Friday, August 25, 2017

Top 10 Worst Star Wars Characters

Star Wars is a great film series, but it's had its fair share of terrible characters - and not all of them have been in the prequels. This list is not meant to show that George Lucas is selfish and hates his fans (I've heard of Star Wars fans who think that) but, rather, that in all eras of Star Wars (movies, TV shows, expanded universe) there are terrible characters that lack creativity in their creation.

10. The Guavian soldiers, or as they're better known, the "Target troopers" from Episode VII.
Target seems to love their Star Wars as much as their megaphone-wielding moms, and the Guavian soldiers from The Force Awakens just feel like product placement in their character design - all red, but with a design that looks like a Target logo on their head.

9. Jar Jar Binks. I actually don't think he's that bad, but I'm pretty sure that if I didn't put him on this list, Star Wars fans would stop reading my blog. Jar Jar may have ruined the movie franchise, though I don't think so. I also don't want to share any more of my feelings on the prequels, for fear that they may be controversial with Star Wars fans.

8. Snoke, if he turns out to be someone we've seen before. If Snoke is really what any popular fan theory says he is, that automatically puts Snoke on my list. Snoke needs to just be Snoke. If Snoke is revealed to be something like, say, Mace Windu, he's automatically worse than Jar Jar Binks. Snoke needs to have an original backstory.

7. All Hutts not named Jabba or Rotta. Jabba's the original Hutt, and Rotta is the cutest little thing, but now we have Hutts like Ziro from Clone Wars and Graballa from Freemaker Adventures, which speak in high-pitched voices. But neither are the worst Hutt character in Star Wars. That would have to be Huttfield. Huttfield is from Jedi Academy #4: A New Class by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. A comic strip featuring Huttfield, parodying Garfield, appears throughout the book. I couldn't find a picture of Huttfield, but he's essentially Garfield drawn as a Hutt.

6. Yoda. Or rather, Yoda as Jarrett J. Krosoczka draws him. Yoda isn't a bad character unless he's drawn like this...
That doesn't even look like Yoda. And you thought Jeffrey Brown's drawing of Yoda from the first three Jedi Academy books didn't look like Yoda.
Once you see Brown's Yoda, it starts to look more like Yoda because Krosoczka's Yoda looks nothing like the real Yoda.

5. Boss Nass. Only Gungan worse than Jar Jar Binks. He is a computer-animated bizarro that spits up phlegm. Who thought that would be funny?
Oh wait, George Lucas did. I do admit Boss Nass is one of the major things wrong with Episode I, and think that he could have been better if he were made with practical effects, didn't spit all over people, and had a different voice.

4. Lieutenant Valeria. This completely unnecessary rebel pilot character from The Freemaker Adventures Lego TV series is mainly on the list because I'm convinced she has the same voice as the infamous jive-talking Lowes refrigerator magnet giraffe, who is already racist and sexist. She's completely unnecessary because they could have easily given her parts to Luke so we could get more Luke instead of the Lowes giraffe's vocal doppelganger.

3. Gonk droids. Let's leave it at this: They are a wastebasket with legs. Even the background characters in Star Wars should be creative, as proven in some Star Wars material, but not others. The gonk droids violate this detailed agenda that I hold Star Wars to. And what sound do gonk droids make? "Gonk, gonk, gonk." If George himself came up with the concept of the gonk droid, then that may explain why I hold him to a lower standard than Lauren Greenfield, who I recently sent my screenplay "Fearless Girl" to. (Click on "Lauren" to read "Fearless Girl".)

2. Gormaanda, the four-armed alien Julia Child parody from the 1981 Star Wars Holiday Special. The fact that it's from the Holiday Special, which George Lucas, creator of Boss Nass and gonk droids, doesn't want the fans to see and is ashamed of making, explains why this character is #2, as well as the fact that it's a four-armed alien Julia Child parody.

