My Time as Star Wars Ombudsman

Look, the blog is named after a Star Wars reference. You’re just going to have to accept that there’s no real escaping that I’m going to write about. I just hope you enjoy the uniquely honest perspective. I’m always going to give it to you straight.

So let me deal plainly on this matter. I have resigned as Star Wars Ombudsman. It is with a heavy heart and tired soul that I decide to put that hat on the rack and choose not to put it on again. But I have some parting words of wisdom for those that love to question, needle and nitpick these movies to the point where they leech every last ounce of fun out of it. You don’t like it, then cool. Just be civil about it and talk sense, and when it’s time to let the conversation drop, let it drop.

First and foremost, the best and nicest thing you can do with a fan is to let them be a fan. If someone declares their fandom, or even if they go on a tangent about what they love, let them be. We’ve all got our own thing. It’s not a contest to see whose favorite thing is better. Since it’s all based on subjectivity anyway, don’t feel obligated to try to poop all over something someone else likes just for the sake of it. If you do, you’re just a jackass.

Fair criticism is one thing, and it’s fun sometimes to engage in a debate about something. It’s even more fun when someone’s hater status is based almost entirely on the fact that they missed lines of dialogue or didn’t get the point of something.

This is a difficult thing I’m struggling with right now as I continue my endeavors to understand this whole Twilight thing (reading them so that my criticisms can be legitimate instead of knee-jerk). Sometimes you just have to accept that people like what they like and there ain’t a thing you gonna do about it.

To put it in more palatable terms, some people are Van Halen with Roth, some are Van Halen with Hagar. You’re probably not going to get anyone to change camps by talking about how much disdain you have for the other.

Second, let it go. In specific, about the prequels. Those of us that love them, we’re not the ones with a problem. We love them, we have fun with them, we consider them a great source of happiness. Those with the habit of apoplectically ranting about the fact that they dislike them and why, they’re the ones with a problem. The first prequel came out more than 10 years ago. Do you frequently feel the need to harp on something you disliked from that long ago?

I know that I’ve disliked a lot of things through life, but somehow I’ve learned to let them go. I mean, that would be a great trend if all we did was sit around and talk about was things we disliked in the past.

Third, be consistent with your hater-ism. You remember the Matrix sequels? I do. To me, they were pieces of completely pretentious garbage. Hey congratulations, Keanu Reeves is a bad actor in slow-motion too. Do you know what I say when someone says they really liked them?

  1. I’ll let you know, because I have yet to have it happen; or
  2. See my first point

The over-arching point is that I don’t feel obliged to tear them apart unless someone asks me what I specifically disliked about them. Also, it has nothing to do with the fact that I really liked the original. It hasn’t held up under the test of time as much as I thought it would, but it was a fun ride.

Fourth, if you ever claimed to be a die-hard fan, stop talking the talk if you can’t walk the walk. Please. Easily the most frustrating thing about Star Wars fans is that they have Lucas’ influences roll off their tongue like holy scripture — Kurosawa, Flash Gordon, silent films, pulp serials, et al. — but by and large they’re not literate in them. These aren’t just influences on the films, Star Wars is their direct descendant. They’re the definition of post-modern art: the best of the past combined in a new and fresh way that is original and exciting for the audience.

Fifth, who am I kidding? I’ll never back down from a rousing Star Wars debate/argument. In fact, one of the things that gives me greatest pleasure in life is making other geeks lose their minds when I take their own arguments apart and stymie them at every turn. See, I’ve been doing this too long. Too many people have regarded me as Lucas’ official spokesman over the years for me not to have heard every single argument you could offer. I learned from all of the arguments and just kept the responses stored in my brain.

Which is likely why I have trouble remembering where I put my cell phone every morning. This is what you’ve all done to me. It’s your fault. So let me put my hat back on and shame you with your lack of understanding.

But it’s OK because I love and forgive you anyway. See you next time. And if you have the urge, please send a note to Mr. Lucas that he owes me for 33 years back pay.

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36 thoughts on “My Time as Star Wars Ombudsman

        1. No, just stating proven historical fact. Roth tried it once and the righteous rockerness of Sammy’s sweat burned his mere mortal hands. LOL

  1. Okay, in the spirit of diplomacy, let’s just agree that Gary Cherone was far and away the best lead singer Van Halen ever had.

