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December 2016
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Tricia Barr, BJ Priester and Kay ponder the imminent possibilities for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, out December 16th. Looking ahead to Episode VIII, they consider Rian Johnson's impact on the franchise, including a look at his film camp. Star Wars Rebels Season 3 gives us a chance to discuss fan service versus character growth.

Direct download: HT_23.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30pm EST

For the third consecutive year, I was delighted to moderate a panel on the Heroine’s Journey at GeekGirlCon in Seattle. Inspired by The Force Awakens and its breakout heroine Rey, we titled this year’s panel “The Heroine’s Journey: Awakening Its Potential.” Tricia Barr and Jennifer K. Stuller returned again as panelists, and we were joined for the first time by Teresa Jusino, a feminist pop culture critic and an assistant editor at TheMarySue.

After introducing the panelists and our respective backgrounds and interests in analysis of the Heroine’s Journey, we briefly reviewed the contexts of our prior discussion for those attendees who hadn’t seen the previous panels. We emphasized that Joseph Campbell’s famous Hero’s Journey framework has its roots in historical myths that arose from patriarchal, misogynist, and unjust societies – yet many storytellers today continue to reflexively rely on its familiar elements without considering the implications for contemporary characters and audiences. The goal, though, is not necessarily to reject Campbell out of hand, but rather for storytellers to make sure they undertake informed decision-making about creating heroes and their character arcs.

We then turned to sharing our thoughts on recent stories which have succeeded in creating Heroine’s Journey tales that can serve as good models for other storytellers. Tricia talked about Rey and The Force Awakens, and Teresa praised the joy of Kara’s adventures in CBS’s Supergirl. Jen noted the great dynamic between Brienne of Tarth and Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones, which inverts medieval fantasy tropes. Netflix also earned acclaim for shows including Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Stranger Things. Common themes we identified in well-crafted Heroine’s Journey include the roles of sisters and mothers, teamwork with allies instead of solo heroism, the importance of mentors, and an emphasis on love and compassion.

We also discussed the pros and cons of the concept of a Heroine’s Journey framework in storytelling. The similar idea of “strong female character,” for example, often is misunderstood as referring to physical prowess rather than other forms of strength such as willpower, or misses the point that advocating for more and better “complex” or “well-written” female characters is the most important goal. On the one hand, show like Jessica Jones or Game of Thrones illustrate that the value in not limiting the focus to heroism as such, but rather encouraging the creation of more stories of all types with women protagonists. More female characters with nuance and agency in lead roles will make a huge differences in evolving tropes, even if some of them are anti-heroes or other non-heroic characters. On the other hand, Tricia pointed out, Hollywood often only understands simple terms, so the terminology of the Heroine’s Journey may be valuable as a form of consciousness-raising to keep the goal of creating aspirational heroes for girls and women at the forefront of the discussion in the entertainment industry. Ultimately, we urged storytellers to consider both perspectives – all in service of the goal of ensuring thoughtful decision-making about how Heroine’s Journeys, and other stories with female protagonists, are designed and written.

 


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Direct download: GGC16_HJ_panel.mp3
Category:Special Edition -- posted at: 4:07pm EST

This month Lucasfilm released the full-length theatrical trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. After our first recording of our reactions to the trailer was mangled by a pack of electronic gremlins, we sat down to record them again. In the meantime, several more interesting comments about the film emerged in the entertainment press, so we were able take those into account in our comments on the trailer this time.

This trailer for Rogue One is notable in several respects. For one, it continues the trend we've discussed previously: portraying Jyn much more as an inspiring leader taking charge of a mission against the Empire, rather than the belligerent criminal reluctantly conscripted into the Rebellion we saw in the first teaser. This also calls to mind Kathleen Kennedy's description of Jyn back in June, but with more emphasis on Jyn as "a kind of Joan of Arc in the story" rather than as a "streetwise delinquent."

In addition, this trailer has marked differences from the trailers for The Force Awakens last year. It appears to flow roughly in chronological order for the film: from Jyn's childhood to her liberation from Imperial custody by the Rebels, to the Yavin base and on to Jedha, and then to Scarif. The Rogue One trailer also reveals much more about the story of the film: who the protagonist characters are and what they are fighting for. While we still wonder whether the timeline placement in relation to the other Star Wars films will be clear enough to the casual audience who hasn't been paying close attention to the marketing of Rogue One to date, this trailer is a definite improvement in providing an "elevator pitch" for the movie to those fans. Now we have a better sense of who these characters are, and why we should root for them.

