Unsatisfied With Being Wrong About Star Wars, George Lucas Decided to be Wrong About John Wayne

He keeps remembering things creatively:

Lucas says Han shooting first in the Mos Eisley cantina — which is what happened in the original edit of 1977’s debut Star Wars film — ran against the character’s principles. “Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?’” Lucas asks. “Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, ‘Yeah, he should be John Wayne.’ And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.”

Because I’ve read The Secret History of Star Wars, I have a hard time believing that George knew that Han and Leia were going to get together in 1977. When they made the first movie, Leia wasn’t Luke’s sister. When they made the first movie, Darth Vader wasn’t even Luke’s father. That all got added later.

The reference to John Wayne is also nonsense. In the first place, I don’t know what John Wayne movies Lucas is remembering, but it’s not El Dorado:

Note that in this scene, The Duke isn’t even about to be attacked. He shoots first to stop somebody from killing someone else that he doesn’t even know.

Because heroism means taking risk to protect those who can’t protect themselves. Sometimes that means shooting first.

But even that’s irrelevant, because Han Solo is nothing like a John Wayne character. John Wayne sometimes played guys who were morally solid, sometimes guys who were morally questionable, but always guys who cared and had a code. Solo, in the first movie, cares about nothing but his own neck. He is clear an unequivocal about that. He’s not actively malevolent, but morally neutral. His arc, over the course of three films, is him coming to realize that there are in fact things he cares about more than his own life. But his big character surprise in A New Hope – doubling back to save a friend – is the same thing the Man With No Name does in A Fistful of Dollars.

Solo isn’t the hero. Luke is the hero. Solo is the anti-hero who gets redeemed.

And George Lucas is the guy that has been retconning Star Wars for so long, he doesn’t know where to stop.

Geek Heresy: A Consideration of Popular Fictional Universes That Bore the Living Hell out of me – Episode 1: Dr. Who Cares?

I’m old enough to remember when being a geek was a bad thing. I remember the days when kids who were into sci-fi, fantasy, and other forms of alternative literature hid that fact from others if they had any hope of fitting in. Hell, I remember when knowing how to work a computer was a sign that you were socially retarded and would thereby never enjoy romantic companionship of any kind. So I regard the rise of Geek Culture in all its forms with many emotions, but mostly bemusement.

I find it odd to see such things as Comic Book Conventions becoming not merely mainstream, but obligatory acts to retain a certain level of geek cred. For that matter, the very idea of “geek cred” raises the eybrows, especially as it increasingly becomes a synonym for “pop culture awareness.” I don’t know when all this happened, and I understand but little of it.

Cultural Diffusion. Always angsty.

Thing is, I’m not very good at being a geek. I know no programming languages. I got B’s in math. I only played Dungeons and Dragons a few times. My comic book collection is small and unimpressive. I’ve never even watched Firefly or Battlestar Galactica.

So it’s time to come clean. It’s time to cop to all the Geekery out there that I have no interest in. It’s time to admit that the word “geek” has lost all meaning, and may as well go back to referring to a carnie who bit the heads off chickens for nickels. Because if I can admit that I don’t care about the things I discuss below, and still call myself a “Geek” in my tagline, then anyone can.

So begins a limited series on all the incredibly geeky things that are important to Geek Culture, That I Find Unutterably Dull. These must be taken as my own opinions. I am not criticizing any TV Show or book for lack of quality or good storytelling. Being old enough to remember Geekdom’s Elder Days also means being grown up enough to know that something can be very well done and still not appeal to me. So if you are an ardent fan of what ever I happen to discuss in this series, assume that the fault is mine. Today, it’s Dr. Who.

Continue reading → Geek Heresy: A Consideration of Popular Fictional Universes That Bore the Living Hell out of me – Episode 1: Dr. Who Cares?

There is Good in George Lucas…I Can Feel it…

Acculturated shares my careful optimism:

Fans of the franchise are certainly skeptical about these new movies after being forced to suffer through Lucas’s bitter meanderings through the universe he inspired. But should they be? While Lucas will remain as a creative consultant, Disney has already shown the ability to produce action packed crowd pleasers for children and adults alike, and their success with trusting Marvel’s Avengers to Whedon was admirable. And really, your childhood can only be destroyed in front of you once. How much worse could it be?

It seems that George finally recognized that this thing he’s made is bigger than he is, and that he no longer has the power to control it. That means people who first loved Star Wars, such as Whedon, now have the power to make Star Wars movies. That’s pretty fantastic.

On the other hand, The Atlantic doesn’t sound very optimistic at all.

Star Wars Fans Now Able to Stop Hating George Lucas and Get Back to Hating Disney

The mind staggers.

Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.

I’m of two minds.

On the one hand, George Lucas will have almost nothing to do with any future Star Wars releases. He will not direct, he will not write, he will not even executive produce. He has divested himself of the whole universe. Good for him, and it offers a glimmer of hope that someone who knows something about characters, dialogue and plot will be behind the next saga.

Plus, and I hardly dare to whisper this hope, but I feel like some bright young executive at Disney will say “You know, there’s a huge swath of Star Wars fans who still don’t Blu-Rays or DVD’s of Star Wars, because they don’t like the Special Edition. Maybe there’s some money to be made there?” And when Disney wants a Home Video release, Disney gets a Home Video release.

On the other hand, it’s Disney. They could be looking to restore SW to it’s former glory, and bring the old disgruntled fans back into the fold. Or they could just be looking to squeeze every last dollar out of this. Which would mean a long series of bland, mediocre space operas neither as good as the originals nor as awful as the prequels, John Carter with light-sabers. Which could eventually bore the hell out of all us screaming nerds, or it could turn Star Wars into a self-perpetuating Series with Eras, a la Dr. Who.

Dude, the Seventh Saga totally wails on the Sixth!

George Lucas Takes His Ball and Goes Home…

…thus subjecting his Marin County neighbors to the kind of treatment that Star Wars fans have become accustomed to:

Uber-liberal* George Lucas, thwarted in his plans to build a film studio on his 6,0000 acre ranch in Marin County, announces that he’s selling the whole place to a developer of low-income housing. His liberal neighbors go nuts.

I suppose I should tut-tut at Lucas for doing this, as there’s more than a degree of pettiness here. But it’s well-earned. I lived in Marin County for three years as a military brat, and there is no more smug, self-righteous collection of bobos anywhere on God’s earth. They could have had a film studio in their community, but they didn’t want to let their neighbor dispose of his property as he sees fit. Now they get to rub elbows with the Great Unwashed that they champion while keeping at arms length. They deserve it.

So I’m with George on this one.

I’m afraid the trailer park will be quite operational when your guests arrive…

The Jedi With a Thousand Faces, Part 1

I mentioned a little ways back that I was looking into the way Joseph Campbell had influenced George Lucas as a mythmaker. This is hardly news; Lucas has openly admitted his debt to Campbell. In fact, he’s rather loud about it. And this interests me.

During that long, 17-year wait between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace, I saw various specials limning the relationship of Star Wars to mythology. I walked through museums with exhibits connecting the Death Star and the Asteroid Monster from Empire Strikes Back to the Belly of the Beast. Lucas can’t flip over without injecting his movie serial with archaic cultural elements.

So, having read most of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, I am unsurprised to see Luke Skywalker hitting every step of the Hero’s Journey. The Call. The Refusal. The Road of Trials. The Atonement With the Father. It’s all there, and no one who’s loved Star Wars will be shocked at it. Continue reading → The Jedi With a Thousand Faces, Part 1