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Listener Mailbag: February 15, 2012

Posted by Eric on February 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM CST

This week's mailbag features reactions to The Phantom Menace 3D and our Darth Plagueis Roundtable, a thoughtful apology from a former Blu-ray boycotter, and more!


Fan Edits, Art, and GL's Retirement

Jason and Jimmy,

I for one wholeheartedly see your point on this whole "fandom" issue. Wishing harm or death on ANYONE doesn't seem like a trait of someone who really gets the message of Star Wars.

Secondly, as an aspiring author, I find the idea of a 'fan edit' kind of insulting. Be a writer or a filmmaker, editing is a part of the craft, of the art. It's a choice in storytelling, and a very personal one at that. Arguably, editing is HALF the craft, so you're right, Jason, it's incredibly arrogant for one to think they can rearrange GL's vision "properly."

I don't care if you don't like Jar Jar. Your opinion means nothing in contrast to getting to see an artist's vision. Let's call what you're doing what it really is: standing on the shoulders of giants.

Be more Jedi-like, people. What Would Luke Skywalker Do? #WWLSD

Thanks for listening, fellas. Love (and respect) the show!



The state of fandom

Hey guys:

First off, I'm a big fan of the show, but I've been a bit absent for a while. Now that I'm back, I've started back by listening to the January 27 show. Can I ask the obvious question: "What has happened to people in the past 6 months?!?"

I am really saddened to hear some of the examples of the extreme vitriol out there. Some of these awful things swirling around the franchise that people love. There is so much hatred and negativity in so many aspects of our lives...for me, Star Wars was always been a respite from that. I've always felt that if anything in life is not fun anymore, maybe it's time to walk away. Maybe some people need to rethink their fandom - if it's not fun anymore, maybe they should just walk away. Or better yet, just focus on the parts they DO like. If the parts you DON'T like far outweigh the parts you DO like, and and keep you from enjoying the parts you DO like, maybe one should consider whether it's worth the aggravation it seems to be bringing them...

We all have people in our lives who have personality traits we don't like. However, that same person has many traits we do like. Would that person be tossed aside because of a few bad traits, in spite of the many traits we do like? I'd hope not. That's how I feel about Star Wars. There are parts to the franchise that I've chosen to ignore (or pay less attention to), while there are other parts that I embrace. No one thing can be all things to all people. The great thing about Star
Wars is that we have so many aspects of it to choose from. I don't fault anyone for not liking aspects of the franchise, but when it comes to wishing harm on GL (or anyone for that matter), that's jumping way over a line of civility. I really think the polarized political situation regularly dominating our news has influenced people so much that they hate anyone who doesn't agree with them on EVERYTHING. I also think that the anonymity of the internet really enables this type of behavior - as I don't see most people ever wishing physical harm towards someone - over a MOVIE FRANCHISE. To the people out there who do wish those things on people and hide behind your anonymous internet identity, shame on you. I don't care what your reasons are, but you obviously missed the parts of life that taught you to treat others as you want yourself treated.

Part of the problem is that we've all been spoiled over the past 10+ years. Like it or not, the Special Editions of the OT were what really brought Star Wars back with a roar, and it's never gone away since. Between films, TV shows, merchandising at all different price points, the Star Wars fan has had plenty of things to show off/feed their fandom. Product may have waned some years here and there, but it's always been there. I liken the appalling actions of some people (wishing harm to others, etc) to the spoiled kid who has not learned that you can't always get what you want. So stop focusing on what Star Wars IS NOT to you, and start focusing on what IT IS to you.

I still get excited to sit down and watch the newest episode of "The Clone Wars". I still get excited at the idea of seeing Star Wars on the big screen (even though Episode I is my least favorite film). I still get excited when the newest Lego sets hit the shelves. Christmas morning is as exciting to me now as it was when I was 6. I'm very excited to attend Celebration VI. The fact that my favorite franchise is readily accessible and EVERYWHERE is awesome. I am dreading the day when that is no longer the case. I will mourn, for sure.

