Star Wars Episode 9: The Solaris speculation!

The Internet is still ablaze with fire that The Last Jedi lit within the Star Wars Community. I have to be honest, I disliked the movie too! 

For me the cardinal sin wasn’t that Captain Phasma didn’t get a bigger character arch or that Luke never had the chance to truly kick ass.

For me it’s that Rian Johnson really narrowed down what JJ can do in the next chapter and got lost story wise.

I still can’t believe that his script got approved and there wasn’t anyone around to flesh out a three part saga to begin with! If you are continuing the biggest and most love franchise in the world you would think that would have been the case…

ANYWAY…

The worst thing that could happen now is that JJ feels obliged to hit the reboot button yet again to bring back Snoke or undo other parts of The Last Jedi. As much as I disliked this movie, let’s just put on a brave face and move on! Otherwise this trilogy will feel even more like a mess. Let’s just hope JJ sparkles a little bit more nostalgia on everything than Rian Johnson was willing to do.

So the big question is of cause: Where do we go from here.

Snoke is no more, Luke is no more. Rey is on the run with the last of the resistance. Leia is still around. We got Poe, Finn and Rose also. There are some stashed away Jedi books. Kylo is the Supreme Leader. There are Force sensitive people out there.

Let me indulge you with a story I’d like to see in the next movie. And yes, after having finished writing my own version of Episode 9 I actually retconned TLJ quite a bit. Ah well… suck it Haters!

Ultimately we need Kyo to be defeated/redeemed and the Jedi to return SOMEHOW. Another possibility would be that Rey and Kylo cancel each other out as the two sides of the Force, leaving a blank slate for new Force sensitive people to start all over again. Very Matrix-y.

So let’s begin…

Let’s start with the best part of the new trilogy: Kylo Ren. He now is the main dude of the First Order, so what’s next for him? After Lukes passing, all that’s left to do is to beat or turn Rey. 

The film starts with a flashback to the night Luke tried to cut Kylo down. We can see the whole situation unravel with Kylo having an epic fight with Luke.  As Luke looks like he is winning, Ben turns to Snoke to bestow powers onto him. This would be the point where Kylo goes full Darkside and levels the whole Jedi training facility AKIRA style.

Standing in the ruins of the Jedi temple he gazes at the last 5 pupils that are still alive. He asks them if they are with him and they all nod. We get Snoke landing with a shuttle nearby picking them up. Snoke adresses Kylo telling him he is now ready to be properly trained.

BOOOM!

Kylo wakes up from this fever dream and rushes to the command bridge. He orders Hux to travel to a certain star system where he boards his shuttle and descents on a dark planet. Yup fanboys: It’s Mustafar!

I always liked Kylo being a Vader fanboy so I’d bring that aspect of him back.

We see him walk through Vaders old citadel from Rogue One where he calls out for Vader, calling him a traitor for turning and dissing Luke and the Jedi. He is still super emotional about the dream, cursing out the full Skywalker lineage. We could even get a broken down room with the table Vader was crafted on in Episode 3.

Suddenly we get hisses and whispers and we get the force ghost of… Anakin! Yeah fuck it, bring Hayden back! Just make sure he has some good dialogue this time…

Anakin and Kylo have some heated convo about the strength of the dark side compared to the “goody-two-shoes” light side. Anakin goes: “Yeah but would you kill your OWN COUSIN after what you have done to your father and mother?” Kylo freezes then gives some stroppy “I’d kill ANYONE who’s in my way” speech and rushes to his shuttle. OH SHIT! Rey and Kylo are family after all.

We cut to Rey who is with the rest of the resistance on the Millennium Falcon. Leia is getting weaker after her space flight and seeing her brother die got her energy right down. She is on her death bed.

I don’t want to see CGI Leia again and I doubt they shot any scenes with her on Episode 9 so we need to say goodbye to Leia somehow, as hard as that seems.

Leia calls for Rey and she reveals to her that she is Lukes daughter. Leia felt it during her last encounter with Luke during TLJ. She dies holding Reys hand… ALL THE FEELS!

Listen! I do hate that everyone is related and connected in Star Wars as much as you do, but having Rey be a nobody isn’t very rewarding in an epic fantasy way, ok? And having the Solos and Skywalkers face off is kinda cool.

Now Poe enters the stage talking about rebuilding the resistance. At this point we could either go: Fuck the resistance, it’s Rey against Kylo. OR we have Poe, Finn and Rose try to motivate the old allies to join forces again so we can have a big ass final space battle.

I’d say Poe, Finn and Rose go on their rebel sidequest to gather whats left of the rebellion whilst Rey seeks out a planet to check out all the Jedi books in her stash. Maybe she can go to R2-D2 and fire up Lukes old map, retracing his path before he went into exile in Ireland.

So basically she fucks off and makes camp in an abandoned Jedi temple on some new planet where she reads the books and tries to train like Rocky IV in Russia: Damn low tech and a bit rubbish.

Cut to Kylo

He sits on Snokes throne, the door opens and Hux comes in. Informing him that he found “them”.

We cut to a shuttle landing on a planet. Kylo orders the troops to fall behind and walks into some dark alien jungle. He arrives at a derelict Sith temple and gets attacked by 5 shadowing figures. After beating them all after an epic battle one of them says: “So you returned!” Kylo lowers his saber and tells them that he needs their powers. The Knights of Ren are BACK!

Back on the star destroyer he tasks them to track down Rey and the Rebellion and to put their abilities to good use again. We now have some LOTR Nazgul situation where the Knights of Ren search the galaxy for Rey with they Force powers.

Cut to Rey

She is doing her thing in that abandoned Jedi temple, very reminiscent of her AT-AT homestead on Jakuu. Hell, she could even cook up a green “portion” again!

To cut a long story short: Force Ghost Luke appears and now we get that fucking training montage!

After her training is progressed enough he shows her how to craft her own lightsaber. She adds her own modifications and VOILA! We get Darth Mauls double bladed staff just with green blades as she used the kyber cristal from Lukes old weapon!

Meanwhile with the Rebels

Leia passed away, we get a funeral in the debris field of Alderaan. Leias death echoes through the galaxy. It’s the news of her death that reignites the rebellion! #neverforgetAlderaan

We have all these spaceships appear out of nowhere to join the fight and so we have some new toys we can blow up run the epic last battle. Poe is happy, BB-8 beeps and Finn and Rose hug. And Chewie just stands there with a Porg on his shoulder. Awwwwwwwwwwww…

Cut to Rey

We can have a Force chat with Kylo again where she tells him that he won’t find her. He just chuckles and says: “I just did.”

Five starships land and it’s the Knights of Ren. Ren puts all her Luke training to good use and we get an epic light saber battle where she cuts them all down. In the heat of the moment we see her loose control of her emotions and enjoys the killing a bit too much. This way we keep the ambivalence.

 Cool Knights of Ren concept art
Cool Knights of Ren concept art

After the fight is over she knows she needs to face off with Kylo and Luke urges her to always keep her dark side under control. She jumps in her vintage, beaten up star ship ( shall we reuse the Jedi Fighter from the Prequels? ) and flies to Kylo…

Now we got the resistance prepare for battle and Rey heading for Kylo.

So we get one last big fucking space battle! Everyone is running to their space ships. Only Chewie is sad because without Rey or Han he has no Co-Pilot. The hangar door opens and a shadowy figure says: “Maybe I can help with that”… LANDO IS BACK BABY!

We can have a bit of banter with Lando and Poe… “I hope you are still as good as my father told me you were” or something…

Rey of cause gets permission to land and we have a final battle that echoes ROTJ just without an Emperor.

After an epic fight their Force powers cancel each other out and implode the whole Jedi / Sith thing. Now that would be truly a balance of the Force! Plus further movies can reboot that situation anyway.

Sooo… both are out of it and without powers.

Kylo forgives Luke and we get some flashes of Ben, Han and Leia being a family. Rey drops her light saber and gets her moment with Luke. He says: “It’s about time I introduce you to your mother… Mary!” A second Force Ghost appears…

OH SHIT Mary Jade is canon now!

Meanwhile the resistance wins the space battle, enters Kylos Star Destroyer. Poe takes out Hux and the rebels win, yaaayyy!

Kylo and Rey both lost their force abilities. Kylo is still somehow mortally wounded and joins his mother and father in death because he has been such a naughty boy and can’t be allowed to survive the movie.

Rey goes back to Jakuu as “It’s sandy and horrible, but it’s home.”

If we want to be really cheesy we can see Finn and Rose dropping off broom boy from TLJ after they freed him and the other kids from slavery. As he runs back to his parents we see two suns rising on the horizon… implying that the circle starts again!

The End! 

PS: Oh and I’d call it: The Balance of the Force

Let me know in the comments below what you think about my story points! GENIUS, RIGHT?!

The Last Jedi: The Solaris Edit

Wow The Last Jedi really ruffled some feathers out there!!! It seems I am not the only one who thought the sequel sucked…

I think a big part of the disappointment is that it seemed that Rian Johnson wasn’t really interested in any of the set ups JJ Abrahams established in The Force Awakens (TFA). This made me think of the “Yes, and…” rule I was taught during Improv Theatre lessons: In order to keep a scene between two actors flowing you never interrupt the flow of a story by cutting it off. 

One should always acknowledge what came before and then add any new twists and turns by saying “Yes, and…”. I feel Rian Johnson was more like “Yes, and… FUCK THIS!”, trying to shake off the long shadow cast by JJ and Star Wars itself. This, if I am honest, could have been excused if the story he was telling was more kick ass and exciting. But I am still amazed why he chose to give the blandest characters a big side story, whilst throwing all exciting story beats from TFA out of the window.

via GIPHY

So that kept me thinking about how I would have amended the story to make it work better…

So let’s get out the lightsabers and Porg cuddly toys and revisit this mess!

First, let’s start with the set up: 

There is a mystery around Reys parents and her Force abilities, there is the promise of seeing Snoke finish training Kylo, there is the massive cliffhanger with grizzled Jedi master Luke. We still have Chewie hanging around after the death of Han Solo and we need to deal with the tragic passing of Princess Leia herself. Finn is in coma with his back sliced open by Kylo, the Galactic Senate has been blown up and The First Order just lost their Deathst… ehhh Starkiller Base. There are whispers about the Knights of Ren and ancient Jedi lore.

Even writing down this list makes me pissed off that Johnson didn’t really deal with any of that!

Ok so let’s see what MY GENIUS BRAIN would have cooked up…

Let’s start easy.

First of all I would have addressed that Captain Phasma lowered the shields and allowed the rebels to blow up the most powerful weapon in TFA. She is a throwaway character anyway, so instead of having a lame fight with Finn we use her to show how badass Snoke is. I quite liked how Snoke kicked Hux around like a rag doll, so why not do a big ROTJ landing bay scene with Snoke infront of the First Order armies addressing the failure to protect Starkiller Base and making an example of Captain Phasma by killing her with some gruesome Darkside powers in front of everybody!

That would establish Snoke as a badass with powers never seen before and raise the intrigue what his deal is. I really enjoyed the fact that Darth Vader became this hero figure for Kylo, so why not get a bit of Darth Vader hero worship in there too with Snoke praising days of old, with the Empire in full swing. 

We can then continue with the attack on the Rebel Base. That fight against the Dreadnaught ship was awesome and I wouldn’t change a thing apart from making that female bomber pilot a nobody. She can still display mild Force powers to get the switch, establishing that the Force is with many different people, not just the Jedi. But no amulet rubbing, setting up the connection with Rose. BECAUSE THERE WON’T BE A ROSE!

Poe gets dressed down by Leia for wasting too many ships like in the movie, just with the difference that he get’s arrested for not following orders and thrown in lock down. YEP! Poe is out for the moment as his hot-headedness cost too many Rebel troops their lives.

Switch to Rey and Luke

I liked how he threw the lightsaber away so I am happy to roll with the whole “this dojo is closed” vibe. But as we know from similar situations in movies like Fight Club and Dr. Strange what needs to happen next: Rey needs to show some determination and commitment so swing Luke around. I like how she followed him around and how we see Lukes day by day. But: No funny alien nuns and no ugly alien with milk tits. Just kills the whole gravitas of the situation. I mean we are dealing with broken Luke Skywalker here!

So we have some back and forth and ultimately Luke tells Rey about the night Kylo fucked up his Jedi temple and bailed on him. Great opportunity to do a flashback scene, to go back to the time just after ROTJ: The death of his father aka Vader, the unrest after the fall of the Emperor, the birth of Kylo, Han bailing on Leia and Luke trying to re-establish the Jedi Order.

Luke tells Rey how Snoke crept into Kylos mind and corrupted him. This could be done similar to Sarumans corruption in LOTR… somehow Kylo finds a book or artefact that talks about the Dark Side and gets obsessed with it, hiding it from Luke. Maybe Luke himself was dabbling in the Dark Side and Kylo found a forbidden book or Sith artifact? As Kylo is still not over Han leaving him behind Snoke connects with his seeking spirit and whispers into his ear that he is not worth being loved and will get betrayed not only his father but his master also! This would explain why Kylo seeked Snoke after Luke tried to kill him.

We see the night of Kylo’s betrayal from Lukes view and Rey seems vindicated thinking that Kylo is a piece of shit!

Now we get some damn Jedi training, ok? Because Rey needs to be able to kick ass, and without at least some training this won’t fly. Luke can still be reluctant, yet fascinated. It can still end with Rey blowing some shit up and Luke getting a massive freak out like in the movie.

No mind talking between Rey and Kylo. We do that chatting later. At some point Rey leaves Luke disappointed and returns to the resistance.

Now if my memory serves me well we go back to the Rebels and that slow ass chase scene. Ok, so that whole set up was kinda stupid. So we skip all that.

After the jump the First Order attacks.

Kylo still leads the assault and he still doesn’t pull the trigger. The command bridge is still getting blown up. But the scene is played out way slower, with Admiral Ackbar trying to sort shit out but dying a heros death. Just before the command bridge implodes, Luke and Leia connect their minds and Luke tells Leia the famous lines from ROTJ that he always knew she had the Force as well. And that now in her last minutes she needs to let go and embrace it.

We get a damn tear jerking moment of Leia closing her eyes, feeling the Force, smiling and then getting sucked into space. That’s it! She’s gone.

We get see Luke meditating on Ahch-Cho, opening his eyes crying. YES IT’S A TEAR JERKER! The mental goodbye between Leia and Luke!

