The big question for me regarding the new Disney/Lucasfilm deal doesn’t have to do with Episode VII or what direction the saga takes in the future. Every new movie, story and franchise development from this point forward is a delightful bonus, as far as I’m concerned. The Skywalker saga is concluded and we’re now heading into uncharted territory. I just want to be entertained and share the Star Wars experience with my family and friends for decades to come.
The big question for me is whether Disney intends to honor George Lucas’ wishes about which versions of his previous films are released to the public and how long that commitment lasts. My fear, as I’ve expressed in apocalyptic terms, is that a corporation is far more susceptible to public pressure than Lucas has been. Lucas was content to ignore the hateboy griping, the petitions and the fraudulent attacks on his character to stand his ground and release only HIS versions as the official canon story of Star Wars. Disney executives, present and future, likely won’t have the same stamina for the onslaught headed their way. Even the most arrogant and entitled hateboys fighting to “take back the saga” had at least a deep down grudging admiration for Lucas as the creator of the series and a reluctant acknowledgement that he ultimately could “do what he wants.” That’s why arguments for releasing unaltered versions are usually fought on moral, rather than legal, grounds. Disney executives, however, didn’t create the saga, now they just own it — and the hateboys know it. Any pretense of restraint out of admiration for past accomplishments is now gone. You think the hateboys gave Lucas a hard time? Just wait until they go after company executives they have absolutely no reason to respect! Consider the active, decades long petulant campaign to trash Lucas and the Star Wars brand — and now imagine all that negativity focused on Disney. Disney is protective of its brand. It is extremely sensitive to public perception. How long will executives withstand a dedicated hateboy army day after day attacking the “Di$ney” name because they intend to honor Lucas’ wishes and only release the SEs? How long will they hold firm when the phrase “Disney raped my childhood” becomes the hateboy mantra? There’s already talk of new petitions on the usual hateboy sites. The army is sharpening its swords and preparing for battle. The hateboys have been waging this war for 15 years, does anyone really think they’re going to stop now?! Disney executives and shareholders have no idea what’s coming their way.
It’s going to be relentless, it’s going to be personal, it’s going to be ugly.
On the flip side, Disney isn’t inexperienced in keeping artistic content locked in its vaults. As a company, Disney long ago vowed to keep the film “Song of the South” out of public circulation forever due to its overt racism and outdated racial stereotypes.
There have been calls, from time to time, from the cinema elite and First Amendment crusaders for Disney to offer the film as an educational tool or as a cultural artifact. Disney’s answer has always been a firm, “No.” The ability of a handful of movie snobs and culture warriors to make some noise, however, is insignificant next to the power of the hateboy. There is no force more relentless, dedicated and vile than an army of nerds and their keyboards.
So the question is, what is Disney prepared to do to fight for George Lucas’ artistic rights and how long are they willing to withstand nihilistic hateboys going after their family brand until they cave?
Disney has a legal army.
The hateboys are the Hulk.