I'm going to enjoy every minute/experience related to Star Wars while I can. I'll embrace the parts I love and set aside the parts I don't. We can all agree to disagree, but let's be human about it, let's be civil about it. We should all realize that the immensely huge umbrella of Star Wars has brought us all together in some way. Whether it be through internet friendships, podcasts, collectors, artists, musicians, gamers, comic book fans, coffee table book fans, RPG players, parents with their children, children with their friends, siblings...the list goes on an on. One cannot deny how powerful Star Wars has been to so many over the years.

And now, we have the news that GL is retiring from film-making. Who can blame him? If I was constantly attacked over my creation, if I was constantly bashed for my work, if MY FAMILY was also getting attacked/hurt because of my work, I'd do everything I could to put a stop to it. And it seems thats what he's doing, which is very sad to me, but understandable. The fact that he's been willing to let so many play in his universe is a real credit to him (as an artist and as a person). I may not agree with all the decisions he's made, but I certainly wish him well, and THANK HIM for creating this wonderful universe known as Star Wars. It has played such a major part in my life, I know that I would be a far different person than I am today if Star Wars had never come along.

Please everyone, take a breath and think before you say/write something you may regret. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but please be civil. Life is way too short to waste time on all this negativity and the parts you HATE. How about talking about the parts you LOVE? Someday, when Star Wars isn't as prominent as it is today, if you are focusing on what you HATE, you'll regret and wonder why you wasted this time and you'll wish you had it back...

May the Force be With Us All,



A changed fan, and an apology

Hey guys,

Just wanted to follow up on something that's been bothering me a bit. When the "no-gate" fiasco began, I was one of the ones who vented some feelings in emails to you guys, and had even decided to join the Blu-ray boycott.

Over the last few weeks though, several things have happened to change my perspective. First, Jimmy made a comment on the show that what really damages Star Wars isn't additions to the movies, but arguments and anger between fans. This really hit me as true.

I also was changed by that amazing interview with George in the New York Times, where he announced his retirement. There is a quote by Spielberg about Lucas which I had never heard before... And I keep thinking about it. After the first time Spielberg saw a screening of Star Wars, he said, "That movie is going to make $100 million, and I’ll tell you why — it has a marvelous innocence and naїveté in it, which is George, and people will love it.”

I just finished seeing The Phantom Menace in 3d, and all through it -- through all the parts that have been derided by people over the last 12 years (the Jar Jar, the "yippee!", etc.) -- I kept thinking about Spielberg's quote. That's George, and that's Star Wars. The innocence, the naїveté...I saw it in a whole different way.

Maybe our culture was more open to that innocence and purity of vision in the 70s than we were when the Prequels came out.

So anyway, it turned me right around about everything. Even the "Noooo!" That's George, and that's Star Wars. Take it or leave it.

I'll TAKE it!

Thanks for doing this awesome show that makes my travel to and from work MUCH more bearable. And congrats on the radio deal. Keep it up!

Jedi Clay Gon Jinn


Ep. I in 3D and the ForceCast

Hey Jason and Jimmy!

I absolutely love listening to the ForceCast! While I'm usually not able to listen live, I try my hardest to fit time into my busy schedule to listen to each podcast when it's uploaded to the site. I greatly appreciate all the time and dedication you put into The ForceCast and it's a real treat to have yet another thing to feed my Star Wars obsession. I was fortunate enough to be able to see Episode I in 3D last night and was so inspired that I wrote a 'review' of sorts and thought you might like to see it.


As many of you probably know, yesterday, February 10, 2012, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was officially re-released in theaters, but this time in 3D. Since I am a huge Star Wars fan, I had been looking forward to that day for several months, and awaited it with eager anticipation. A couple of my friends, who are also huge Star Wars fans, felt the same. We had never seen Episode I in theaters before because we were only about four or five when it originally came out.

