After ten full years of operation, Eleven-ThirtyEight has officially ceased publication and now exists solely as an archive, so that our many great pieces of writing can continue to be enjoyed in the future. Head here for more on the history of and thinking behind this decision, and we thank you for your readership.
What is the point of Star Wars?
When I launched Eleven-ThirtyEight ten years ago, I thought I had the answer, though it would take another eighteen months for me to articulate it.
“When Luke Skywalker throws his lightsaber aside and refuses to kill his father, that’s not just Luke’s crowning moment—that’s the point. Only this expression of ultimate compassion has the power to bring Anakin back to himself, and the fact that the apotheosis of a series with “Wars” in the title is the two main characters throwing their own lives away out of love for each other cannot be overstated.”Me, In Everything Disney Needs to Know, It Can Learn from Luke Skywalker
These days, I think it’s a little more complicated than that. Don’t get me wrong—if you asked George Lucas that’s probably about how he’d put it, and indeed he said as much to Charlie Rose around the same time:
“…everybody expresses it differently but it’s still, basically, don’t kill people, and be compassionate and love people. And so that’s basically all Star Wars is.”George Lucas on The Charlie Rose Show, October 23, 2014
Luke’s refusal to kill his father is rewarded by said father saving his life, and for doing so at the cost of his own life Anakin is rewarded with nothing less than immortality—the very thing he’d gone to the dark side looking for. By choosing to end the stories of his two main characters this way, Lucas constructed Star Wars to articulate one specific idea: only through selflessness may we live forever.
Star Wars isn’t just an epic adventure story, it’s an argument by other means—an assertion of what Lucas had concluded was a universal human value. But after more than a decade without him at the helm, I’ve come to believe that he captured something even more universal than that. His galaxy’s unparalleled popularity around the world is due not to our ability to recognize and agree with his specific point of view, but to our ability to find within it that which we already believe. Whether the story intends as much or not.
Divorced from the whims of one quirky experimental filmmaker and given over to the expectations of Disney’s shareholders, the Galaxy Far, Far Away’s core functionality now stands revealed, for both good and ill: it’s a superficially-awesome blank slate. Freed of real history, real culture, even real physics, it’s a platform for stripping a storyteller of all artifice and revealing their core beliefs. It’s a story we tell ourselves about ourselves.
And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s not a lot of universal agreement about that these days.Read More
After years of uncertainty regarding the future of Star Wars screen content (with the exception of lots and lots of The Mandalorian), a picture is beginning to take shape at last. With solid runs from The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch and a stellar showing by the first season of Andor, television content is breaking free from the iron grip of Baby Yoda at last, a process only expedited by Ahsoka, Skeleton Crew, and The Acolyte all debuting in the next year or so.
But we’ve known about all of those for years now—even if it takes a teaser these days to really believe a project is coming. The bigger question mark has been the future film slate, and only now do we finally know the name of the game there: something for everyone, with three new films announced in three disparate eras of the Star Wars timeline—one on the origins of the Jedi; one picking up Rey’s story after the sequel trilogy; and even one loosely adapting Heir to the Empire (imagine telling yourself that would happen after watching The Force Awakens!). Video games and publishing are also claiming distinct territory of their own, with The High Republic about to enter its third phase stronger and more prominent than ever; Jedi: Survivor delivering an improved continuation of Cal Kestis’s story and teeing up a likely third installment; and the newly announced open-world game Outlaws carving out a big new space during the original trilogy (hopefully) free from the entanglements of the movie characters.
With Eleven-ThirtyEight’s final days looming and the publishing schedule filling up rapidly, a group piece seemed like a good opportunity for the staff to speak their minds one last time independent of the demands of a solo article. The topic: with all these new projects on the horizon, what are you looking forward to the most? After years of uncertainty, what gives you (ugh) hope for the future of Star Wars? Here’s what they had to say.Read More
Late Monday night, a website named Above the Line reported that writer Damon Lindelof had “exited” the untitled Star Wars film project he’d previously been reported to be working on alongside Justin Britt-Gibson and director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.
I’d never heard of Above the Line before this week but they style themselves as a “trade”, akin to much more established publications like Deadline or Variety. I don’t know if they’re anywhere near as reliable as the more familiar trades, but I do know that their Twitter account only dates back to October and as of this writing they have exactly 898 followers. Just last week Lindelof himself openly expressed doubts about his desire to move forward with the project at the South by Southwest festival, so for him to have officially stepped away now is certainly a plausible notion.
But I’m not here to raise any doubts about the report—one that, by midday on Tuesday, had been backed up by Deadline itself. What’s interesting to me about this news is that, Lindelof’s own comments notwithstanding, he was never actually announced to be writing a Star Wars movie in the first place.
No, this saga began in the trades and was developed further by the trades, so I suppose it’s only fitting that a trade should end it. My question for you, beloved reader, is: did all this reporting produce anything of value for us, as fans, in any way?Read More
Four years ago, I attended Star Wars Celebration for the first time. Never having attended a real convention before, the months leading up to it were filled with a lot of uncertainly regarding hotels, passes, the survival of my car, and so on—some of which I documented here, actually. The biggest uncertainty, of course, the one that fed all the others, was money. Had I saved enough? Had I saved enough to enjoy myself? What if something went wrong?
To alleviate some of these concerns, I decided to ask you, our stylish and insightful readers, for assistance paying that year’s hosting bill. I originally intended to collect donations for a week, but by the third day I had to deactivate my PayPal link because I had collected enough to pay for not just that year’s hosting but for four years.
That level of support felt lovely, of course, but it brought with it a major sense of responsibility: I now had to earn all that support. With only one Star Wars movie left on the horizon at that time and Disney+ still a major question mark, could I keep Eleven-ThirtyEight going another four years? What the hell would Star Wars even be by the end of that time?
It also occurred to me, though, that those four years of funding would bring us to 2023, the year of the site’s tenth anniversary. If I could keep things going that long, justify all that faith you folks had expressed in us, that anniversary would be a great moment to put this whole thing to bed. That was still a long way off, of course, so I put a pin in it and got back to business.Read More