So I listen to several extremely awesome podcasts, one of my new favorites is the Imaginary Worlds podcast where Eric Molinsky (@) does some great auditory storytelling. Right now he’s in the middle of a series on, of course, Star Wars. But this week’s episode is what I really want to talk about.
Now I imagine that most of you reading this is familiar with the massive internet meme “Han Shot First” but just in case you’re not. “Han shot first” is referring to a controversial change made to a scene in Star Wars (original released in 1977), in which Han Solo is confronted by fellow bounty hunter Greedo in the Mos Eisley cantina. The change was made for the 1997 Special Edition re-release of “Star Wars”, and has since been altered twice more. “Han shot first” is the claim that “Han shot first and last”, and is a backlash quibe to George Lucas’s explicit cinematic assertion that Greedo shot first.
Being that I spend a lot of my time digesting and thinking critically plus teaching the Bible. So like a trained preacher, I immediately thought of Redaction Criticism. I thought about how Redaction Criticism teaches us to think critically about the source material used to craft the narrative arch of stories throughout the Bible. Really it’s a lot to get into here, but surmise it to say that “it focuses on how the redactor(s) has shaped and molded the narrative to express his theological goals.” This approach to the Bible has brought us loads of fantastic theological shaping understanding starting with things like the Documentary hypothesis.
Which brings me back to Star Wars. Does it matter who shot first? Who really owns the rights to decide which version is the authoritative one? Is it George claiming that the older versions were just ‘poor film-making’ on his part and that he had always intended to have Greedo shoot first. Or is it those viewers who grew up as a 9 year old in 1977, who at 29 are told that they didn’t understand one of their childhood heros?
Is it Disney now who owns the rights to the films and distributes them? The argument stems deep and wide in the versions that are available and how the changes are portrayed. It goes so far as to where the fan-base has created it’s own “Despecialized Edition” that you can download in dark corners of the internet.
Ultimately the question is like that of source or redaction criticism, What does it mean to you when you say that Han shot first? What type of statement or thought are you making. For me I like to think Han shot first, because it helps complete the narrative arch that transforms a guy who only cares about himself into General Solo one of the leaders of the rebellion striving to rid the galaxy of the evil empire. For me I find myself asking the same types of questions I keep asking like which makes the better story?
Either way in the eternal words of Han Solo himself…”Sorry about the mess.”