Yeah, but seriously if you are planning your post-school studies, seek proper professional advice and not this blog post.
Via numerous Twittery things, the question of what degree a young person intent on Higher Education should study has been doing the rounds in various ways. One source was a snarky comment about English degrees from a successful writer, a second one I ended up Tweeting about was somebody claiming that STEM students can cope with Arts/Humanities degrees better than vice-versa. I’ll get to the specific question of writing & the humanities v STEM in a bit but I want to look at things more generally first.
More after the fold – as this goes on for awhile.
The Star Wars films use characters to play common roles and functions within the franchise. By ‘roles’ I mean less plot central aspects of the story such as ‘comic relief’ and by ‘functions’ I mean more directly plot relevant tasks such ‘character who delivers secret message’. To make the films both different and yet familiar roles and functions are repeated between films but divided between different characters (and/or objects).
This approach begins with the original Star Wars film (‘Episode 4’, ‘A New Hope’, or if you wish to troll two fandoms simultaneously ‘The Original Series’). Lucas takes roles and functions from other films but creates new characters around them. Lucas draws upon films like The Dam Busters, 633 Squadron, The Guns of Navarone and takes aspects of those films and reworks them into his film. The fjord in 633 Squadron has a function that is shared by the trench on the Death Star that leads to the exhaust port for example.
The most substantial source though is Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress. The roles (Princess, former general, former general’s rival on the enemy side, a hidden resistance base etc) are lifted from Kurosawa’s tale of rival clans in feudal Japan and placed in a new setting. However, there is not a simple mapping of Hidden Fortress to Star Wars, mainly because new characters and plot points are added but also because functions map out differently or brought in from other films.
However, one of the earliest points at which both films map is the classic shot of the bickering couple trudging through a desert. In Hidden Fortress the couple are the the two peasant soldiers Tahei and Matashichi, survivors and runaways from a battle. In Star Wars the couple are C3PO and R2D2, who have just escaped a space battle. The role of the couple are similar in both films – comedic banter and commentary on what the main characters are doing. In that latter role they provide a bridge between the main characters and the audience, wondering aloud (in Star Wars only C3PO actually intelligible) what is happening. The function they couples play is different. R2D2 has a very specific Star Wars role – carrying the Death Star plans to the Rebellion that does not have a simple parallel with Hidden Fortress.http://www.scene-stealers.com/wp-content/uploads//2014/04/hidden_fortress_blu-ray.jpg
In the sequels and prequels to Star Wars the couple role becomes less attached to the two droids. At times it passes to Anakin and Obi Wan in parts of episode 2 and 3, to Han and Chewbacca, Luke and Yoda but rarely lingers for reasons I’ll get to. In the Force Awakens (episode 7 or if you prefer ‘Star Wars:TNG’) the couple role bounces around multiple characters but is often centred on Finn (Finn and Bo Dameron, Finn and BB8, Finn and Rey, Finn and Han etc).
The couple role naturally connects with comedic relief. It turns up in classic comedy duos (Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy), buddy-cop movies and isn’t confined to male-male pairs. Nick and Nora Charles in the Thin Man series, Lucy and Ricky in I Love Lucy, Abbey and Martha Brewster the ageing sisters in Arsenic and Old Lace. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/11/01/cf/1101cf64a6acf86304650b57510d5508.jpg
The pairing can be platonic or sexual but the familiarity of the role/trope is the married couple – two people who have known each other a long time. The role is not about sexual tension but it doesn’t preclude two characters between whom there is sexual tension sometimes playing aspects of the role (Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd in Moonlighting, even on occasion Mulder and Scully in the X-Files). The issue is not that the couple cannot ever have other emotional aspects to their relationship but rather when those other aspects come to the fore they play a different role. It is for this reason that the Star Wars prequels never maintain a consistent couple role in the way that Star Wars Original Recipe does with R2D2 and C3PO.
Rogue One passes the comedic relief role to K2-SO and the delivery of Death Star plans function to Bodhi Rook. R2D2 and C3PO get a cameo (of course – and establishing that R2D2 is busy controlling the rebellion on Yavin…). However, it also reinvents the couple role with Chirrut Iwe and Baze Malbus. Their role is less comedic but it is essentially the couple role. You can, if you wish, take it as a platonic friendship but as a supporter of the principle & traditions of marriage, I prefer to assume they are actually married (mind you I assume the same about R2D2 and C3PO so I’m easily persuaded towards this position).
As a pair, they have both overt differences from both the Star Wars IV couple and the Hidden Fortress couple but also distinct similarities.
Unlike Tahei and Matashichi they are season warriors who are brave and face danger. They are selfless and eager to help. They are competent and highly skilled. They both show wisdom and personal insight.
However, like Tahei and Matashichi they are found in desert surroundings amid (sort of) a battlefield. They are allied with the losing side in a conflict but have become separated from it. They are drawn back into the centre of the conflict by a woman protagonist. They form a nucleus of a small army under that woman’s leadership.
