Critical Psychosis: Genre, Détournement, and Critique in Mr. Plinkett’s 'Star Wars' Reviews



When Harry S. Plinkett uploaded a review of Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace to YouTube in 2009, he became a brand of internet celebrity. It is difficult, however, to detach “review” from rather large scare quotes. Plinkett is a fictional character (an insane, wheelchair-bound centenarian), voiced by independent filmmaker Mike Stoklasa and produced by Stoklasa’s Milwaukee-based RedLetterMedia. This essay situates Plinkett within various cultural reactions to the Star Wars prequels, then puts his reviews in dialogue with emerging internet genres such as mash-up and video essay. By recontextualizing behind-the-scenes footage and other materials, the Plinkett reviews are a subversive response to an overcommoditized film industry. Ultimately, because Plinkett is depicted as insane, the essay argues that his psychosis becomes the basis for both catharsis and critique—a parody of hyperbolic fanboy film reviews, but at the same time a détournement of cultural texts which problematizes the logic of consumerism.

Keywords: Mr. Plinkett, Star Wars, Red Letter Media

How to Cite: Kirbach, B. (2014) “Critical Psychosis: Genre, Détournement, and Critique in Mr. Plinkett’s 'Star Wars' Reviews”, Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies. 16(1). doi: