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The fundamental problems with THE LAST JEDI.

Dear, Mr. Robert Meyer Burnett,

I am writing to you from the dark winters of, semi rural Ontario Canada. I don’t engage in social media terribly often, and due to poor internet I can’t view your content live. But I do get to see it on Youtube. I like your content, and while I do not always share your exact opinion, I like the cogent and thoughtful way you present it, and can therefore understand it and why you feel that way.

I am writing to with a slightly different take on The Last Jedi, and more specifically the arc of Luke Skywalker. I have seen just about every Youtube breakdown and critique of this film, (too many) my favorite being RedletterMedia comparing the structure to a calamity of errors ala National Lampoon’s Vacation. But none have share my specific view on it, and since you seem to like hearing different takes on things I hoped so share it.

Are there tonal problems with how Luke Skywalker is presented in THE LAST JEDI?

Now I am going to stick to the Skywalker arc, the problems with The last Jedi are Numerous and we have all picked them apart endlessly. And perhaps that picking is part of the problem. There are underlying thematic issues that drive that “Picking.” As is the case with Luke.

It’s Ironic that Rian Johnson made the Theme of Luke’s arc to be failure. Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, because that one decision was the failure to all fans, and a failure to understand the STAR WARS Theme that was right in front of him. If we keep the majority of the actual events of Lukes arc in the Last Jedi the exact same! (With a slight twist at the end!) And just Change the theme to FEAR, the whole thing can work.

Luke Skywalker is on that Island, (metaphorically, and literally,) because he is AFRAID. He is not afraid of Kylo Ren, He is not afraid of Snoke. He is afraid of himself. For a split second he gave into the Dark Side of the Force and ignited his lightsaber. He immediately stops himself, but it was too late. That split second was enough to destroy everything he loved and half the fucking galaxy!

So he cuts himself off, terrified of what he would become if he went out there Full of anger, and despair. The events could have played out the same, but had more impact. Ultimately he learns from Yoda that by cutting himself off because of Fear. His inaction is still servicing the Dark Side.

He could do the same force projection schtick with one tweak, We see him put everything he has into the projection and his form fades away during the fight with Kilo Ren, Which allows Luke to physically block the Lightsaber, They lock blades Luke winks at him and vanishes.

So that’s my not-so-hot take.

So many of the issues of the film could have been solve by subtle tweaks and a little follow through on the actual ideas they were presenting. They had a poor underlying ethos, driving all decisions that came after.

But that leads into another small notion I have regarding the Star Trek and Star Wars Brand failures thus far, and it is that the word… Brand is the problem. Disney and Bad Robot \Secret Hideout, see these properties as a brand.

They see the certain trappings as Markers of that brand and believe that without paying lip-service to those surface level elements, then people won’t recognize that brand. The problem is these properties aren’t BRANDS! They are mythologies!

To properly make new stories that fit, and please the Fans, you have to be a shepherd of that mythology. You have to guide it into new territory, understanding that it will be affected by what has come before. They fundamentally don’t understand that aspect, and keep trying to slap Star Wars or Star Trek Stickers on top of stories that don’t add to or respect the properties they are supposed to represent.

Sadly in the case of Star Trek they could have gotten the fans onboard from the start if they just were upfront and honest, and told everyone That the Prime Universe was actually an alternate timeline to the Berman era Trek. I mean it is the truth, they should have had more respect for the intelligence of Star Trek Fans and ran with it. But fans don’t matter to a brand, they already buy in, brands want new buyers, and they shift in whatever way is necessary to get them.

Anyways I have bored you enough. Thanks for all the Work you do, I’ll keep listening. Hopefully one day one of your Star Trek Projects will see the light of day. I would like to watch it.

Hope You Have Great 2021.
Nick C.

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Fear and loathing in the Alpha Quadrant and in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.

Hello Rob. Thanks for reading my previous letters. Recently I found myself thinking about the current state of some popular franchises and a quote from Kylo Ren popped into my mind: “Let the past die, kill it if you have to.” When I thought about that line from The Last Jedi, it hit me that we are witnessing the line in action.

Are today’s showrunners of our favorite franchises intentionally trying to destroy them?

Look at Star Trek Picard as an example; the show feels like it is openly hostile to Star Trek history. The presentation of the Federation is nothing like it was in TNG or Deep Space Nine. The ideals, values and virtues of the Federation were replaced with a violent, dystopian philosophy that left lots of fans confused.

