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All That and a Bag of Mail

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 16: A general view of the atmosphere during the European Premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at Leicester Square on December 16, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images) Dave J Hogan Getty Images Europe

Happy Friday. 

So many of your questions came about Star Wars Episode VII the Force Awakens that I decided to make this mailbag almost entirely Star Wars related. (Until the end when I go off on PC bros about Robert E. Lee. What a combo!)

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Han Solo because he’s Han Fucking Solo. Even with Harrison Ford now being nearly 73 years old he’s still a badass in this movie. It’s like the last 32 years passed in the blink of an eye. 

Here we go with Star Wars talk: 

I’m not going to get into spoilers because I think people who give out spoilers should be beaten and imprisoned, but Star Wars Episode VII is fantastic and you should all go see it.

But first let me talk about spoilers.

I’m a pretty easy going guy, I forgive almost any flaw. But I truly believe that people who intentionally give out spoilers should be socially shamed, publicly beaten, and forced to pay restitution to those they spoil a movie or a show for. I just find it totally unacceptable in all respects. And I feel like there are tons of people who hate “Star Wars” running around on social media trying to ruin the experience of people who love Star Wars. Why would you do this?

I seriously think that people who get joy from spoiling movie or television shows are sociopaths. It’s the clearest possible test for me in the 21st century. If you enjoy spoiling other people’s enjoyment, you’re a sociopath, plain and simple. We don’t even need a test. I just don’t understand how you couldn’t have the empathy to think about how pissed you’d be to find out that Chewbacca is the new Emperor of the dark side in Episode VII.

Relax, relax, that’s made up. 

A spoiler has no redeeming quality — it’s not funny, it’s not smart, it’s not you making some social statement about your life, it’s just the clearest possible sign that you’re a total asshole undeserving of any friends or success in life. If I found out you’d gleefully spoiled Star Wars for hundreds of people on social media and then also found out that you got hit by a bus and died that same evening I’d think, “Seems fair.” 

A couple of years ago I had an asshole Tweet me a spoiler for the opening in “House of Cards,” Season Two and I would still strangle that guy to death if I ever saw him in person. And not feel bad about it at all. I feel like we’re not that far removed from someone going on trial for murder and getting off by saying, “He told me the whole plot of “Breaking Bad” in advance.” 

If I were on the jury I’d honestly be thinking, “You know what? He did kind of deserve it.”

With the advent of social media we need a national anti-spoiler compact. 

It’s not even that complicated, but I’d ask all Outkick readers to sign on to this three part agreement:

1. If you say spoiler alert and give someone time to adjust their behavior: that spoiler’s on the reader or listener. 

I write and talk about “Game of Thrones,” regularly on Outkick right after the episodes air. That’s because lots of people want to talk about the show as soon as it ends. But I try not to give much away on social media immediately after a show airs. I’ll Tweet my reaction to the show without giving away any particular plot points. 

That’s entirely fair. If you’re watching you know what I’m talking about, but if you have to wait to see it then all you know is the episode is worth your time. 

We have tons of TV reviews on Outkick. If you click on an article about a show before you watch it, that’s on you.

I think about this with radio and TV too. I’ve never given out a spoiler on TV or radio and I talk for hours a day.

The most important part is the goal — I don’t want to spoil a great show or book or movie for you in advance.  

2. Ask if someone has seen a show before you dive into a long conversation about show specifics. 

Reasonable people already do this. How many times have you found yourself saying, “What season are you on?” before you start discussing plot points with a friend? I feel like everyone with a functional soul already does this. 

There’s nothing worse than being in an office setting and someone just dives right into a crucial plot point that doesn’t emerge until season four. Give people the ability to bail on conversations before you discuss specific plot elements of stories. 

Loose lips can sink plot ships.

3. Some stories become so popular that it’s impossible to avoid discussing them even if you don’t watch the show.

 

In olden days, “Who shot J.R.?” was a great example. 

I’ll give you a modern example from “Game of Thrones” — SPOILER ALERT JUST TO BE SAFE:

Is Jon Snow alive or dead?

Even if you don’t watch “Game of Thrones” you’re aware there’s a huge cultural construct built around Jon Snow and whether he’s alive or dead. It’s a popular Internet meme. But those events are rare.

It takes a massively popular show to cross over into popular culture even for those who aren’t watching the show.

That’s it, just three steps.

I suggest social shunning for anyone who breaks this taboo and willingly shares plot points.   

Lots of you on Twitter and email. 

“How would you rank Episode VII?”

Having seen all seven movies, I would rank them thusly: Episode VI, Episode V, Episode III, Episode VII, Episode IV, Episode II, Episode I

I’ll admit that my rankings may be skewed because I watched “Return of the Jedi” at such a young age and so many times that the scene where Luke walks the plank and then jumps while R2 shoots his light saber into the air is maybe, to me, the greatest scene in cinematic history. Also, Princess Leia gave me my first ever erection caused by a woman when she wore the slave costume and set on Jabba’s lap. God bless her. 

I love “Return of the Jedi,” because it takes me back to being five years old again and being obsessed with that movie. Is it the best? Objectively, no. But subjectively it will always be tops to me.

Everything about “The Empire Strikes Back” is stellar and I really feel like the final episode of the trilogy, when Anakin turns bad, is very well done. 

Episode VII definitely feels much more like the original trilogy than it does the prequels.  

Garrett writes:

“With the new Star Wars opening up last night (which was incredible, for the record…all you Outkick readers who haven’t seen it should drop what you’re doing and go watch it now), I thought it was a good time to ask your opinion on an age-old question:

What’s the best order to watch all of the Star Wars films?