Rey arrives with the resistance, sees shit is fucked up. The attack left the last ships of the resistance floating in space, so Hux get’s a massive boner just toying with them. Kylo and Snoke have a moment and Snoke instructs Kylo to turn Rey to the Dark side. Kylo contacts the Rebels and tells them that Rey needs to meet him if she wants to save her friends on the remaining rebel spaceships.

NOW we have a waiting game as The First Order can only attack after Rey got turned. We get all the Kylo and Rey dialogues onboard Snokes spaceship. Kylo tells Rey his side of Lukes story and we get the info that Luke tried to kill him. SHOCK HORROR!

Cut back to the Rebels…

Finn wakes up and gets some badass cybernetic spine because his body was so mauled by Kylos lightsaber. Let’s not forget he was a Stormtrooper once and the fact they always play him for comic relief sucks. He can be funny, but he can’t be plain useless.

So whilst the Rebels await their doom, Finn breaks out Poe and they go on a BRO mission to get support from other fractions of the rebellio
n. So yeah… no Laura Dern and no Rose! They take the Millennium Falcon and manage to leave the Rebel fleet undetected with Chewie who is happy to go on an adventure just like in the good old days with Han!

Back to the bad guys…

Now we jump back to Kylo and Rey. It get’s revealed her parents didn’t matter, she breaks down and accepts to talk to Snoke as she feels she is lost with nowhere to go.

Snoke offers to show Rey her place in all of this and all three board a shuttle and fly down to a close planet. Oh what’s that weird citadel they land close to? Oh shit, it’s ancient Sith temple! BOOM!!!

In the meantime Hux is getting instructed to only attack the Rebels once Snoke returns.

On the planet, we get an insight into Sith lore and Sith training. With Kylo training Rey under the watchful eyes of Snoke. It get’s revealed that Snoke is an ancient being that neither believes in the Dark nor the Light, but tries to fuse both sides to gain ultimate power. He used to be a Sith apprentice that saw the weakness in the Dark side as much as in the Light side. A great moment to bitch about the lame Jedi and the weak Sith in the Prequels: “All they did was talking about trading agreements” Hahahaha, take THAT George!!!

Swipe back to Poe and Finn on their mission. No damn casino planet, no kids with broom handles, no cute CGI aliens! We are in a Jabbas Palace / Cantina situation: Dirt, danger and freaky aliens. Ultimately they start talking to some Mon Calamari. Poe tells them that Ackbar died and the Resistance is fucked. The Mon Calamari take Poe and Finn to a secret rebel base that has been dormant for years. Oh shit… it’s the water planet of Kamino! They build the Calamari resistance in the derelict Clone Trooper facility! Ok I know, we all don’t want to think about the Prequels, but they are canon and won’t go away! So we might as well try to make them retroactively cool! So if you rather wanna pick  Geonosis or a destroyed Naboo… be my guest!

After some motivational speech they dust off all the abandoned rebel tech and we have a strong rebel strike team going back to save the rebellion! Queue to some amazing Rebel ships from the Prequels and OG trilogy appearing out of the water ( they are supposed to be vintage anyway ) and heading towards the last rebel ships.

Switch to Snoke, Kylo and Rey on the Sith planet.

Kylo pretends to turn to the light and we get the epic Rey / Kylo team up, battling Snoke. Through fusing their powers they defeat him and we get a nice grisely death scene.

We cut back to Luke who feels Snokes death. We get a connection between Luke and Kylo as well where Luke feels Kylos burning rage. Luke sits meditating, not sure what to do. Now we get Force ghost Yoda, and they have a moment. Yoda calls out his pussy-ness and Luke sees that he has to wrap things up with Kylo himself.

We walks to the cliff and Force lifts his vintage X Wing fighter out of the damn sea!

Back to the Sith planet. They fly back to the First Order fleet and Rey thinks all is good. But Kylo just smirkes and tells her that with Snoke gone he can finally step into the footsteps of Vader and destroy the Rebellion!

We get some more dialogue between them where Kylo calls Rey weak and all the other insults a Dark Force user would hurl at a Jedi.

He walks onto the bridge and opens a channel to the Rebels, about to deliver an epic last dialogue. But guess who is on the bridge answering the call? FUCKING LUKE SKYWALKER!!!

Luke apologizes for being weak and failing him, for letting fear rule him. He urges Kylo to fulfill his destiny on the light side and talks about how he saved Vader. We get an epic flashback of the the scene in ROTJ where Luke lifts Vader helmet ( now that sounds wrong ).

Kylo gets super emotional and basically screams “destroy the Rebels once and for all”! Lasers fire, Tie Fighters attack… and Luke fucks them all up with some EPIC Force powers. Basically some crazy next level shit like in that Star Wars game where we see the Force push two Star Destroyers into each other. It needs to be completely a HOLY SHEEEET moment. This is where we could use that great Hyperjump Kamikaze effect… or something.

