Rumors about James Franco being in the new Star Wars
Dear James Franco:
I’m starting a rumor about you. I’m telling everyone—friends, family, students, colleagues, police officers, pot dealers, mailmen, the guys at Valvoline, and my psychiatrist—that James Franco will be in the next Star Wars trilogy.
Sadly, we both know that Disney won’t cast you. This isn’t to suggest that you’re a sub-par actor—I’m a loyal fan of your films. But, I’ve heard rumors that Disney’s looking for all new people. If, on the other hand, they realize a need for at least one famous actor to keep the novices humble and terrified, you’d be the best match for a variety of reasons.
One thing’s for certain: nobody wants to see Disney repeat the mistakes of the past. Episodes I-III suffered from the most pitiful casting. The actors and actresses were too fucking pretty. Anakin, for example, carried the appearance of a worry-free and well-groomed kid who’d grown up in Hollywood Hills, the kind of teen who hangs around Hot Topic all day and whose only complaint in life is that his wealthy parents make him get monthly pedicures. He was too symmetrical, too ideally white, too emotionally synthetic. To the contrary, Luke Skywalker looked like a kid who slaved sixty hours a week at a toilet paper mill in a country with no child labor laws.
Hell, even the evil monsters and alien races in the prequels looked pretty. The excessive CGI interference eradicated the bodily and atmospheric grittiness that was integral to the mood of episodes IV-VI; in effect elevating the most ghastly sights to shining beauty. I won’t bemoan the cartoonish visual effects because everyone else has claimed that critical real estate, but I’ll venture to say that had Lucas abandoned his compound, had he taken a year off to dig ditches in Mexico, had he chosen to reenter reality, the cartoonish veil that obfuscated his perception would have withered away, and he would have returned to Skywalker Ranch, demanding, “Get rid of the nonsensical CGI! It looks stupid!” If Disney has any sense, they’ll shut off the damned computers, rip down the green screen, and build some fucking puppets. More so, they’ll cast actors who have zits, disproportional faces, short legs, fucked up ears, whatever.
Now, as for you being the one celebrity who will hold everything together, I have some theories. Your acting style, charisma, and look doesn’t accord with my conception of the ideal Star Wars character type, but you’d be a strong match because, well, the role would reinforce the mystery and magic of James Franco. It’d be fertile ground for your masterful duplicity. Not only does James Franco fly planes and get published in Ploughshares, he’s also in Star Wars!
Who will you play? Devon Scott Solo, the son of Han.
I imagine you’re flexing your muscles in front of the mirror now. You’re saying, “Yeah, that’s me, Devon Scott Solo. A badass like my dad.”
Wrong, James. Wrong, wrong, wrong. See, if I let you play the badass, what’ll happen is this: you’ll end up playing the role of James Franco playing the role of a badass. You will subvert the character, and elevate the actor. That was a problem with Lucas’ last three: the actors were playing the actors. Hell, the entire movie was performing itself as a Star Wars movie. There wasn’t any soul, it wasn’t authentic. It wasn’t even a mirror image of Star Wars. It was an approximation of the idea of Star Wars, rendered in second-hand synthetic polymers and producing as much visceral and emotional substance as a broken urinal.
If we make you a badass, we’re repeating Standardized Lucas Misconception No. 193: the image is equal to the soul.
Listen, I know how to make this work, and I’ve plotted it out.
Anna Trov, from the TV series Fringe, will play Alyssa Solo. No weird character names this time. Nothing that attempts to appease white-guilt by employing semi-ethnic names, like Padme or Mace Windu or Qui-Gon.
Standardized Lucas Misconception No. 6: if you make everything seem ethnically diverse, all will be happy.
Not quite. Lucas and Co. ended up creating overly-explicit, two-dimensional “racial templates,” which did nothing but transmit stereotypes. In my version, we’re going America. No shame. If we’re going to have ethnic characters, their racial and ethnic “otherness” will NOT be their primary feature.
Alyssa Solo gets to be the badass. You get to be the weird dork.
