Four Letter Nerd

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Star Wars Part 1- How Pop Culture Influenced Star Wars

It has been a while now since Star Wars was originally released in 1977. Several generations have grown up pretending to have the Force, and playing with Lightsabers. I can’t even walk through an automatic door at a grocery store without subtly moving my hand to pretend that I opened it (seriously, just ask my wife). Few movies have affected American pop culture more than Star Wars, even after thirty-five years the franchise is still going strong.

Unless you have been on sabbatical from the internet for the past few months you have probably heard that Disney now owns the rights to the Star Wars franchise, and that they are gearing up to release several new movies, TV shows, and video games.

What this means for Disney? They paid quite a bit up front ($4.5 billion), but they have laid the foundation for their money-printing factory, and it’s about to be open for business. What this means for us? We will have more than enough Star Wars for the foreseeable future.

Taking a page from the Star Wars playbook, this will be a trilogy of articles (I might even revisit them in a few months, edit them, and make people lose faith in me and my artistic vision). This article will cover the influences of the original film, the second article will take a look at Star Wars’ influence on American pop-culture, and in the third article we will look at the future plans for the franchise.

Star Wars was written during a time when gritty, dark, films like Dirty Harry were popular. George Lucas decided that he wanted to make a film that had its roots in myth and legend. It was 1973 and George Lucas had just made millions on his first big picture, American Graffiti. He was the hot new talent in Hollywood, and had decided that he wanted to pay respect to the old sci-fi serials from his childhood like Buck Rogers. Science fiction was really out of style during this time period, but Lucas wanted to bring back the simplicity and the adventure from this genre.

For the main storyline Lucas borrowed certain plot points from Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress. Hipsters will tell you that Star Wars is a complete rip-off of Hidden Fortress, but hipsters really love generalizations and asshattery mixed with a smattering of condescension so we won’t really worry about their opinion right now. That being said, it is easy to see where certain parts influenced Lucas while creating Star Wars.

"I liked Star Wars better the first time, when it was called Hidden Fortress... you've probably never heard of it.

“I liked Star Wars better the first time, when it was called Hidden Fortress… you’ve probably never heard of it.

Star Wars saturation into pop culture has led many people to refer to the saga as an “American Myth,” which is appropriate since the movies are steeped in mythological archetypes and story plots. While writing the third draft of Star Wars: a New Hope (ANH), George Lucas became fascinated with Joseph Campbell’s book on myth and heroic archetypes called Hero with a Thousand Faces. This is probably one of the most obvious influences on ANH.

Joseph Campbell believed that all heroes throughout culture and history contain similar elements; he calls this the monomyth. While there are variations from story to story, each myth has similar elements such as the call to adventure, trials, supernatural aid, and in the end the hero reaches an “apotheosis.” We won’t go to in-depth into this concept, but this is one of the reasons the story resonates so well for so many people. Side note: if you would like to know more about monomyth you can read about it in Hero with a Thousand Faces, but I will warn you… it’s really dry.

Luke: seen here reading over Hero of a Thousand Faces

Luke: seen here reading over Hero of a Thousand Faces

Star Wars also had elements of westerns and WWII dogfights. When you look at Han Solo you get the feeling he is a cowboy; he wears his gun low on his hip like a gunslinger, struts around like John Wayne, and depending which version you are watching, is totally at ease shooting someone under the table and tipping the barkeep for his troubles.

One of the Lucas’ key visions for this film was the idea of two ships flying through space shooting at each other, which was unheard of at the time – think Star Trek: the Original Series with stationary ships firing at each other. So while Lucas was working on his script he began to watch, tape, and edit dogfight sequences to get a feel how space ships would move.

This desire to have a WWII style dogfight would eventually lead to the creation of the special effects juggernaut, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Next week we will take a closer look at ILM, as well as the other companies Lucas started to create his vision, and how these affected American pop-culture.

