Star Wars

Star Wars: The Remix

Everything Is a Remix returns for a special Star Wars edition.


How Star Wars remixed the universe

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters late last year, the critics' most common complaint about the film held that it is a barely-remixed remake of the original Star Wars. This argument attracted the attention of filmmaker Kirby Ferguson, whose much-viewed 2010-11 web series Everything Is a Remix made the case that creativity has always involved sampling and repurposing the art that preceded you.

So this week Ferguson released a postscript of sorts to his series, titled Everything Is a Remix: The Force Awakens. It contrasts the ways J.J. Abrams remixed older material to make the new Star Wars movie with the ways George Lucas remixed older material to make the original; it offers an argument about what it takes for remixing to produce something satisfyingly original; and it includes a brief cameo by Reason's own Peter Suderman, or at least by Peter's byline.

For yet more on Star Wars and remixes, read Amy Sturgis' Reason feature "Star Wars, Remixed." And for more from Ferguson, check out his current web series, This Is Not a Conspiracy Theory.

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  1. There is nothing new under the twin suns of Tatooine.

    1. I bet Jakku had like five suns.

      1. Solyndra relocated there.

  2. TFA was a godawful waste of time. Where it couldn’t outright copy ANH in plot, it just filled in the blanks with coincidence.

    Finn: Well, I’m stranded on a desert planet and my buddy is dead or MIA. Guess I’ll just walk in a random direction until I die of thirst. Just kidding, I’ll head right to where the protagonist and the droid everyone wants to find is.

    Rey: Crap, we need to get off this planet and the good ship just kerploded, so we’ll have to take this rust bucket. Just kidding, it’s actually the Milennium Falcon, I know more about it than Han Solo, and after I bounce it off the planet a couple times in our daring escape, it’ll be more spaceworthy than it ever was even thought it’s been sitting here for years surrounded by scavengers desperate to sell anything they can rip off a ship for food! OH HAI LOOK IT’S HAN SOLO SQUEE!

    1. Are you saying that you’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and you’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but you’ve never seen anything to make you believe that there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything? ‘Cause no mystical energy field controls your destiny? It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense?

      1. Exactly. I’m also saying that traveling through hypserspace aint like dusting crops, boy. Unless, of course, you want to fly through a forcefield protecting a planet at light speed and then hit the brakes at the last second.

    2. The villain can read minds, but for some reason decides to kill the old man in the beginning and take the pilot captive where he proceeds to torture him for a full 24 hours. He then realizes, hey, I can just get the information I want in a few seconds by looking inside his brain. Presto, he knows about the droid. But let’s not fucking just do that right away because that would force the writers to actually have to plan bringing their characters together.

      I also love how I’m supposed to care about characters who get a few minutes of screen time in total. The pilot dude whose name I don’t know and who some people ridiculously call one of their favorites? The Captain Phasma who is even more incompetent than Kylo Ren? Totally badass stuff.

      1. Or two people who have never seen a lightsaber kicking the shit out of a Sith trust fund brat?

        1. A Sith lord who’s prone to slashing walls with his lightsaber when he’s angry. And when it happens on a space ship either he wrecks a shitload of critical systems that are keeping the crew alive (what parts of a spaceship are not critical?), or the First Order built him a wall-shaped Sith scratching post so it only looks like he’s wrecking critical systems.

        2. The brat is wounded and pretty handily kicks Finn’s ass. And Rey had some basic training and only holds her own until, y’know, the force and shit kicks in.

          That was one scene I was expecting to be much worse given the complaints. It was fine.

      2. “Uh-oh, it looks like Rey has Force-related mental powers too! I better leave her room for a bit, but I’ll be sure to station a guard in there, because there’s no way she’d try to mentally manipulate him!”

        Force Awakens was still better than the prequels at least.

        1. “Hey, there’s only a single guard watching me in this room. I have no idea why, but I’m going to try to control his mind and make him release me.”

