Like it or not, love ’em or hate ’em, sci-fi and fantasy are important. They matter. They move minds, lives, and cultures.
Thus, Christians oughta make ’em high priority targets to be “taken captive” a la 2 Corinthians 10:5, purging them of sin and purifying them in accordance with the life-giving, everything-reconciling Gospel-fueled Great Commission of King Jesus. The best sci-fi, fantasy, drama, and art of all imaginable (and presently unimaginable) variety lies on the other side of that incredible mission – a mission that is both supernaturally fantastic and completely real, secured by the One who is the Author, Definer, and Sustainer of all things…including art, science, and drama.
With Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens snatching the All-Time Top-Grossing Domestic Film crown away from Avatar this week, and with Episode VII being the opening act in what is very likely to be a long-running series of massive media waves washing over the culture for many years (and even decades) to come, this seems like a good time to consider a few important things.
Before we dive in, a point of clarification and a warning (or two):
First off, when we’re inundated with reports (including this very blog post) of The Force Awakens taking the top-growing domestic film title away from Avatar, we are well served to note the rather glaring impact of inflation on the manner in which such titles and rankings are determined. Truth be told, in inflation-adjusted dollars, The Force Awakens has light-years to travel before it even begins to approach the galaxy in which Gone with the Wind and the original Star Wars reside.
More important than attaining an accurate understanding of comparative movie popularity and ticket sales rankings is the need for us to understand just how powerful – and purposeful – inflation really is. Contrary to popular Sith mythology advocated by Dark Side tools like Fox News, CNN, public schools and the like, inflation doesn’t “just happen”. It is a purposefully crafted and intentionally directed central component of the culture-enslaving abomination of fiat currency. (See: Fiat $lavery: We have been bought and paid for…with nothing.)
Inflation is a big deal. A very big, very dark, and very deceptively deployed deal. If anything reeks of Imperial/First Order-style evil, its inflation via fiat economics, so it’s very important that we seize the Star Wars provided opportunity here to grasp this particular power of the Dark Side. To that end, I’d like to revisit a post made here about a year ago entitled Inflation Kills. Purposefully. Here are a few paragraphs from that article that might be helpful:
While we’ve been conditioned to accept inflation – that is, the devaluing of the dollar – as a normal, “it just happens” kind of thing, the truth is that it is anything but normal, anything, but automatic, anything but accidental, and anything but good…for us, anyway.
Inflation, as we experience it now, is the purposeful, systematic theft of the fruits of our labor through the manipulation of what is known as “fiat currency” – Monopoly money that is created effortlessly out of thin air by an elite few and then granted an exclusive title of legitimacy by the same elites who made it up in the first place. These elites are able to do this because – largely through their use of earlier forms of fiat currency and related economic tricks – they have managed to essentially purchase the governments and systems atop the fiat currency Ponzi Scheme pyramid under which you and I labor and are increasingly enslaved.
The purpose of this system from the start has been to drive the masses into complete Corporate/State dependence, thus empowering the elite atop the Corporate State as never before.
The elites directing the system of systems perpetuating the economic conquest and enslavement of the masses have been patiently working for many generations now, with each generation taking steps toward Statism that would have been unimaginable two or three generations earlier. Slowly, but surely, the march continues.
Even now most professing conservative Christians in America are so well and thoroughly programmed that they have a hard time even imagining a real path leading away from such rank socialistic systems as Social Security, the IRS, Medicare, and State-controlled children’s “education”.
These systems at home are the fruits of fiat currency. They could never exist without it.
Readers interested in learning how the Dark Side is striving to drag them (and everyone around them) ever-deeper into bondage by the black magic of fiat economics are strongly encouraged to check out the whole article, as well as the many other bits we’ve written on fiat currency and fiat economics.
With the inflation clarification in the bag, we are now on to the aforementioned warnings…
[Enter Darth Vader breathing sound here.]
[Begin Darth Vader voice (and that’s James Earl Jones, not Hayden Christensen!) here.]
While this article is neither intended nor presented as a full, formal review of the film Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, it will address numerous plot points and events in a manner that will inherently include “spoilers”. Those who have not yet seen the film and wish to protect their fragile little fan-boy (or fan-girl) minds from defilement by way of “spoilers” are strongly encouraged to delay reading beyond this point until they have successfully seized the opportunity to immerse their minds in a movie theater viewing (or two or ten) of The Force Awakens.
