Starwars - Fantasy or Sci-Fi? Round 2

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by Overread, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

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    Lol not a bad idea... kudos foiin
     
  2. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

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    So, I discovered this discussion looking for threads about medieval traces in Star Wars (as I'm currently doing some research on this topic and I'm interested to see other people's opinions about this) and as I love reviving old threads I'll just go ahead and do so.
    It's so fascinating - and to some degree even funny - to see how people fight over genre definitions. Star Wars is set in space - so it has to be science-fiction. But it begins with "A long time ago", so it's a fairy tale. But wait, there are knights and wizards in it! Has to be a romance. And what about Han Solo and the bounty hunters? So even westerns influenced Star Wars!
    Without doubt most people say it's sci-fi. Some call it science-fantasy, others a space opera. But the true question is: Does it matter?
    One thing I learned during my studies is that whenever we approach films or literature in the context of genres, all we see is the typical genre markers, whereas everything else gets marginalised. We only see what we want to see, so whenever we're studying Star Wars regarding it as a science-fiction trilogy, of course all we see are the spaceships, aliens and laser guns. And even if we discover characteristics of other genres, they are automatically pushed into the background.

    So... I'd say Star Wars is a bit of everything. The concepts occurring in the films are taken from a mixture of genres, and its plot structure is clearly based on myths and legends from many different cultures and eras.
     
  3. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Good points Firiath and a great, rousing discussion all around! Here's a monkey wrench to throw into the works: In a million years will Star Wars be considered "Science Fiction" or " Fantasy"?
     
  4. Foinikas

    Foinikas Playing backgammon!

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    Agreed.It may be a fantasy story but with all that stuff instead of fantasy it's a sci-fi one.If it went back to kingdoms,horses,swords,bows and arrows,orcs and wizards it would be a normal fantasy one.
     
  5. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    The thing is if you boil down most good and well written works of literacy or media you can often find elements of the niche interest groups in all of them. Many stories we call fantasy have romance elements; many sci-fi will have gun-slingers etc... I think the key is that genre classifications are not so much "important" as they are helpful and interesting. Most of the time the average person uses them only lightly to guide their choices in what to read/watch next to ensure that it is based upon a generalist theme that they enjoy.
    I would argue that any who are dead set against entertaining anything outside of their niche interests and who is a very very powerful defender of the genre niche lines is likely an exception to the general rule (and also likely missing out on loads of great stuff too).



    For me Starwars just does not contain enough fantasy elements or features to class itself as fantasy over sci-fi. It's fiction in space so its sci-fi to me and always will be.
     
  6. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

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    Well you know my stand on this, so what's the point of it. I do agree with Firiath. Even George Lucas said he liked old westerns and saw Han Solo as a gunslinging hotshot. Hence why you saw him with his blaster like that. But again these are elements. In my opinion the story defines the genre not the elements around it. If the story itself contained elements, which you have to recognize as sci-fi, I would call it sci-fi myself, but it doesn't. Even Joseph Campbell, writer of Hero of a Thousand Faces, which is often used as a source in fantasy stories recognized this.
     
  7. Foinikas

    Foinikas Playing backgammon!

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    I have to admit that for the last months I've been thinkin about this and Anakin has me half-convinced.I don't adamantly disagree about it anymore,although I do disagree.
     
  8. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    *is shocked that Anakin posted so fast!*

    Where is our movie news? You're late - very very late with it all!! ;)
     