Just when Luke is at the end of his powers we get the Mon Calamari rebel fleet arriving and an epic space battle commences. Kylo chokes Rey and taunts Luke to come over if he wants to save his apprentice. Luke, visibly shaky, agrees.

Whilst the battle rages in space we get a showdown between Luke and Kylo, with Luke rocking his GREEN lightsaber. But as he used up all his powers he is no match for Kylo. We get the “If you strike me down” line and Luke does an Obi Wan Kenobi disappearing act with Kylo slicing right through him.

Back to the space battle…

The rebels are successful fighting off the First Order. Hux comes running to Kylo, telling him that a retreat is necessary.

We pan to Rey who is full of anger and rage, holding the smoldering cowl of Luke. When Kylo turns around we see her picking up Lukes lightsaber, attacking Kylo full blast. During the fight we see Rey totally giving into the Dark side, hammering down Kylo. After he lies on the floor begging for his life, we see Rey lifting her head and we get a close up of her Sith eyes. BOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!

Cut to the Rebellion celebrating their victory, with the First Order disappearing into Hyperspace. Whilst everyone is cheering on the bridge, Finn looks to where the First Order disappeared and yells out: Rey!

THE END, ROLL CREDITS!!!

Now tell me that would not be a better movie than what we have…

Bladerunner 2049 and the curse of the dissapointing sequel

When reading reviews of the sequel to Ridley Scotts Masterpiece from 1982, Bladerunner 2049 is getting heaps of praise. It’s 5 stars all around and even hard to please movie buffs like Mark Kermode called it “a future classic”. And I really wonder why.

Don’t worry this post is *SPOILER FREE*

Having just watched the movie I am compelled to (unfortunately) strongly disagree. After the visual dust settled and the epic soundtrack died down, nothing much of substance really stuck with me. Don’t get me wrong: The production design is fantastic and the soundtrack immense. Plus you have to applaud the filmmaker to ape the slow pace of the original. Yet the question has to be: Was all this effort warranted? Did Bladerunner even need a sequel?

Without going into any spoiler territory I felt the story was very bland and obvious, the villains very cookie cutter and the set up for a sequel felt forced. I have no idea why so many reviewers praised the movie for being a standalone story whilst it’s a pretty obvious attempt at creating a franchise. Bladerunner 2049 just has nothing new to add to the conversation apart from getting Harrison Ford back into the role of Deckard. Especially the last part of the movie was so formulaic that I felt I am watching a bad direct to DVD sequel. Harsh but true.

Plus: Can we please stop with all these prequel story mini-movies? Like Alien Covenant, Bladerunner 2049 has accompanying short movies on YouTube that supposed to fill in some additional info about the storyline. I really feel this added content cheapens the movie experience as it feels like crutches the screenwriters needed because they didn’t find a way to flesh out the story in the actual movie.

Although the cast is full of talented actors, Leto and Ford don’t actually have much to do in the film and I found the rest of the cast pretty bland as well. Even Ryan Gosling starts to grate on me, always playing the same type of brooding loner since his movie Drive from 2012. The more I think about it, the more I am disappointed that they didn’t find a way to really add something new and worthwhile to the Bladerunner universe.

So why are so few sequels great? And why do so many sequels suck? Don’t get me wrong… I have nothing against sequels generally. There are actually a lot of sequels I absolutely LOVE! I just feel most sequels try to fake it without actually making it.

So let’s have a look at some of my favorite sequels and why they work.

Expanding the storyline: The Empire Strikes Back

Let’s get the elephant out of the room first: Empire is just a fantastic sequel! After Star Wars told a pretty standard space story about good vs evil, Empire just added so many great characters, iconic moments and story twists that nothing felt like a tired rehash or simple cash grab. Yodas training, Hoth, Bespin, Boba Fett, that meteroid chase plus space slugs… fantastic! Plus it had the balls to end on a pretty bleak cliffhanger. Still the best sequel to this day. 

Go BIG in a good way: Aliens

The classic sequel concept: Just go BIGGER and LOUDER! But where lesser directors fail and fail again, James Cameron gloriously succeeded.

Doing a 180-degree on the first Alien movie and turning a claustrophobic horror piece into a full-blown war movie was just a stroke of genius that totally could have backfired. Just it didn’t!

I recently rewatched Aliens and it’s as tense, nailbiting and effective as back in 1986.

Again, it added so much new and great material to the Alien lore that it never felt boring: The space marines, the alien queen, the power loader battle… just fantastic! Even if the final end boss gets blasted into space yet again.

Have a standout performance: The Dark Knight

Although I feel that Christopher Nolan could have trimmed the runtime of The Dark Knight a little, this was basically the Batman movie I always wanted: Dark, gritty and more of a crime drama than a campy comic book movie. And most of the praise for making this an awesome flick just has to go to Heath Ledger for his portrayal of The Joker.