You have been warned.
[/end Darth Vader voice and breathing sound.]
With that important tidbit noted, the second warning offered here is to acknowledge up front that this will be a longer than usual post. We’ve got a lot to cover and will probably have to make it a two-part deal, even with the added length. I’m aiming to touch on some of the movie basics here in Part 1 and hope to add some detail and apply a Christian worldview/critique in Part 2, where I also hope to examine some points and strategies that we might want to consider as Christians moving forward to conquer the culture and arts in the wake of something like The Force Awakens.
So your grace and patience is much appreciated!
Okay, with that outta the way, let’s get to it, beginning with a summary:
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…there is this desert planet.
That’s where everything begins.
On this desert planet lives a young person who is disillusioned. They don’t know the true nature or whereabouts of their long gone parents, which bothers them quite a lot. They also struggle to deal with the tedium and apparent meaninglessness of their daily grind, yearning for the “something better” that they imagine to be “out there” somewhere – anywhere – away from the depressing desert planet on which they find themselves stuck.
All around this sandy world of frustration, the surrounding space and stars are dominated by an evil, tyrannical, and (not surprisingly) uber-militaristic gang of thugs loaded with Nazi-themed gear led by a bad guy who is empowered by the Dark Side of the Force and is therefore keen on carrying around a supercool, super scary sounding red light saber. He also wears (what he hopes is) a menacing looking full helmet/mask combo and speaks through an electronic filter that (he hopes) makes his voice sound at least as menacing as (he hopes) his mask makes him look.
Our story kicks into gear when an adorable little droid that speaks via cutesie electronic sqeaks, beeps, and howls is entrusted by desperate rebels and embedded with a top-secret, super-important bit of information critical to the struggle between the evil forces already covered and the much smaller, much less robustly equipped, rag-tag bunch of sweet, happy, freedom-loving, kitten-cuddling noble folk who have risen up against the tyranny being imposed upon them.
Tasked by one of these kind warriors for goodness with keeping this critical info away from the bad guys (just before said warrior is captured by said bad guys), the perky, quirky little droid barely escapes capture and then proceeds to wander around looking for help in his mission of preserving the valuable information embedded within so that it might eventually be used by the good guys against the bad.
The droid’s wanderings eventually lead it to the young and restless person introduced at the beginning. That meeting quickly leads to adventure…an adventure that takes our once frustrated, stranded-feeling protagonist to strange new worlds and has them making good use of their amazing spaceship piloting skills while learning to hone and apply their innate (and quite remarkable) ability to use the force. Along the way, Han Solo’s famous ship, The Millennium Falcon, is found and put to good use.
This adventure culminates when a giant planet destroying weapon that is used (on screen) by the bad guys to actually destroy planets in order to inspire fear and compliance throughout the galaxy is itself miraculously blown to bits by the radically outnumbered, incredibly outgunned, mind-blowingly “lucky” and plucky rag-tag team of determined peace loving, anti-tyrant faerie-like folk mentioned earlier.
But before the planet-destroying piece of weaponry actually blows, the bad guy with the mask and red light saber uses said saber to kill the cherished old man of the good guy crew shortly after someone shouts, “Ben!”
And that’s a summary of at least most of the major plot points of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens…and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which was actually the first Star Wars flick released back in 1977.
This is a problem. A bunch of problems, actually.
Have I included every major plot point from the two films in this single summary? No, I have not. There are many distinctive plot points unique to each of the two films in question. This is a summary of (most, but certainly not all of) what seems to be a bizarre number of major plot point duplications between Episode IV and Episode VII.
Should there be some overlap – perhaps even a lot – between the original Star Wars and this newly crafted re-launch of the franchise nearly 40 years later?
That’s to be expected.
But the level of plot mimicry between the original and The Force Awakens is beyond ridiculous.
Before going on, let me say clearly that I’m a serious (and happy) fan of the franchise. Moreover, let me make plain that, overall, I liked The Force Awakens quite a lot. I give it a three-and-a-half out of five, if we’re talking star ratings or something along those lines.
Episode VII is good. It’s really good in many ways, and many of the things that bother me about it (some of which I will cover here or in Part 2) may well be positively addressed in subsequent episodes. I sure hope so.
