I think I mentioned on here a few weeks ago that my brother Luke had kindly given me a subscription to Disney Plus as a christmas present. It was a lovely gift, and I’ve been watching all kinds of things on it. This morning, though, during the weekly family Skype chat, Luke asked me whether I had watched The Mandalorian yet. To my little brother’s great surprise and exasperation, I answered that I hadn’t, but this morning I wasn’t really able to articulate my reasons for not being interested in the Disney-produced Star Wars spin off. Allow me to do so now.
I think I’ve written here before that Star Wars, as a franchise, no longer has my interest or respect. The first trilogy of films are great; they work well, telling the story of Luke Skywalker and his friends as they rebel against the evil Empire. The second trilogy of films, released in the late nineties and early noughties, felt a little more tacky and childish, involving the character who we knew would become the antihero of the franchise racing tie fighters. Yet it has been argued that, together, these six films could be said to comprise the tragedy of Anikin Skywalker: that is, they tell a coherent, overarching story depicting Skywalker’s rise and fall. The franchise should have been left at that.
Now though, it’s being added to with lots of peripheral series which apparently have little to do with the original story save for being set in the same fictional universe. Forgive me, but that just feels like Disney are tagging on things for the sake of it: they know Star Wars is a popular franchise which makes money, so they’re squeezing it for all it’s worth. I also get the sense that Lucasfilm doesn’t want Star Wars’ cultural position to slip: they know it was once an extremely popular, venerated franchise occupying a unique position in popular culture. Yet that position has now been usurped by franchises like Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings. Star Wars has been forced off the cultural pedestal it once occupied, and I get the impression that George Lucas and his friends are desparate not to let it slip. They therefore keep adding to their creation, trying to keep it current and not let it fade into cultural history, all the while draining away artistic and narrative coherence with every addition. The result is a jumbled cliched mess, churned out by big American corporations in order to make money, which I have very little interest in watching. So Luke, before you accuse me of snobbery, please know that there are valid reasons why I don’t watch The Mandalorian.
With that, I’m off to check out the latest episode of Star Trek Discovery 😛