If you’ve seen the new Star Wars movie, love it or hate it, I recommend reading Neal Stephenson’s NYTimes op-ed before it disappears behind the archive wall:

If you watch the movie without doing the prep work, General Grievous – who is supposed to be one of the most formidable bad guys in the entire “Star Wars” cycle – will seem like something that just fell out of a Happy Meal.

Likewise, many have been underwhelmed by the performance of Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Only if you’ve seen the “Clone Wars” cartoons will you understand that Anakin is a seriously damaged veteran, a poster child for post-traumatic stress disorder. But since none of that background is actually supplied by the Episode III script, Mr. Christensen has been given an impossible acting task. He’s trying to swim in air.

In sum, very little of the new film makes sense, taken as a freestanding narrative. What’s interesting about this is how little it matters. Millions of people are happily spending their money to watch a movie they don’t understand. What gives?

Read more…What gives, says Stephenson, is that many are content to live their lives without caring about geeky details, and not just in Star Wars.

The tedious particulars of keeping ourselves alive, comfortable and free are being taken offline to countries where people are happy to sweat the details, as long as we have some foreign exchange left to send their way. Nothing is more seductive than to think that we, like the Jedi, could be masters of the most advanced technologies while living simple lives: to have a geek standard of living and spend our copious leisure time vegging out.

Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out