Check out the episode for our full thoughts on the trailer, including Director Krennic, Galen Erso, Darth Vader, and more.

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Direct download: HyperspaceTheories_Rogue_One_Trailer_Dissection.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:09pm EST

Maybe you don't need an excuse to re-watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but we'll give you one any for #InternationalPodcastDay!

Hyperspace Theories had its origins in significant part in the excitement of the buildup to Episode VII, when our interests in storytelling and informed speculation converged. At that time, we were endeavoring not only to sift credible rumors from less plausible ones from among the reports in fandom and entertainment media venues, but also to work through the storytelling decisions necessarily involved in crafting the movie's characters, world-building, themes, and plot. From that dual exercise, the format of Hyperspace Theories was forged, and we have since explored numerous aspects of informed speculation, storytelling, characterization, and world-building in Star Wars.

Given that origin story, then, it only makes sense that our first movie commentary track episode is The Force Awakens. In addition to sharing our thoughts and reactions to our favorite aspects of the film, we also discuss how the movie presents its storytelling choices to the audience.

Cue up your DVD, Blu-ray, or digital copy of The Force Awakens and watch along with Tricia, B.J., and Kay as Rey, Finn, Poe, and the rest begin the next trilogy of the Star Wars saga.

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Direct download: Hyperspace_Theories_TFA_Commentary.mp3
Category:Special Edition -- posted at: 9:19pm EST

We’re beginning to learn more about the production and story of Rogue One, and these developments are the focus of this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories.

Whether based on information revealed previously or the newer details, speculation about Rogue One has to take into account the involvement of a significant new player in the movie’s production: Tony Gilroy. The Hollywood Reporter disclosed his prominent role in both the filming of reshoots and the editing of the film in post-production. Subsequently the latest teaser trailer confirmed that Gilroy also is a co-screenwriter – Rogue One has “story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta” and “screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy” in the credits. Under the WGA’s rules for awarding writing credit, this means Gilroy made major additional contributions to the screenplay after Weitz’s version, which itself was a complete reworking of Whitta’s draft. Gilroy is highly regarded for his work on the Bourne movie series, produced by Frank Marshall, as well as his own project, Michael Clayton. He also previously worked with Gareth Edwards in completing Godzilla, so the collaboration on Rogue One seems to be a natural fit. Further insight into Gilroy’s perspective on storytelling and movie-making appears in his BAFTA screenwriter’s lecture, which is definitely worth the time.

Before concluding our meta segment on speculating wisely, we also discussed Kathleen Kennedy’s comments on the importance of female executives in the development process, and Kay shared her thoughts on Carrie Fisher’s appearance at Wizard World.

Our world-building segment turns to the two Rogue One teaser trailers released recently. One aired on NBC during the Olympics; the other premiered in Japan. We share our reactions to the two trailers, and note how they convey different messages about the story of the movie and its characters.

We also consider Edwards’ comments on what the title Rogue One might mean, and some hints about the planet Jedha from Entertainment Weekly. Additional images from the film appeared in Empire magazine and EW’s gallery.

For the storytelling segment, we turn to the characters of Rogue One. So far the most has been shared about the lead, Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones. She spoke to EW about her character, as well as to Kyle Buchanan at Vulture, who shared several outtakes on Twitter. Additionally, Forest Whitaker at EW offered some intriguing insights into Saw Gerrera at the time of Rogue One, including a fascinating parallel with none other than Darth Vader. While hardcore Star Wars fans have been excited by what’s been revealed so far about the movie, we noted the ongoing discussion in fandom and the media about whether the marketing has been doing enough to reach casual fans. The Hollywood Reporter noted that reaction in China has been muted, especially compared to other properties, like the Marvel films, which already have a large established presence in the country.

We conclude the episode with our plot bunny giveaway, with inspiration drawn from the Rogue One trailers.

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Direct download: HT_20_final_rev.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:23am EST

For the July episode of Hyperspace Theories, our topic of discussion naturally is Star Wars Celebration Europe, held in London on July 15-16, 2016. Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester attended the convention, and Kay caught up on all the excitement with the official livestream from The Star Wars Show and the other great video content shared on the official Star Wars YouTube channel.