There is a reason why The Joker is the best villain ever to grace the pages of a comic book: Although he is a colorful jester with a variety of bold outfits, he always was a dangerous and twisted villain that should never be underestimated. This violent, psychotic and dangerous side of the character was never played before this such relish as by Heath Ledger who deservedly won a posthumous Oscar for this performance.

So to come back to Bladerunner 2049, Alien: Covenant, James Bond Spectre and the many other sequels that totally disappointed me: Without adding new, exciting and iconic material to the foundation laid by the original, there is not much merit in doing a sequel. And that’s why Bladerunner 2049 really disappointed me, despite its beautiful visuals and booming soundtrack. It just didn’t add anything fresh to the formula, just really well regurgitated the style of the first.

To wrap this blog post up… let’s talk about the only sequel that TRULY matters this year: Star Wars The Last Jedi! Let’s keep the fingers crossed that The Last Jedi will not fall into the same pitfalls I just mentioned and just rehash what came before. I really hope the film will be able to create new and exciting Star Wars moments… May finally a good sequel be with us!

How close is too close: Painting and Stealing

The Hype World saw quite a bit of ruckus last week between two artists: Jason Freeny and KAWS. You can read all about it here:

  via Highsnobiety
via Highsnobiety

I can understand why KAWS left these comments below Freenys image.

He is afraid people will think this is an official collaboration and he tries to protect his brand. Especially after Freeny stepped on KAWS toes before, releasing a set of dissecting Legos in the exact same colour ways as KAWS did his companions.

Yet, Freenys work is all about dissecting famous characters, so KAWS could be just flattered that Freeny picked the Companion after dissecting other famous shapes like the Koons Balloon Dog, Barbie or the Lego people.

Here is my review of the original KAWS dissected toy:

With leaving these emotional comments KAWS opened himself up to a bigger conversation about the validity of his OWN work: How can somebody like him who HIMSELF appropriated famous works of other people, be mad at Jason Freeny for doing the same? KAWS jumped off the Mickey Mouse shape as much as Freeny does remixing the Companion!

This leads me to more questions about where the line should be drawn between riffing off an idea or artwork and just flat out stealing something that isn’t yours to take.

And how valid can you be as an artist if you are just stealing other peoples ideas and style?

The Graffiti world has very clear rules when it comes to this issue: If you steal someones style you are deemed a “Biter”.

 

To Bite: To copy another writer’s style. This is considered a no-no and is looked down upon, even though writers often borrow imagery from cartoons and comics.

– Graffiti.Org

 

Yet, most creative people started out riffing off other peoples work and later develop their own style. Closing off your mind from what came before really hinders innovation and progress. Plus: If you just LOVE painting Stormtroopers, why should you be forbidden to do so?

 

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.”

– Jim Jarmusch

 

Being it Hip Hop sampling hits of the 70ties, Pop Art riffing off everyday brands or Street Artists aping the style of their contemporaries, it can be hard to draw the line between just stealing somebody else’s hard work and creating something new out of something old!

 

Tell the truth, James Brown was old
‘Til Eric and Ra came out with “I Got Soul”
Rap brings back old R&B
And if we would not, people could’ve forgot

– Stetsasonic “Talking all that jazz”

 

Let’s discuss some of the big examples of appropriation to maybe get closer to the truth:

1907 – “The Fountain” by Duchamp

This piece caused massive outrage at the time but works for me because Duchamp was the first acknowledging that mundane objects can be viewed as art, and that art is dependent on the context. He didn’t even sculpt it but bought it in a shop.

So yes, it’s a regular pissoir designed by someone else. But signing it and putting it into an art show totally catches the viewer off guard, hence turning it into an art piss ehhh PIECE! 

1964 – “Brillo Box” by Andy Warhol

Personally I feel this is an updated version of Duchamps fountain: Warhol, being a commercial illustrator, highlights the beauty of a common object.

This time Warhol didn’t just put the original box, but recreated the item faithfully himself. Still, it’s not his design and he bootlegs the original packaging.

 

“With his Brillo boxes there is a degree of removal from actual boxes and they become an object that is not really a box. In a sense they are an illusion of a box and that places them in the realm of art.”

– Claes Oldenburg

 

The same effect can be achieved by changing the dimensions or the presentation. Other artworks in this ilk that come to mind are Hirsts overblown dissected anatomical figures ( clear inspiration to KAWS and Freeny btw ) and Koons suspended basket balls. 

 copyright Jeff Koons
copyright Jeff Koons

I do get people who hate such art. It’s just a basket ball, right?

I personally love it because I feel shaking up the presentation and context reveals a side of an object that has been hidden to the viewer and now triggers a different emotional response. 

Saying that, I am a Designer and have been loving objects my whole life: Being it vintage Star Wars toys, sneakers or Apple iPhones! 

For me a mundane, mass produced object can be art because in the end of the day a painted canvas is a designed object as much as an iPhone is.

