked everything.

 

Jesus Christ – religious figure ( I think you can find information on him on your own.)

There are also many characters in literature that would go to extremes to get what they want.  Some would risk dying to obtain their goals and risk everyone and everything around them.  Someone so selfish has to be at the apex of what is described as evil.  Hopefully, you will enjoy the humor of this character being used as an example for this ad campaign that is encouraging people to go to extremes without a thought for anyone or anything else.

Sheev Palpatine – the ultimate villain in the Star Wars Universe.

 

G. Winkler ©2018

PS – Remember this is just my opinion, and I am not encouraging anyone to go to extremes.  Please think before you go off and do something stupid.  Think!

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Culture, current events, Marketing

Senator McCain

I am not a Republican.  I am not a Democrat.  I am non-partisan.  I can make my own choices and do not need a group to tell me how to feel or think.  I can do that fine on my own.

During the 2000’s I discovered that I was having health problems, so I decided since we didn’t have much money for doctor visits and had sporadic healthcare that I would make healthy changes on my own.  One of the things I decided to remove from my diet was High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  I had to throw away a lot of food items.  I was shocked how this stuff had been added to so many things for no apparent reason.  I also discovered to my dismay that I was actually addicted to the product.  I craved it like I was starving to death.  I had never had any addiction before to anything and this was quite new and very disturbing.  To honestly feel as if one is starving to the point of becoming angry is…..disturbing.  Why would anyone put this into their product?  Did they know what it was doing? How could the FDA approve of such a product?

I started writing to manufacturers of my favorite products such as Pepsi, Dreyer’s Ice Cream, various breakfast cereal companies, and Nabisco Oreo Cookies.  One never got a satisfying reply from any of these companies, but for every person willing to ask or show concern, there about 99 others thinking the same thing but are too lazy to write.  So I did.  I tried to increase the knowledge of others about this product.  I even posted a collected page of pdf articles on my own website that discussed what High Fructose Corn Syrup was. http://www.observationpost42.com/html/wendells_cubical_wall.php

It is the Internet, and one can say just about anything, so I collected various sources to show the different perspectives of the product.  And during this time I fought with the strange addictive qualities that would pop up from time to time.  (It took over a year to get the stuff out of my body.)  Absolute hunger for no reason and nothing would satiate that feeling……except something with High Fructose Corn Syrup in it.

Then Hurricane Katrina happened.  The stories of the strange desperation and violence that was shed upon the victims of the storm.  Over a 1000 people died from that storm.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina  And the stories in the news about the violence was disturbing.  It was often said that many of the victims were poor people.  And during that time many poor people would buy fast food such as burgers, french fries, fried chicken, pizza, and so forth because at the time it was pretty affordable.  I know.  My husband and I used to by the $1 Burger King Whoopers during the early 90’s because we didn’t have much money to spend on food.  So we did what we could.  I am sure the food in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina did the same thing.  I also had to give up eating fast food because the High Fructose Corn Syrup was in the ketchup, the fries, the buns,  even the meat sometimes, the sauces, the pickles, and the sodas…..  I actually made the mistake of eating fast food during this time because we were helping a friend move and the only place to eat was McDonalds.   We were in an isolated small town.   I felt strange after about a half hour of eating the food and then my legs and feet swelled and my stomach felt wrong.  I could not go to the doctor because at that time I didn’t have healthcare.  I also don’t think the doctors would have understood what happened.  I stayed in that condition for two whole months.  It was awful.  There was something in the food.  (We now suspect it wasn’t just HFCS but also MSG and high salt content that contributed to this extreme body change.)  But imagine how powerful these chemicals are on one’s body to have that kind of affect.

So back to Hurricane Katrina….I started thinking about how the people behaved angrily and violently as if they had a right to do what they did.  Some complained on TV that they were starving.  Some of these people that complained were very overweight.  An overweight person should have calories to burn in difficult situations unless their stomach and brain was telling them something else.  They were all more than likely addicted to High Fructose Corn Syrup.  It wasn’t that they were fat pigs or stupid poor people….they were suffering from an addiction that they were not even aware of.  The relief workers were probably handing them bottles of fresh clean water that could not satiate their thirst for HFCS.

When this realization came to me, I decided to write to someone in the public service that would understand suffering and have some kind of power to say or do something.  I wrote to Senator John McCain.  He was not my state senator.  He was one of the candidates for President, but he had the right stuff to be able understand my concern.    I knew other people were worried about this stuff as well, but no one was listening.  The High Fructose Corn Syrup lobbyists were obviously very powerful and they actually tried to change the name of their product at one point, which was after I got my letter out and things started to happen.