The three of us planned on attending the midnight showing, but for a few reasons that didn’t happen. We opted to see it after school, but because of various things we’re each involved in, we couldn’t go to any show before 9 o’clock. That meant we had to go to the last showing of the day at 10:30, but that didn’t matter much to us.

After waiting in the biggest line for tickets I’ve ever seen at my local theater, we finally got into the packed theater and thoroughly enjoyed the movie from start to finish. In short, the 3D was absolutely amazing and it was a real treat to see the movie on the big screen for the first time. To a degree, I can agree with people that the movie isn’t perfect, but what movie is? Despite its short-comings, it’s still an excellent and amazing movie that I will always greatly enjoy.

If you are one of those people who is undecided, flat out uninterested, or influenced by all the negative press into not seeing the movie, I highly recommend you reconsider. For me, seeing a Star Wars movie on the big screen and in 3D was enough to make it worth it. The 3D really pushes the visuals to the extreme and there were numerous scenes that looked absolutely amazing. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see and hear Star Wars in such a big way?

All in all, my friends and I really enjoyed ourselves and we already can’t wait to see what Episode IV, particularly the trench run, looks like in 3D. I’m sure it’ll be amazing!


Thanks a bunch, and may the Force be with you!

Daniel Smith


Episode I 3D Thoughts

Dear Jason and Jimmy,

I've been a long time listener of the Force Cast and I love your humor and fan enthusiasm you guys bring to the show every week. I just came back from my local movie theater after seeing Episode I in 3D with my cousin Joey and let me just say that seeing this first movie in the theaters gives me hope for the next five films in the saga. The 3D conversion was amazing and it's hands down my favorite 3D release of anything I've ever seen. This is my third time seeing Star Wars in a theatrical setting, the first being Episode III in 2005 and the second being the TCW Nightsisters trilogy in 2010 and this was the best screening for any Star Wars film I've ever seen. The CGI worked extremely well within the 3D conversion, the sound was just crystal clear and the story was just as great as I remember it when I first saw it when I was little on DVD. When the movie was over, we got free Episode I 3D posters which was super cool. This is just another example of why Star Wars will never die and why these films rock so much. Thanks guys for everything you do and may the force be with you both.

Joseph Golden

P.S.: Listening to Jimmy Mac's trip to Skywalker Ranch was SO WIZARD!


An Episode I Story

Hi Jimmy and Jason,

Okay, so I thought I'd just write in and tell you a story about going to see The Phantom Menace in 3D.

So last week during free period, my boyfriend and I were laying on the floor after a not very productive dance rehearsal (Valentine's Day activities...meh) and my boy friend asks me if I was busy Friday night. I answered I had to get off of babysitting duty but I would be free. He then asked me what I would do if he got me tickets to go to TPM in 3D. Now you have to understand, my boyfriend and I had watched TPM together at his house before and I quoted the whole thing, kept spewing tidbits of knowledge about how it was made, and being an all around obnoxious know it all. He hates watching geek movies with me because of this. So when he asked I was shocked.

So we get the tickets and such and we got to the theater. There were two huge lines on either side of the theater: on the right was the line for "The Vow" where all the girls were, and on the left was the line for Star Wars which was where all the boys were. I was one of 3 girls in our theater. Right before, my boyfriend had taken me to buy a star wars t shirt because neither of us had anything to wear, and he didn't own a lightsaber (which I don't know how that was not remedied in the 4 months of our relationship). So we both walk in, vintage t shirts on, him holding a Darth Maul lightsaber, and me carrying a handful of posters for the movie. Members of our local chapter of the 501st and Rebel Legion were there for picture opportunities. We sat down in our seats and those members filed in and stood at the front, giving out trivia questions and handing out prizes. I nearly kissed my boyfriend when he saw them walk in and said "I want to be a sand trooper in the 501st so bad!"