          :fails hilariously:

          “Oops, he tightened my restraints instead. How humiliating! What could I have been thinking? I’m really in trouble now!”

          JUST KIDDING!

          “Oops, he tightened my restraints instead. I’ll just try again because somehow I know this is possible!”

    3. You’re right. Its so refreshing that EVERY other movie doesn’t use overly-convenient plot points, implausible coincidences, MacGuffins, etc to advance the story! If you want original, stick to ancient myths and Greek tragedies.

      1. Trust me, I hate plenty of recent movies. I can deal with borrowing plot elements from earlier works, but not when it’s that blatant unless you outright say it’s a remake of an earlier work. And coincidences happen, but numerous coincidences are just cover for poor writing. Case in Point: Han could have been nearby because he was coming to buy back the Falcon. But, no, he just happened to be passing through. Small galaxy I guess, derpedy-doo!! Or the odds of just running across a single person in a facility the size of a hollowed-out planet, thousands upon thousands of cubic miles of facility.

        1. J.J. doesn’t go the extra three seconds to provide the basic writing cover necessary to suspend disbelief. I think that ultimately he’s right that people don’t care, they just want to see brightly colored lights flashing in a pleasing pattern. The substance of those patterns is pointless. Transformers, I think, proved that to almost everyone. We should be glad J.J. at least writes shit down in the first place.

          1. I won’t defend JJA. There are plenty of times a simple sentence more of dialogue could have explained away plot development much more convincingly. If you didn’t like TFA, that’s cool, I don’t seek to change your opinion. My only counter would be to look at TFA in context. The prequel disasters were MUCH worse in almost every way than TFA. The TFA only needed to be mediocre to leap over the prequels; I think most people would agree it was at least mediocre. Personally, I enjoyed it, even if I groaned when it referenced ANH too much (I thought trying to insert a trench run was over the top).

    4. Lets be honest here: J.J. knows how to make one movie that’s pretty good on first watching. It’s any amount of follow through that he consistently fails at delivering. In a single movie about space wizards with laser swords that would be fine, but if you’re trying to reboot a franchise it’s probably no surprise that the second offerings, directed by other people, are generally not that great because they’ve been written into a corner.

      It remains to be seen if they are able to pick up enough pieces to make a 3rd film into anything other than a retcon of a retcon. In Star Trek 1 they rendered starships (Which are a central point of any star trek film) moot with intergalactic teleportation. In Star Trek 2 they cured death. What’s slated for 3, I wonder?

      We can expect more of the same from Star Wars, but at the very least Star Wars was never meant to be any kind of realistic. It would at least be nice to expect some level of consistency in their universe-building though. I mean, given Han’s hyperspace-into-atmosphere maneuver you’d think Return of the Jedi would have been a much shorter film…

    5. Finn: Although a bit of luck might be necessary to crash land on a desert planet within walking distance of a settlement, the ship was being piloted and presumably had sufficient control to direct it near a settlement.

      Also, if he was paying attention out the window he would have seen that settlement from the air and been able to point himself in the right direction.

      Plausible, non-mystical, non-luck based explanation

  3. Sounds like a pretty serious plan to me dude. WOw.

  4. Shouldn’t the headline read “How Trump Destroyed Star Wars”?

    1. You’ll notice Jesse’s curious silence about Hillary ruined Star Wars.

      1. Indeed. /thoughtfully taps chin.

      2. I blame the cocktail parties.

          1. Euphemisms.

  5. Boy, that was long.

  6. The Force Awakens was like getting a sloppy blowjob from that hot girl in high school who you were afraid to ask out. She’s kept up her looks but it isn’t the same. She’s enthusiastic the knowlege that she has three kids at home and an estranged husband drinking himself to death three states away is distracting. But she got a boob job so that’s cool.


    1. This is why there are no libertarian women. smdh.

    2. This analogy… it’s so understandable.

  7. “No significant Nazi threats since 1945”?!

    Has this guy never heard of Donald Trump? He’s actually worse than Hitler!

    Hillary 2016!

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