Why fan-based art will rule: My latest Slate column

For my latest Slate column, I wrote in praise of Star Wars Revelations — a 40-minute movie produced, funded, and distributed entirely by volunteer fans. It’s utterly amazing — the most impressive piece of fan art yet. And, as I argue in the article, this might be the salvation of our slowly-dying sci-fi franchises: Open-source ‘em and let the fans take over.

Our most cherished sci-fi franchises are in a creative trough. Lucas’ movies have spiraled into unwatchability; Paramount has so exhausted its ideas for Star Trek that it’s folding up its tent and going home. The fans, in contrast, still give a damn: The director of Revelations, Shane Felux, is clearly more knowledgeable about the strengths and weaknesses of the material than Lucas himself. Felux’s movie retains the funky vibe of the original Star Wars, down to the kitschy, ’70s-style wipes, the obligatory scene in an alien bar, and Darth Vader’s throat-choking technique. Better yet, it jettisons Lucas’ most loathed innovations — neither Jar Jar Binks nor any Ewoks make an appearance. Fans may be pointy-headed and obsessed with useless trivia, but they have excellent bullshit detectors.

The fans can also give Industrial Light and Magic a run for its money. When it comes to special effects, Revelations is nothing short of astonishing. Early on, there’s a jaw-dropping chase scene in which the heroes’ ship darts like a nimble fish through a cluttered space-yard, a fleet of TIE fighters in hot pursuit. Later, a stunning attack on an Empire Destroyer left me laughing in sheer surprise.

You can read the rest of the piece online for free here, and if you’ve any thoughts, feel free to post them in The Fray, Slate’s discussion area!

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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