  9. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    What seems to be missing from this thread are clear definitions of what is considered fantasy and what is considered science fiction.
    My arguments are based on the following premises that everyone else may or may not agree with:
    1. Fiction is any story created in someone’s imagination.
    2. Fantasy encompasses the element of the currently impossible occurring by circumventing or ignoring the scientific rules of the universe.
    3. Science Fiction encompasses the element of the currently impossible occurring by following the scientific rules of the universe.
    About Star Wars:
    The story of Star Wars came out of someone’s imagination: in my mind that makes it fiction.
    The mysterious “force” allows the currently impossible to occur in the story by circumventing the scientific rules of the universe. If the midichloridians only connect the Jedi to the force as Anakin has asserted in an earlier post, that is not an adequate scientific explanation for the Jedi’s ability to affect things around them since the source of their power (“the force” itself) is unexplained. In my mind that element includes Stars Wars in fantasy.
    Long distance space travel, hyperdrives, human-machine hybrids, artificial intelligence etc. all allow the currently impossible to occur by following the scientific rules of the universe. In my mind those elements include Star Wars in science fiction.
    I have to conclude at this time that Star Wars is both science fiction AND fantasy fiction.... what I would call a “crossover” and a damn fine way to be entertained in front of the TV for a few hours!
    Now here’s a thought-provoking idea: I can only classify it this way because of the reality I live in and understand. Five hundred years ago humanity knew nothing about space, planets or mechanized forms of travel. Had I been alive back then I would have classified Star Wars as pure fantasy. Let’s assume for argument’s sake that five thousand years from now people are deliberately manipulating quantum energy fields with their brains to achieve telekinesis through scientific understanding. If I was alive in such a future I might categorize Star Wars as historical fiction. My point is that context is everything!
    I think that people love to classify things to make them easier to predict and understand. It certainly makes it easier to browse for something you’d like to read (or watch) if stuff is classified into a genre, but as much as we love to categorize things.... life just doesn’t come packaged in neat little boxes like that. I’m going to agree with Firiath’s earlier post: “I’d say Star Wars is a bit of everything”. (Firiath’s words in quotes)
    Loved reading this debate though! Very entertaining!
     
  10. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

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    Exactly. He points out that the plot of Star Wars is based on structures that have existed in mythology for centuries (if not several thousand years). Even medieval romances often follow the same patterns. And I've found out that there are several literary theories that would verify this point of view.
    Of course all of this leads to the question: What makes a genre a genre? The setting, the plot, the characters? I think the best answer we could possibly find is what S.J. just wrote. :D

    Absolutely true, in my opinion!
     
  11. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    I think you're painting with too broad a brush stroke here.

    Genre fiction, also known as "popular fiction", is set apart from literary fiction, and that's for a reason. In general, genre fiction isn't on a par with literary fiction. StarWars is basically speaking, a pirate movie that takes place in space. Compare it to Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson that has an elegant, almost lyrical quality to it and you see just how bad StarWars really is. Compare the Twilight novels to Bram Stoker's Dracula or Mary Shelley's Frankenstein... they are as different as different can be. Sure, genre fiction pulls from classical literature and traditional storytelling, but most times it's so crudely done, like in the case of StarWars, that it is hardly worth mentioning.

    When you watched StarWars did you in anyway feel connected to the characters, did you feel a shared experience with them... I sure hope not because that means you're a cardboard character living in a cardboard cutout world where bad guys wear black and the good guys wear white, and matters can be settled with a light-saber duel. Juxtapose that with a real work of genre fiction that transcends genre and literature, a masterwork like Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, or Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad... the protagonists in those two stories share our weaknesses and strengths, they could be us because they struggle in ways we can understand.

    I actually think it's fair to fit fiction into its appropriate genre, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Mystery and Horror, or whatever.

    Heck, compare War of the Worlds to StarWars... HG Wells creates a story that asks the reader to consider what it means to colonize a foreign land. When that foreign invader turns out to be aliens from Mars he brilliantly turns England's world view into question... I get no such metaphors or subtle messages when watching a StarWars movie... StarWars is really just a comic book adaption of several works of fiction.
     
  12. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    I think we'll have to agree to disagree on the lack of an underlying message in "Star Wars" Sparrow because I don't perceive that to be the case at all. Many "popular fiction" stories have what I would call layers of complexity. While it is true that the superficial layer is the "entertainment layer": with action, drama, suspense and occasionally humour or romance, that doesn't mean that there is nothing else of value in popular stories or that they are only "fluff". Sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find their value because the entertainment can be distracting.

    In Star Wars I see Darth Vader who has made some terrible choices in life and been corrupted by the lure of power into doing some really horrible things. I see a man who managed to hang onto some vestiges of his humanity as darkness ate away at his soul and then who managed to claw his way out of that deep, dark hole to find salvation (as evidenced by his appearance beside Yoda and Obi Wan in the end). For me that embodies a tale of great personal strength and everything that is best about the human spirit.

