Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil: Outgeeking Bainbridge

« Getting Ready for Hong Kong | Main | Idealist? You must be joking »

Outgeeking Bainbridge

Now, I'd never take on Professor Bainbridge when it comes to wine: I haven't the taste buds. And on corporate law? More fool me to challenge the guy who authors textbooks. But outgeeking? There we're on more equal ground. And I'm afraid that his accusation that George Lucas has sold the soul of Star Wars to the Democrats just rings hollow.

Basically, the good Professor is upset because:

...Lucas betrayed the basic story arc of the Star Wars mythology in order to score these cheap political points. In the original trilogy, Luke struggled against the absolutism of Obi-Wan and Yoda. It was Luke who insisted that there was still good in Vader, which Yoda and Obi-Wan rejected.

The betrayal in question is in having Obi-Wan say to Anakin, after the latter has muttered some you're-for-me-or-against-me line, "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes."

Now, I've not seen the movie yet, and to the best of my knowledge, neither has Prof. Bainbridge, but to my mind his internal critique doesn't hold up. Bainbridge spends a great deal of time talking about how an older (presumably wiser) Obi-Wan was still doctrinaire and absolutist in his consideration of the Force. But if we consider this Obi-Wan to be less mature than Alec Guinness (and who wouldn't), then the plot still hangs together. Obi-wan may just be full of it. And there's no "betrayal" for "cheap political points" so long as the elder Jedi isn't doing anything more than the lightsaber equivalent of Godwin's Law: you know the conversation's over (and someone's limbs are about to go) when somebody mentions the Sith.

So why are so many assuming that Old Kenobi needs to be taken seriously? It seems that the New York Times found political meaning in the film:

"This is how liberty dies - to thunderous applause," Padm observes as senators, their fears and dreams of glory deftly manipulated by Palpatine, vote to give him sweeping new powers. "Revenge of the Sith" is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, about how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders. At one point, Darth Vader, already deep in the thrall of the dark side and echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy." Obi-Wan's response is likely to surface as a bumper sticker during the next election campaign: "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes." You may applaud this editorializing, or you may find it overwrought, but give Mr. Lucas his due. For decades he has been blamed (unjustly) for helping to lead American movies away from their early-70's engagement with political matters, and he deserves credit for trying to bring them back.

Dear goodness, we can only hope. I mean, if Democrats can't do better than Lucas's tin-ear for dialogue for their political bumper stickers, then I suspect the Republicans will get the geek vote. But now the New York Times has done the impossible: it's made me curious about the final Star Wars film.

Let's face it: Lucas is about as subtle as a chainsaw running through a screen door, at least when it comes to dialogue. I'd expect that even if Chewbacca were mouthing Bush-lite rhetoric, you wouldn't need to be Han Solo to figure out the reference. On the other hand, the New York Times could probably scan Beowulf and find hidden anti-Bush meanings.

So who is it? Is George L. taking on George B.? Or is this all a figment of the Times' fevered fantasies? Sadly, I'll have to see the film to find out, because when it comes to a conflict between the Lucas lack of subtext and the Greying Lady's determination to find same, we reach a level of difficulty almost equal to that of the Great Sci Fi Paradox: What happens when a bunch of clueless red-shirts, guaranteed to survive less than three minutes after a beamdown, meets a platoon of Imperial Stormtroopers, who can't hit a barn from inside it?


This article on a Cannes press conference might save you the trouble of going to the movie.
A wise man once pointed out that "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar", and I think someone needs to remind Prof. Bainbridge that sometimes a trashy sci-fi B flick is just a trashy sci-fi B flick.....
The "wise man" was Freud, on the sometimes-noninterpretation-of-dreams. Less well known is his debt to Kipling. The original line went something like "Wine is only wine, but a cigar is a smoke."
I've noticed that people who are absolutist often think that they are nuanced. (Often because they know other people on their own side who are even more extreme, or have unexpressed feelings which are much nastier.)
TTP: I know it was Freud; I was under the impression that the quote was familiar enough that nobody (at least nobody well educated enough to be follwoing a first person narrative of American legal education) needed to be told who said it. :-)
Oh, perhaps I've underestimated folks. I was under the impression that a lot of people didn't know the source. Eh. Also I was trolling for the exact phrasing of the Kipling quote.
"Now, I've not seen the movie yet, and to the best of my knowledge, neither has Prof. Bainbridge..." And thus continues the conservative tradition of critiquing movies without having seen them. :)
If you notice, Dave, the above isn't a critique of a movie, but a series of questions about it. And having now seen the movie, if you want to carry water for Lucas's dialogue, I hope your back's pretty strong.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

NOTICE TO SPAMMERS, COMMENT ROBOTS, TRACKBACK SPAMMERS AND OTHER NON-HUMAN VISITORS: No comment or trackback left via a robot is ever welcome at Three Years of Hell. Your interference imposes significant costs upon me and my legitimate users. The owner, user or affiliate who advertises using non-human visitors and leaves a comment or trackback on this site therefore agrees to the following: (a) they will pay fifty cents (US$0.50) to Anthony Rickey (hereinafter, the "Host") for every spam trackback or comment processed through any blogs hosted on, or, irrespective of whether that comment or trackback is actually posted on the publicly-accessible site, such fees to cover Host's costs of hosting and bandwidth, time in tending to your comment or trackback and costs of enforcement; (b) if such comment or trackback is published on the publicly-accessible site, an additional fee of one dollar (US$1.00) per day per URL included in the comment or trackback for every day the comment or trackback remains publicly available, such fee to represent the value of publicity and search-engine placement advantages.