My idea for the movie itself—and your role in it—is a little more complicated. First: the title. Had George Lucas retained control, we might have seen titles like:
Episode VII: The Evil Glove Thief
Episode VIII: Let’s Try That New Restaurant Instead
Episode IX: The Gross Mist Turns Yellow
I needn’t put too much brain power into this. The name has to be campy and cliché (Like A New Hope) but must also appeal to current concerns and superstitions. Off the cuff, Episode VII will be called The Intangible Terror. Yeah, that’s a mouthful of butt, but I’m sticking with conventions.
Onward. Let’s talk about the plot. The most efficient way for me to communicate the “ground state” of what’s been going on in the post-Return of the Jedi universe is to write out what viewers would see in the opening crawl, the text that explains the backstory and context:
A long time ago in a galaxy, far
THE INTANGIBLE TERROR
After the Thirty Year Reconstruction, the Republic enters a period of great prosperity. The Department of Energy creates a technology that can transport matter over great distances, instantaneously. Entrepreneurs capitalize on the technology, called the A-temporal Locked Higgs Vector Reposition Antagonizer (ALHVRA) and the galactic economy booms.
Let’s take a brief aside, and talk about America. While in the 1970s and 1980s, the average American was intelligent enough to understand simple analogies, things are different now. During the years between the release of Return of the Jedi and now, a significant portion of the American population has lost their critical-thinking capacities, for various reasons. Therefore, it would be in everyone’s interest if we at Disney simply point out, in advance, the otherwise overt correlations between the film’s content/world and what’s happening in America today. The current state of affairs in the Star Wars galaxy is analogous to the 1990s under the Clinton administration. See the connection? The ALHVRA industry resembles the .com industry. Also, as you watch this film, keep in mind that the original Star Wars trilogy was created during the Cold War, and is deeply influenced by the Cold War mentality and world-view. Back then, our standard ideologically-constructed assessment of the world relied on, reinforced, and perpetuated binary modes of categorization: Capitalism vs. Communism, Good vs. Bad, Rebel Alliance vs. Evil Galactic Empire, Jedi vs. Sith, and so on. In our Post-Cold War era, binary systems of categorization have proved to be unstable. We are in an age of skepticism, ambiguity, when “good” and “bad” are no longer purported to be “essential qualities,” but mutable attributes that arise from specific historical and sociological contingencies and contexts. Our enemies are invisible, abstract; they’re systems rather than individuals, they’re memes, they’re nebulous, they’re ideologies that come as quickly as they go. This is what happens when Disney hires a curmudgeonly Literary Theorist to write the opening crawl.
In any case, Supreme Chancellor Miles Skywalker has recently addressed the Congress about his growing concern that the Republic will repeat the errors of the past, insofar as the old Republic—and especially its guardian Jedi Council– had relied on technology too much, which led to their vulnerability and inevitable destruction. Skywalker calls for a “purist” counterbalance to the new technological revolution—a return to the organic. And, most importantly, he advocates a revival of Jedi training academies; academies devoid of technology.
I’m not going to give you the entire plot, but I will provide a synopsis of the first few scenes.
The film begins with Alyssa, not you. Alyssa is a drug distributor who goes by the alias Jane Goldschmidt. She transfers products from Tatoonie cartels to regions where drugs are legal, like Cloud City. Viewers won’t know that Alyssa’s a criminal right away; they’ll see her in action and assume she’s a Jedi. While picking up a delivery on Tatoonie, she’s taken hostage by the Grodian (Greedo people) cartel, and their leader, Marissa Walters. Marissa has discovered “Jane’s” true identity, and plans to ransom her. Marissa wants an ALHVRA infrastructure built on Tatoonie in exchange for Alyssa. Recently, when the technology went public, the Republic prohibited ALHVRA development on Tatoonie because of the planet’s lawlessness.
