Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy that Barely Resembles Our Own...

"After American Graffiti, George [Lucas] had wanted to do Apocalypse Now. George ... had worked on the script ... back in 1969.Then, when Warner Brothers backed out, the project was abandoned. It was still too hot a topic, the war was still on... and it just wasn't going to happen. So George considered his options [and] he decided, 'All right, if it's politically too hot as a contemporary subject, I'II put the essence of the story in outer space and make it in a galaxy long ago and far, far away'. Star Wars is George's transubstantiated version of Apocalypse Now. The rebel group were the North Vietnamese, and the Empire was the US"
-Walter Murch, editor of Apocalypse Now

"It's of course no accident that the current power elite (Spielberg, Lucas, Gates, Blair) belonged to the so-called counterculture of the 1960s. Capital, needless to say, is indifferent to individual human motivation, but happy slaves are better slaves, and the reprogramming of the way the master class thinks (about itself, about workers, about capital) has been crucial to the presentation of the multi-nationalised capital's current dominion as immutable fact. And George Lucas' 'transubstantiation' of Apocalypse Now into Star Wars is emblematic of the shifts in late capitalism since the 60s. The smooth transition from hippy to hyper-capitalist, from slacker hedonism to authoritarianism, from engagement to entertainment, retrospectively reveals what the punks knew so we when they cackled 'never trust a hippie'. Far from posing any threat to capitalism, the dope-smoking, soap-dodging rockers of the 60s were acting as capitalism's reserve army of exploiters, whose time spent at festivals and on the experimental avant-garde fringe did little or nothing to engineer lines of collective escape, but yielded instead resources for the new forms of enslavement that loom everywhere around us now. Exactly those likely to have 'approved' of Kubrick's critique of corporate-controlled environments in 1968 are now administering their own 'total control' systems, all the more sinister for their shirtsleeves 'informality', all the more enveloping because the bosses wire themselves into the circuit, flaunting their own self-exploitation as both inevitable and exemplary. As Deleuze and Guattari had it in Anti-Oedipus, "The bourgeois sets the example, he absorbs surplus value for ends that ... have nothing to do with his own enjoyment: more utterly enslaved than the lowest of slaves, he is the first servant of the ravenous machine, the beast of the reproduction of capital. 'I too am a slave'- these are the new words spoken by the master."- Mark Fisher, SF Capital, Transmat (2001)