Required Reading

All hail Paul F. McDonald at The Star Wars Heresies for his post Lucas the Sell Out. A brilliant read that skewers one of the most ridiculous hateboy memes of the last forever: that Lucas has sold his soul to make a buck. A sample.

“If Lucas is the ultimate sell out, willing to do anything to make another quick buck and build up his fame and ego – personal vision and creativity be damned – then why doesn’t he immediately retract all the Special Edition changes? Why not make extra special super care that he doesn’t contradict any Expanded Universe continuity, thus making sure no one has more excuses to get mad at him, thus Lucas Books will sell more novels and he’ll make more money? If all he cares about is rolling around in beds full of cash while laughing maniacally, why isn’t he just farming Star Wars out to any hack director and collecting the box office receipts? Why aren’t we on Episode XXXIII: The Search For Luke’s Grandson or some such?”

Dead on. But Paul’s comment that really boils it down is this one.

“In short, if George Lucas would just bend over, grab his ankles, and quietly take it like a man whenever the fanboys barked a command, there wouldn’t be any problem. If he would simply make his Star Wars movies their way, if he would promptly respond “How high?” when they asked him to jump, he would be the most loved celebrity on the internet.”

Bingo. As I’ve said repeatedly, the reason Lucas drives hateboys cwazy is their mistaken belief in COLLECTIVE OWNERSHIP of Star Wars. These self-appointed real fans truly believe they are the rightful owners of Star Wars and must “protect” it from its creator. Kudos, Paul, for saying it better than I can!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Required Reading

  1. Nathan Shearer says:

    “Not only did Lucas refuse to release the original version, not only did he stick his preferred Special Editions in there, but he even added more changes! Infuriating changes. Ewoks blink! Vader says noooo! Dogs and cats, living together … mass hysteria!”

    Ghostbusters reference FTW!

  2. Stefan Kraft says:

    I would like to post my 2 cents. Even if you might think at first that it is an anti-Lucas piece, read it to the end. ;-)

    First of all, there are rumors Lucas does not want to release the theatrical cuts because he would have to pay royalties to his ex-wife Marcia if he did. (That’s why the 2006 releases of the laserdisc transfers were branded as “extra material”. For further information, see http://www.starwarz.com/tbone/index.php?categoryid=22&p2_articleid=458 and http://www.starwarz.com/tbone/index.php?categoryid=16&p2_articleid=760 )
    Moreover, my impression as someone not that involved in the community is that the “sell-out” argument refers to the fact that Lucas makes a lot of money with merchandise. Some say that he has therefore decided to make Ep. VI simpler and to introduce the kid-friendly ewoks (not to speak of Jar Jar or “The Clone Wars” that introduces a new generation to Star Wars, i.e. a lot of new customers). I think that this is what Gary Kurtz claims (no bittersweet ending for EP VI, but a happy-end; not a 9 film saga, but only special effects and so on, see http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Gary_Kurtz ).

    Okay, apart from that, what do *I* think? I see George Lucas as a pragmatic and stubborn filmmaker. Pragmatic in terms of knowing that you may have a certain vision, but that you also need to finance your dreams (Lucas would have lost a lot of money if ANH or TESB failed at the box office, which has certainly contributed to this attitude). That’s why he has not started the production of the TV series yet. And that’s why he does not have any problems with merchandise: if people want video games, action figures and movie posters, then sell them to them, why not?
    And stubborn? Well, GL still has an artistic vision IMHO. He may not do everything what he wants to when he sees no one will buy it (again, he can be quite pragmatic), but he still tries to realize his visions. That’s why he has never given up on “Red Tails”. That’s why he has waited so long for the prequels. That’s why he still changes the movies, and his artistic vision is probably his main reason not to release the theatrical cuts (and if the whole royalties story is true, that’s not the main reason not to release them). That’s why he finally decided to direct all of the prequels himself (full artistic control – and no royalties issues maybe, but that was again not the main reason).
    Sometimes, being stubborn can lead to bad things, of course – you may have heard of the Darabont script of Indy IV that Lucas did not like for whatever reason despite Spielberg and Ford loving it. And he may have been more open to artistic input when he was younger. But becoming more stubborn is quite natural when you get older, and it may also have been influenced by the bad experiences he made with some studio bosses that changed THX 1138 against his will.
    So, do I think that Lucas is a sell-out? I cannot comment on the whole kid-friendly stuff. He may have become more stubborn due to his age, but that’s exactly the reason why I think he is not a sell-out – he still has his vision and tries to realize it. That’s why he does not care (that much at least) for the criticism of the prequels; a real sell-out would just have done what Paul says: he would have apologized for TPM and directly shot EP III as EP I, and Han would shoot first on the blu-rays.