Now I am not saying that my letter was the only one that mattered or that I know for sure that Senator McCain did something about the problem.  I just know that about six months after I sent that letter I started seeing bread with marketing blurbs on their product saying no HFCS.  It started to grow from there.  I like to think that in some small way I helped to get the word out and that Senator John McCain or someone in his staff helped in some manner to make the citizens of this country a bit more healthy.  Something changed for the better.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is not allowed in Europe.  It is also illegal in Mexico as well.  That is why there is “Mexican Coke” products.  I don’t have the cravings anymore, but I still have problems with my body knowing when I am full and when to stop eating.  Something was damaged by the chemicals in that product, and I am stuck with it….as far as I know.  I just have to consciously monitor how much I eat.

G. Winkler ©2018

 

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Posted in Culture, current events, Inspiration

The Star Wars Enigma

So you may have heard rumors of all kinds of drama involving Star Wars and the fans of Star Wars…you think….who cares?  If you are not a fan of the Star Wars Universe, then that attitude is understandable.  You are not going to understand  or care about what is going on.  But I am a big fan of Star Wars, and I am not sure I understand what is going on.

I have been trying to piece it together and understand what exactly is happening.  Some of it seems fan driven while other aspects seem more like a marketing department’s tactics.  Much like our modern day politics in the US, I am suspicious of so called grass roots upswing of unrest.  The surge of almost violent hatred is curious since my past experience with Star Wars fans has been very positive.  No matter what costume you wear, even opposing forces, have been positive.  The fans are often like a big family.

So what is the problem?  It seemed to start with the Star Wars Solo movie, but in reality stripping away the marketing nonsense…it starts with The Last Jedi film.  What was wrong with The Last Jedi?  Okay, this topic could require me to write a book that a non Star Wars fan would not be interested in reading.  (I am assuming I have an audience of fans and non-fans.)  The first problem with The Last Jedi is probably no George Lucas involvement.  He was the guy that invented the whole Star Wars thing and worked with many creative minds and put together an amazing Universe of characters, settings, and concepts.  So this stuff was established.  People loved it.  The next problem is probably the set of films referred to as the Prequels.  The three Prequel films explain how we ended up with the most iconic bad guy in our current pop culture.  Darth Vader is known throughout the world, and probably parts of distant galaxies by now…  So what was wrong with the Prequels?  No much.  Some superficial problems with too much CGI, comic relief character Jar Jar Binks a bit too stupid, a child actor that seemed too young to play the role believably, and of course the Midichlorians.  I think I hate the Midichlorians the most because they alter they way the established story worked.  The other stuff did not affect the story line or the quality of the story telling.  The acting and artwork was great.  So what happened?  I suspect with the blossoming of social media popularity and everyone wanting to share their opinion whether it was worth listening to or not, came a great deal of complaining and whining about the Prequel movies.  I liked them.  Sure, those items above were what I thought was less than perfect, but the stories were still good.  I imagine that it must have been very difficult to play Anakin Skywalker as a young adult.  Hayden Christensen had to make someone be appealing to an intelligent love interest enough for marriage and children to happen while slowly being turned into something dark and sinister.  Not an easy task.  I have noticed that he tends to avoid media  contact and the child that played the young version of Anakin, Jake Lloyd, actually ended up in jail for a while.  The young actor left acting due to the fact that he was being bullied by classmates.  We live in dark times.  I think the complaining about the Prequels opened the door for more aggressive behavior.

Imagine now, being in George Lucas’s shoes and being harassed by these strange so called rabid fans of Star Wars.  I have my doubts as to whether one could actually call them fans.  The toxic nature of their behavior is curious.  What has happened to people?  In the old days when people didn’t like something, they just stopped watching and buying stuff.  The creators either fixed things or gave up.  The business people simply move on to something else that will make money, but it is a bit harder for artists to simply walk away.  Most art is created out of love and the desire to share.  So when the fans became toxic, it actually hurt the artists involved.  Some decided to move on to other projects while others needed to separate themselves from what was causing them pain.

