This post starts off talking about Star Wars, but it isn’t really about that.
I enjoyed Rogue One – the newish Star Wars film. It’s not a perfect film, but it was heaps of fun. My only real problem was with Donnie Yen’s character – Chirrut Îmwe.
As soon as I saw a Blind Asian Monk, I knew that he would be a kick-ass warrior with almost supernaturally good sword skills. Even if you’ve never heard of Donnie Yen before, it is such an obvious trope that I felt cheated. He is Zatoichi, Master Po, Stick, Master of the Flying Guillotine, the Blind Fist, and any one of a hundred characters from Kung-Fu movies.
I know Star Wars movies exist as remixes as popular culture – but this is such an obvious character. There’s no subtly, no homage, just a straight forward rip-off which everyone thinks is a cliché – right?
To the ten-year-olds in the cinema, this was brand new! They’d never seen a WW2 Suicide Mission movie and they’d not spent decades watching poorly dubbed Wuxia.
When I saw A New Hope for the first time, no one could have convinced me that the X-Wing scenes were just cheap copies of Fighter-Ace movies, or that a dark wizard holding a princess captive in a fortress wasn’t exactly an original plot.
It isn’t a cliché if it’s your first time.
If you hang around message-boards long enough, you’ll start to see the same questions being asked repeatedly. Whether it is technology, politics, or engineering – we do a terrible job of inducting people into our knowledge.
How do we do it for “online culture” – if there is such a thing? Sit kids down with a stack of Cory Doctorow books and a copy of The Cathedral & Bazaar and say “Look, we’ve had lots of these arguments about digital culture before – and this is as far as we got with our conclusions.”?
We have formal ways of teaching philosophy, history, ethics, science, and maths. Where’s the training course for netiquette? Telling Internet neophytes not to talk to strangers and not to share details online seems unrealistic.
We can’t just dump WhatsApp on a civilisation and expect them to adapt overnight. Humans are more complicated than that.
How do we build a culture that understands the potential and pitfalls of cyberspace?