One big plus in Episode VII is the casting. The “new people” accompanying Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, and The Falcon were, almost to a person, excellent.
The effects were, of course, amazing, and the use of much more in the way of real sets and props over the CGI effects that dominated the Star Wars prequels (episodes 1-3) released from ’99-’05 was a very welcome development. Overall, the production quality of Episode VII is excellent.
It’s the utter lack of creativity that is both the most surprising and most significant problem for The Force Awakens.
The plot overlap between the original Star Wars and Episode VII is so pervasive and so precise at so many points that it’s hard to believe that a quality director like J.J. Abrams allowed it to happen, much less supervised and implemented the whole deal.
The initial desert planet/droid-with-vital-data/escape-to-adventure scenarios might have been more tolerable if they didn’t give way to even worse and more comically ridiculous repeats of past plot points.
The pinnacle of preposterousness comes when we’re informed of the First Order’s creation of…get this…another ‘nother “Death Star” weapon with which they aim to…[*yawn*]…terrorize all would-be rebels against their tyrannical badness into soft, compliant submission. You know, like with the original Death Star in the original Star Wars…and like the second Death Star in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. That makes the “Death Star” ripoff in Episode VII the third Death Star in four consecutive Star Wars installments.
I mean, c’mon…really?!
This is just stone cold stupid.
And on many levels, both Star Wars and real world.
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Is there nobody in the entire First Order with even two brain cells available to rub together and crank out a simple cost/benefit analysis of future Death Star production viability based on things like…oh, I dunno…past performance?!
Adding insult to idiocy is the matter-of-fact way that the resistance absorbs the revelation of this new new Death Star and the nonchalant manner in which they go on to spend about two minutes slapping together a plan to blow the thing up. Yeah, really. And the plan works, of course.
No recon. No spies. No costly interception of secret blueprints that expose a critical vulnerability of the new new Death Star. Nope, none o’ that, thank you very much. Just a 90-second-ish happy slappy good time strategy session centering on the assumption that the new new Death Star will practically blow itself up if only it can be nudged just a little in the right way by the good, kind and virtuous folk of the angelic resistance.
So creativity is obviously a glaring weakness here – such an acute weakness that the credibility of the situation for all but the most uncritically immersed and dedicated of Star Wars fans has to at least jeopardize, if not shatter, the “willing suspension of disbelief” that is essential to good fiction.
Here I feel compelled to repeat: I’m a pretty crazy/serious Star Wars fan myself. I won’t get into too many potentially self-incriminating revelations here, but suffice it to say that…wait, let’s just go with a picture and save us all 1,000 words:
This is a shot from a reception/costume party held last year for a newly wed couple at our church. Obviously, our family decided to go as The Beatles.
We were Jedi. It was cool. It was fun. We had a blast.
Here are a couple more shots from later in the evening, to help get a sense of just how cool and how much fun it all was:
That’s me (above) showing Rosie a light saber at night, before handing it off to Wolfgang for (hopefully) safe keeping (below).
Who knew that two light saber replicas snagged in 2004 and some robes hand crafted by the lovely Holly Buss from some perfect el-cheapo Wal-Mart sale-bin fabric could come together in such a supercool fashion?
If only we could say the same for the plot of The Force Awakens. (Okay, that was a cheap and cheesy shot there, but hey…just remember: Another ‘nother Death Star?!)
So things like creativity, credibility and other elements of good art and drama will be up for consideration soon in Part 2, which could come sometime next week, Lord willing (and soon-to-be-very-crazy schedule permitting).
We’ll also address the often comically tragic drenching of Star Wars in eastern mysticism and other anti-Christian perspectives, all with an eye toward applying the light of Christ so that wheat might be separated from chaff, light might be separated from darkness, and we as Christians might be better equipped and inspired to do whatever we are able to take every sci-fi, fantasy, film, and dramatic thought captive to Christ, all by His grace, all for His glory, and all to our eternal benefit.
How cool would it be if one day soon Christians were writing, producing, and marketing the best sci-fi and fantasy of this or any other day?
Just think about that for a while…and have faith that Christ really, truly is reconciling everything to Himself by the power of His cross, including His (temporarily corrupted) creations of art, drama, science and fantasy…
Added 6.8.17: We finally did a follow-up of sorts in the form of a video. You can access it by clicking here or by using the embedded player below:
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