John Hodgman’s ‘Star Wars’ screenplay
The new Star Wars films are the talk of the geekosphere these days. One doesn’t have to go very deep into daily newsfeed to encounter new set photos of the Millennium Falcon or cryptic messages from director J.J. Abrams. While it’s certainly exciting that we’re getting new live action adventures set in the Star Wars universe, I can’t help but think of the anticipation everyone had back when the prequels were on the horizon. Hell, no one had even heard the word “prequel” until The Phantom Menace. We still had dial up internet back then, and set photos where increasingly hard to come by. For good or ill, there still was an air of mystery about the production and thusly, an air of good will.
I was reminded recently of an audio essay by writer and humorist John Hodgman that aired on This American Life in 2003. In his audio essay, Hodgman details a bit of…fan-fiction that has him rewriting the whole of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace into a completely new and more palpable story.
“I began my screenplay on May 19, 1999, a date that may resonate with some of you who may already guess at the other main challenge of my project, the one that lends it the extra measure of sad delusion and ultimate futility that accompanies the writing of any screenplay. And that is that my screenplay has already been written by someone else and it is called Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace.”
However, while this essay is hilarious, as with so many of Hodgman’s essays, the use of pop culture is meant to encase something more beautiful and more profound that you may expect. You should certainly listen to this segment, because it echoes the anticipation for the upcoming Star Wars sequels, but also because I think some of you will recognize the military cliche that host Ira Glass quotes at the beginning of the broadcast, “generals always re-fight the last war over and over”. Check it out by clicking HERE.