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After reading Washington City Paper’s rather odd little article called “The Lucas Virus” (Demimonde, 5/21), I had to question if your reporter had ever seen the original trilogy or talked to some of its fans. The picture painted of a mass of brainless idiots having their strings pulled by Lucas simply is beyond my experience.

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It was the closing paragraph of the article that elicited the most incredulous response from me. Berger writes: “Surely Lucas will chalk up any grousing to Star Wars backlash…but he doesn’t understand that even in his world of Manichean destiny and chosen ones, a little free will would go a long way.” Free will? Is this a joke? Am I, as a Star Wars fan, so brainwashed that Lucas has somehow taken control of my mental functions? Are you nuts? I saw The Phantom Menace because I’ve been waiting to see it since Return of the Jedi came out in 1983. Yes, even back then, in the fourth grade, I knew there would be more films. I suppose Berger wasn’t ever told. But then, obviously Berger doesn’t understand the fans on any level.

I volunteered my weekends for 15 months at the Smithsonian’s “Star Wars: Magic of Myth” exhibit. In that time, as you can imagine, I ran into about every type of Star Wars fan imaginable, from the merely curious to the fanatic, from the ranks of the general public to Hollywood and sports stars, from Americans to foreigners. And yet it was rare that I talked to anyone as brainwashed and frankly stupid as Berger makes Star Wars fans out to be.

People came to the exhibit because they wanted to see it. They didn’t come all the way from California, Thailand, Iowa, and England because somehow Lucas had subliminally commanded them too. They came because they truly loved the movies, and all of them without question were full of curiosity to see the next installment. To remind you: That exhibit opened in 1997, before this supposed hype/brainwashing war started.

And for that same reason, a number of us don’t have many criticisms of the new film. Part of this is because, since we know the story of the original trilogy, those “plot holes” Berger refers to actually don’t exist. Part of this is because, since we already know the end results of Episodes 1 through 3, we don’t have to have our hands held and have events explained to us in as much detail found in the original trilogy. But guess what? There are also many fans out there who were disappointed. I was disappointed that one of the villains was so silent. I hate Jar Jar Binks with a passion. I still think the name The Phantom Menace is silly. Perhaps that means we’re not as brainwashed as Berger would claim.

If Berger really wants to understand the fan base from an intellectual point of view, I’d suggest that she pick up the National Air and Space Museum’s companion book to the exhibit. It examines mythology and archetypes (are you familiar with Joseph Campbell?), which go a lot further to explain Star Wars fans than Berger’s rather silly “meme” theory.

Cathedral Heights

via the Internet