Posted on Thursday, January 13th, 2011 by Germain Lussier
Thanks to the Star Wars prequels, Star Wars fandom has divided itself down the middle almost like the Jedi and the Sith. There are people who vocally condemn the mere existence of the prequels and others who know the prequels aren’t as good as the originals, but still respect them because they’re Star Wars. Like anything, though, there are exceptions to this rule. Plenty of old-school fans boycotted the movies totally, others love the prequels unabashedly and some fall in between if, for example, they think Revenge of the Sith is great, but the others suck, and so on.
Assuming that’s the case, the Bible for the non-fans would probably be the Red Letter Media video reviews of the Star Wars prequels. These epic, critical destructions of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, blend film theory and entertainment value in an almost deadly way. They’re anti-prequel propaganda at its best. The fans, though, don’t have a figurehead. George Lucas certainly doesn’t want the job and even the films themselves only contain a few moments in each that are pure Star Wars.
However, one fan has taken all the passion that once embodied a Star Wars fan and created something for prequel admirers to stand behind. A message board user named Jim Raynor has written an incendiary 108-page tome as a rebuttal to the Red Letter Media review of The Phantom Menace called Red Letter Media’s Episode I Review: A Study in Fanboy Stupidity. Download it, read some excerpts, bask in its geekiness and more after the jump.
I guess we’ll start where Raynor starts, with quotes from two well-known fanboys: Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof and Star Trek/Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz star Simon Pegg. Both have publicly skewered the prequels in their work and their endorsements of The Phantom Menace review are partially to blame for it becoming so huge in the online community.
Your life is about to change. This is astounding film making. Watch ALL of it -Damon Lindelof, co-creator of the television series Lost
That Star Wars review is amazing. – Simon Pegg, actor
From there, Raynor goes on to explain who and what Red Letter Media is, admit his admiration – despite its flaws – of The Phantom Menace and also admit he simply doesn’t like the style of these reviews. Still, that’s not the reason for this work:
I’m writing this lengthy response to Stoklasa’s review because it’s massively overrated, and simply wrong and even dishonest on numerous points. Episode I detractors have rallied around the review, with numerous people praising it as a devastatingly intelligent and insightful critique of the movie. I’ve even seen URL links to the video being posted on internet forums, as a way to silence Episode I supporters and end debate on the movie. All this despite the fact that Stoklasa’s review is full of shoddy work and awful analysis, which I will explain in the course of my response.
Raynor also calls out the review for being exactly what it’s trying to make fun of:
Stupidity, exaggeration, getting overrated by sheep-like followers…the RLM review of TPM basically covers all of my pet peeves. It’s not even hard to show why it’s dumb, because some of the things in that review are just really dumb. But still, many people think that it’s the greatest and smartest fanboy work ever. I’ve seen it being said that videos, especially long ones, are a lousy medium for online discussion. That’s because someone often has to watch large parts of a video just to find the few moments that he’s looking for. While a written response such as this one can also be long, it is far easier to skim and quote from using search functions. That increases transparency and makes the truth easier to see. So I guess I’ll have to be the one who points out that the emperor has no clothes, and that Stoklasa’s review isn’t as smart as a lot of people think it is.
And, he also explains that he’s well-aware of how incredibly geeky what he’s doing is:
Yes, it is. It’s very geeky. So is making numerous video reviews of scifi movies, many of them well over an hour long. So is arguing about decades-old movies on internet forums. So is investing so much emotion and expectations into a movie series that you regard a new installment as a major life event, and cry about how it “raped your childhood” if it so much as underwhelmed you. I just want it to be known that I didn’t obsessively work on this response nonstop. It was written intermittently, over the course of more than half a year. I stopped numerous times, either because I had something better to do or because I just didn’t feel like working on this. Listening to Mr. Plinkett over and over again wasn’t my idea of a fun night or weekend afternoon. There were entire weeks or months when I didn’t touch this at all. So if any RLM-lover says that I’ve gone too far by doing this, he’s full of crap. Especially if he’s posting from a scifi, fantasy, or comic book forum.
Raynor then goes on to detail exactly how he went through and dissected the RLM review, noting where points were good and where points were completely untrue, etc. Then, finally, on page 12, he goes part by part, point by point, through the entire 70 minute review, refuting and dissecting for the next 95 pages before reaching his conclusion, which is excerpted here:
Throughout his review, Stoklasa relies on the same few tricks again and again. He asks stupid questions which the movie has already answered. He denies simple truths that were made clear to everyone. He repeatedly makes false or unsupported claims that increase the amount of negativity in his review, which will stick in people’s minds even if he carefully retracts his statements later.
Too many people have been swayed by his lousy arguments and deceptive tricks. I believe that the monstrous length of his review has protected it from criticism. At seventy minutes long, it at once appears daunting and authoritative. Any counterpoints to it appear selective and incomplete in comparison; RLM supporters can and have claimed that its detractors “haven’t looked at the big picture” of what Stoklasa is saying. Well now, you have a rather complete “big picture” summary of the whole damn thing. Now, almost all of his points have been laid bare for everyone to see.
I’ve only just begun to read this, but I encourage you to do the same. Again, here’s the link to the file’s MegaUpload site. If for some reason it becomes unavailable, e-mail or Tweet myself or Peter and we’ll host it ourselves. Love him or hate him, it’s kind of cool to see this kind of pro-Star Wars passion.