    I'm not saying that every popular fiction story has subtle messages or ranks up there with the classics, but I wouldn't automatically discount them as worthless or shallow.
     
  13. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    For heaven's sake, Darth Vader destroyed an entire planet and is responsible for the death of millions, perhaps billions of innocent people... in real life a person like that is far beyond redemption. It's nice that you would forgive such a person, but in real life a mass murderer whose in a league with Stalin and Hitler doesn't have a soul to reclaim and Humanity would have no place for him. The fact that you have these swooshy feelings regarding Darth Vader's journey back to the good side of the Force just highlights how utterly ridiculous StarWars is. ;)
     
  14. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Actually Darth Vader didn't order the firing of the Death Star - that was Governor Wilhuff Tarkin.

    In fact from what I recall he considered it rather a joke/weak weapon in itself if we consider his words with regard to the Death Star's power compared to the Force
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  15. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    Then by your own words Darth Vader had the power to stop the Death Star from destroying his daughter's home world. But he didn't do that. He allowed millions or billions to be murdered all because his daughter had stolen the plans for the Death Star. All of it is absolutely, ridiculously stupid.
     
  16. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Not really - it simply shows that he has no care for the world and its inhabitants - one can argue that post his change to the dark side he simply has no emotional caring for any others other than himself. So 1 death is the same as a million or a billion to him - it would be seen only in base material output results from the bodies - rather like how the average person wouldn't care the least bit about a whole hive of ants destroyed by fire


    also at that point he has no idea of any relationship between himself and is daughter (and it could be argued that, at that point in his character history such understanding wouldn't have much of an effect over his emotional state).
     
  17. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    *laughs* I’m going to reserve the right to keep my “swooshy feelings” over Star Wars Sparrow, just like I respect your right to having them over 1984, Heart of Darkness and War of the Worlds - stories that resonated with you personally. The stories that inspire those feelings are the mark of good writing in my opinion because they make readers think and critically evaluate their beliefs on topics of importance to them.
    You wrote:
    “For heaven’s sake, Darth Vader destroyed an entire planet and is responsible for the death of millions, perhaps billions of innocent people...in real life a person like that is far beyond redemption. It’s nice that you would forgive such a person, but in real life a mass murderer whose in league with Stalin and Hitler doesn’t have a soul to reclaim and Humanity would have no place for him.”
    I would ask you a question Sparrow about your assumption that Darth Vader is far beyond redemption and that he doesn’t have a soul to reclaim: When did he cross the line of “no redemption beyond this point”? Was it when he killed for the first time? Or maybe when he destroyed his first rebel base or inhabited planet? Maybe it was as far back as when he beat up some other kid in the schoolyard for stealing something out of his lunch? (Damn it I hope not ... if that’s the case we’re all beyond redemption!)
    Please don’t confuse the word “redemption” with justice when you answer my question. I’m not talking about what we as people consider justice...trial in court with a judge and jury and then the enforcement of consequences (like the death penalty for example) or vigilante justice. Even Darth Vader died in the end of Star Wars.
    I would argue that it’s standing on a slippery slope to draw a line in the sand regarding who deserves redemption and who doesn’t. Why? Because we all screw up in life and nobody’s perfect. Also because we can learn just as much from our failures as we do from our successes (if we’re wise anyway). Finally, I would argue that there has to be a reason for someone to choose to turn around on that path of darkness and go in a new direction. Why would anyone bother if they were already damned? The act would be of no benefit to them at all in that case. Darth Vader could have let Luke die easily enough at the end of Star Wars and then eventually become master of the universe. Instead he chose to face the earthly consequences of his decision (death) and turn around on that path of darkness. Would that be an easy decision for someone who’d gone so very far wrong? I doubt it. I imagine that decision would get harder and harder with every atrocity that he committed.
    I also have to wonder if Hitler might have believed that he was already damned anyway for everything that he’d done (we’ll never know of course so this is purely conjecture on my part). If that was the case I see no reason for him to stop killing people or shut down the concentration camps...and that’s exactly what happened: he was removed from authority by force rather than by his own choices. To my mind the belief that some mistakes can take someone beyond the possibility of redemption makes drawing a line in the sand about who deserves it and who doesn’t a dangerous one too then.
    My goodness...look at the debate that Star Wars has inspired! *laughs*Can we upgrade it from cardboard to plywood yet? ; )
     
  18. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    So besides being a fan of atrocious fiction, you're also a Darth Vader apologist.

