Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

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January 18, 2013
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Todd Hartley: I'm With Stupid

I have a 5-year-old son, and we have satellite radio in one of our cars, so we spend a lot of time listening to a station called "Kids Place Live." As you can probably glean from the name, it's aimed at youngsters, but to be honest, it's actually one of my favorite channels.

There are some awful songs, to be sure, but most of them are pretty good. One song in particular that my son and I enjoy is "Why Is Dad So Mad?" by a band called The Board of Education. The lyrics go something like this: "Why does Dad get so mad about 'Star Wars'? Mr. Lucas, what did you do?"

The song hints at the titular dad's reasons for being angry about "Star Wars," most of which are already well known to people my age. First, there are the changes - such as Greedo shooting first at Han Solo - that George Lucas made to the old trilogy for the so-called "special editions." Then, of course, there are the prequels, which are so bad that they've dragged the whole franchise down into the muck.

My son, who has seen only the original "Star Wars," doesn't really understand the song, so he asked me one time, "Why does his dad get so mad about 'Star Wars'?"

I attempted to explain, but being unfamiliar with the atrocity that is Jar Jar Binks, my son couldn't exactly fathom what it is that my generation is so up in arms about. It's hard to convey just how unspeakably awful "Episode II - Attack of the Clones" is to someone who hasn't seen it and will hopefully never have to endure it.

To me, though, there's more to it than just Lucas messing with the films we grew up loving and then saddling us with three borefests. What I also object to is the way "Star Wars" has been so thoroughly co-opted by geeks.

(At this point, I'd like to pause for a couple of disclaimers, lest my computer get hacked by some insulted party: I like geeks. I've always liked geeks. By just about any quantifiable measure, I was a geek myself in high school and remain one to this day. So please don't think I'm harboring some sort of anti-geek bias.)

The thing with geeks, however, is that back in my day, geeks weren't so completely invested in their geekdom. Sure, we had "Star Wars" action figures and bedsheets and lunchboxes, but we understood that there was a real world out there that we were a part of. With geeks these days, I'm not so sure.

The latest example of geekiness run amok - in particular "Star Wars" geekiness run amok - was the recent official petition, signed by 34,435 people, asking the Obama administration to build a Death Star.

Now, I realize that most of those people probably signed the petition in jest, but you know there are more than a few geeks out there who were dead serious and were probably devastated when the White House rejected the petition. I hope none of them successfully committed hara-kiri with their lightsabers, but it wouldn't surprise me if a few of them tried.

The reasons for not building a Death Star ought to be obvious to anyone. For one thing, there's the cost, which a White House spokesman estimated would be more than $850 quadrillion. I don't see how we could find that in the budget when we can't seem to pay for education. Then there's the whole point of the Death Star, which is to destroy planets. I'm guessing Obama's forthcoming changes to national gun laws might forbid something like that.

So, clearly, the U.S. government shouldn't be in the business of building massive, space-based battle stations, even if they would create jobs and even if geeks, who are the only ones with that kind of money, agree to foot the costs.

You know who should consider building a Death Star, though? Las Vegas. I'm totally not kidding about that, by the way. How awesome would it be to have a Death Star casino? Seriously. You could have imperial stormtroopers for security guards, and all the cocktail waitresses could dress up as Princess Leia in the gold bikini. It would be the coolest thing ever.

Best of all, it would give "Star Wars" geeks exactly what they're looking for, only instead of destroying planets, it would destroy people's life savings and relationships with their families. But hey, that's what the dark side is all about, isn't it?

Todd Hartley lost 50 pounds for his role as Jabba the Hutt in "Return of the Jedi." To read more or leave a comment, please visit

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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 18, 2013 05:44AM Published Jan 18, 2013 01:56AM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.