Why I Don’t Hate George Lucas
If you haven’t heard yet, George Lucas just sold his production company, Lucasfilm, to Disney. This comes as a bit of a shock to most people, myself included. Firstly, Lucas has no apparent reason to sell his company. He’s filthy rich as it is, and the company is in no financial crisis. So nobody, nobody, saw this coming. Yet here it is. And now everyone want’s to know why.
Fortunately for us Lucas wasn’t willing to keep us in the dark too long, and posted a video to starwars.com explaining reason for the sale.
The short version is that Lucas is doing this to “protect” Star Wars and to preserve it for the next generation. “I’m doing this so that the films will have a longer life. And so more fans and people can enjoy them in the future.”
I can understand that.
George Lucas is getting up there in age, and it was inevitable that he would retire some day. Even worse, he could die. What would have happened to Star Wars if Lucas had died a year ago? Where would the franchise go? Who else might take it over? Lucasfilm is a powerhouse of an independent studio, but it’s no Disney or Dreamworks. I can completely understand why Lucas would want to make the transition now, while he’s still on Earth to oversee it. I can also understand why he chose Disney. Disney certainly has the power to keep Star Wars safe, and has the funding and talent needed to make good Star Wars movies in the future. Disney has been doing amazingly well with it’s acquisitions so far; Marvel keeps knocking em’ out of the park with movies like Avengers and Pixar is Pixar. Lucasfilm isn’t going to be liquidated or absorbed by Disney; they’re just going to own it. Well, they’ll own the majority of it. Half of the $4 billion Disney paid for it is in the form of 40 million shares of Disney. Of course that’s only about a 2.2% ownership stake altogether, but that’s not bad. So, good decision.
A lot of people out there are happy about this. They’ve been saying for years that George Lucas needs to hand Star Wars over to somebody else. The general consensus in nerd culture has been anti-Lucas for years. After all, he gave us Jar-Jar Binks, the worst atrocity since…well…any other annoying movie character, really. And he ruined Star Wars with his prequels…the ones that we all lined up to see, multiple times. And what about that stupid Vader “Noooooooooooooo!” at the end of Revenge of the Sith? That was all kinds of silly. Totally destroyed Star Wars forever.
I’m not so sure.
Granted I hated a lot of things about the prequels, and the acting was sub par. At the same time, they’re not awful movies. Their biggest sin is that they couldn’t live up to our expectations. But what could have? I don’t really want to debate this. There are good points on either side. I just don’t like hating people because it’s fashionable, and for years now it’s been extremely fashionable in nerd circles to hate George Lucas. And that’s just not fair. If you hate something because you don’t like it then fine, but I think too many of us hate the prequels because we don’t want to be unpopular. Geeks and Nerds can be just as cruel, cliquish, and prejudiced as any other group and I think Star Wars needs more honest debate and less people yelling “OMG JAR JAR BINKS WAS TEH WORST THING EVAR, LUCUS RUINED STAR WARS”.
Growing up, I can’t remember a time when I had not seen Star Wars. I have no idea when I first saw it, but it must have been in my formative years. Growing up my older brother and I lived and breathed Star Wars. The movies, the comics, the expanded universe. We had shelves full of Star Wars books, and my brother still owns a foot tall IG-88 action figure. I loved it!
And George Lucas was my hero.
I found a book on him in my elementary school library. It was made in the 80s or something, but I ate it up. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. I wanted to tell a story that would get the whole world excited, just like he did. Then the prequels came out and I was too young to know that they were bad. I was so excited when I got Episode I on DVD for Christmas! I spent hours watching the behind the scenes features and interviews. I felt that this was what I wanted to do someday.
But then I got older. Episode II came out, and disappointed me. Boba Fett is a clone? But…that doesn’t match the expanded universe! And why does that Geonosian have the Death Star plans?! The Death Star was developed at the secret Maw research facility by Bevel Lemelisk, not some space bug! What was Lucas doing? I was upset. And in my upsetness I was vulnerable to being swept along with the tide of George Lucas hatred that had been sweeping the nerd community. I turned my back on Lucas. He wasn’t a hero any longer; just a meddling fool who obviously didn’t know what he was doing.
But I don’t believe that anymore.
Sure George Lucas isn’t perfect. But he is still worthy of our respect and admiration. He developed techniques that changed movies as we know it. His company Industrial Light and Magic changed the landscape of special effects as we knew it. He started out as a nobody and ended up building a massively succesful studio. He did it all outside of Hollywood too, building it in San Fransisco at a time when doing so seemed insane. Finally, he made Star Wars, and it’s touched generations. Star Wars had a big impact on my life, and on the lives of millions. Maybe they’re not the best movies ever made. The prequels certainly aren’t masterpieces; but neither where the first three, when you look at them without nostalgia tinted glasses. Better movies have been made but there is no doubt that Star Wars struck a chord that nobody had been able to play before. What more could a man want? If I ever become half as successful George Lucas then I will be a proud man indeed. Lucas deserves our respect, not our hatred. He certainly deserves better than what his own fans have been giving him over the last ten years or so.
I hope George Lucas understands that he is still loved by millions, and that the millions who rant and rave against him are only angry because once they had loved him too. I hope Disney takes good care of Star Wars. I hope Lucas is happy with his decision. When the new Star Wars movie comes out in 2015 (did I mention that? They’re making another Star Wars) I’m not going to complain. I’m not going to demand that they do Star Wars exactly the way I would like it. I’ve tried that before, and it really doesn’t work. Instead I’ll buy my ticket, and look forward to an enjoyable time. I hope you will too. It may be more popular to be bitter, but it’s never satisfies.
NOTE: Happy Halloween! Nothing scary here, just George Lucas.