    • maychild says:

      [Ed note: I'm going to go ahead an post this response because I think it has some interesting points. I will caution, however, to keep rebuttals respectful. As I tell my kids, if there's any ranting and yelling to be done, I'll be the one doing it!]

      The “bittersweet ending” for ROTJ that Gary Kurtz wanted so much, and the people who latch onto him as some kind of messiah claim to think would have been so much better, was not “bittersweet.” It was a blatant downer. Han dead, Leia adjusting to her new role as Queen of some planet, and Luke wandering off alone…if that was ever planned, I’m glad it was nixed. It would have added needless angst to a story that, despite what Kurtz and his Kultists claim (i.e., that ROTJ was “an Ewok luau”), was already pretty full up with it.

      And I don’t care what Gary Kurtz says anyway. His Kultists treat every word he utters like a diamond because he says what they want to hear about the prequels, about the Ewoks, about ROTJ, etc., although they loftily claim he’s an unimpeachable source because “he has never been caught in a lie like Luca$.” Actually, he has been caught in a lie. Several lies, in fact. He ruined his own career by being such an incompetent producer that he let four movies in a row go badly off-schedule and over-budget…and he’s desperately tried to get back some credibility by lending himself to any basher in the press willing to waste time on him. So I’m not impressed by you citing Gary Kurtz as a source, Stefan.

      Nor am I impressed with you beating the dead horse that is the Darabont script for Indy IV. The rejection of that script was a lot more complicated a matter than either the press or the bashers would like us to believe. And I’ve read parts of it. It’s not bad, but it’s extremely repetitive of the previous Indy movies. The press and the bashers have elevated it to truly astonishing heights, acting like it was a masterpiece and Lucas was insane for rejecting it…not because they necessarily think it was a masterpiece, but because they want another excuse to slam Lucas. Ford, Spielberg and Lucas had agreed amongst themselves that they would not move forward with Indy IV unless they had a script that they all liked. So, the people who hate Indy IV and blame it on the script should hold Spielberg and Ford equally responsible; instead, they choose to blame it all on Lucas.

      As for Lucas being “more open to artistic input when he was younger” — another creed that bashers swear by, because their hero, Gary Kurtz, claims it — he was open to artistic input when he was making the prequels too. The behind-the-scenes documentaries show a man who is quite open to collaboration, and Hayden Christensen said that, despite the belief that Lucas doesn’t care about actors, he found him to be very interested in what the actors had to say, and encouraged their input. Lucas can be very stubborn about his vision, but that was always the case. If he wasn’t stubborn, the original SW movie would never have been made…and that means that the holy ESB (the only SW movie worth anything, according to some people) would never have been made either.

      • A New Hope says:

        I would have an easier time accepting the hypothesis that Kurtz was the true mastermind behind the success of ANH and TESB if he’d had ANY producing success when not working with Lucas. Without Kurtz, Lucas still made Raiders, which I think everyone considers an artistic success.

        • Stefan Kraft says:

          If anything, I am willing to think that Lucas and Kurtz complemented each other, but not that Kurtz provided all the good stuff to ANH while Lucas just happened to be there by coincidence.

        • I appreciate the link, my friend! A lot of people have been saying it very well for awhile, though, not just me. You guys included.

          I think what Stefan made some fair observation. I mean, stubbornness can lead to bad things. No one, myself included, ever said GL never made a bad decision. I just personally think this line in the sand between Old Lucas and New Lucas is largely fictional.

          I admit I do like the phrase Kultists. Touche. Not to underplay his contributions to the saga we all know and love, but it is quite telling that he basically fell off the map after he left Lucasfilm. I once asked a Kultist about his career post-Lucas. It was like watching a mountain collapse. I mean, there may be reasons why the man hasn’t had a job in twenty-five years.