      1. Funny thing about Gary Cherone. Eddie Van Halen did not want to fire him. Cherone had a good relationship with the band. Warner Brothers forced Van Halen to cut him lose because of horrible album and ticket sales. I think Eddie Van Halen liked Cherone so much as lead singer because he knew Cherone would never ever outshine him. Cherone was good for Eddie’s ego.

        1. Yeah, I think that the saddest part of everything that happened, with Roth and with Hagar and the general collapse of the band, is that I know I never wanted to believe that Eddie was enough of an insecure guy to have triggered the problems. In retrospect, I suppose it makes sense that, coupled with the alcoholism, he was sort of a perfect storm of trouble for anyone who was a perceived “threat” to him. In the end, the rest of us lose because we lost the band earlier than we should have.

  2. Complain about 10 years worth of people complaining about Episode one, yet want to kill Peter Cetera for something recorded in the 80’s.

    You sir, are “a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, and smothered in secret sauce.”

    1. Dude, that’s like saying it’s a contradiction to want to slap around Trekkies for wearing their Starfleet uniforms to jury duty and yet be willing to beat Stalin to death if given the chance. They’re not contradictory at all.

      1. You complain in one breath that Peter Cetera must die for one of his most popular solo songs that was recorded 24 years ago, and that people need to stop nit-picking at what many FANS consider the weakest film in the Star Wars saga after 11 years.

        That is quite contradictory (your word, not mine. A tad defensive, huh?).

        1. You’re still on about this?

          Expectation is a killer thing. The more you have of it for an experience, the harder it is for that experience to live up to it. History will bear out as the next Batman film will become “universally regarded” as the “weakest” one because people in general will likely set the bar too high for their own sense of enjoyment. The reason is that they enjoyed The Dark Knight so much, so love of a series can be its own downfall.

          A certain sub-set of people (not so numerous as they think) had expectations set so high for Episode I that failing God Himself entering the theatre and extending salvation to all in attendance simply for attending, there was no way it was going to live up to them. All that people like myself are saying is, pick up and move on. No matter has been shown or said to people like yourself, you will resolutely refuse to acknowledge that possibly – just possibly – your judgment is too harsh on what is in fact a pretty darned enjoyable film.

          Harlan Ellison wrote a terrific essay, actually, about the nature of sci-fi/fantasy fans on this line of thought called “Xenogenesis.” If you’d like to read it, it’s in “Edgeworks Volume I.”

          The most fun is that nerds turn to their perception of “public opinion” as “validation” for their own point of view, unless it disagrees with them and then it’s just that the “outsiders” fail to realize something. So it’s useful when you want to argue your point, but to be disregarded when it conflicts. It’s a lot like political polls; when the other side is losing ground in them, they are gospel truth validation. When your side is losing ground, they are fickle things that can’t completely be trusted.

          The stranger thing is that you fail to understand that I don’t actually have the desire to take a human life for any reason, much less over a song. It was what human beings call a joke.

  3. Oh, I understood it fine… I was just pointing out the mild hypocrisy in your reasoning, is all.

    That and pushing a button or two, as evidenced by the alarmingly verbose retorts to quick and dirty hit-and-run comments. 🙂

    1. Tony, don’t duck for cover. Keep posting things with the internal logic of a Miley Cyrus fan on Twitter and I’ll always feel obliged to reply.

      The other key difference is that my ‘Peter Cetera thing’ has the advantage of being a fresh point instead of the recycled pablum of whiny man-children. Unless of course, you locate evidence to the contrary. :o)

    1. Have you watched A New Hope and found the dialogue? Till you do, you have nothing to add to the debate.

      Go on, I’ll pay for the snacks. Treat yourself to a classic.

      1. Dialogue means nothing if the writing around it is weak, John.

        Look, you know I like Star Wars. I just seem to be a little more willing to notice the flaws in it that are a little more subtle than a giant Imperial warship than you are is all.

        Next time I manage to wrangle motivation to reconnect my VCR to the TV, rest assured, there will be Star Wars on the screen. But I’m not inspired enough to move the entertainment center, disconnect something, and reconnect the VCR just for the sake of someone who is defending a silly point.