Giving The Devil His Due

And like that... he is gone (8)
Bateleur wrote: I tip my hat to you - not only for ... [more]

Law Firm Technology (5)
Len Cleavelin wrote: I find it extremely difficult to be... [more]

Post Exam Rant (9)
Tony the Pony wrote: Humbug. Allowing computers already... [more]

Symbols, Shame, and A Number of Reasons that Billy Idol is Wrong (11)
Adam wrote: Well, here's a spin on the theory o... [more]

I've Always Wanted to Say This: What Do You Want? (14)
gcr wrote: a nice cozy victorian in west phill... [more]

Choose Stylesheet

What I'm Reading

D.C. Noir

My city. But darker.
A Clockwork Orange

About time I read this...


Projects I've Been Involved With

A Round-the-World Travel Blog: Devil May Care (A new round-the-world travel blog, co-written with my wife)
Parents for Inclusive Education (From my Clinic)

Syndicated from other sites

The Columbia Continuum
Other Blogs by CLS students

Don’t Starve for Me, Argentina

HipShoot1v21 300x237 Don’t Starve for Me, ArgentinaIf anything ever happens to me, I know right where Ryan is headed: on a plane headed south to Argentina. It’s not the succulent beef, beautiful landscapes or world-class wines he’d be after. No, no. He’d be taking up residence in Buenos Aires, the city of “fair winds,” in pursuit of one thing alone: the women.

What can I say? Ever-fashionable and image-obsessed, the beauty of the Argentine women is hard to top. With their long dark hair, olive skin and tall, slender figures, they have an exotic appeal only rivaled by their ardent commitment to fashion. In a land known for mouthwatering steaks, ice cream and papas fritas, it might be hard to believe staying on top of the latest trends is a national obsession. But for Argentine women fashion is not trite; it’s absolutely imperative. When it comes to their style, think chic bohemian meets urban hipster with a sophisticated twist. Add an unmatched Latin energy and a sassy flare and well, you have one attractive pedigree.

In a place where fashion is virtue, a mere trip to the grocery store is reminiscent of the catwalk at a Calvin Klein runway show. As a budget traveler, I don’t have the luxury to carry, or better yet do I even own, any of the couture fashion pieces these women sport for a simple stroll in the park or an afternoon pick-me-up at a corner café. So dreadful is the juxtaposition of the stylish Argentine women against my around the world travel style clad in my khaki hiking pants and flip flops that my husband has endearingly decided to call me “G.I. Jane.” For those of you who don’t know how appealing this nickname is, please take the time to rent the 90’s action flick starring Demi Moore as a sweaty, masculine, American soldier.

The beauty of the Argentine women, however, doesn’t come at a small price. Eating disorders are rampant and don’t discriminate against gender, race or class. In Argentina one in every ten women suffers from an eating disorder, more than three times the amount of cases found in the U.S. The country actually has one of the highest rates of eating disorders in world, second only to Japan. To add to the problem, until just a few years ago most stores carried “one size fits all” clothes until this was legally outlawed with a law recently passed requiring stores to carry a variety of sizes.

Whatever the means and at whatever cost, Argentine women are willing to go to extremes to be thin. It’s not uncommon to find women as young as 20 or 30 years old opting for a little nip and tuck every year. So bad has the problem gotten that even the government is now capitalizing on this. Various social security plans are incentivizing cosmetic surgeries by encouraging people to pay higher premiums in exchange for one free surgery procedure a year. Some hospitals now even offer summer deals on surgeries like nose jobs and liposuction to entice clients.

Much of my evidence is anecdotal, I admit, however, take it from “G.I. Jane”: No where will you find better specimens of femininity than Argentina or women more obsessed with the way they look.

pixel Don’t Starve for Me, Argentina

Comments (7)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. BA is full of beautiful ladies that I noticed as well. However, the cost that many suffer is not worth it. The beef however is always worth it!

  2. morison dony says:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  3. Tiasha says:

    Great post. I noticed the same thing in Venezuela. I actually talked to some natives and they said that’s why they win the Miss Universe pageant so much because Venezuelans know how to make women (i.e. nip/tuck to death).

    I traveled alone, so when I first got there I wrote in my journal how endowed everyone was and that there must be something in the water. Then over dinner one night my Columbian host-mom (who lived in Venezuela) said “No, no. Todos son silicones Tiasha.” LOL!

    P.S. Did you all ever consider writing parts of your blog in Spanish? I’d love to check that out, if so.

  4. Joe says:

    Stephans talks big game for someone who updates his blog once a month.

    Oh, and Laura, good stuff!

  5. Wally says:

    Also, your pictures from B.A. are incredible. Except for the one where Laura is aggressively trying to make out with Ryan by the pond in that park. Go easy on the PDA!

  6. Wally says:

    Is it bad that even after the “socially-conscious” information (thank you Laura, for providing the other perspective) toward the end of this post that my response is still dos palabras: “Me gusta”.

  7. Tim Stephans says:

    You should post some more photographic evidence of these women.

    You should also send out a tweet and Fbook update when you have a new post. You’re both such great writers. More tweets in general would be nice. We’re not all having exciting adventures like you two.

    Hope all’s well.