Likewise, they have a similar alternate-reality relationship with R2D2 and C3PO. The similarities are weaker than those with the Hidden Fortress pair. Most notably is the related but muted colour scheme of the pair that mirrors the droids.
Chirrut is dressed in blue and white (with a small amount of red). Baze is dressed in yellows/beige. They are not, of course, the R2D2-C3PO of Rogue One – they are different characters and have different functions but their role has distinct parallels with both the Droids and Tahei and Matashichi that also highlights the extreme differences.
“Wait, “you say, “this is somewhat convoluted. Where are you going with this? It’s not another…oh it is, isn’t it? For goodness sake…”
Yes, yes! This blog has only the one official fan theory and we will use any and all means to promulgate it.Chirrut is the R2D2 analogue in Rogue One *and* he is, as we also contend R2 is, a force user!
Chirrut is the R2D2 analogue in Rogue One *and* he is, as we also contend R2 is, a force user!They even both use the force to do the same thing!
Chirrut uses the force and personal focus to walk through a volley of blaster shots unharmed. R2D2 does the exact same thing only a few hours later (in-universe) on Captain Antilles ship!
No, don’t walk away! I’ve all sorts of other proofs to show you!
It is fine winter’s afternoon at Felapton Towers…
[Camestros] schrllgulup schrllgulup schrllgulup…
[Timothy] wuh? wah?
[Camestros] schrllgulup schrllgulup schrllgulup…
[Timothy] Stop it. Whatever that is that you are doing, stop it.
[Camestros] Opportunity of a lifetime old boy!
[Timothy] It’ll be the end of your lifetime if you wake me up like that again.
[Camestros] Look, see. [shoves an antique walnut and silver Galaxy Note 7 at Timothy]
[Timothy] The headline says: “Oh my god he’s going to kill us all isn’t he?”
[Camestros] No, no, not the US Politics section, below that. Entertainment.
[Timothy] Beyonce is going to have twins! Hooray!
[Camestros] Below that.
[Timothy] Hmmm ‘Peter Capaldi will be leaving Doctor Who’. Hmm…
Spooky talking cats! Unpleasant right-wing self-help! Haunted trams! Demonic spiders! Donald Trump winning the election! All the scariest things you can imagine and some things you really shouldn’t imagine!
Yes, the spookiest tale of horror, and positive thinking is here as a special download by clicking this link:
Go on – try it! You won’t regret it! Well you might regret it…possibly you will regret it but you’ll have had fun! Maybe.
As I sat in the south gazebo, hitting refresh on voxopedia’s ‘Recent changes’ page, I noticed from the corner of my eye the household cat walking pensively in circles. Perturbed by this uncharacteristic behaviour I approached him cautiously whilst holding my phone in the forlorn hope of capturing an amusing cat video with which to entertain the Internet.
“There is no point trying to take a video,” said Timothy who was still circling what appeared to be a North Korean bootlegged Surface Pro, “Twitter is closing down Vine.”
I swore in frustration. Once again, I had missed engaging with a social media outlet before it had slid into obsolescence or was cancelled. It was MySpace all over again. If felt cross enough to vent my anger on a Compuserve forum.
“Stop looking so sullen. Your ineptitude at picking social media trends has done wonders for my share portfolio,” bragged the cat, still orbiting the knock-off tablet, “Any social media outlet you aren’t thinking of using is usually a good bet.”
“I’ll use my powers for good and sign up for Gab!” I cried.
“Never mind all that – I need you to think of an ending for my book.” grumbled the cat, who now sat on his haunches in front of the specially cat-adapted keyboard.
“Your book?” I asked. Timothy’s book? I had announced Timothy’s book some weeks ago and it was originally going to be a domestic drama called the “Confusing Walrus” based on unsubtle plagiarism of a John Scalzi space-opera, which had led to some excitement among Timothy’s inexplicable following. The capricious cat had then forced me to retract that announcement because the supposedly “finished” book was now going to be a cook-book called the “Collapsing Souffle”. No sooner had I done that, than it became clear that Timothy had written nothing but an outline which read:
rite book. make flappypants dror cover
Yet, here we were – weeks later – and unless my eyes deceived me, Timothy had a long document open on his Pyon-Yang derived computer.
“Why this is great news!” I said saidingly “I can’t wait to try the recipes!”
Timothy looked at me as if I had taken leave of my senses.
“Recipes? Recipes? I don’t write ‘recipes’. Do you think at this time of national crisis, people want recipes? No, no, now is the time for action. Now is the time for me to break silence and intervene in the US election.”
“You already intervened – you were briefly Hillary Clinton’s running mate, remember?”
Timothy dismissed that comment with a wave of his paw. “This book contains a distilled account of my personal philosophy. It explains how Donald Trump also shares my mental powers that allow us to achieve greatness.”