Do you just go straight from Episode I through Episode VI (and now VII), and suffer through the prequels first? Do you watch the original trilogy first, then the prequels? Do you skip the prequels altogether? Or is there some other order that intermingles the originals and the prequels?”

If you’re an adult who has never seen the Star Wars movies — and amazingly these people exist — I’d go IV, V, II, III, VI, VII

But if you’ve got kids, they will absolutely love Episode I. You may well hate it, but Episode I is fantastic for kids because Anakin is a young kid too and that way they feel like they grow up with him. So if you’re starting it with kids, I’d go straight in chronological order.

The two toughest episodes to watch for kids are Episode III, when Anakin turns bad — my five year old still insists that he’s dressing up as young Anakin — and the most recent Episode VII. 

By the way, kids, unlike those of us who grew up with IV, V, and VI first, really view this as Anakin/Darth Vader’s story. Yes, you lose the “Luke, I am your father,” dramatic reveal, but Darth Vader is arguably a more interesting character to them from the start because they automatically are viewing him as Luke’s father throughout. They know Darth Vader isn’t all bad, which makes their viewing a bit more complex than ours was. 

Lots of you:

“How is Episode VII for kids?”

I feel like it’s pretty dark, but if your kids have already seen I-VI then they can handle it. I took my five and seven year olds to the movie. It’s rated PG 13, but the violence is pretty comparable to the first six episodes. 

The most absurd thing to me was the previews before the movie. Those were decidely not age appropriate for my kids. If I could eliminate anything from their viewing it would be to just sit down right as the movie begins. 

To the extent I have any criticism for Disney it was here — you couldn’t have promoted movies that fit the “Star Wars” canon at least a little bit? There are going to be tons of kids at these movies. The previews shouldn’t be the scariest and most violent part of a movie. 

Tristan writes:

“I went to Star Wars this morning and just got out it was awesome. So my question is what do you do when there’s not a full theater and you get a larger person setting next to you. The old style movie seat would not allow you to get squeezed but I found my self felt like I was being squeezed by the guy next to me. What are my options besides move ( I was there first and when I bought my ticket no one was sitting there)?”

You move. 

And now one departure from a Star Wars mailbag because this has got me so fired up.

Mike writes:

“This week New Orleans’ city council voted to take down a statue of Robert E. Lee that has stood for over 100 years. I can understand the argument they made about him fighting for a government that condoned slavery, but I completely disagree with it. Historical figures are products of their time and environment. If Lee had lived 80 years earlier he would probably be in the same conversations as Washington, and had he lived 80 years later he might have been in the same breath as Eisenhower and Patton. Do you think that society will ever be able to recognize this and be able to separate the good and bad of individuals as a result of circumstance and should be regarded as a partial, and not total flaw? I’m ready for a political body to act like rational adults with fully formed brains and not overreacting like robots that can only compute binary outcomes.

Woody Hayes punched an opposing player and we don’t consider him a complete failure as a coach or human being? Bill Clinton cheated on his wife, but we still like him. Interested to hear your thoughts on this.

And if the statue is available, Outkick should totally buy it and set it in the background of every show you broadcast. Just because you can.”

What people don’t understand about this is that Lee freed his slaves and Ulysses S. Grant, the man he fought against in the Civil War, kept his. Because PC bro culture is so stupid PC bro culture has decided that the Civil War was a clear division between the good and the bad. The South was bad and racist, the north was good and not racist. That wasn’t the case at all. America was racist in the 1860’s, both North and South. 

Do you know what Abraham Lincoln, patron saint of modern PC bros, wanted to do with the slaves? He wanted to send them all back to Africa.

Lincoln was a brilliant politician, but the reason he freed the slaves was to try and win the Civil War. If he could have won the Civil War without freeing the slaves — only the slaves in the South, by the way, he didn’t free the slaves in Northern border states — he would have. 

It’s lazy to have strong opinions about history and not have ever read any history books. But that’s where we are in America today. And it’s even scarier to then advance those lazy opinions to the point where you create an artificial construct of good and evil in your mind that never existed in the real world. PC bro culture is about creating false dichotomies of good and evil, racism and non-racism, and then deciding that anyone who disagrees with your opinion is racist. That’s not liberal thought, it’s fascism.  

The reality is pretty simple in the 1860’s, you fought for the decision your state made. States were like countries in the 1860’s. Very few men chose to go against the decision their state made. Lee didn’t want Virginia to secede, but when Virginia seceded he supported his state. That’s what 98% of soldiers did in the 1860’s, they went with the decision made by their states. The difference of opinion between Southern officers trained at West Point and Northern officers trained at West Point in the Civil War was slim. These were the most highly educated men of their generation, most of them were racial moderates for their era on both sides.   

My point in this is pretty simple: Every single man and woman is a product of his time. This idea that we should judge historical figures based on the beliefs that we hold in 2015 is beyond absurd. It’s also scary. Because it leads to a totally false embrace of our history. Where does the desire to remove and cleanse the past end? George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners who would have fought for the South if they’d been alive in the 1860’s. Should we tear down their monuments in D.C. and rename Washington state and Washington, D.C.?

Somehow we’ve entered into a world where history — and our nation’s historical relics — aren’t supposed to offend anyone.

The problem with that is pretty simple — if no one’s ever offended, then we all have the same opinions about everything. And if we all have the same opinions on everything, what’s the point of a country founded on freedom? If everyone agrees you don’t have a free country, you have totalitarianism.

Enjoy the weekend.

Go see Star Wars. Recognize that the reason we love that movie is because it embraces something totally foreign to our culture today — the idea that all people have good and bad dwelling within them.

It’s just too bad that’s only permissible in fiction today.  

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is an author, radio show host, lawyer, TV analyst, and the founder and lead writer of Outkick (formerly known as Outkick the Coverage).
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