S( ui;i:nPaying Dues and Eating Free LunchnReturn of the Jedi; Written bynLawrence Kasdan and Geotge Lucas;nDirected by Richard Marquand; 20thnCentury Fox.nThe King of Comedy, Written by PaulnD. Zimmerman; Directed by MartinnScorsese; 20th Century Fox.nby Stephen Macaulayn”Let’s face it, we made a film for children.”nSo said Mark Hamill, betternknown to millions as Luke Skywalker, tona reporter. This comment should benkept in mind by adults when consideringnReturn of the Jedi, but it isn’t The reasonnwhy this is so is simple: adults know thatnit cost $32.5 million to produce/erf? andnthat there are 942 technical, special effectsnin the film. They cannot abide thenidea that, to borrow a phrase, all of thisnshould be wasted on the young. GeorgenLucas’s three Star IFar films—^no matternwhat else they are—are simplistic. Thencenter panel of his triptych, The EmpirenStrikes Back, indicates an attempt tonmake the cartoon characters appear morenreal, to blend the littie dots that composenthe images. But the result is, of course,nfar fi-om satisfying for anything approachingna sophisticated point of view. That is,nthere still remain good guys in the formnof the feisty rebels who fight for libertynand bad guys who support the totalitariannEmpire. The clear distinction, however,nis not purely white and black—notneven a kid would buy that; the age ofnWalt Disney is past. Evil, as has beennknown since man became bipedal, hasnan allure. Good is often less appealing asnits rewards are not immediately granted.nSir Galahad is really the most boring figurenin Mallory; Launcelot, who sampled thenfruit, is more of a success. Lucas, to hisncredit, gives cartoon Skywalker, the protagonistnof the three films, feet of clay—nevil tempts him: he seems to look away,nbut actually peers at it out of the cornernof his eye. Any child who has been toldn”No, don’t touch that!” or “Leave thosencookies alone until after dinner!” knowsnwhat that simation is all about.nOne other thing should be kept innmind. George Lucas is an adult, one whonhas proven himself to be a talented filmmaker.nAlthough he reaps grand financialnrewards for the Star Wars films and theirnMout, he has undoubtedly experiencednthe lure to move to “the dark side of thenForce,” to make films that are considered,nby the trendy know-nothings, “artisticnsuccesses” simply because they are morallynambivalent—or worse. The year thatnThe Empire Strikes Back appeared, 1980,nfor example, Norman Mailer was hailednand awarded a Pulitzer Prize for whatnwas deemed an “artistic” creation: annapologia for a murderer. Still, Lucas stayednhis course (imagine how he, a technicalnvirtuoso, could cinematically portray anslimy thug—^with greater finesse thannMailer, I’ll wager) and created yet anothernSim, Jedi, that can inculcate thenidea that evil may have its tangible benefitsnbut that there is still something tonbe said for good in the minds of childrenn—and in those of chronological adultsnwho haven’t learned that ancient lesson.nMartin Scorsese’s The King of Comedynis, similarly, a cautionary tale, thoughnone for adults. In this film, Scorsese concentratesnon the debilitating effects ofnthe desire for an empty image on a 34year-oldnman. The goal is television stardom.nThe protagonist has seized upon annnsuccessful talk-show host^comedian as anmodel, one around which he builds hisnlife. His life becomes a set with propsnand guests, not bona fide objects andnfemily and fiiends (i.e., his mother is onlynheard, not seen; the woman who couldnbe considered a “friend” is an equallynpsychotic individual whom he uses likena prop). In a sense, this is an old story,none that was told many times on thenscreen in the 30’s and 40’s. In those cases,na music publisher happened to overhearnthe hapless lead playing a piano or antheatrical producer chanced upon anCinderella reciting the lines of a playnwhile sweeping up backstage. Things, asnScorsese shows, are different in the 80’s.nNo longer is it deemed necessary to ivorknfor the chance—to practice the scales, tonlearn the dialogue—it is thought to benowed. Chutzpah replaces sweat. What’snmore, the star-making machinery in thisncountry—Newsweek, People, ABC Newsn—^promote this scheme. The unfunny,nsleazy, would-be comic turns to a Federalncrime as the way to get his “break.”nCover stories, news reports, and a publishingncontract take care of the rest. Undoubtedly,nScorsese learned this bitternlesson well: his 1976 Taxi Driver wasnblown up in the media to the benefit ofnJohn Hinkley. George Lucas, with his.^etumnof thefedi, says, in effect, ‘Tou’vengot to pay your dues.” Martin Scorsese,nwith The King of Comedy, shows that anvalueless society no longer has the wordndues in its vocabulary. DnSeptember 1983n