Rogue One is a movie about internet freedom


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/12/16/media-literacy.html


#2

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#3

No it isn’t it is the ultimate MacGuffin movie. Which I am ok with in principle. But the problem with the last half of the movie was they didn’t have enough plot, so it became a comical amount of “you gotta do this thing so we can do this thing that allows us to do this thing to get the thing.”


#4

Huh do we really want a Star Wars universe with smartphones? Seems kind of boring.


#5

Well, there are pros and cons.

https://twitter.com/depresseddarth?lang=en


#6

I think most of this is a symptom of the sci-fi end of Star Wars canon being stuck perpetually in the 1970s–you know, when the Internet was an exclusive government/military and high-end research communications network and the best data transfer and storage option was to put just over one megabyte on a 5.25" floppy. Lucas was telling a pretty basic fantasy story mostly by the seat of his pants… it’s not surprising that he didn’t bother to push the futuristic technology and its effect on societal development angle.

Why it has stayed that way for forty years is partly down to tradition (and/or creative laziness) and partly because the practical scaling issues in the Star Wars setting become unmanageable very, very quickly. Under the hood it all might as well be run by wizards.


#7

It is true that Disney has been using its films a psychological plea for help for many decades. Mary Poppins, of course, was never about the kids or Mary - it’s all about the redemption of Mr. Banks and his need to reject capitalism for family. The original Tron is also about Net Neutrality, even before there was a net to be neutral about. And the Pirates of the Caribbean movies - especially the third one - focus on how “just good business” drives normal people to become pirates in order to keep functioning as human beings.

Disney or not, big business has always made moolah by catering to the dreams and desires of the common folk - inciting the very rabble that will inevitably gather in the streets with torches (real ones, not those wimp ass fascist tiki shit sticks) and pitchforks. It’s the mentality that seeks to make a buck by selling the rope they themselves will be hung with.

Fascinating to watch from a safe distance.


#8

Guardians of the Galaxy features a guy who loves his pirated mix tapes.


#9

I have a different take on this one: Rogue One is a movie about living in a post-cybersecurity world.

The hackers have won the arms race, nothing is secure, so the infrastructure of this whole universe has all these tiny obstacles just to send data digitally. I wrote more about that idea here.


#10

…and Mrs. Banks, who needed to stay home and raise the children instead of fighting for women’s right to vote.

(Yes, that was part of the movie!)


#11

Insightful comment. But I doubt there is a safe distance. At least not on this planet.


#12

The original spectacle-before there was football or gladiators or parades- was an angry mob in the street. Every kind of mass group activity that’s evolved since then, is designed to simulate that experience, without having any consequences.

Of course Disney can make big bank by telling stories about rebellion, they make money on any kind of story they bother to tell. They’re not pitching that narrative because it sells, they’re pitching that narrative because it’s much cheaper to them than having the people create that narrative for themselves, with real consequences.

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress made the point very well, that revolution is expensive, and the Hoi Paloi would much rather spend their energy just minding their own business, rather than overthrowing legal authority.

Besides, if you actually notice what Disney’s star warriors are doing, they do it so incompetently that they’re really not teaching us anything useful. “be innately talented” and “have amazing luck” and “babble a lot about ill-defined religious notions” seems to be the Disney formula for social change. They’re hardly sowing the seeds of their own demise here…


#13

I actually like that they’ve kept the dated tech – in a weird way it makes it more timeless as opposed to SF that brings in current tech like iPads, touch screens and the like. Those are going to date far worse in the future.


#14

Can’t stop the signal


#15

Does copyright extend beyond Earth though?


#16

You’re on the Moon? Can I come visit?


#17

The Mickey Mouse Copyright Act extends to all time and space.


#18

That’s largely a factor of continuity and suspension of disbelief. If you set a movie in and around the time of the originals. But technology has vastly improved or changed. It doesn’t make a ton of sense. The audience will have trouble suspending disbelief.

The prequels verged up on this problem. And not neccisarily because the technology was all that more advanced as depicted. But simply because it was so much nicer and the aesthetics didn’t quite match. (though I do think complaints in this direction are often a bit over wrought) .

If you want to update or advance the tech in Star Wars to better represent a future/inprovement in the real world (but remember galaxy far far a way a long time ago). You need to either remake the originals to change the base line. Or set thing well after it or somewhere else with more advanced tech. Option one would kill me. Option two sounds interesting.

The “worn in” junky sort of aesthetic Star Wars has. A dusty, chunky, manual, working class sort of future. Particularly in space was pretty futuristic at the time. The idea that the future all the flashy gee whiz tech was sort of out of the way, expensive. Not encountered every day. That regular people were using sort of outdated. Heavily worn. durable tech. Was a pretty popular at the time.

The other big bellwether flick for that approach is Alien. From what I understand they deliberately chose to depict the tech in that movie as less advanced than what was technically possible or even available at the time. Because space truckers won’t be using the latest and greatest. The characters aren’t just surprised because ash being a god damn robot is unexpected. But because god damn robots like that are rare, unexpected in themselves.

I dunno that Lucas had particularly deep thoughts on the subject. Because he was mostly telling a story about space wizards. But he was definitely working in that branch of sci-fi


#19

Its a big problem when SF stories are written over a long span of time that new technology from the writers world creeps into the fictional world. For example, in Blade Runner, why were drones invented between 2019 and 2049? Similar stuff happens in Kim Stanley Robinson’s mars trilogy, where GPS was suddenly invented in the third book, around 2100.

Star Wars never explains why the robot armies were lost prior to episode 4, and the empire had to revert to human soldiers.


#20

I don’t think Star Wars needs to explain why the droid armies are gone. They were pretty obviously not good at being soldiers. And there are always plenty of droid around everywhere.

Though that didn’t stop them. Pretty sure the eu gave multiple explanations for this. The explain everything urge is basically the entire thrust behind the old eu.

The bigger issue is that the military droids were a lot smoother, better, and seemingly more advanced than literally any droid we’ve seen before or since. They don’t and really can’t explain that.

The new Star Wars, especially Rogue One not advancing the tech boils down to trying to avoid or limit those sorts of conflicts.

Eta: oh and the empire didn’t “revert back” to anything the droids were some else’s army. The clones were used to defeat those droids. By what was at the time the Republic. So it’s more that the droids were destroyed and no-one bothered to start making them after that.