This is where the funny part starts. So they each step forward and ask their trivia questions. For a complete Star Wars guru like me, these were easy questions. The guy dressed as Palpatine stood up and asked, "What planet was my 2nd apprentice born on?" A little kid in the front row raised his hand and said "Tatooine" Immediately, my boyfriend looks at me and says "No its not." Our group around us continued to buzz with the notion that Tyranus was his 2nd apprentice and that he was most likely born on Coruscant (we didn't know for sure). My boyfriend is more of a video game geek, so for him to be so passionate about a movie is rare. We all began to politely disagree with Palpatine but they had to move on. There was one more question "What was the name of the podrace Anakin races in?" Some boy in the 4th row with Yoda ears on was picked (even though I was standing up, waving my arms, and shouting PICK ME) he answered wrong so I raised my hand again and got picked. "Boonta Eve Classic" and I won a huge poster of Darth Maul. That is so going up in my dorm, I don't care what my room mate says. There are few times I am proud to be a girl geek, but as I ran down to get my poster and all my guy friends just applauded me in shock and awe that I even knew that, I felt it totally worth letting my geek shine.

The movie was gorgeous! I loved watching the images and the sound was improved as well. The CG Yoda grew on me until I really enjoyed it. Anyway, just thought I'd share that story with you. I hope you know I've been an on and off listener since I was in middle school (I'm now in college) so thanks for being there for me through the toughest years of high school.

May the Force be With You,



TPM 3D Thoughts from "shazbazzar"

Hi Jason & Jimmy--

Over the past couple of weeks, we've been hosting showings of Star Wars (Blu-ray) at our house in preparation for the release of Episode 1 in 3D. I discovered at a Christmas party that several of our friends from church hadn't seen Star Wars or had only seen bits and pieces of the films. I knew I had to get these people on board, so we planned to show five of the six at our house centered around the premier of Episode 1. (We're following the 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 6 order -- it's neat to watch people draw conclusions as it progresses.)

Anyway, our local theater wasn't sure that they were even going to have a midnight showing until Tuesday, so I picked up some tickets for me and some of the folks who had been watching the movies over at the house. Life got in the way for several of them and others were out-of-town to go to a lectureship and class reunion in Florida, so only three of us went to the midnight showing. Evidently, not many people realized there would be a midnight release, since only about 20
people were present. That put a bit of a damper on my spirits -- I wondered if Star Wars was passing out of the collective mindset. The movie opened with some excitement as the crawl seemed to actually float in space (3D).

For the most part, I didn't notice much 3D while watching the rest of the movie, but the clarity of the picture was so great that I saw things I never realized were there before. I'm not talking about "tweaks" and additions, but when I went back to watch my old DVD, I saw many of these things in the background that just didn't stand out as well as they did in 3D. I had forgotten just how much I liked The Phantom Menace until I saw it again last Thursday night. The colors were vibrant, the picture was clear, and the plot was thick and multi-layered. (I'm sure reading Darth Plagueis recently added to the depth I sensed. Nice roundtable, by the way -- Kyle's dogs were barking!) I think the movie was rich -- then and now. Politics and councils didn't slow the movie, it set the tone of the movie. Overall, my feelings after the midnight showing were mixed: (1) The meager turnout had me a bit frustrated; I wasn't sure if it was due to a lack of promotion or a lack of interest. (2) The movie itself proves to be better than it's been remembered, and I felt like I did nearly thirteen years ago when watching it for the first time: excited, fascinated, and ultimately satisfied.

Fast forward to Saturday at noon when I took Luke and Abbey to see it…

The theater was packed! Dads had their kids; generations were attending the movie together; everyone was abuzz with excitement. We finally made it to our seats just in time for the opening credits (the popcorn line was rather lengthy). As the movie began, you could sense the anticipation in the crowd. This is what the Star Wars theater experience is supposed to be like! Throughout the movie, I would look around at my kids and other families in the theater, catching the expressions on the faces of those who were seeing it for the first time. Jar Jar would speak and one young'un in the back seats would repeat it -- Jar Jar is a hit! People were cheering at the conclusion of the podrace. The "slow" parts brought silence in the seats, even among the youngest viewers. At the climactic moment (Obi-Wan dispatching Darth Maul), a boy near the front of the theater shouted, "That's awesome!" when the Sith apprentice was sliced in half. It took me back to the days when I first saw Star Wars and then Empire and Jedi. My concerns about Star Wars losing interest among
the masses disappeared.