Suspicion grew in my chest. “Let me look at that cover,” I exclaimed in an exclamatory fashion pulling the fake tablet over. “As I thought! You’ve just taken some Castalia House nonsense, scribbled out ‘Mike Cernovich’ and written ‘Tim T Talking Cat’ instead.”
“That is merely a suggestion. The main question is whether I should end the book by saying ‘that is why I am so awesome’ or, and think this over before you answer, ‘that is why I am so great'”
“The second one!” I cried, “Very topical!”
And that dear readers, is how I learnt of Timothy’s new book.
A cross-over hit from Baroco Ferison.
Cursed by a publishing house’s art-director, The book nobody would read because the cover made no sense is burdened by a cover so abstract and so lacking in visual clues that nobody will ever read it. Forever spurned by book-sellers, The book nobody would read because the cover made no sense languishes on forgotten shelves. It is placed frequently in a strange no-place between fiction and non-fiction.
Online, its plethora of busy but meaningless detail is obscured by low-resolution thumbnail versions, which leave it looking like a murky mess of nothing.
Forgotten and unread, The book nobody would read because the cover made no sense knows that it must go on a quest to find the evil art-director and break the curse laid upon it. But first, it must gather together all its material instances so that it can assume its ultimate Platonic form. Also, it needs to grow some tiny legs and arms to fight some goblins.
Also, why does it have a chapter about Edmund Hurrsel? This and other questions would be answered in The book nobody would read because the cover made no sense if anybody read it – which they won’t because the cover makes no sense.
I asked Timothy to take the test. Here are his responses. It gets a little sad at the end.
The synonym of large is faded, because remembering is large but it has faded.
• The synonym of deal is plea, of course.
• The synonym of above is work, because above is over and I’m over work.
• The synonym of specify is capitulate, because to give specifics is to capitulate to them.
• The antonym of old is small, because now I’m old I’m big.
• The antonym of come is most, because most cats won’t come to you if you call to us.
• The synonym of fly is drink, because they drink.
• The antonym of active is disagree, because you can disagree passively.
• The antonym of dangerous is sadness, because danger should be happy.
• The antonym of distant is obey, because we shouldn’t obey distant governments.
• The antonym of narrow is scold and that is the truth.
• The antonym of separate is weak, because those who can’t live by themselves are weak.
• The antonym of normal is doubt, because only the exceptional like me doubt the lies we are told by the elites.
• The synonym of spade is oak because they both come out of the ground.
• The synonym of done is embellished, because it isn’t done until it is embellished.
• The synonym of beg is recant, because to beg is to recant everything a cat stands for.
• The synonym of lax is delectable, or I maybe thinking of lox.
• The synonym of quash is evade, naturally.
• The synonym of minor is morris.
• The synonym of drab is barbaric, because o be civilized is to dress well.
• The synonym of related is alien, like my French cousins.
• The synonym of annoying is clicker, obviously.
• The synonym of incipient is chromatic, I assume.
• The antonym of foul is repelling, because chickens chase me.
• The antonym of compensate is extortion and do not forget it.
• The antonym of acquiesce is irascible, because I never acquiesce and I am irascible.
• The antonym of adamant is aerate in any sane universe.
• The antonym of alienate is aggressive – ha! you thought I’d say they synonyms because aliens are scary, didn’t you?
• The antonym of avulse is suture, like everybody knows. Is this a quiz for two-year olds or something?
• The antonym of catalyst is damp, because making stuff damp usually stops them reacting – particularly postal workers.
• The antonym of amorphous is abridge, like that time when I had to edit a really amorphous book, so I abridged it.
• The antonym of aggrieved is warped, because only the warped aren’t aggrieved with the federal government.
• The antonym of apologist is canon, because a canon never apologizes.
• The synonym of widow is fiend. I’m thinking specifically of the old lady in the cottage who throws sticks at me.
• The synonym of omen is opulence, as we all know.
• The synonym of querulous is fugacious because both words make me laugh.
• The synonym of hightail is perturb, because they are both cats I know. I don’t really like either of them but cats have to stick together in this cruel world of squirrels.
• The synonym of gargantuan is equestrian, unless I’m confusing cows with horses again.
• The antonym of avarice is yoke and let no one deny that.
• The antonym of alacrity is provoker, you have been warned.
• The antonym of altruism is apocrypha, because it is only in the secondary literature that we learn of how the non-altruistic are the true heroes.
• The antonym of affinity is warped again.
• The antonym of baneful is jejune, because it is a wonderful month (except in Australia)
• The antonym of yes is notice, because if you just say yes to everything you don’t get noticed.
• The synonym of fall is squeal, as I did.
• The synonym of companion is fool, and he knows it.
• The synonym of trash is squeeze, because of the time I had to hide behind the dumpsters when I was tiny.
• The synonym of love is left, like how I had to leave my mum when I was a kitten.
• The synonym of much is deal, because I don’t want to deal with that much.
• The synonym of child is forget, because it is for the best.