Even the Mc Donalds uniform can become something of high value and status if re-appropriated by the right person: Hate Jeremy Scott as much as you want… mashing up McDonalds with Chanel is genius!

 Moschino by Jeremy Scott
Moschino by Jeremy Scott

The third powerful way to trigger an emotional response that turns an object into art is by creating hype! 

When I visited the first show of Banksy in London 2002 I didn’t buy any of his artwork as the rats stencilled on plain white canvas looked cheap to me. Of cause my emotional response today would be totally different.

 But only because I know for how much they are going these days!

So unfortunately you can’t deny that there is a connection how you value an art object based on the strength of the brand the artist created for himself!

Hence KAWS getting emotional about Freeny messing with his toys makes sense to me: KAWS is very keen to transcend the Street Art label and Freeny doing his own dissected Companion variation is diluting KAWS brand vision.

Talking about brands: I bet Blek Le Rat ain’t that happy about Banksy either, as it was Blek that established the stencil look first.  For me this is similar to MySpace succumbing to Facebook: One might have been first, but the latter just was at the right time at the right place!

Now this stencil style will forever be associated with Banksy, although you could argue that Banksy “bit” Le Rats style…

  via Mail on Sunday
via Mail on Sunday

You just can’t stop people remixing and referencing work. I am sure Da Vinci would be pissed at Koons for putting his design on LV bags, yet I find it hilariously naff. Especially putting the name of the painter on the item in bold letters like they were some kind of Rock Star! 

But would people pay the same amount if this was just a bootleg bag you found at your local pound store? I highly doubt it. And that’s why creating a strong brand as an artist matters so much!

Another classic example: Supreme creating their logo in the style of Barbara Kruger.

Yes, she is entitled to be pissed off about it, but for Supreme using her style makes total sense: Bold, loud and in your face! Plus the art connection elevates the feel of the label by association and makes it more premium.

In return you could argue Supreme gave back by making her work relevant to a new generation of art fans again…

Supreme going all the way applying this boldness to household items from tooth picks all the way to hammers harks back to Duchamp and Warhol, setting ordinary items in a new context to create something fresh! But is it art? Maybe?

You can read my thoughts about Supreme here!

Last but not least let’s talk BAPE Sta: A clear rip off of the Nike Air Force 1 silhouette by Japanese Streetwear label A Bathing Ape. A loophole in the patents prevented Nike from shutting down BAPES version of their shoe. BAPE owner NIGO went on to revolutionise the sneaker game by using materials and colour-ways that NIKE would have never touched at the time, and now we have sneakers in crazy colours from every mayor brand out there! Thanks for stealing, NIGO…

So I guess the question is: Are you creating something new and exciting, or are you just trying to wrap a turd in expensive cloth to bandwagon off it’s perceived value? This is, of cause, totally a matter of personal taste!

I have a bigger issue with Street Art when it comes to riffing off the same thing again and again. How many Amy Winehouses wheat-pasted on the walls do we need? How many mash ups of Ziggy Stardust are acceptable? I am not pointing fingers, I am just asking the question.

Artwork clockwise: Mr.Brainwash, Pure Evil, Rugman, James Cochran ( picked because they came up first in Googles search results, not because I want to point my finger at these artists specifically )

The question is: What is your ambition as an artist? Do want to do something fresh or just gain notoriety? Is it about craftsmanship and quality control or just going All City and get featured on all the hype blogs? Is it about doing something new or just selling out your print run?

Again the answer could be: All of the above! Although NIGO created a cool new concept, being able to use the classic AF1 shape helped making his shoe look so good. KAWS adding his trademark XX eyes to massive franchises like Peanuts and Spongebob makes his art instantly accessible to a mainstream audience.  

I have been accused myself for ripping off other peoples work by painting over vintage records covers. I personally see it as adding something new and changing the context.

 A Solaris100 Masterpiece
A Solaris100 Masterpiece

Check out more of my art here!

It’s impossible to come up with a general answer to this debate. For me the gut feeling tells me what’s hot and what’s not. And let me just leave it at that.

This article is not about pointing fingers and saying who’s right. It’s more about engaging in a discussion, so please leave YOUR opinion in the comments!

Peace and Love to all… Solaris over and out!

It ain’t easy being a DJ

Every since I went to a disco when I was 14 during a family holiday and thought “This music sucks, I could do this way better!” I have been hooked on being on the turntables and playing out.

Finding new awesome tracks, hearing your music over a club PA and seeing 300 people go ape on the dance floor to your music selection is just awesome. So awesome that I have been djing for over 25 years now! Damn I feel like an old fart. Anyway. Check out my mixes, ya welcome: www.mixcloud.com/solaris100

But with great power comes great responsibility and every art form has some rules and regulations. Either imposed by oneself or by the rest of Club Land: The promoters, fellow DJs and of cause, the punters dancing in front of the DJ booth.