        With all the times I’ve seen Star Wars, I’m pretty of what you are referring to, even if I don’t remember the dialogue exactly.

        As I recall, Vader warned that there not be too much pride in the technological terror that had been constructed, and that particular counsel had been ignored, as well as any tactical sense that I would have presumed the military possessed.

        My overall point stands. The way Lucas wrote the Imperial military tactical ability, they DESERVED to fail.

        1. Nope. You’re in the right scene, though. There’s an argument between two military guys (their names are Tagge and Motti, listed in the credits). One (Tagge) is arguing that the station is vulnerable since the rebels have plans, the other (Motti) is arguing that the rebels couldn’t possibly exploit anything that they found.

          The second is the rebel pilots’ briefing when Gen. Dodonna tells them that the Death Star’s defenses are “designed around a direct, large-scale assault.” He goes on to say that they don’t consider the fighters to be a threat.

          And this is where nerds like you fail when they pick at this – the shot is supposed to be impossible. (In fact, one of the pilots remarks, “that’s impossible, even for a computer.”) What Luke does is miraculous. However, if you’re a careless viewer and you watch a movie like this more than once, you lose sight of that fact — because it’s expected that the miraculous will occur.

          Also, lightsabers don’t exist and X-Wings are *aerodynamically unsound*, none of which Lucas explains in the films. Nor does he give so much as a line of dialogue to explain how a landspeeder floats. How dare he! I don’t even know whether C-3P0 is positronic or not! You should write the letter right now, and call him to task for overlooking such an important note! I bet you could get tens of signers.

      2. I picked one point regarding consistency.

        Aerodynamics never really come into play, so the X-Wing thing is a suspension of disbelief.

        Blasters don’t exist either, again the suspension.

        But a giant battle station moving from point a to point b while lacking external means of locomotion which is seen on EVERY OTHER spaceborne vehicle is enough to make me ask a question.

        As for the impossibility of the shot, again that comes back to a couple of things. First, is the suspension of disbeleif and acceptance of the Force. Second is the poor writing that would allow an Imperial military to design a battle station with something like an exhaust port that runs straight as an arrow to the core.

        A little imagination, toss a dog leg or two in there, and Empire Strikes back and Jedi would never have happened, the rebellion would have been crushed, and Vader would have lived to see 50.

        You mentioned plot devises at one point, and I agree. I just think that Lucas using the Empire’s stupidity as a plot device was lazy.

        1. I imagine that when you saw UP, you stormed out of the theatre due to the scientific impossibilities. You must be loads of fun to go with to the movies.

          Star Wars has never been hard sci fi. Maybe the Death Star gets around via the same BS that powers warp drive.

          As for the poor design of the exhaust port, obviously they didn’t think it a problem since – though you purposely ignore the point to be argumentative – it was a literally an impossible shot & they considered that they would be attacked by a fleet. Fairly certain militaries through time make this mistake.

          Except starfleet, with self destruct codes for ships that are essentially 1 2 3 4 5. Because that’s brilliant.

  4. You see, you keep trying to pick a fight, and I’m just not biting.

    Yes, the self-destruct code was asinine. And your attempt to offer logical justification for weak writing is adorable, really. cute enough to frame.

    My whole point was that Lucas showed a singular lack of imagination when he put forth the Imperial military as an “unstoppable force”. I mean, they could have been defeated by fuzzy natives using spears and rocks the way he wrote them (oh, wait…).

    Look at Clone Wars. The writers there at least understand the rudiments of tactics, specifically you never, never put a valuable asset into a theater of operations without SOMETHING to protect it, aside from it’s own firepower. That’s why there were capital-class support ships helping to protect the Malevolence.

    Only a fool puts a huge ship (if it moves, kinda hard to call it a battle STATION, isn’t it?) into a place where the enemy can take shots at it, “impossible” shots or not. And only a fool would allow even the tiniest chance of an “impossible” shot to be present. I would imagine the only reason the Death Star wasn’t painted like a bulls-eye focused over that thermal port was because Lucas didn’t want to get sued by Target Corporation for copyright infringement.