After the movie, when we heard the familiar Vader breathing at the conclusion of the closing credits, the kids turned to me and said, "This is the first Star Wars movie we've seen in the theater." I hadn't realized until then that the shazlings, veterans of conventions like Fan Days and Celebration, had never experienced Star Wars on the silver screen. What a moment!

…as for the people I've been introducing to that GFFA…

Several of them were able to catch the movie during the week. We'll all get together Saturday for Attack of the Clones. Two of the couples who were in Florida last week caught it on opening night (Friday) at a theater loaded with the 501st and R2 Builders. They had a blast and came back very excited about the whole experience. Maybe we'll see them at Star Wars Weekends or Fan Days in the future -- or maybe even a Celebration…

Star Wars is alive and well. Thanks to GL for putting it out on the big screen again in this new and improved version. The 3D did more to make the movie an immersive experience than to be a "gimmick". I can't wait to see the rest of them with the next generation of fans!

And that's what I thought about it.


(Hey, on the Plagueis roundtable, I kept hearing birds. Who is responsible for those? Kyle again?) ;p


Did the Notorious GL invent the iPad??

Hey Jimmy, Jason and Star Wars fans!

I took my wife and son to see the Phantom Menace in 3D on opening night. I was really excited because this was the first opportunity I would have to take my son to see a Star Wars movie on the big screen! His name is Max, he is 7 years old and is a HUGE Star Wars fan. We've seen all the movies multiple times (his favorite is Attack of the Clones) and his least favorite is Empire Strikes Back (he says they talk too much in that one). Don't worry, I keep telling him his favorite is Empire like his Dad's--eventually he'll come around!

But anyway, back to why I was emailing you guys in the first place. During the podrace scene, I realized something I didn't before, even though I'd seen TPM dozens of times. Padme and Shmi are watching the podrace on a wireless handheld device capable of streaming video--a tablet. Now in the EU there are numerous mentions of 'datapads' and all the characters seem to have them around all the time (being such a fan of the EU Jason, I'm sure you picked up on that
right away). So it's likely that George picked up on that from one of the novels and decided it would be good to include it in his films.

Then later on the tablet appears again! This time with Mace Windu using a similar device when they are testing Anakin at the Jedi Council (though his was fancier with a nice handle!). Clearly George had the right idea--a simple handheld computer that could act as a consumable data device.

So to all you Lucas haters out there: bash him all you want for "ruining" your beloved childhood memories, but in my opinion the man's a genius! You heard it here first: George Lucas invented the iPad!

Love the show guys, keep up the great work. I tune in every week.

Jason F.

Spring Grove, IL


Darth Maul Glasses

I'm a stereo compiler/cartographer/imagery analyst so I use passive 3D glasses at work. I went to the midnight showing and asked for Darth Maul glasses and the lady went and got me a pair. I don't think anybody else got them. The pic is from work Friday while wearing the Darth Maul glasses, Star Wars Rebel headphones, SW T-shirt, and SW Adidas hoodie. Love the show!!!

Chris in Lexington, KY


One listener's response to a comparison between Star Trek and Star Wars

Hey guys!

I'm the producer / editor of GeekBeat.TV (Cali Lewis's daily podcast). We published our Top 10 Movie Robots show Monday and of course, 3PO and R2 were represented well. But Cali grew up on Star Trek and as a young girl, had a crush on Data, so he ended up #1. That's cool. He's a great android.


One of our bloggers made a quick little jab at me on Google+: "Oh, and yes, this is me bragging: STAR TREK > STAR WARS. It is official. Because +Geek Beat says so. (Take THAT +J. David Curlee!)"

