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With Star Wars, Parody's the Highest Form of Flattery

By August 17, 2008

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Emperor Palpatine (voice of Seth MacFarlane) on the phone with Darth Vader in (I)Robot Chicken: Star
Emperor Palpatine (voice of Seth MacFarlane) on the phone with Darth Vader in Robot Chicken: Star Wars.
© Cartoon Network
The spate of Star Wars parodies that started turning up last year wasn't just about the original film turning 30. After all, stuff turns 30 all the time. Operation Petticoat turned 30 last year as well, but you don't see very many splashy claymation specials featuring the likenesses of John Astin and Jamie Lee Curtis. Which is a shame, really.

Star Wars, more than any other science fiction phenomenon, inspires a creative desire in those who love it most, which is why parodies like Star Wars: Robot Chicken and Family Guy: Blue Harvest, both now out on DVD, wear their devotion on their sleeves even as they send up the best and worst bits of the six-film franchise.

And the Star Wars franchise is, despite George Lucas's best (or worst) efforts, very much alive (there's a new movie out now, in case you haven't heard, setting up a CGI series coming in the fall), which means amateur Star Wars satire-tributes are still cropping up. YouTube is already littered with folks cutting their desktop special-effects teeth on videos in which AfterEffects clones try to kill each other with light sabers and finger-lightning, and the video snarks have jumped on the Star Wars bandwagon, creating clips that range from awful to hilarious to gasp-inducing (perennial parodists the Fine Brothers have discovered a use for a light saber so very, very wrong I can't even link to it).

The best of the lot is still Robot Chicken: Star Wars, if only because its rapid-fire blackouts are a perfect way to jar you into looking at Boba Fett, Emperor Palpatine, and all those minor characters only the true geeks know the names of, in a whole new way. And there's more geek-fest comedy to come: Cartoon Network has announced a sequel to the Robot Chicken special is in the works, slated to premiere Nov. 16. That's news good enough to make even Ponda Baba smile.


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