    Either Lucas was too lazy to be creative in figuring out how the scrappy Rebels would overcome the monolithic Empire, or he really is just a sub-standard writer.

    Frankly, I’m on the fence as to which, because despite what I think is a crappy writing style (including the lifted cinematography from “Triumph of Will”), I still love the Hell out of Star Wars.

    1. I keep trying to pick a fight, do I? Oh, that’s rich, coming from someone I imagine angrily argues with people about the technical impossibilities in Dukes of Hazard car chases.

      Out of the kindness of my heart I pointed out the line that you were too lazy to track down: “Its defenses are designed around a direct, large-scale assault.” You’re simply refusing to acknowledge that your own knowledge of the subject matter is too limited to mount a worthwhile argument. Everything else I might say becomes tautology. Congratulations, though, on spotting a reference Lucas meant to call out in the styles of Triumph of the Will with the Empire. It only took you 30 years longer than the rest of us.

      As for all your “fool” comments about impossible shots, blah blah blah, again, you fail to study history. It’s full of impossible shots and crazy tactics that won against the odds. Just ask the Germans.

      By the way, how did the Borg cube ship move around? Since you’re so big about maintaining consistency in propulsion systems, mind telling me where in the shows they explained that?

      1. Explanation of that isn’t needed, because motion in space in Star Trek was never shown to be dependent upon a special effect, like a glowing engine port. Several Star Trek vessels capable of warp drive lack a nacelle-based design, so the argument that such would be needed for a Borg cube is moot.

        I have no idea why you mentioned Dukes of Hazzard in any context. Might be some of your own issues being projected on to me. I’ve never spent too much time worrying about that.

        As for questioning knowledge of subject matter, it seems that you are making my argument for me yet again. It seems Lucas was too lazy to be bothered with, as I have said before, basic tactics for a military organization that he wrote. Either that, or just decided to write them to be idiots.

        Overconfidence is all well and good to explain HOW the Death Star was destroyed, but does not explain WHY any military organization would commit such a large resource into a combat situation with nothing to support it.

        You keep arguing that Lucas wrote overconfidence in, and I am arguing that he ignorantly wrote stupidity in, possibly because he simply lacks the ability to think tactically.

        Oh, and as a side note. The attack on the Death Star at the end of New Hope could not be called anything other than a direct assault. That only nine tie fighters were arrayed to offer protection against 32 starfighters and one tramp freighter further demonstrates that Lucas wrote the Empire to lack the tactical thinking needed to maintain control for 20 years, as it had.

      2. 1. Warp nacelles were pretty standard on every other ship you ever saw – except possibly the Tholians; I can’t recall the episode right now. Did it keep you up at night?

        Until season 4 of Enterprise, did you rage in horror at the fact that the Klingons developed head ridges between the original series and the movies?

        2. Like I said, it would become tautology. I’ve laid it out for you and even offered nudges on how to engage your own imagination. I can’t make you drink from the fountain, only show you the way to it.

        3. The words were “direct, large scale assault.” Did I mis-type that the several other times I wrote it? I added the emphasis this time.

        4. There were other ships there, you just never focus on them directly. See #2.

  5. And again, you seem to want to attribute some level of fan-boy rage to me that just simply isn’t there.

    The head ridge thing, to me anyway, had to do with an understanding that Gene Roddenberry was dealing with budget issues, making prosthetic additions a costly endeavor, and if the Klingons were to be “regular” villains, going the the expense of prosthetics for each of their appearances would have been prohibitive. Why do you think you only saw Andorians and Tellerites in one episode?

    As technology progressed in production, it was possible to do “simple” prosthetics more cheaply, and for more actors, Thus the Klingons “grew” ridges (but kept the Mongol-inspired facial hair).

    As for the Nacelles, my whole point was it did NOT bother me in the least, because as I got to the point of paying attention to such things, there were enough warp-capable ships that lacked them, so it wasn’t a big deal.

    And I’m not “raging” over anything. Just pointing out that virtually every other ship, from a single person starfighter to a Super Star Destroyer is shown to have glowing engines, and there are none on the Death Star. You seem to be taking someone pointing out such a discrepancy a lot more personally than I am in noticing the discrepancy.