The show opens with overall reactions to Celebration. In the end Tricia, BJ and Kay agree with the assessment of Graeme McMillan’s article in The Hollywood Reporter that the convention focused on the fans and their engagement with and passion for the franchise, rather than on breaking news or seeking coverage in the entertainment media. One major theme of Celebration, like last year’s convention in Anaheim, was how much Lucasfilm understands and appreciates the importance of the fans to Star Wars’ success.
Another interesting theme at Celebration was Lucasfilm’s goal of leading the push into the future of storytelling mediums. Tricia and B.J. both got to experience the ILMxLAB virtual reality short story “Trials on Tatooine.” The interaction between technology and storytelling also played a big part in the panel on STEM Heroes & Heroines of Star Wars that Tricia organized.

Discussion moves on to the two tentpoles of Celebration Europe this year. For the upcoming standalone movie Rogue One, the Hyperspace Theories team analyzes the panel, the sizzle reel, and the exhibit of costumes on the show floor. For Star Wars Rebels, the big news is the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the iconic villains of the Star Wars Legends tales, as the featured adversary for the Ghost crew in Season Three. Our last episode covered the 25th anniversary of Heir to the Empire, the novel in which Thrawn was introduced; at Celebration, we learned that author Timothy Zahn also is returning to pen the new novel Thrawn to reintroduce the character’s story leading up to his appearance in Rebels.

The show concludes with the Future Filmmakers panel, which was light on information but gave a lot of insight into the directors of the next Star Wars films. Rian Johnson shared a list of classic movies that comprised a “film camp” he held as inspiration for the people working on Episode VIII. Phil Lord and Chris Miller brought both humor and heart, as well as new Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich, for their untitled movie.

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You can also listen to Hyperspace Theories at Libsyn or download the show there. Or subscribe on iTunes. If you listen, please rate us and write a review as a simple offer of gratitude. Hyperspace Theories is now available on Stitcher, as well.

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Direct download: HyperspaceTheories_19_main.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:48am EST

The team from FANgirl Blog dive into the New York Times Bestselling novel Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray.

Direct download: HyperspaceTheories_18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35pm EST

This month on Hyperspace Theories, we discuss how the music of Star Wars enhances the storytelling in The Force Awakens. Joining Tricia, B.J., and Kay for the episode is Sarah Woloski, who co-hosts Fangirls Going Rogue with Tricia and Teresa and Skywalking Through Neverland with her husband Richard. All four of us have instrumental musical backgrounds, and we share how our experiences learning and performing music have shaped our appreciation of the music of Star Wars.

In previous episodes, we’ve used the meta segment – where we talk about how to speculate wisely – to analyze the impacts of some of the foundational figures in Star Wars storytelling, including George Lucas, Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and more. This month, we add maestro John Williams to the list. Of course, his amazing career spans dozens of famous movies and numerous famous musicals themes – Jaws,Indiana Jones, Superman, E.T., and Jurassic Park, to name only a few – but just as Star Wars is in a class by itself in cinema history, so too is Williams’ iconic Star Wars music. As much as anyone, Williams has added to the language of Star Wars storytelling with the themes, melodies, motifs, and other musical details weaved throughout the Star Wars films. From the powerful tones of the “Main Theme,” “Imperial March,” and “Duel of the Fates” to lyrical refrains like “Han Solo and the Princess,” “Yoda’s Theme,” and the “Force Theme,” the music adds considerable depth and emotional weight to the story.

In the worldbuilding segment, we consider how the soundtrack of The Force Awakens elaborates upon the characters and storytelling in the movie. Williams has described his use of deliberate musical connections to the previous films in some respects, while also shaping new music for other places in the film. Among the tracks we discuss are “The Scavenger” and “Rey’s Theme” for the new heroine, Kylo Ren’s motif for the new villain, “Torn Apart” for the fateful showdown, “March of the Resistance” and “Scherzo for X-wings” for the new heroes fighting back against the First Order, and “The Journey Home” and “The Jedi Steps” that bring the movie to a close.

With so much to say about Williams and his music, we’ll resume with our other usual segments in the next episode. Stay tuned for more analysis of The Force Awakens and the future of Star Wars storytelling.

