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Valerian’s Influence on Star Wars?

Chris Taylor, writer of How Star Wars Conquered the Universe,
dissects a conspiracy theory…

Last weekend, fighting post-vacation depression and a cold, I simply needed to get out. So, I went to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

The movie ended up on my “watch” list based on a beautiful set of trailers. The number of social media/web mentions citing its source material as a possible influence on Star Wars didn’t hurt either. But the flick fell flat for me and apparently just about everyone else. With a production budget of $177.2 million, the movie has–to date–only earned $30,186,232, with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 51 and 58% from critics and audiences, respectively. The site’s “Critics Consensus” says: “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets uses sheer kinetic energy and visual thrills to overcome narrative obstacles and offer a viewing experience whose surreal pleasures often outweigh its flaws.”

Eh. I’d say that I’d give it a 71% based on it keeping me interested for 90-minutes (of its two-hour, 17-minute runtime). However, some of my personal disappointment also stems from a string of tweets from Chris Taylor, author of [amazon_textlink asin=’0465049893′ text=’How Star Wars Conquered the Universe’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’makingnet-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e6da6c2d-76bd-11e7-a848-eb34d0944152′]. It seems I was duped. Even before my seeing the movie, he tweeted about its graphic novel predecessors.

Taylor’s Take on Valerian

Read the full thread when you you are able, but the Star Wars historian takes a careful, clear, and calculated myth-busting route.

However, to save you the trouble, the gist of his argument comes down to [via tweets 27 & 28], “#StarWars had many legit influences. Take your pick: Flash Gordon, Kurosawa, Dune, Tolkien, 2001, Metropolis, Dam Busters… It just so happens that a comic book available only in French in 1977 was almost certainly not one of them. Pre-existence ≠ influence.”

I know this is all a “stretch” as a post on a Star Wars site. I’m “touting” a guy “defending” the saga. But the thread itself has weight beyond its subject insofar as it addresses the increasing number of error-filled, clickbait stories that I try to sift through as I do research and pull together news posts and roundups.

“In short, we’ve got a theory that relies entirely on the brain’s habit of pattern matching,” said Taylor in tweet no. 22. “This is how many conspiracies get started.”

It’s at least how stories like “Warwick Davis will be in Han Solo” get posted on July 29t, when–as Jason Ward and crew pointed out in the latest NTIP–he was announced to be in the film, by none other than Lord and Miller, on April 18th.

Misleading Headlines

As Jason correctly pointed out, the headlines following the below tweet should have been something to the effect of “Howard films Davis for the first time in 30-years,” harkening back to Lucasfilm’s cult-classic, Willow.

And although I don’t love the phrase “fake news”–particularly because of the guy who most often throws it about–I do like Taylor’s summation about the phenomenon.

“Nerds especially love to match patterns. They love secret origin stories,” tweeted Taylor, adding to a earlier post that said, “So here we have a piece of #fakenews repeated ad nauseam. It seems juicy…and it’s based on vapor.”

So, what’s the moral of Taylor’s thread to this nerd? Be a more discerning reader and a sophisticated RTer .

And re-watch Willow; you can wait for Valerian on Netflix. JB


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John Bishop

A graduate of Boston and Northeastern universities, John Bishop became the beat reporter for BostonBruins.com prior to the B’s 2006-07 hockey season. While with the Bruins, “Bish” traveled North America and Europe to cover the Black & Gold’s every move via laptop, blog, and smart phone. The co-author of two books, Bygone Boston and Full 60 to History: The Inside Story of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, John covered the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010 and the B’s 2011 championship run and banner raising before taking a faculty/communications position at a prep school outside Boston in 2013. He lives with his wife Andrea and sons Jack, Scott, and Luke in central Massachusetts.
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