Apple Reveals The Next Generation Of iPhones


It has been a couple months since Apple’s WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) where they showed off the beautiful iOS7. It has been a year since the last iPhone event, in which the iPhone 5 was released. Today Apple held an event to unveil the next generation of iPhones. Here’s what you need to know:

iPhone 5S


The iPhone 5S is the successor to the 5. Apple is dubbing it their “most forward looking” phone to date. As far as the physical changes to the phone, there are really none aside from the new champagne (gold) finish (which looks hideous in my personal opinion). The 5S is also equipped with a fingerprint scanner, located on the home button. You can use this in place of a traditional lock code or your Apple id password. I thought this was a gimmick feature from rumors that were floating around, but the ability to scan your finger in place of your password is a great user experience move.

Internally, the 5S is vastly improved over the 5. The camera sensor is 15% bigger and has a 2.2 aperture. This means more megapixels and better low light shots. As far as video, you can now capture up to 120 frames per second in the new slow motion feature of iOS7. The 5S is now the first and only smartphone to have a 64 bit processor, running 64 bit apps. Basically this means that your apps and your phone are going to run a lot faster. 5 times faster than the iPhone 5 to be exact. The iPhone 5S will be available on September 20th starting at $199 with a standard 2 year contract.

iPhone 5C


The iPhone 5C has been the center of Apple rumors for years now. Everyone has been wondering “When is Apple going to make a cheaper iPhone?”, “When are iPhones going to be available in different colors?” Well the 5C finally answered both of those questions today.

The iPhone 5C has been called many things leading up to todays event: 5 Cheap, 5 China, 5 Color, ect. Physically, this is a huge change compared to previous iPhones. Apple is positioning this as the “budget” iPhone. It has the same dimensions as the iPhone 5, but has a cheaper soft silicone rubber casing compared to the more durable aluminum finish of newer iPhones. Colors available are green, white, blue, red and yellow. Spec wise the 5C has pretty much the exact same specs as the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5C will be available on September 20th starting at 99$ with a standard 2 year contract.

Trying To Decide?

If you’re deciding to purchase a new iPhone and are having trouble on deciding, here is my advice: If you’ve never owned an iPhone before or you’re looking for a new carrier and contract, then go for the 5S. If you’re looking to upgrade from an iPhone 4S or older, I would recommend opting for the 5S as well. Honestly, with cheaper parts and manufacturing I don’t think that the 5C is really worth getting. You would be better off shelling out an additional $100 for the 5S which looks to be far superior than the 5C. If you have an iPhone 5 and want to upgrade, I would just hold out until next year when the iPhone 6 (or whatever Apple will call it) gets released. Also, keep an eye out for price drops from carriers. Go into a store and play around with the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S to see which one suits you best.

4LN Discussion: Batfleck Addition

As most of you have heard by now, Ben Affleck has been confirmed as Batman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, and not a lot of people are happy about it. There was even a White House petition requesting that it be made illegal for Ben Affleck to play Batman.

Since this has become an overnight issue, we are going to make this the first in our 4LN Discussion series. In a 4LN Discussion we will have two or more of our writers write standalone arguments for a particular issue. Today, Cody will be writing why Ben Affleck is a horrible choice, and I will be writing a pro-Affleck argument. Here goes:


Judging from my Facebook feed, and the explosion of the Twittersphere, I can only assume that those of us that are actually comfortable with Ben Affleck as Batman are few and far between. We are like survivors of some post-apocalyptic tale, in which droves of leather-clad gangs roam the streets in their armored pick-up trucks hunting for stragglers to eat i.e. the Road, or Mad Max.

Affleck does come with some superhero baggage. He played Matt Murdock, a.k.a. the pudgy-cheeked, Daredevil, in one of the worst superhero movies of the modern era. I absolutely hated that movie, and I never even saw Elektra, which I assume was just as terrible. Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck are pretty much the power-couple of awful superhero movies. And let us not forget Gigli, which is frequently cited as one of the worst films ever made.

However, the Affleck of today is on a completely different level than the Affleck of the past. I don’t know how much time he spent killing lower level creatures and running side-quests after that slew of awful movies, but he leveled up big-time. Over the last decade he has starred in (and directed) some amazing movies. The Town? Great. Argo? That movie is considered one of the best movies of 2012.