Ok, I’m being too nice. The violence, gloomy atmosphere and swear words angered lots of fans, myself included. Nothing about the show feels like it’s predecessors and I think that’s the point. Why honor a history when you can destroy it?

Remember ‘let the past die, kill it if you have to’?

Going forward Rob, how will you think of Seven of Nine? As she was portrayed on Voyager or how was portrayed on Picard?

Star Wars wasn’t safe from this either. Anakin Skywalker no longer has an arc. His act of heroism in Return of the Jedi didn’t defeat the Emperor because Palpatine survived. Once Palpatine escapes to Exegol, Anakin’s entire story from episodes 1-6 is rendered meaningless.

Then again, what did his son accomplish? According to episode 7, The First Order somehow rose after The Rebellion won. I guess they did it right under Luke’s nose. And Leia’s. And Han’s. And the entire New Republic. Wow, those rebel heroes really accomplished a whole lot. Instead, Rey took their entire story.

Rey defeated Palpatine, not Anakin. Rey brought balance to The Force. Rey saved the galaxy from tyranny and oppression, not The Rebel Alliance. Rey will train new Jedi, not Luke. Rey had Force powers even Yoda and Obi-Wan didn’t possess, like healing. ‘Let the past die, kill it if you have to’.

Our favorite franchises are in a weird place Rob. Writers and producers who seem to have open, transparent disdain for them are in charge of them. Unfortunately, I doubt this will end well.

Sure, there’s some hope with The Mandalorian. Not sure there’s much hope though and that’s a shame.

Thanks and take care.
Jermaine K.

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How should the Academy Awards change during the “year of COVID”?

Hi Rob and to the Post Geek Singularity.

I am writing this letter to explain my state about why the Oscars should still happen even though there’s not a lot of films in the year 2020. Although I would say that it is not worth it to debate if the Oscars should still happen because the Oscars will still happen and if it will get cancelled, they would have done it now. I applaud the Academy for going with the classic showbiz mantra “The show must go on.”

How will the Academy Awards change this year to accommodate the way COVID-19 has effected the entertainment industry?

The number one issue about the Oscars is how they will do the ceremony. The Academy has hired the producers for the ceremony which includes Steven Soderbergh. Knowing Soderbergh, I can sense that the ceremony will be a bit innovative.

It’s too early to call if the ceremony will be in-person or possibly virtual. The Academy and the producers haven’t made a final call yet on that. There were reports that they are contemplating an in-person ceremony, but the Academy itself hasn’t confirmed anything so let’s not speculate about how the ceremony will happen. But given that Soderbergh is involved, I trust that whatever their decision is will be a good one.

The main issue is that there’s not a lot of films during the year 2020. Most of the films went to streaming or PVOD. But let’s not dismiss them because there were still films released in 2020 and looking back, there were a LOT of great films released in that year and remember, the eligibility has been extended to the end of February so there’s still a lot more coming.

I know, the competition will be much different since there are lesser films. If it’s a normal year, will the set of awards season contenders be much different? Definitely. But we have to honor those films in 2020. We just have to. We have to honor those filmmakers and other creatives who worked hard in those films. The next Oscars will also be a reflection of the year 2020.

If we will look back in that ceremony in the future, it’s going to be like a time capsule of what happened in that year. Plus they could turn the ceremony into a celebration of how films became a comfort for people during the pandemic. And given the difficulties that the movie theater businesses are facing, they could also celebrate the magic of theatrical experience and encourage people to go back to theaters once the pandemic is over or everyone is vaccinated.

As for the films, yes, there were still some considerable amount of films released in 2020. Look at the top 10 lists of film critics, that alone proved to me that there were a lot of 2020 films that are worth honoring. Also, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle were still able to have their annual awards. The Gotham Awards announced their nominees. Regional critics groups are also still giving awards.

2020 films weren’t just consists of Netflix films like Mank and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom or Tenet or Soul or The Invisible Man or Wonder Woman 1984 or Borat Subsequent Moviefilm or Mulan. There are also films like Promising Young Woman, News of the World, On the Rocks, Sound of Metal, Palm Springs, The Life Ahead (which has Sophia Loren returning to the big screen), Shirley, Ammonite, Minari, Nomadland, I’m Your Woman, Pieces of a Woman, French Exit, The Father, One Night in Miami, Let Them All Talk, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, The Nest, Supernova, Emma, and many more.