    Since Darth Vader made a conscious decision to use the dark side of the Force, he is responsible for all that it entails. Fact is, by sheer body count Darth Vader makes the likes of Hitler and Stalin seem like schoolboys. Indeed, because you reserve such goofy emotions for a mass murderer means that the StarWars epic is really nothing more than a comic book. The loss of a planet and all its inhabitants should mean something, but it doesn't in StarWars because it happens in the context of a comic book. Even worse, the loss of her home world hardly effects Princess Leia... she barely skips a beat.
     
  19. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

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    I think you don't give enough credit to Star Wars, Sparrow. But should I listen to you or an intelligent lecturer, mythologist like Joseph Campbell, who's work I worship. I think I'll take his side. A man who gave a lot of credit to Star Wars for actually bringing mythology back in films and the modern world. A lot of people started to copy that, especially if you look at someone like James Cameron's Titanic or Avatar. Campbell was one of George Lucas' mentors, the other being Francis Coppola. But I look at Star Wars because it bring old mythological themes back. While the story of the first one has a high resemblance to the old fortress, it was an improvement on it imo, though I do respect Kurosawa's work very much. I think that is why Star Wars is so popular because these themes I referred to, connect to people, instead of the characters. Sure people will cheer for characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo etc... These are stereotypical type of character, but I think for the time that it was invented it was allowed to be. That is why they're very different in the prequels though similar, Anakin Skywalker being a darker, edgier character than Luke Skywalker (a character that hits all the dots of a hero's journey) was, but still similar in what he does, yet his ultimate choice is what differs him from Luke. That is another theme you'll find in mythology. The present father is evil, while the absent father is good. How many heroes in mythology are orphans or only have a mother? You'll see there's a lot. Which is why imo Superman being a father in Superman Returns felt totally wrong. The Goddess such as Hera, the virgin Mary, Isis, Aphrodite. And these roles were passed down to Anakin's mother Shmi, Padmé and Luke. The Goddess in myth doesn't have to be a literal Goddess or female for that matter, though she mostly is. She is the protector of life. Two of them were motherfigures to Anakin. But by losing them one by one the galaxy is endangered by his evil. Luke however brings him back ultimately and why he is the Goddess is because he carries the same message Padmé said to Obi-Wan, 'There is still good in him' As I said there's plenty. But just because you failed to recognize them doesn't mean they aren't there. Star Wars takes in question how someone good can turn to evil, ask that of how Hitler became evil. Were they born evil? All of it shows how emotion in love and war drives Anakin evil.

    And in Darth Vader's defence, I think you fail to see how he is a slave again (metaphorically speaking), which is the tragedy of the character. Anakin was a slave, becomes a great Jedi and becomes a slave again. Tarkin was the big man on the Death Star and commanded Alderaan to be destroyed. Is it evil to just stand by and do nothing? Yes, he was selfish and was only out for himself, but what did you expect... He's still a villain. You don't know how he felt of all those people dying, because he always acts cold on the outside, but on the inside he's a sad character, who tries to break his chains from the Emperor, but he can't do it. That is why he needed Luke's help. Anyway I could go an and on. But it's not like it's going to change your mind.
     
  20. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

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    Once again you miss to see the full picture. The Death Star stands for technology and how many times is technology represented as evil, (nature vs. technology, a very common theme) Vader himself being an example as he is being kept alive by machinery. The point was to show what evil the Death Star can do. But in the end Vader was right and it got destroyed by the Force as Luke uses it to destroy the Death Star. What does this cause this Leia. She loses her father (the absent father is good), her whole planet. It is a part of growing up, which is what the other characters such as Han and Luke also go through as Luke loses his foster parents. That is partially what mythology is all about... Growing up. Now Leia has to stand on her own feet, and has to become a leader figure. She needs to take her father's place. as a leader of the rebellion.