          And speaking of Darabont, I don’t know the details of his Indy script, but it could have been interesting. And, if I remember correctly, didn’t he love TPM?

          • A New Hope says:

            He did. I also had the good fortune of working with Frank Oz for a short time (yeah, I work in the biz) both before and after he filmed TPM. When I asked him his opinion of the script (prior to the film’s release), he said, “It’s great. It’s a fairy tale. It’s very George.” Frank’s a class act.

      • Stefan Kraft says:

        maychild, this may surprise you, but: thank you for your answer! My post was not intended as an anti-Lucas piece.

        “The “bittersweet ending” for ROTJ that Gary Kurtz wanted so much, and the people who latch onto him as some kind of messiah claim to think would have been so much better, was not “bittersweet.” It was a blatant downer. …”
        It would always be interesting to see different versions of your favorite movies, but I’m with you: I see Star Wars as a fairy tale (ok, not only, but the fairy tale / mythological elements are clearly visible, aren’t they?). And fairy tales deserve a good ending where everyone is dancing after 20 years of ruthless rule by the Galactic Empire. (If forced to choose my favorite Star Wars episode – cruel, because I’m a Saga guy – I would choose RotJ – because I’d like to hear the screams of all the haters ;-) No, because RotJ is the peak of the entire Saga where the “devil” of the Star Wars universe is destroyed and Anakin redeemed by his son.)

        “So I’m not impressed by you citing Gary Kurtz as a source, Stefan.”
        I cited Gary Kurtz not because I agree with him, but because I tried to name one early source for the “sell-out” argument (“Lucas’s doing it only for the merchandise!”) I rather think that Lucas is quite pragmatic when it comes to merchandise, but not a sell-out. (And I like Star Wars lego, by the way. And KotoR. And Republic Commando. And I think that a dancing Han Solo is hilarious – in a good way.)

        “Nor am I impressed with you beating the dead horse that is the Darabont script for Indy IV.”
        You’re right, I should not have mentioned the script. The only sources I read were most probably quite close to bashers. However, I tried to convey that I do not consider Lucas to be a flawless person. Lucas being stubborn has brought us a great space saga (prequels included) and wonderful adventures of an archaeologist. Sometimes, Lucas may have rejected something I would have considered better – but that’s the price I’m willing to pay to let the maker do what he wants to.

        “As for Lucas being ‘more open to artistic input when he was younger’…” You’re right, I wasn’t there when the movies were made. But I tried to say that everyone changes when he/she gets older, Lucas included. When he was a young (and a rather inexperienced?) filmmaker, he may have incorporated more suggestions than his older self (which is more experienced) does today. Again, I do not consider Lucas to be flawless, and he should maybe sometimes pay more attention to suggestions, but that’s just me. In the end, I’m fine with Lucas as he is today.

        “If he wasn’t stubborn, the original SW movie would never have been made…and that means that the holy ESB (the only SW movie worth anything, according to some people) would never have been made either.”
        More or less what I think. I do not always agree with everything GL does, but again, that’s the price I am willing to pay for Star Wars. And to be clear, GL owes me nothing – he has already given more than I deserve, and if he does something I do not like, I’m fine with that.

        • A New Hope says:

          “Sometimes, Lucas may have rejected something I would have considered better – but that’s the price I’m willing to pay to let the maker do what he wants to.”
          “And to be clear, GL owes me nothing – he has already given more than I deserve, and if he does something I do not like, I’m fine with that.”

          That, in a nutshell, is what this site is about. I’m a believer in artists and artistic rights. Lucas is alive. He’s the artist. These are his films. If we as fans are entitled to anything it’s to enjoy the art we choose to enjoy without a bunch of self-righteous yahoos constantly telling us how wrong we are.

  3. Stefan Kraft says:

    I have just read an interesting observation on a German SW-Fansite:
    Someone posted that GL does what the other directors of his generation do, too: Spielberg may still make great films, but many say his last “magical” movie was “Jurassic Park” and that he is no longer the visionary of the 70s/80s. Coppola? Does his own personal movies (that GL wants to do now, too). So why do all complain about Lucas? Probably just because SW is popular…
    (Note that I am pro-prequels, so I think that GL has done magical movies after 1983. ;-) )