In the year of our Ford 2019, trying to make sense of people’s wildly divergent Star Wars opinions opens up a murky frontier of epistemological questions that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, in theaters now, only complicates all the more. Epistemology concerns the nature of knowledge and justified belief. I believe that people believe what they believe when they share their Star Wars opinions but I often wonder how they acquired those opinions in the first place. There’s a precedent for Jedi mind tricks in the Star Wars universe and it leaves me questioning whether some opinions were planted in people’s minds, Kenobi-style, or whether they were genuine reactions that people formed on their own. Like, “Hey, have you Change.org petitioners perchance been inceptioned by the Kremlin?” Or, “Hmm. You journos been getting all chummy with Rian Johnson, listening to him sing subliminal karaoke at film festival bars?”
Discussing Disney’s sequel Star Wars trilogy online is like venturing into a mad minefield decorated with the same bad blood as George Lucas’s prequel trilogy. As the young Lando Calrissian tells us in his Grammy-winning music video: this is America. When J.J. Abrams stepped back into the director’s chair for The Rise of Skywalker, there was always the lingering fear that a big ol’ landmine was planted right under that chair, just waiting to detonate. In 2015, Abrams rescued the franchise, restoring its cultural clout with the $2 billion success of The Force Awakens. Now, he’s essentially trying to re-rescue the franchise from a re-polluted water cooler. This translates visually when The Rise of Skywalker introduces an ocean moon that’s polluted with the wreckage of the second Death Star.
At this point, the Death Star flotsam might as well be symbolic of our childhoods. Post-1999, divisiveness has become the default state of the Star Wars brand. As someone who enjoyed every one of the new franchise entries from 2015 to 2018 — to varying degrees, mind you, and not without some caveats for each — I don’t necessarily believe there’s a secret cabal of critics clothed in Sith robes who are devoted to worshipping The Last Jedi. Nor do I believe that everyone who failed to be intellectually or emotionally engaged by The Last Jedi has been brainwashed by Russian trolls. I do, however, believe it’s possible to have your perception influenced by outside factors, just as I believe it’s possible for filmmakers like Abrams to have their approach to storytelling influenced by the weight of audience expectation.
Friends, Gungans, and fellow countrymen, if you’re reading this review, and you loved The Rise of Skywalker, and you don’t want to hear some know-nothing blogger with the little boy’s name of Joshua disparage it in any way, then this...
SPOILER ALERT: If you are among the few who haven’t actually watched Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries, this review contains a lot of details about what goes down in the sad big cat saga.
With Netflix poised in the coming days to cash in and crank the base up a notch with more Tiger King, it's time to come out and say it: I hate the Red State porn that is the crash and burn of Joe Exotic
The initial seven episodes of this septic and shallow patchwork of trademark infringement, sex, guns, labor exploitation, song, drugs, mullets, betrayal, animal activism, revenge, and a lot of big cats may be much binged over these weeks of coronavirus lockdown, but that doesn't mean it's actually worth watching.
Now, I get it, I sound like I'm just a dour critic who hates anything that isn't prestige premium cable or aspirational. C'mon man, you want to say, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is just so unbelievable, I can't look away.
I respectfully disagree, and in fact, propose Tiger King isn't just bad, but dangerous in a divided America persistently looking to reduce the other side to caricature.
In a presently ailing nation where TV is more voluminous and vital than ever, the truth is the March 20 launched Tiger King is a clawed white trash misery index. Gawking at some clearly fragile and damaged people like would-be reality TV star Exotic and their below the Mason-Dixon line antics, the series subsequently provides a cultural circus for those smug bicoastals under stay at home orders and screaming to rise up in moral superiority.
Essentially, the tale of big cat collector, self-styled Oklahoma zoo proprietor and 2016 Presidential candidate Exotic AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage and his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to have rival Carole Baskin knocked off by a hitman hired for $3,000, Tiger King is in that context more a zero-sum game, literally and figuratively, than hitting the zeitgeist.
Obviously, Netflix are pretty damn good at gauging and dragging the public mood over the years, as the likes of the then phenomenon of 2015's Making A Murderer or 2018’s Wild Wild Country prove. Yet, for all the attention it has drawn, this unfocused murder for hire exploration of sorts emerges as a bastard child of Cops, a million Dateline segments from the 1990s and Fox’s short-lived Murder in Small Town X reality show from 2001.
Not exactly the prestige product that the home of Roma, The Irishman and American Factory likes to brag about at award shows. Then again, with the knowledge that the Romans sold out the Colosseum every night feeding Christians to the lions, the bottom line based House of Hastings surely loves the subscription sign up that the currently incarcerated Maldonado-Passage and the accompanying motley gaggle of...
If nothing below suits your sensibilities, check out our guide to What You Should Watch On Streaming Right Now.
Schitt's Creek Comedy Central, Pop TV 8:00 p.m. — Fans of this cult-hit series should prepare to be wrecked as the sixth season winds down to an end. The good news is that beloved shows don't die in the streaming era, and Dan Levy is open to a reunion down the road. With self-isolation being the name of the game right now, this and the show's unintentional pandemic banger might truly end up being a collective viewing event.
Parasite Hulu, Wednesday — Alright, so this biting, social-class satire officially does not arrive on Hulu until midnight on Wednesday, but it's worth celebrating Bong Joon Ho's history-making masterpiece landing on a streaming service near you. The film received a hefty box-office bump after winning so many awards that the director apologized to Oscar engravers, so if you still haven't watched, shoot your shot now.
The Resident FOX, 8:00 p.m. — Derek's improvement falls into jeopardy when he suffers a severe complication, and Kit's afraid that this might be more evidence of Cain's cover-up.
The Conners ABC, 8:00 p.m. — Bev is spreading happiness through her finances and decides to fund Mark's coding camp tuition.
Bless This Mess ABC, 8:30 p.m. — Jacob's after-prom event sounds potentially dicey after Kay suggests that Rio and Mike step up as chaperones.
Empire FOX, 9:00 p.m. — Cookie and Lucious have Andre committed to a treatment facility following his breakdown. Meanwhile, Cookie's feeling guilty about Andre's whole situation and wonders how her own troubled history may have contributed.
For Life ABC, 10:00 p.m. — After Cassius put white supremacists in the hospital, Aaron comes to his defense, while Marie's having more feelings for Aaron.
The Last O.G. TBS, 10:30 p.m. — The third season begins for Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish's show about an ex-con attempting to readjust to the world after a 15-year prison stint.
Conan — Guest TBA
The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon — Kerry Washington, Russell Wilson, Ciara
A Little Late With Lilly Singh — Adam Rodriguez, Kelsey Cook
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah — Noah's reporting live from his couch, and naturally, the subject of the night will be the ongoing pandemic and social distancing.