Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's Worth Watching, If Only to Hear the All-Chicken Renditions of the Theme Songs

I've recently watched all three of the Robot Chicken Star Wars. For those unfamiliar with Robot Chicken, it's essentially a stop-motion sketch show by Seth Green and various others (mostly male--you have to go along way down the list of credits before the first non-Y chromosome shows up), with a heavy emphasis on pop culture references from the 80s and 90s. Each of their three Star Wars episodes loosely follows one of the movies from the original trilogies, with a lot of interspersed material from the Star Wars universe at large.

Now, I could go a bunch of different ways here, and really stretch out a post. I could follow up on the "boys club" gender issue. Or we could do a bio approach, and talk about how happy I am that Seth Green proves that people who are 5'4'' can be successful. Or I could go the pop culture root, and discuss what it means to be doing a show that does sketches in 2011 about what it would have been like for Darth Vader when he had to pee in that suit. Or I could just discuss how it's much, much funnier than the Family Guy version of the same. But honestly, the most interesting element for me is simply the narrative shift they created in the third Star Wars installment.
Northrop Frye identifies four types of stories: comedies, romances, tragedies, and irony. Comedies are any story in which a protagonist challenges an established authority and wins happiness and stability; romances are any story in which the protagonist completes a quest against an enemy and emerges victorious and enlightened (some room for overlap there); a tragedy is a narrative form in which the protagonist tries to accomplish a goal but falls short because of his or her flaws, and irony is when the protagonist is trapped and lacks agency and control of situation that's descended into chaos and confusion. It's all very structuralist and more than a little reductive, but it's still a useful system of categorization in a pinch (or a first year course).

My point in bringing this up (and this is the one-liner that constitutes the nut meat of the entire post): In the final installment, by shifting the narrative focus from Han, Leia, and Luke over to Boba Fett and the Emperor, the Robot Chicken guys turn what's essentially a romance into a narrative of irony.

Embedded video proving point:

I especially like the part where it's revealed that all the evil in the universe is Jar-jar's fault. The jerk.

Later Days.

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