You can also listen to Hyperspace Theories at Libsyn or download the show there. Or subscribe on iTunes. If you listen, please rate us and write a review as a simple offer of gratitude. Hyperspace Theories is now available on Stitcher, as well.

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Direct download: HyperspaceTheories_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36pm EST

Rey's Hero's Journey in The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been a record-smashing box office success, a reinvigoration of the movie side of franchise for longtime fans, a launching point for new fans of all ages – and the origin story of a fan-favorite new character in Star Wars, Rey. The film’s plot structure and protagonist’s character arc also provide an excellent touchstone for examining one of the iconic features in discussions of storytelling: the Hero’s Journey.

In this special edition of Hyperspace Theories, we use the prominent Hero’s Journey frameworks by academic Joseph Campbell and screenwriting consultant Christopher Vogler to analyze the elements of Rey’s progression from Jakku scavenger to Jedi apprentice over the course of The Force Awakens. Along the way we compare Rey’s story to other well-known examples of the Hero’s Journey, including Luke Skywalker, Katniss Everdeen, and Dorothy Gale. This episode will appeal to fans of Star Wars intrigued by the deep storytelling themes in The Force Awakens, as well as anyone interested in learning more about the Hero’s Journey in modern storytelling.

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Direct download: Hyperspace_Theories_SE_Rey_HJ_final.mp3
Category:Special Edition -- posted at: 11:12pm EST

After last month’s episode sharing our initial reactions to The Force Awakens, this month’s episode begins our analysis and discussion of the new movie, as well as the lessons about storytelling and speculation that can be learned from it. Needless to say, we’ll have plenty more discussion of the movie to come in future episodes.

Before turning to The Force Awakens, though, we start off the show with a different topic for our meta segment on how to speculate wisely – the Star Wars Rebels midseason trailer for the back half of Season Two. We consider some elements of the trailer that make connections to The Force Awakens to increase interest in Rebels, such as the Jedi crossguard lightsaber, a Jedi temple site, and the appearance of Princess Leia. We also discuss the trailer’s links to prior Star Wars lore, such as a Sith holocron, Twi’lek freedom fighters and Mandalorian warriors from The Clone Wars, and the “Old Master” Ezra encounters. Another feature of note was the social media message shared by showrunner Dave Filoni prior to the trailer’s release, advising fans about its spoiler-heavy content.

For the world-building segment, longtime fan of the Empire, Jay Shah, joins us to talk about the First Order in The Force Awakens. In some ways the First Order operates as a direct descendant of the Empire, but in other ways it differs significantly. Some of these distinctions, Jay points out, have significant moral implications for whether fans would feel willing to root for the First Order in the way they may have done previously for the Empire. In addition to the politics and military statuses of the galaxy, we share our views on the individuals who lead the First Order, including Supreme Leader Snoke, Kylo Ren, and General Hux.

The storytelling segment focuses on the use of the Original Trilogy’s legacy heroes in The Force Awakens and the hints at their post-Return of the Jedi backstory revealed in the movie. A key touchstone for our discussion is Devin Faraci’s article at Birth Movies Death on the portrayal of Han Solo in the film. Faraci analyzes Han’s character arc in The Force Awakens as a regression to his early Original Trilogy persona rather than progression forward, and maintains that alternative characterizations and backstories for Han could have kept his role in the movie essentially the same in relation to the new generation heroes while making his characterization stronger and more believable to the audience. Our discussion of the legacy Big Three agrees in large measure with the kinds of concerns Faraci raises, and we discuss similar dilemmas with the portrayals of Leia and Luke in the movie, as well as Han.

Our plot bunny giveaway draws upon one of the great open questions after The Force Awakens: how missing scenes might be used to reveal or further hint at Rey’s heritage.

You can also listen to Hyperspace Theories at Libsyn or download the show there. Or subscribe on iTunes.

 


Hyperspace Theories is on Twitter @HyperspacePod!

Tricia is @FANgirlcantina on Twitter, as well as posting at FANgirl Zone on Facebook and on Tumblr.

Kay tweets @Geek_Kay.

B.J. tweets @RedPenofLex.

Jay Shah tweets @admiraljello.

Direct download: HyperspaceTheories_16.mp3
Category:Star Wars -- posted at: 10:28pm EST