I have seen several people say they would rather have George Clooney over Ben Affleck. I am not sure what nostalgia pills they are taking, but up until the news broke yesterday people spent half their time wishing the Schumacher era (which I will now refer to as the Dark Times) never existed, and the other half of their time wondering why Bruce Wayne adopted a 28 year old acrobat.

There are several flaws with equating Affleck as Batman with a return to the Dark Times. First of all, Zach Snyder is on a completely different level than Schumacher. With Snyder, we aren’t going to be subjected to an Austrian Mr. Freeze with a penchant for stupid quips (“Ice to meet you!”), nor will we be subjected to Bat-Ice Skates. We don’t have to worry about Batsuit nipples; we don’t have to worry about neon-laden gangs, or a mentally-handicapped Bane. Do people even remember how awful the Dark Time films were?!

Secondly, Affleck is slowly becoming a master craftsman when it comes to acting. He is dedicated to his craft, and I have no doubt that he can put on the suit and become Batman. My only worry was his ability to pull-off Bruce Wayne, but with the story appearing to call for an older, wiser, Batman, Affleck won’t have to become a billionaire playboy, as much as he would a business savvy CEO. If you’ve read Alex Ross’ World Finest, you’ve seen Bruce Wayne as the socially conscious, business owner, and Affleck would be at ease in that role.

Overall, I don’t think Ben Affleck is all that bad. Could they have found someone better? Perhaps, but they also could have found somebody unbelievably worse. I absolutely loved Christian Bale as Batman, but we have to face the facts – he isn’t coming back. Worst-case scenario I see him being a slightly underwhelming, but decent, Batman. However, judging by his recent work, I have no problem with the idea that he could dominate that role.


WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING CAM!? Look I know that the Dark Times were dark, and I don’t really put this on the same playing field, but it’s just a matter of Christian Bale owned the role of The Dark Knight. Owned it. I swear he has a deed to the character in a vault somewhere. The reason why social media is blowing up is because everyone knows you’re not really going to get a better Batman. You’re just not. Another reason I hate this decision is because Affleck is similar to Ryan Reynolds. No matter how you dress him up, he’s not really going to be cool in the role. I mean this is Keanu Reeves bad. Now Ben Affleck is a much better actor then Keanu, but do we really want the guy from JERSEY GIRL as Batman!!?? Here’s the other thing, when you look at the line of Marvel movies and how they are all somewhat cohesive with each other, part of what makes that successful is having the same cast throughout. So this interpretation of Batman will be the same one for the Justice League, which if it’s as Bostonian as I imagine it could be will be horrible. For some reason I envision Affleck needing to put the Boston Redsox’s B on the front of his suit as well. Which brings me to this script I wrote, with Affleck as Batman:

Scene:34 (Scene opens to a smoky low lit room and a gang of thugs playing cards)

(Door crashes open. Batman enters breathing deeply)

Batman: Where’s da jokah!?

Thugs: Huh? I don’t know nothing!

Batman: Get outta heeya before I’s calls da cawps! Or I might have my boy wondah Rawbin hit ya wit da flim flam!

Don’t you see how terrible this is going to be!? Boston Batman. Terrible Decision

So what do you think? Is this the worst casting decision in the history of cinema? Does Affleck have the ability to pull this off? Will this movie make you wish you hadn’t gotten the Bat-symbol tattooed to your left calf? Sound off, nerds.

Will Simon Pegg Be Ant-Man?

Simon Pegg tweeted out a picture of himself at Marvel Studios subtly pointing at Ant-Man.  Edgar Wright, the director of Pegg’s Cornetto trilogy, has been tapped as the director of the new Ant-Man film, which is supposed to be released in 2015.  Considering their past collaborations, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to believe that Wright would try to work with someone he is familiar with, and Pegg does bring a certain amount Nerd clout with him.  On the other hand, Pegg could just be completely screwing with us.

I am a huge fan of Simon Pegg personally, and it would definitely pique my interest if he was attached to the movie.

Do you think Simon Pegg would make a good Ant-Man?