Tag Archives: Iraq

Reality TV and Remakes

On seeing an ad for the upcoming Dukes of Hazzard movie, I started thinking of other 70s and early 80s TV shows that Hollywood might remake. Then I started thinking of late 80s and 90s shows. I’m certain that, 10-20 years from now, there will be a Beverly Hills 90210 movie.

But what about the big hits of this decade—the reality shows? Will Hollywood want to release Survivor or Fear Factor movies for 2025? Or would it be like producing a Jeopardy movie?

One of the big draws for shows like Survivor or American Idol is watching the contestants’ stories unfold over time. You can’t do that in a two-hour movie as effectively as you can over a 10–20–week season. On the other hand, not every reality show is about the long haul. Assuming the public’s taste doesn’t change, I’m sure Fear Factor could be made into a movie. (Though one could argue that it already has been.)

Later in my drive I heard a story on the radio about Iraqi reality TV. Apparently the genre has become quite popular there, particularly the helpful sub-genre (like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition). There’s a show that helps people navigate government bureaucracy, a show that rebuilds homes destroyed in the war, one that gives couples dream weddings, one that takes people to foreign hospitals for medical procedures, etc.

Who knew what else we’d be exporting?

If you’re not with me…

Regarding the furor over Revenge of the Sith/Post-9/11 parallels: Get over yourselves.

You know, I could see parallels in Star Wars: Episode II and post-9/11 America. Palpatine’s emergency powers = PATRIOT Act. Militarization in response to the separatist movement = attacking Afghanistan and rattling sabers at Iraq. And there are conspiracy theorists who think that Bush arranged for 9/11 to generate an excuse for a power grab—just as Palpatine/Sidious manufactured his crisis by having Dooku/Tyranus arrange for the clone army under the name of a dead Jedi, then wait for the appropriate time to start fomenting a rebellion. But you know what, Episode II was filmed before 9/11, so Lucas couldn’t possibly have intended all that as commentary on the War on Terror any more than JMS could have been commenting on the same subject with the Nightwatch arc on Babylon 5.

So now, with Episode III, sure, he could mean it as commentary. And he admits seeing parallels. Note: seeing, not writing. But he states that the story grew out of looking at historical democracies’ descent into dictatorship (Los Angeles Times this morning):

Lucas began researching how democracies can turn into dictatorships with full consent of the electorate.

In ancient Rome, “why did the senate, after killing Caesar, turn around and give the government to his nephew?” Lucas said. “Why did France, after they got rid of the king and that whole system, turn around and give it to Napoleon? It’s the same thing with Germany and Hitler.

“You sort of see these recurring themes where a democracy turns itself into a dictatorship, and it always seems to happen kind of in the same way, with the same kinds of issues, and threats from the outside, needing more control. A democratic body, a senate, not being able to function properly because everybody’s squabbling, there’s corruption.”

That’s the model he’s been basing the transformation on. The prologue in the original 1976 novelization of Star Wars refers to the Republic “rotting from within” and describes Palpatine’s rise to power:

Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic. He promised to reunite the disaffected among the people and to restore the remembered glory of the Republic.

Lucas originally described Palpatine as becoming a figurehead Emperor, with the Imperial governors behind the Empire’s “reign of terror” (note the French Revolution reference there), but had clearly changed his mind by the time he wrote Return of the Jedi. But the description of how Palpatine gets into power tracks exactly with what we’ve seen him do in the actual films. In fact, throughout the prequel trilogy he uses the same strategy in each film. He creates a crisis as Darth Sidious (the invasion of Naboo, or the Separatist movement), then offers to solve it as Palpatine—as long as people will give him the power to do so.

In other words, Palpatine’s tactics were set in stone back when Bill Clinton was President.

As far as dialogue… Please, if you think a variation on “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” is a deliberate attack on a statement Bush made, you really need to get out more. How many centuries has that phrase been around?

I’m reminded of Yoda’s words to Luke on Dagobah, when he asked what was in the cave. “Only what you take with you.”

Reindeer on the Radar

Driving to work this morning, we passed a Halloween display (the same people also do huge Christmas and Easter displays) that had recently added some Halloween-themed yellow caution tape. (Something like “Caution: Enter if you dare!”) Now I’ve only been out of bed for about a half hour at this point, and I was up way too late last night, and my mind starts making strange connections, and comes up with the following exchange between a child and parent:

(little kid voice): “If Iraq is in a no-fly zone, how does Santa get there?”

(parent): “Most people in Iraq don’t believe in Christmas, honey.”

Okay, so far this is just logical – as far as I know, Islam doesn’t notice Christmas any more than Christianity notices Ramadan. At this point Katie says it’s a better answer than “No-fly zones don’t apply to reindeer,” and I’m reminded of the anti-aircraft guns targeting Jack’s sleigh in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Then my mind takes it a step further:

“But what about the ones that do?”

“Santa has to Fed-Ex them their presents.”

Hey, it made sense at the time.