    Again, I say that only a fool, schooled in tactics by a child, would dismiss 33 enemy ships as insignificant, and the whole “large-scale” versus “small-scale” argument became rather moot when the Death Star got all explody, wouldn’t you say?

    As for other ships, I would be quite interested in what they were, and why they didn’t do a thing to defend the Death Star? Going strictly on the movie, and the novel by George Lucas, there was nothing to support the Death Star. Support elements were added for novels and games after the fact, but in the movie itself, writing which transparently favored the Rebels was employed, showing either a lack of imagination, a poor understanding of military tactics, or both on the part of the writer.

    But I like you keep on saying that it was simply hubris that allowed for the destruction of the Death Star (true), and explains why no support ships were on hand to aid in the defense (bit of a stretch). Shows a willingness to justify the shortcomings in Lucas’ story that only a true fan-boy would stick to.

  6. Although, I would respectfully submit that we really need to agree to disagree on this, as the discussion has now stretched this page to more than 3 times longer than the original blog post (which was about how you are no longer going to serve as a de facto Star Wars Ombudsman, then proceeded to do just that).

    1. Aha! Proof you don’t actually read the blog before responding. To wit:

      “Fifth, who am I kidding? I’ll never back down from a rousing Star Wars debate/argument. In fact, one of the things that gives me greatest pleasure in life is making other geeks lose their minds when I take their own arguments apart and stymie them at every turn. See, I’ve been doing this too long. Too many people have regarded me as Lucas’ official spokesman over the years for me not to have heard every single argument you could offer. I learned from all of the arguments and just kept the responses stored in my brain.”

      And why do you keep getting the number of ships wrong?

      And you do see the other ships fighting. It’s in a couple of expanded shots, granted, while at the time F/X limitations prevented a truly expanded space battle sequence. Strange how budget limitations are acceptable for you to explain the disfigurement of an already-established race of aliens but not for this. And it also doesn’t explain how Worf’s head ridges changed every darned season.

      The point is for this debate, that fighting is happening elsewhere as a distraction while the trench run is happening. You did watch the movie, right? That was the whole tactic.

      And I just thought of this one: you never see the fully revealed back of the Death Star (true! neither one!). Maybe the engine was there! Maybe it used the exhaust ports and farted its way around!

      Maybe you’re literally the only person I’ve ever discussed it with who ever cared! 😀
      The Death Star had just gone active – perhaps there was not yet a full complement of ships aboard. And what are they going to do? Have Star Destroyers come out and pummel the surface of the Death Star with every missed shot and/or damage their own fleet with all their own missed shots? Exercise that brain.

      I’m not sure how I could take any of your criticisms personally when it’s not my movie. I’m not the one desperately trying to explain away Star Trek inconsistencies that have no reasonable explanation while carving George Lucas’ name on a dart board. LOL

  7. Way to let the matter drop.

    I’ve got nothing on a dart board, and I’m not desperately trying to explain anything (although you are. That back of the Death Star thing speaks volumes to that point).

    The only capital ship that is seen in Star Wars was Darth Vader’s “Imperial Cruiser”, and that did not appear in any of the shots of the Death Star assault (I could well be mistaken, but have looked for evidence of it on-line and not found anything). I DID watch the whole movie, and there was no other fighting going on. THAT was the whole point.

    Tarkin didn’t dispatch any TIEs to deal with anything, including the snub fighters, because he was sure that any response to the assault would be “overestimating (sic) their chances”. Imperial officers only mentioned an assault fiorce of “30 snub fighters”, and made mention of no other assets, friendly or enemy, in the area. Vader’s TIE squadron dispatched under his personal authority, but otherwise, the only starship the Imperials had present was the Death Star itself.

    Tarkin indicated that the Death Star was “operational” when he ordered Alderaan destroyed, so assuming that all the TIEs that were supposed to be onboard were not is a faulty assumption, since it would not be described as “operational” if key elements were missing. Even assuming all the TIE fighters that it could carry were not present, and only, let’s say half, that would still be hundreds of TIEs.

