Imagine a train wreck.
You can’t look away. There’s fire and destruction everywhere and the smell of burning metal in the air but you keep hoping that someone will hobble out. You watch, but for a long time tricks of light keep giving you hope and crushing it. Then, when all hope is gone, one person crawls out. That is the cartoon of Boba Fett in the Star Wars Holiday Special (seen here).
The purpose of the Noob, here on AFJ, is to look at the things that my generation may have missed, and explain what it is like for a millennial to experience it. With that said, I think we can all agree that the Star Wars Holiday Special is not good, no matter what generation is watching.
Despite this, there is one factor that I see which causes most of the problems in the Special and there is one redeeming quality outside the cartoon with Boba Fett (because we can all agree that was cool, like this Sideshow/Hot Toys animated Boba Fett (Pre-Order it here).
Sigh. It is hard to put all the bad into one factor, but I think the biggest problem is the narrative structure built around the three characters we can’t understand: Malla, Itchy, and Lumpy. It’s not entirely impossible to guess what they feel, like Chewie in the original trilogy, but not knowing exactly what they are saying does impact a story like this. I mean, the first 20 minutes (after the Han and Chewie intro) is just Wookiees talking to each other in a language no one in our galaxy understands.
The biggest problems facing the Special stems from this issue. Every transition into the weird songs comes from this family, and it is never clear why. It always leaves the audience with the thought, “what the hell is happening, and WHY?” This kind of story can work (see my review on the 2015 Marvel "Chewbacca" HERE), but this Special did not do it right. Why is this happening? Why is this HAPPENING?
Official quotes from the Star Wars Holiday Special from IMDB below.
It’s not just the songs; everything they cut away to (that isn’t the cartoon) leaves me with more questions. What is with the instructional video where the instructor keeps breaking down in the middle of every sentence? And in the end, why are they wearing the red robes? And does that mean they’re naked during the rest of the Special?!
Okay. I need to move on. This will just keep going if I don’t stop myself.
As odd as this sentence is: the Empire was the best part of the Special. This is the first time we see on screen the dark and terrible things the Empire does to the planets they control. Outside of blowing up Alderaan and their general Nazi-ishness in A New Hope, the Empire are the bad guys because we are told they are. (Then again, they do burn Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen…)
In the Special, The Empire is legitimately menacing. The way they corral Chewbacca’s family and search the house, you get glimpses of what the evil The Empire is capable of. It is frightening to see what some of these planets have been enduring while our heroes have been fighting and it gives the Rebel's cause emotional weight.
It’s just too bad that that emotional weight is engulfed in a garbage can on fire.
I am going to be completely honest with you: I just watched the Special and I cannot tell you what Life Day is about. By the end, I was so confused that I am not sure if I cared to understand anymore. As easy as it would be for me to go back to the video and replay the end, I can’t. I can’t do it again. At least not while the wound is so fresh.
All that being said, the Star Wars Holiday Special is an enigma wrapped in a lot of WTF moments. Yet, on November 17th next year I will probably be celebrating Life Day because it is too weird not to. Do you celebrate it? What is Life Day to you?
Let me know in the comments below. Watch the full Star Wars Holiday Special here on YouTube.
Hey! One last thing! Evan writes from a diner at the edge of the universe with surprisingly good wi-fi. Tweet at him @Indiecomicblog and look out for more of his articles here on AFJ.