Who loves ya, baby?
The other day whilst watching the trailer for Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 I was struck by the relentless barrage of references and in-jokes, the entire thing seemed to be one continuous sequence of references to other properties owned by Disney and various other companies. Obviously product placement and advertising are nothing new, but this feels new in that those things used to be inserted into and around the story rather being the substance of it, Ready Player One being another example. It's more or less the same thing I was on about in the Philip Roth thread the other week:
A recent piece in the New Yorker covered a similar idea re: Disney's handling of Star Wars - https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-growing-emptiness-of-the-star-wars-universe... it feels as though we're trapped in a feedback loop. I've read that we're now into "post-postmodernism" and "metamodernism", but it all feels like postmodernism to me. I keep picturing it as the effect of pointing two mirrors at each other, that seemingly endless but gradually diminishing reflection.
I guess what I'm wondering is where does it lead? Do we just end up referencing ourselves over and over and over or does the process become so dense and layered and diluted that something new has to occur?Because “Star Wars” is so self-consciously mythic, “Solo” is especially vulnerable to the “simulacra of simulacra” problem. The original film was already an inspired remix, and nearly everything in the new movie is an echo of an echo. Donald Glover and Alden Ehrenreich are charismatic actors, but, as Lando and Han, they’re doomed to imitate the performances of Billy Dee Williams and Harrison Ford, who were themselves channelling blaxploitation and “Rebel Without a Cause.” (Emilia Clarke plays an intriguing new character—Han’s ex-girlfriend, a galactic gun moll—but isn’t given enough time to develop her in detail.) The movie’s set pieces—a high-speed train robbery, against-the-clock heist, and asteroid-field spaceship chase—are spectacular, but they’re also deeply familiar, either from the genre films that supply the raw material for “Star Wars” or from “Star Wars” itself. Even the details of the action are predetermined. Because the Millenium Falcon is so wide and flat, one of its coolest moves involves turning ninety degrees to slip through vertical spaces, which then prove too small for its Imperial pursuers. Early in “Solo,” Han attempts this maneuver with a land speeder (in a faux surprise, he fails); later, he does it successfully with the Falcon, while escaping a field of space debris. In “The Force Awakens,” Rey tips the Falcon while zooming through a wrecked Star Destroyer; in “The Empire Strikes Back,” Han does it while navigating a canyon on a giant asteroid. Space flight in “Star Wars” is intrinsically exciting, but repetition is rarely transcendent. Meanwhile, as the film draws to a close, its climactic moment turns out to be a riff on the “Han shot first” controversy—an inside-baseball fan debate about a 1997 revision to the original “Star Wars,” from 1977. The franchise is trapped in a loop of self-love.