    Tarkin’s arrogance, either written in by design, or written in by poor understanding of tactics would not allow him to have any other assets in the area, since the Death Star was seen as impervious. This has been a previous point of yours, and now it seems that you are going back on that to “explain” action not seen on screen, or mentioned in any canon information in a desperate attempt to try and invalidate a point.

    Budget limitations I can accept. But there was nothing ever shown on screen, or mentioned by any character that there was any other aspect to the Battle of Yavin other than the Death Star and a single wing of TIEs against about 30 snub-fighters. This shows a lack of tactical thinking that was either written in intentionally, or simply omitted based upon the writer’s lack of the same.

    I have no problem with doctoring situations to fit a desired result in a script. I question why such blatant doctoring of specific events is not even acknowledged by any characters in the movie, or desperately defended by so many fans.

    1. “Way to let the matter drop.”

      Don’t have to. It’s my blog. LOL 😉

      “I’ve got nothing on a dart board, and I’m not desperately trying to explain anything (although you are. That back of the Death Star thing speaks volumes to that point).”

      I was teasing you. I understand humor is an illogical concept, but we learn by doing, Saavik. What is it with you Trekkies?

      “(I could well be mistaken, but have looked for evidence of it on-line and not found anything).”

      Well, at least I made you waste a part of your day. Score!

      “I DID watch the whole movie, and there was no other fighting going on. THAT was the whole point.”

      It’s there, it’s just not what you’re supposed to be focused on. It’s a battle by implication. 30 ships go, we see 2 get destroyed outside the trench, 3 escape (not including the Falcon) and a total of 9 make trench runs. That means those 16 other ships were doing something at the time….

      “Imperial officers only mentioned an assault fiorce of “30 snub fighters”, and made mention of no other assets, friendly or enemy, in the area.”

      Actually, the line is “thirty rebel fighters” and “thirty rebel ships”.

      “Vader’s TIE squadron dispatched under his personal authority, but otherwise, the only starship the Imperials had present was the Death Star itself.”

      And Vader’s Star Destroyer if you presume it was docked.

      “Tarkin indicated that the Death Star was “operational” when he ordered Alderaan destroyed, so assuming that all the TIEs that were supposed to be onboard were not is a faulty assumption, since it would not be described as “operational” if key elements were missing.”

      Unless of course, he was referring to the station’s main weapon and systems, which in context was what he was saying. Either way, he was a pompous jackass like Khan, who could and should have walked away with the Genesis torpedo.

      I said, “The Death Star had just gone active” [added emphasis now], offering to you a way to rationalize things on a Trekkie level. You guys seem to need that help from time to time.

      “Tarkin’s arrogance, either written in by design, or written in by poor understanding of tactics would not allow him to have any other assets in the area, since the Death Star was seen as impervious. This has been a previous point of yours, and now it seems that you are going back on that to “explain” action not seen on screen, or mentioned in any canon information in a desperate attempt to try and invalidate a point.”

      You blatantly rejected that point. So I offered alternatives to help you out. It’s a Christmas gift to make up for all those years I missed. LOL

      “Budget limitations I can accept. But there was nothing ever shown on screen, or mentioned by any character that there was any other aspect to the Battle of Yavin other than the Death Star and a single wing of TIEs against about 30 snub-fighters. This shows a lack of tactical thinking that was either written in intentionally, or simply omitted based upon the writer’s lack of the same.”

      Considering you were willing to entertain previously that it was the latter only, I win! Awesome! I get french fries for dinner now.

      “I question why such blatant doctoring of specific events is not even acknowledged by any characters in the movie, or desperately defended by so many fans.”

      I offered options. You were the one going nuts about the fact that you didn’t see a hot rod engine and racing stripes on the Death Star.

  8. If absolutely nothing else, the idea that anyone else might be entertained by watching 2 pig-headed pseudo-fanboys go 5 rounds about a fictional story is almost enough to encourage me to keep this going.

    1. I think it’s more merciful if we just shake hands and agree to argue about other stuff later. I promise you that I’ll continue to assault you with the slings and arrows of outrageous fandom.

      I’ll even let it go and not say something like, “I’m not being pig-headed because I know you’re wrong” or something like that. Because that would be silly. :p

  9. Works for me. Although I don’t think you ever DIDN’T do something because it was silly. Lord knows, *I* never let that stop me…

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