1. Becky Smoochenbacher. Here's the story behind Becky, from the Freemaker Adventures Lego TV series: She was Zander Freemaker's girlfriend, then she goes and joins the Empire, then she rescues the Freemakers on the second Death Star in the last episode of Season 2. You know it when she's coming, you can tell the mystery Death Star guard in the last episode is Becky. And when she takes off her helmet, she's hilariously objectified - her hair blows a little, she even waggles her Lego rear end a little. HOW DID THEY GET AWAY WITH THAT? This is startlingly sexist! And her last name is Smoochenbacher, implying that women are for smooching and/or this character only exists to be smooched. Becky is the anti-Rey. 

But good news - I am counteracting sexism with my screenplay "Fearless Girl", which you can read, see my letter to Lauren Greenfield about, and see Lauren's ad that provided the basis for the story by clicking on her name. Enjoy my screenplay, free of the simplicities of gonk droids, the product placement of the Target troopers, the lazy backstory Snoke might have.

And if you're begging me for a Snoke theory, I don't exactly have one yet. Unless he's President Trump. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

An American Carol: A Short Story for Tough Political Times

In the year 2026, a corrupt president not named Donald Trump, whose political party we will not tell, sits in the Oval Office closing up work for the day. He closes down work on his presidential actions, all of which have been much worse than Trump's. He has banned immigration outright. He has raised taxes on non-white males. He has even bribed Congress to let him off the hook numerous times, even after he has assaulted other people. He's even bombed his own nationally treasured locations and framed the people he resents.

He is hated by his own country. He has become unpopular in a way Donald Trump never was. His impeachment is only prohibited by his repeated bribes to Congress not to impeach him. Unpopular with even his own party, he has brought out greed and jealousy in the political system.

He does not think highly of Trump, but only because even Trump is not nearly as xenophobic and unpopular as he, and to an extent his country, is.

He finishes his work for the day, self-absorbed as always, ready to give a speech about how great he and his country are on the country's 250th, July 4th, 2026, the very next day. He strides off to his bedroom. He lives alone in the White House, no woman - or man - wanted him. He goes to bed, getting undressed, looking forward to his big day tomorrow.

He's drifting off to sleep when he hears a voice. He looks up in shock. There, in front of him, is a slightly transparent man in a suit and tie. The president is speechless.

The figure then speaks to him in a creaky voice. "Hello, Mr. President. Tonight you will be visited by three spirits. Each shall show you the consequences of your actions."
"Who are you?" the President asks.
But the man in the suit and tie fades away as soon as he came. The President drifts off, wondering if it was a former president, going back to sleep.

He wakes up hours later to another voice, a voice he recognizes, as that of an American president from fifteen years prior.
"Barack Obama!" he exclaims, reaching for his treasured gun he keeps by his bedside, looking up, then seeing a similarly transparent Obama.
"What's a darvog like you doing here?" Now, if you don't know, "darvog" was a racial slur for African-Americans that the President had invented, thinking the "n-word" was too overused.
"I am not Barack Obama," he says. "I am the Ghost of America Past. I will take you back in time twenty years to the year 2006, back when you were not as corrupt."
"I have never been corrupt!" the President retorts. But then he is swept out of his bed, and finds himself watching his own self in 2006, in an office in a skyscraper adorned with his name, a much younger version of himself.
This younger President, not President yet, calls in his aide. "I'd like to make a hire," the younger President says. "Find poor, homeless people who need a job. I'd be happy to hire them."
With a wave of his hand, the Ghost of America Past, still standing by the President, activates a TV, which says "This is CNN" and is giving a report on how the younger President's business is "the most welcoming, diverse, accepting business in America." Then the news graphic shifts to say, "Is he only doing it for publicity?"
The President turns to the Ghost of America Past to answer the question the CNN anchors have posed, but he is gone. Then the President is sleeping, in his bed once again.

