(Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha is a foolish attempt to examine the entirety of the now decanonized Star Wars Expanded Universe and quantify its assorted artistic merits. Read the introduction. Check out the archives.)
Artist: Cheesasaurus Rex
Medium: Coagulated wheat and synthetic cheese
Publication Date: March 12th, 2015
Consumption Date: April 6th, 2015
- Additional consumption on April 7th, 2015
Timeline Placement: 9 months BSWVII
Series: Brand Synergy
Three days had passed since the Norovirus turned me into a quivering lump of vomit. I was beginning to be able to eat solid food again, to taste again, to want things from life again. Strangely, of all things, what I wanted was Macaroni and Cheese. The whole time I had been lying on my couch bundled in blankets, I had been tasting my childhood memories of Macaroni and Cheese on my tongue, the powdered cheese, the soft, gummy pasta shapes.
And so, when I finally found the strength to force myself out of my house and down to the grocery store, instead of buying chicken soup or popsicles or any other food that might reasonably improve my health, I bought some Macaroni and Cheese. Particularly, I bought Star Wars Shapes Macaroni and Cheese because everyone knows Shapes Macaroni and Cheese is the best Macaroni and Cheese, and that was the only kind of Shapes they had.
The box art of Star Wars Shapes Macaroni and Cheese is solid if a little unsettling. C3PO looks more or less like C3PO (or at least that robot from Metropolis that C3PO is a rip-off of), but Yoda doesn’t look so much like Yoda as a young woman dressed up in “Sexy Yoda” cosplay. Wherever you go, his eyes follow you and beckon you hither. Even when you flip the box over, he’s still there, gazing at you, wanting you to come and touch him…
Even the bad pun Yoda is uttering on the back of the box takes on a strangely sexual subtext when couple with those yearning, haunting eyes.
In contrast, though, to the clear, defined drawings on the outside, the internal art—the pasta—art is a wreck. A successful Shapes Macaroni and Cheese requires a media product with very simple, distinct silhouettes. Cars Shapes Macaroni and Cheese is a great example of this—cars are simple, blocky silhouettes easily translatable to the medium of non-traditional pasta.
Star Wars, not so much. What makes Yoda Yoda is not his shape—he’s basically a gnome—but the details of that shape, his eyes, mouth, hair, ears. The same is true of C3PO who is basically a human being with a metal body, the Death Star which is just a circle, R2D2 one of those ice-filled soda bins they have at gas stations. Even the X-Wing which does have a very clear silhouette, builds that silhouette from very fine, thin lines that Kraft’s pasta stampers are just incapable of capturing.
All this makes the plot of Star Wars Shapes Macaroni and Cheese impossible to follow. Its only characters are a blob, another blob, a pointy blob, and a blob with a stick. They each reoccur dozens of times, but their interactions are always oblique. They touch each other or merge into each other, but never react to each other, never hold a conversation, never take a distinct quantifiable action. Ghosts of characters, not characters.
Box 1 Taste Test: Day 1
When you eat Macaroni and Cheese there is an expectation that it’s going to taste cheesy. This though is a lie. Whatever flavor it is that’s synthesized into that orange powder isn’t cheese but some strange approximation of cheese, cheese as it would be constructed by scientists who had never tasted cheese, only heard rumors of cheese passed down to them on cuneiform tablets. That is to say it doesn’t taste very good. It twinges the stomach like an overdose of citrus, scraping along the walls trying to churn up a return to the surface.
Box 1 Taste Test: Day 2
Some foods are better after they’ve been reheated. The hours in the fridge give the flavors time to mix and penetrate. Chili is that way. Pizza too sometimes. My hope was Macaroni and Cheese would be the same, but it wasn’t. The cheese became even thinner, dripping down off the pasta leaving largely only the taste of congealed, processed, bleached, preserved wheat. Given how much I disliked the taste of the synthetic cheese, you’d think I’d find this preferable but it’s even worse somehow—so bland as to be gross.
I don’t think I’m actually going to eat Box 2. I think I’m going to put it on a shelf and wait for it to become a collector’s item in 30 years so I can sell it on Ebay for a fortune to someone else who’ll never actually eat it.
When I was a kid, I used to love Macaroni and Cheese. I would beg for it from my parents, from my grandparents. I would amass the box tops in piles that I would send away for Macaroni and Cheese-themed merchandise. It was, I think, the very first meal I ever learned to cook for myself. But now that I am an adult, the taste has been lost to me. All of the flaws have become apparent. The cheese is no longer delightful, but artificial, the shapes no longer charming, but strange and indistinguishable.
I can pretend that the Macaroni and Cheese has changed, that the new is not the same as the old that Kraft has ruined it with corporatism and bad decision making, but the truth is that Macaroni and Cheese was always bad, always synthetic, always empty calories. I could keep on eating it, shoving it in my mouth every time a new version is released just out of some bottomless pit of nostalgia, but that would just be to lie to myself. Childhood cannot go on forever. At some point you have to grow up and put way your childish things.
1/5 Death Stars
(Check out the Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha Archive for more meditations on obscure Star Wars lore.)
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