No nationalism but Terry Nationalism

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Jack Graham

Jack Graham writes and podcasts about culture and politics from a Gothic Marxist-Humanist perspective. He co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper. Support Jack on Patreon.


  1. David Faggiani
    January 7, 2016 @ 11:02 am

    I just read (on Wikipedia) that George Osborne, in a deal to promote UK industry and culture by having most of The Force Awakens filmed in Britain, put up £25 million towards the film’s budget, from the UK Exchequer. £25 million out of just over £200 million. In other words, the UK funded an eighth of The Force Awakens! Imagine ‘we’ started getting a share of the profits over a certain international gross level (say, £2 billion…)


  2. David Brain
    January 7, 2016 @ 11:22 am

    As someone who is slightly more of a fan of the prequels than most – for much of the same reasons articulated in this piece – I wasn’t remotely surprised that The Force Awakens was embraced precisely for not being challenging (although do I look forward to seeing what you say about this.)

    The essential political despair enshrined in the prequels is exactly what people didn’t want at the time, the structural cleverness overtook the “fun” and the deliberate artificiality was seized upon as being proof of Lucas’ failures as a writer and director. That doesn’t excuse the general terribleness of the films overall (although I do think that most of Revenge is a lot better than most of Return) and I certainly think that the films fall on the wrong side of the stereotypes/tropes line far too often. I do think that Lucas deserves respect for trying to do something a bit different though – whereas The Force Awakens prefers to resort to comfort food a bit too much.


    • John
      January 7, 2016 @ 4:18 pm

      I just can’t really get down with this view. Lots of people try to do something new. When the result is nearly unwatchable garbage, in spite of massive amounts of money, excellent actors, state of the art special effects, and so forth, it’s completely fair to dismiss it. Of course, I’d also strongly disagree that Revenge of the Sith is better than Return of the Jedi. Not that Return of the Jedi is a particularly great film, but Revenge of the Sith legitimately isn’t actually noticeably better than the two films that preceded it.


      • Max Curtis
        January 7, 2016 @ 6:44 pm

        The prequels are terrible films that could probably have tons of interesting essays be written about them. The sequel (and I’m guessing the rest of the trilogy too) is a good film that has very little for essays to pick apart and unravel.

        I love what Jack’s written here, though. This is probably the most interesting stuff anyone has or will write about The Force Awakens.


  3. David Faggiani
    January 7, 2016 @ 11:33 am

    I think one of the most interesting things about The Force Awakens is the way it elides giving you a detailed picture of the Galactic celestopolitical situation. In other words, who is ‘winning’ this War/Cold War between the New Republic and The First Order? Is the First Order on the back foot, in other words, is this an act of military/political desperation on their part? Is the Republic? Further, those worlds that the Star Killer destroys… why those worlds? Are they Republic worlds? Rebellious First Order Worlds? Worlds in some Star Trek style DMZ between them? What does the First Order hope to gain by destroying them? Just fear? I would argue that the Empire’s goals in destroying Alderaan are much more clear in the original Star Wars, so its not just a case of a popular/populist/’kids’ film not having the time to explain this. Instead, it seems an easy way to instantly tar the First Order with nihilistic ‘terrorism’ charges. Are we to take the Empire in the original Trilogy with the repressive grandeur of a crumbling USSR, or Roman Empire, whereas we should see The First Order as more of a North Korea stand-in, lashing out impotently, mostly ultimately at its own citizens?


    • Goodluck
      January 8, 2016 @ 2:01 am

      They were Republic planets. I think they mentioned it offhandedly before/during the war-room scene.

      But what about The Resistance? Why does the Republic need to bankroll an apparently off-the-books military when the First Order seems intent on eradicating settlements, planets and systems?

      There’s a lingering hypocrisy at work here. The velvet glove of the benevolent Republic. We see glimmers of a cosmopolitan/metropolitan, racially diverse society obliterated by the Star Killer. And yet the Iron glove of the Resistance, run by one of the most infamous leaders of the previous rebellion, Leia, subtly reinforces to the (Re)public at large the need for military intervention.

      Makes me think Luke had the right Idea. Piss off and let these bastards kill each other.


  4. David Anderson
    January 7, 2016 @ 9:12 pm

    Repetition cannot be simply identical the original as if the first time could happen again. In some ways this is central to neoclassicism as an aesthetic: the use of a formula in such a way as to foreground variations on the handling of the formula (including Hellenistic and Roman writers as neoclassical here). But also there’s also a postmodernist aesthetic of repetition, that I think the film is aware of. For example, the use of bathos in this film in relation to the original. I assume you’ll get to the central example. But I’ll note that immediately after the film has announced that the Star Killer is even bigger and more deadly than the Death Star, Han Solo points out that this makes no difference to the plot.


  5. Dan
    January 8, 2016 @ 9:13 am

    Spoilers, sweetie?

    I wonder if the writers would consider keeping major spoilers (character deaths) after the fold? I know i should try harder and all, seeing as world and dog has seen it three times…


    • Goodluck
      January 8, 2016 @ 9:48 am

      Jack did. In the first paragraph, in bolded text.


  6. Leon
    January 9, 2016 @ 12:41 pm

    You’re not alone in insisting on referring to the original film as Star Wars, I’ve been doing this for years. Star Wars was the film my six year old self got giddy about in 1977 not “A New Hope”.

    The interview with Lucas where he compares Disney to “white slavers'” is worth watching in full. You get the feel of a filmmaker who really had a story he wanted to tell, but was stopped for various commercial reasons. Say what you like about the prequels (and I will admit I’ve never had any urge to watch Revenge of the Sith) at least they tried to be different from the first three films. The latest does sound like an above average, yet still run of the mill, Hollywood blockbuster. But I’ve not seen it yet so am happy to be proved wrong should I ever get round to watching it.

    The full interview can be found at the bottom of this post:


    • plutoniumboss
      January 12, 2016 @ 12:40 am

      This idea that the prequels were different from the originals was planted by Lucas himself. You cannot look at the structure of each film and tell me it was a brash, risky venture.

      As usual he is tinkering with his legacy and making passive-aggressive barbs to the press about some omnipotent studio prevented him from doing what he really wanted to do. He’s worth five billion, but in his mind, he’s still a bohemian striking back against the system. (I’ve read old interviews with Rupert Murdoch describing himself in similar terms. He’s still the underdog. It’s not him, it’s the liberal media that’s poisoning everything.) It’s an all-to-common characteristic of the nouveau riche.

      It’s a testament to the loyalty of fandom (of any stripe) that he still has even a modicum of credibility at this point. First he took credit for A New Hope. Then he decided he didn’t like being identified with Star Wars. Then he began muttering about how what he really wanted to do was smaller personal films.

      We saw what he did with total creative control: he merchandised everything. What did he do with his WWII biopic? He whiffed it, and then blamed audiences for being racists.

      And now “white slavers…”

      He’ll try to walk it back. Doesn’t want to burn that bridge completely. But I’m an old fanboy who’s turning 31 in February. I’ve been down this road with George many, many times before.


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