Alyssa attempts to use Jedi powers to free herself, but she fails. She a totally fucking inept Jedi. Leia and Han had her trained under Luke, but Luke kept catching her snorting crystallized Tusken-Raider feces, which makes you trip balls for a month. Alyssa makes a second attempt at freedom, and tries to seize Marissa Light Saber telepathically, but ends up ripping off all of Marissa’s clothes. Now, if you know anything about Jawas, those tiny Tatoonian hooded fuckers with dark faces and shiny eyes, you’ll know that the second they smell genitals—male or female, but preferably female—they freak the hell out. As Marissa slaps Alyssa around, the doors and windows blow open, and hundreds of aroused Jawas flood in, their erections lifting their cloaks up above their knees. They surround Marissa.
Yeah, that’s gruesome. But if we want these films to resonate with our current ideological beliefs and proclamations of truth, Marissa needn’t worry. She won’t get pregnant. The force works in such a way that the Grodian body naturally converts Jawa sperm into vitamin B-12 enhanced spring water. As for Marissa’s dignity, well, for one, according to the force, it was her destiny, and you can’t argue that. She might need some psychological assistance to overcome the trauma, but that won’t happen. Had Marissa chosen a more lucrative and legitimate line of work, had she pulled herself up by her bootstraps when she was younger, she’d have a job with a health plan. The fact is, Marissa chose laziness.
Not that it matters, anyway. Alyssa stabs her nine times in the neck, and butchers the rest of Grodians. She pilfers everything—the money from the safe, the twenty crates of Tusken-Raider turds—and get back on her ship. She flies to Cloud City, sells the shit to a pharmacist, and comes out looking very wealthy.
But, back at Solo estate, Devon—that’s you–is watching a holographic news report about the cartel massacre on Tatoonie. You beckon Han. Han doesn’t believe it’s Alyssa’s doing. You offer to hack into Alyssa’s droid. “No,” says Han. “Let her be. We’ve tried enough already, and we’re done enabling her.”
That night, while Han and Leia are attending the State of the Republic Address (given by Admiral Miles Skywalker), you steal a cargo ship, and make way for Cloud City in an effort to intervene on Alyssa. As you fly through space, you see a green light flashing in the distance.
From Cloud City, Alyssa sees the same flashing in the sky.
All around the galaxy, civilizations look skyward at the mysterious green lights.
Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker, in a wheelchair, watches his son address the congress. Luke looks half-dead, like a zombie. His caretaker wheels him out, and back to his room. The caretaker puts Luke in bed, then leaves. Once the door is shut, Anakin’s ghost appears. He has some Taco Bell.
“It’s calling us, Luke,” he says, handing Luke a steak burrito.
“The dark side?”
“No. This is neither dark nor light.”
“Did you get extra hot sauce this time?”
“Shit!” says Anakin.
“Dad, you always forget! Anyway, tell me, what it is….”
Here’s where I stop, James. All jokes aside, I think Disney needs to reconceptualize what we mean when we say “enemy.” Think of the “terrorists,” if you will. Terrorism is an abstraction—like a quantum particle, it cannot be located with precision. Occasionally, just like quantum particles, the terrorists emerge out of intangible probabilities and manifest as a material things. They are always nowhere, but have the potential to appear anywhere, and are therefore everywhere. Not only does the idea of terrorism obey quantum laws of emergence, but it is conceptually ever-present. The collective fear of elusive terrorists perpetuates its own existence.
That’s the kind of enemy Star Wars needs. Plus, we can’t let the force defeat this one. The force is a spiritual power (and fuck George Lucas for his Calvinistic biological-determinism explanation of how the force works… that drivel in Episode I. We’ll just forget that ever happened). Tell me, in our world, how effective is spirituality against massive, evil threats? It’s one thing to pray for your sick friend, and another to pray for the mass eradication of homophobia. Prays aren’t going to defeat homophobia. Education will.
Now, in terms of character, it’d be ironic to see Luke freak the fuck out. I wouldn’t want him to be a major character in this film, but imagine if Luke fell under the impression that the only way to defeat this nebulous enemy is to embrace the dark side? Darth would have been right: “It is your destiny!” Even better, the ghost of Anakin would have to save Luke.
That’s too much though. This movie is about Devon, Alyssa, and a slew of new people.
And you, James Franco, will rock this shit.