Being the DJ can be the best feeling in the world, or the worst place to be in.

So let me talk about what being a good DJ means to me.  For me a good DJ only needs to do one thing well: Analyse the vibe of a crowd correctly and make people have a great time.

Sounds obvious, but the DJ and the crowd can really fall out over how this goal should be achieved best, and there has been a lot of frustration on both sides of the dance floor! DJs complain about people not being open minded enough to get into the groove and the crowd moaning about snobbish DJs who refuse to play the fun tunes!

I personally had people getting personally offended that I would not play their favourite Metal track… in a Funk Club… #facepalm

All this pain can easily be avoided with the right mind set on both sides of the equation.

To me the biggest aggravation happens when the DJ and the crowd BOTH misjudge what they signed up for and don’t adjust their expectations accordingly.

As saying YES or NO at the right time is the key to happiness, let’s discuss the different situations a DJ and a guest can find themselves entangled in, and how to deal with them correctly!

The House Party

A mate throws a party, and you bring a bag of tunes to play in the kitchen.

In this situation nobody is getting paid and DJ and guest are equally getting wasted. So the DJ really doesn’t owe anybody and can play what the fuck he or she wants. At the same time guests do have the right to ask for tunes without the DJ throwing a hissy fit.

This is a casual situation and should be approached as one.

Power levels: DJ: 60 / Guest: 40 

 

The local boozer

You get a Friday to play tunes in your local pub

Here the DJ is expected to provide a service and is hopefully getting paid. Getting no pay or shitty pay does NOT relief the DJ of the expectation to provide appropriate music! So this is not the place to try out your latest Free Jazz albums and you need to expect to be approached by drunken punters.

Still, we are not at a high flying club night, so the DJ should be allowed to have fun with it as long as he or she is not playing Hip Hop tunes to a Classic Rock crowd.

Power levels: DJ: 40 / Guest: 60 

 

A proper club night

Congrats! You made it to a properly promoted venue!

The DJ should hopefully get properly paid now and the pressure to entertain is on. In this situation the guest has ZERO right to approach the DJ! Even the promoter is banned from wandering over and suggesting tunes!

If things go south the guest is free to leave if he or she doesn’t like the music. And the promoter should have done his homework better before booking the DJ for the night. Once the disco train leaves the station all controls are off!

After the night is over and the DJ is paid the promoter has the right to shake his fist and never book that DJ again. That’s what people get for not booking ME in the first place!

Power levels: DJ: 100 / Guest: 0

 

A wedding / birthday party

“Hey I like your music, would you play at my wedding/birthday party? You can really play whatever you want…”

Let’s be honest here: You are, even if promised differently by the groom or the birthday girl, 100% expected to be a human juke box!

Very often the person who hires you has no idea about the musical preference of his or her guests. So when the people don’t dance and start to turn on you, the host will get nervous and will try to fix the situation by making comments like:

“Ok I said no cheesy stuff, but nobody dances… could you play 5 hours of straight Chart Hits although we agreed that I didn’t want you to? Please?”

Throwing DJ attitude around in this situation is futile! You have to accept that you are the little DJ BITCH of whoever hired you, all his mates and their drunken parents too.  So get on with it and PRAY that you packed that ’50 classic Party Hits’ CD your flatmate got with his free paper the day before! 

Top Tip: Either decline such bookings straight away or make it worth your while financially. As you WILL be required to play Justin Timberlake… at least twice! Being the humanoid Spotify playlist is not worth doing for peanuts and if the people don’t want to pay what you feel is fair NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER DO IT!

Power levels: DJ: 0 / Guest: 1000

 

The perfect gig

“Hey, we listened to your mix and as we are really into Minimal House and you are really into Minimal House we really like you to play Minimal House as our guests only like Minimal House!”

The perfect storm: You know what you get into, they know what they get into and it all falls together perfectly. You get paid a good fee, everybody is dancing and is happy. The Vodka Red Bull is flowing and MixMag writes a gushing review the next day.

Why can’t all sets be like this?

Power levels: All egos are extinguished… 1 Nation under a Groove!

Some final words of advice:

If you are booking a DJ: Communicate clearly your expectations and check his or her mixes first so you are not confused why he or she plays Techno at your Jazz Night!

When you hate the music as a guest: Either deal with it or leave. Respect that the DJ is a human person too and is not out to sabotage the night. Most likely he or she really tries his or her best to make you have fun! So buy another beer and give it a chance. Maybe the reason the DJ plays so much Trap is that your mate who hired him or her requested it. 

Disclaimer: At NO POINT is it OK to walk over to the DJ, tell him or her how much he or she sucks and then rattle down a list of random songs you like to hear right now. Not cool!

When you are getting booked: Don’t sell yourself under value, respect your craft, try to spread L.O.V.E. and know what your getting yourself into when saying yes to a booking!

– DJ SOLARIS100 OVER AND OUT!