Tuesday, February 14, 2012

OT (Original Trilogy)?... OP (Oh, Please)

As the Star Wars saga begins its return to theaters in 3-D, many filmgoers and Star Wars enthusiasts can’t help be reminded of the initial disappointment they felt upon the original release of Episode I.

Back in 1999, it was common--if not expected--of any self-professed ‘real fan’, to take to the Internet and voice their anger and disapproval of the film.

Many felt George Lucas had destroyed their youthful sense of wonder, euthanized their favorite characters and, in some extreme cases, even raped their childhood (which suggests that their virgin snow-like purity was, for some reason, given over to Mr. Lucas to hold in his air-tight wall safe).

A similar reaction followed the fourth Indiana Jones film just a few short years ago.

After Episode I, the world would forever rue the name Jar-Jar. After Crystal Skull, fanboys began the constant regurgitation of the phrase, ‘Nuked the fridge.’ Still, another thing that emerged from the online critic crowds was their use of the term OT (Original Trilogy).

But, here’s the thing...

While the term is a part of the geek lexicon, it is often being used with the same clumsy inaccuracy as calling pizza a vegetable.

Whenever ‘OT’ is employed, whether in an article, an open letter that George Lucas will never read or via forums, it is commonly referring to either the Star Wars or Indiana Jones films. Two forum examples of this are:
 “Watch the OT, then tell your girlfriend there are no other Star Wars movies.” – user Librarian about Star Wars

“We got…the new film yet…fans who…loved the OT…hated the NEW film many years later.” – author Megatrends about Indiana Jones

Okay, let’s start with Star Wars.

Obviously, in this context, OT refers to episodes 4-6 simply because they are the first films released. The three films were, in fact, a traditional trilogy in that they followed one overall story arc, had a beginning, middle and an end. Key characters evolved over the three films to fulfill their own individual story arcs (ex: Luke goes from isolated and naïve to conflicted and tempted to realizing his full potential). With the release of Episode I, however, Star Wars ceased to be a trilogy. After the inclusion of Episodes 1-3, it became a sextet. There is no such thing as a Star Wars trilogy.

"Mmm, this many a trilogy is."

The continuing use of OT in reference to Star Wars is more an act of defiance.

It’s a way for fans to hold their breath, getting more and more red faced, just to show George Lucas that they would rather pass out from a lack of oxygen and hit their head on the nearest piece of furniture than to acknowledge Episodes I-III as part of the Star Wars canon.

The use of OT can also be a way for the speaker to separate themselves from those lesser Star Wars fans who, by their own sheer blunder of being born during the Clinton and Dubyah administrations, grew up with Episodes I-III. Imagine, the latter professes admiration for the armor design of, say, the Clone Wars-era Stormtroopers. This will almost guarantee a response by the ‘real fan’ about the ‘genius and practicality of the Stormtrooper armor of the,’ wait for it… ‘OT.’

"Mr. Lucas, can you tell us how many films make a trilogy?"

Much like how radical John Birchers on the right refer to Obama as socialist, Marxist or Kenyan, phrases help the speakers to separate themselves from a reality which they simply cannot accept. Star Wars fans referring to the OT are doing, more or less, the same thing.

So, instead of using an invalid, moot term like OT, below are some examples, suggestions really, that may better serve that purpose:

        SWFMBIRP – Star Wars Films Made Before I Reached Puberty

        MWJJGIHH – Movies Without Jar-Jar. God, I Hate Him

        FWHSGHSC – Films With Han Solo. God, He’s So Cool

        LCFTUMPE – Less Convoluted Films That Used More Practical Effects

        TMWTAKHTA – Three Movies Where The Actors Knew How To Act

When OT is used while referring to Indiana Jones, it always means Lost Ark, Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade. Crystal Skull is viewed as a lesser movie (and rightly so) and so is somehow excluded from the OT.

Does anyone see the problem with this?

The first three Indiana Jones movies, even if there only had been three films, cannot be considered a trilogy by any stretch of the imagination.

A trilogy, by its very nature, is one storyline separated into three parts. Much like how three points connect to form one shape, a triangle, three movies must work together cohesively to create one epic film. The original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series is a great example of three films that tell an overall story. But three individual movies rehashing the same characters does not make a trilogy by default: as in the case of Austin Powers, Naked Gun, or even Evil Dead.

"Wait, so this is the fourth movie of a trilogy... This makes my head hurt."

Founded in adventure serials, each Indiana Jones film is a standalone adventure with a single, consistent main character.

They do not attempt to narrate a beginning, middle or end of any grandiose story ark (misspelled on purpose). With the exception of a consistent main character, the movies exist on their own merit, begin and end their own storylines and only (if at all) show up in another film, not in an integral way, but merely as a wink to the audience. Crystal Skull, for many, was oozing with winks to the audience that were borderline obligatory (I don’t know how many letters were sent to Spielberg from the Marcus Brody Was Integral fan club, but their campaign was a rousing success!)

"You look familiar...are you a member of my "Marcus Brody Was Essential" Facebook page?

Most fans can log in to a fan forum and say that they are huge fans of the first three films, but were disappointed by the fourth and that’s fine. But by claiming the fourth film doesn’t match up to the ‘original trilogy’ is, well, awkward.

Indy is chased by a trilogy of natives

Maybe this is just a rallying about semantics and some readers are, in fact, anti-semantic. Maybe the gist or a well-placed ‘you know what I mean’ is enough to get across one’s point. Then again, maybe a speaker knowing what they’re saying is more apt to be heard, respected and invited to be friends on Facebook.

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