There are also January and February 2021 releases like The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Cherry, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and Malcolm and Marie. In my paper, there were still some great amount of films in the eligibility period and a lot are still worth honoring. I don’t know if you all have seen most of those films but you might have to check some of them especially once the nominations for the major awards ceremonies roll out.

That is all my letter for now. I really really still believe that the Oscars should still happen no matter what. And we can debate all we want about it but it will still happen anyways this coming April especially since a lot of films are now mounting their campaigns.

Let’s just celebrate the 2020 films. They all entertained us during these hard times. Whatever ceremony Soderbergh and others will come up with, I’m sure it will obviously be unusual from the previous ceremonies but I think they will find a way to make it work.

Anyways, thank you for reading and stay safe.
Mike F.

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An unconventional proposition to rescue the film exhibition business – and we mean EXHIBITION in every sense of the word.

Greetings, Rob,

I’ve been meaning to send this letter along for a bit. It’s in regards to the pickle the theater industry has found itself in. That said, I’m sure we can all agree that the jury is still out as to what’s actually going to happen here. But this is one suggestion I have if streaming becomes the industry standard for studios.

You want to do WHAT to our movie-going experience?

I think if this happens, then theaters will have to adapt and offer an experience that can’t be had anywhere else. I think movie theaters should be the new home for upscale X-rated films. Kind of like what they thought would happen in the 70’s after the premiere of “Behind the Green Door.” Only with A-level talent.

I mean, seriously, wouldn’t you like to see an erotic, hard-core performance by Michael Fassbender and wife Alicia Vikander? Or Emily Blunt and John Krasinski? Or Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman (whooops, we almost got that, didn’t we in “Eyes Wide Shut”).

Ideally, this would be mature, adult takes on sexuality, ethics, morals, social moors. It would be a safe space for adults. Let the kiddies stay home and watch curated entertainment.

Clearly, drinks and hors duerves would be complimentary. People would get dressed up in suit and tie and afterwards, there may be some spirited discussion of the evening’s events.

I know this is almost a fantasy that people could engage in this manner, but what a thought, eh? I really don’t want America to regress into a society of adult children.

You see I am almost 60 years old and grew up in the deep south. It’s ironic that while the culture I grew up in was quite prudish, the citizens were quite sophisticated when it came to the mechanics of sex.

“Why is that?” you ask? Because farming communities are masters of animal husbandry. And animal husbandry is the same as human husbandry. You would have kids basically arranging sexual congress between animals. Watch animals give birth. I knew 15 year olds who had to castrate pigs BY HAND with a straight razor.

So, while parents wouldn’t talk to their kids about sex, they were constantly talking about other mammals having sex. As I said, we were remarkably knowledgeable about the act.

Well, that’s one suggestion.

What do you think?
David M.

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It seems harder than ever to become immersed in the “worlds” of our favorite TV shows and movies.

Hi Rob, moderators, and Post Geek Singularity,

This is something I’m debating with myself about, since I don’t know if I’m right.

Something, now, I find lacking in movies and tv, is a sense of escapism, even if I find a modern movie and tv show good. What I mean is, even if I end up enjoying a movie or tv show now, I don’t find myself feeling as though it is escapist entertainment.

In television, for example, when I watch a more modern show like Stranger Things or Queen’s Gambit, even though I did end up liking them, I don’t feel as though they are escapist entertainment. However, when I watch older shows like I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Perry Mason, and the original Twilight Zone, for example, I find them to be escapist entertainment, and feel I’m completely immersed in those shows’ worlds.

I’m not sure why.

It’s like that with movies. Even if I end up liking modern movies, such as A Quiet Place, Knives Out, Force Awakens, and most of the MCU movies, for example, I don’t see them as escapist entertainment. With Star Wars, for example, I felt the sense of escapism faded away with all the movies, starting with Return Of The Jedi and going forward, despite enjoying Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story. It was only with A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back where I felt true escapism.

Older films are where I feel true escapism like Bringing Up Baby, Sabrina, Roman Holiday, Double Indemnity, Maltese Falcon, The Adventures Of Robin Hood, Godfather 1 and 2, the first 3 Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Terminator 1 and 2, Back To The Future, and Die Hard, just to name some examples. As with tv, I don’t know why I feel a lack of escapism with modern movies, but feel more immersed with the worlds of older movies.

That was just something I was thinking about. As I said earlier, this is something I am debating with myself about, since I don’t know if I’m right.

Thanks, live long and prosper.
Omar

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