A little later, he is awake. A Congressman stands in front of him. The Congressman is slightly transparent as well. "President!" he yells. "Wake up!"
The President awakens. "I am the Ghost of America Present," he says. "Come with me to the border with Mexico, where stands the wall our former president Trump conceptualized, but you finally built."

And then, the President watches the border wall perform its function. He sees Mexicans, risking their lives to get over it, saying, in Spanish, which the President can somehow understand, that they will risk anything to get into this land of hope and opportunity. "Wait until they see how much opportunity awaits them in America," he says.
"There will be opportunity," says the shimmering Congressman, "but only without you. You built the wall. You raised their taxes. You made it against the law for any company to hire them. And you are proud of this?"
"I am," the President says. "I have made America safe."
"In this day and age," says the Ghost of America Present, "your opposition comes from protesters, from people disgruntled with all politics, from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. No one can do anything about you holding office. You've bribed your supporters into the Congressional majority."
"[Expletive deleted] the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and their pledge drives," the President says. "My IQ is the highest ever recorded and they should know not to make war with me."
"Now see," the Ghost says, "that American flags are hung at half mast. People are hanging their own flags at half mast to mourn those you have persecuted."
The President sees the flags at half-mast, looking around at them, seeing the people who have hung them. He turns to the Ghost. "Have I made my own country unpatriotic?" he asks.
"Let me put it this way," the Ghost says. "Fireworks displays tomorrow night are getting canceled because no one wants to celebrate a country run by an idiot."
The President readies to assault the Ghost, but he is back in his bed, and the Ghost of America Present is gone.

It is almost morning. The President wakes up again. A third man stands in the doorway. As this third man strides toward him, the President realizes it is none other than his much older self.
"Are you the Ghost of America Future?" he asks.
The Ghost does nothing but point, and the President finds himself in the year 2046.

America is stricken with poverty. Washington is in ruins. American flags are torn. Worse yet, the prisons are full of women, non-whites, non-Christians, immigrants, and LGBTs. America has been torn apart - by a genocidal war the President has brought about.
"And what of me?" the President asks.
The Ghost of America Future leads him to Arlington National Cemetery. Catching on, the President asks, "Where is my grave? Have I died?"
The Ghost finally speaks. "You died after sixteen years as dictator," he says, "and now I, being you, have been dead, but not properly buried, for none mourn my loss."
"What of the rest of the world?" asks the President.
"All the other nations of the world are even more dreary than America is now."
"Because you nuked them all."
And then, the President fell to his knees and screamed, blinked, and found himself in his own bed.

The President awakened. It was morning, July 4th. He got dressed quickly and ran to his Chief of Staff. "Call everyone who stands before the eighteenth in line for presidential succession," he says, "and tell them they must resign. You will resign. I will resign. The Vice President will resign. The Speaker of the House will resign. The whole cabinet will resign."
"And who will become president?" asked the Chief of Staff.
The President holds up a picture of a woman in a burqa. "She will."
"But she wasn't even born in America, and she's trans!" the Chief of Staff exclaims.
"That's what I want for my country," the President says. "I have acted above the law and executed many unconstitutional actions. I have acted too supreme. I have done wrong. I was shown the past, the present, and the future last night, and if I stay in office, I will be a danger to the world and to the goal of peace America stands for."

That night, as fireworks are readied on the National Mall, and a large crowd gathers, the newest President of the United States, a Muslim transgender woman, stands on the steps of the Capitol. She addresses her country, the first President of her kind in so many ways. The first transgender president. The first Muslim president. The first woman president. The first president that does not belong to a political party.
The fireworks light up the sky above the Tidal Basin, the Washington Monument, above all of America. Now it is the xenophobes who seek to leave America.
For one night, America basks in the fireworks as one, watching as one, all as one community. As they go off, loudly, but not blocking out the new President's speech, the old President hands over his title. He steps down with dignity. He accepts his replacement with dignity rather than disdain.

The protesters' cries have been answered, and America is finally great for the first time in 250 years.

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