So what does this stuff have anything to do with current Star Wars and what is happening now?  One needs to understand the history behind the fandom before understanding what is happening now, and that is what I am attempting to do.  I don’t understand why Disney and their writers decided to do what they did with the story line.  It feels more like marketing a product than creating something out of love and a desire to share.  What they have put together lacks soul and appeals to current dramas being played out in current events here in the US while still trying to make a quick buck off a very popular franchise.  This is not the mindset of a person who wants to create an amazing story wrought forth from the very depths of their soul and heart.  If you don’t understand what I am saying…then you are not a writer or an artist.  And that’s okay.  We are all different, but I am trying to explain what I think is going on.  It bothers me because I do love Star Wars, and I have written work that is based in the Star Wars Universe.   And mind you not simple fan fiction.  Lots of research involved in this process.  Lots of effort to be mindful of previous artists’ work.  One does not ignore the foundations established by earlier artists.  Respecting established character development and setting development is important and vital for a work to be truly part of an already established fictional Universe.  One does not simply make Captain Kirk into a black woman because they think she will appeal to people and make a lot of money.  One develops new characters if you need to.  One does not destroy the beloved heroes and villains that fans have been enjoying for most of their lifetime.  It pisses people off, and to be honest I think it is lazy.  If you see a need for a particular hero or villain from a portion of the population, you don’t rob Peter to pay Paul.  You make something wonderful and original.

So when I watched The Last Jedi wanting those amazing moments with Han, Leia, Luke, Chewy, C-3PO, and R2D2….I did not get them.  They killed Han Solo off  in The Force Awakens and painfully ignored a major cinematic moment when Chewy and Princess Leia should have embraced each other in tearful grief over the loss of their beloved Han Solo.  Instead, Chewbacca and Princess Leia walked past each other and Leia embraces Rey, a girl she barely knows.  It didn’t make sense.  Strangely enough, I was actually hoping that Han had been rescued miraculously somehow by Mara Jade or Lando Calrissian and would show up in The Last Jedi.  That didn’t happen.  Why would I think that?  Well, you see there are books that have been written about the years after The Return of Jedi movie that have been very popular with fans.  The Mara Jade character was one of the new characters added along with Grand Admiral Thrawn.  People love these characters and wanted to see them.  So understandably they were disappointed.   I think Star Wars fans were hoping that something awesome would occur with their favorite characters.  I think they still had open minds to the possibilities even with the obvious changes made in The Force Awakens.  Curiously, in the new movies most of the original characters are kept separate of each other or having been given such minimal parts that they are barely noticed.  So the super hero trio was basically kept apart.  Weird considering their on screen chemistry was part of what made the films so enjoyable.

So what am I getting at with all this stuff about character development?  Well, Luke Skywalker is an iconic hero, or at least he was.  The boy next door who has a heart of gold and tries to do the right thing.  I think Finn is supposed to be one of these characters as well, but he keeps wanting to run away all the time, which is weird.  The dark nature that the Disney writers placed upon Luke was as if they were trying to take advantage of Mark Hamill’s successful depiction of the Joker, the Trickster, and Fire Lord Ozai.  Luke Skywalker is a pure hero, not a fallen one like Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader.  To change a character so drastically was disrespectful to all the artists who had worked on the 40 years of Star Wars Universe films, books, and comics.  And like I said, we live in dark times.  We don’t have many heroes.   For example Bill Cosby being a sexual predator, Matt Lauer being accused of inappropriate behavior in the work place, and the too numerous antics of sports icons behaving in less than admirably such as the Olympic star -Ryan Lochte.    And these people at Disney decided that it was okay to rob people during dark social times of a hero that people looked upon as a role model.  I wish we had more people like the original Luke Skywalker.  We need them.  People from all walks of life loved Luke.  Contrary to marketing people’s thoughts, you don’t have to be a straight white male to love, look up to, or aspire to be like Luke Skywalker.  This is fiction and we can escape and be whomever we want while watching these movies or reading these books.

I was actually depressed for two months after seeing The Last Jedi.  I didn’t say anything because I thought people would laugh at me or say I was being silly about finding joy in fictional stories.  But in dark times, we need inspiration that lifts our hearts so that we can continue on.  We need those heroes whether they are Captain America, Captain Sisko, Wonder Woman, the Airbender Aang, or Doctor Who….we need our heroes and the inspiration they inspire within us.

I think this is just one of the reasons why there is so much angst going on within the Star Wars fan community.  We need our role models even though they may not be real people that look exactly like us.  It is their actions and journey of transformation that inspires us.

 

G. Winkler © 2018

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Posted in Culture, Mental Health, Star Wars