Well I couldn't let that just let that go by. I mean, GeekBeat is my show! I'm all about The Wars. So I thought for a second and started typing. This is what came out. Just thought I'd share this with you guys. I knew Jimmy would appreciate it. (Although I didn't tell her to suck it, 'cause she's a friend of mine and that's just rude. :) )

"Star Trek is good, yes. It's geeky. It's techie. It's politically correct. It's science fiction. But it's not timeless and ageless.

Star Wars, isn't science fiction. It's fantasy. It's mythology. It's classic. It's timeless. It's ageless. It's the hero's journey. It's the rise and fall of man, It's Odysseus, it's Beowulf, it's Perseus, it's Moses, it's King Arthur...likewise it's Harry Potter. It's The Matrix. It's Frodo. It's Dorthy.

It's the story of a person of no import, yearning for more, standing of the cusp of his future. It's leaving home on a quest, finding a wise sage who teaches the skills necessary for what may come. It's finding a few friends who will stand at the ready, defending, helping, teaching.

It's losing the sage. It's a boy wondering if he has what it takes to complete the journey without a teacher. It's facing his demons. Finding the evil in his heart, and overcoming it. It's coming to a point of no return and having to forge ahead, alone... ultimately to success. It's returning home to the warm embraces of those whom he's saved.

It's Star Wars. Comparing it to Star Trek is pointless. The only thing they have in common is the word "Star". If you have to compare Star Wars with something, compare it to millenia of legends, myths, parables and stories told by a warm fire...not "Beam me up Scotty.""

Love the show. Love you guys. If y'all are serious about doing
video, let me know. We've got TriCasters ;)

Dave Curlee


Plagueis Roundtable Comment: Midichlorians in the OT

While listening to the ForceCast Roundtable discussion about Darth Plagueis I was struck by Jason's comment regarding the Jedi shifting their emphasis away from midi-chlorians in the original trilogy. Jason, you mention how Ben calls the Force "an energy field created by all living things" without mentioning midi-chlorians. As soon as you said that I suddenly pictured Qui-Gon explaining midi-chlorians to Anakin in Episode I. What immediately came to mind was how similar the two descriptions were carried out--that is, in simplistic terms. Qui-Gon, explaining to a nine year old boy from a backwater world in terms that an "unworldly" boy could understand. He simply breaks it down into its simplest form. Keep in mind though, Qui-Gon isn't shoving midi-chlorians into Anakin's face, merely responding to Anakin's innocent question.

Years later, in A New Hope, almost the exact same situation plays out in Ben's home in the Jundland Wastes. Again, he's not lecturing Luke, but responding, in simple terms, to a question posed by another youngster from the same backwater world. This time: "What is the Force?"

I would suggest that it isn't Lucas that has made midi-chlorians a touchy subject in fandom but rather fans that refuse to see the deep level of symbolic duology found in the Star Wars universe. Qui-Gon may have given Anakin a textbook answer to the science of midi-chlorians, but I always remember how often he refers to "the living Force" in Episode I. Anakin asked what a midichlorian was -- Qui-Gon told him. But he also qualifies his answer by telling him "when you learn to quiet your mind you'll understand." His intentions as a teacher were to focus on the broader aspects of the Force. This can
be seen in Ben's teachings to Luke when he refers to the Force as something that "binds the galaxy together" obviously speaking again of the "living Force."

Thanks to Revenge of the Sith, we now know that Obi Wan continued his Force training on Tatooine from Qui-Gon. Obviously this training consisted of continuing to learn about the Living Force, as Qui-Gon constantly emphasized. Maybe midi-chlorians was just a plot device as Kyle speculated on the roundtable but it's a necessary one, not only
to measure Anakin's power, but to help reinforce the importance of "ethereal" qualities of the Force that Lucas found more interesting to explore throughout the original trilogy.

Great roundtable and I'll never think of midi-Planktons the same again!


Mike MacDonald
Belle River, Ontario


Thanks to all of this week's mailbag contributors! Keep your emails coming to

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