More noise than signal

The People vs. George Lucas

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

There’s nothing so iconic for a generation of nerds as Star Wars, and I’ll happily include myself amongst them. However, the recent decisions made by George Lucas to revisit his works and, in his mind at least, improve them have not sat too well with an older generation of fans, and that’s without getting into the prequels and Clone Wars franchise. This is the story of those who feel they have been betrayed by George.

If this isn’t a first world problem incarnate, I don’t know what is.

Taking the form of interviews with people weaned on the franchise, many of whom have taken their fandom to quite ridiculous extremes combined with some of the excellent animations, and other such ‘user generated content’ (ick. Apologies, but it’s about the most appropriate description) such as the excellent Troops, this looks at how Lucas’ original vision has informed a generation of cultural references and why tooling around with these cornerstones might not be a brilliant idea.

There are a couple of interesting points raised by the piece, largely in regard to how a culture can come to view an artwork. Once the film has been released and enjoyed, especially by so many people that for a lot of us it has become an intrinsic part of our culture, does it truly belong to the creator any more?

The answer, of course, is yes, it does. Obviously. So a great deal of the film does devolve into a bunch of self entitled adult toddlers whining about George Lucas having the temerity to revisit his own work, especially when they disagree with how he wanted to portray events and characters.

I understand the points, and we’ve had our own rants about it in the past. Often we can sympathise entirely with them, particularly in regard to the seemingly endless stream of remasters and re-issues of the DVDs and, inevitably, Blu-Rays. So disillusioned was Craig Eastman, also of this parish, that he was going to have T-shirts made up with “Fuck off, George” emblazoned on them at one point.

But he didn’t, because unlike a lot of people featured in this film, he has learned the lessons of the Jedi. Let go, Luke. While he didn’t change his name to Luke, the lesson is simple enough. This isn’t our Star Wars, if it ever was. It’s very fashionable to start withering on about remix culture and democratisation of new media and such, but Lucas has a family and a corporation to feed, so that’s what he’s doing. If you dislike his direction so much, stop giving him your money.

Of course, that might piss your kids off, because they seem to quite like Jar Jar Binks and the Clone Wars. But we wouldn’t want to ruin your imagined memories of childhood now, would we?

Now, while as the film goes on I found myself increasingly annoyed with the showers of geeks complaining at me, especially given that the bulk of the complaints are hardly original (Jar Jar’s silly! Han shot first! etc!) or particularly interesting, there’s no denying that there is a certain cathartic pleasure to be gleaned from having your own opinions reinforced back to you.

Is it enough to recommend? Well, I not sure recommending it is necessary. If you’re the sort of Star Wars geek who knows that this film exists then you’ll have to watch it regardless of what I tell you, and if you aren’t then I’m sure you’ll be blissfully unaware of it and that’s perhaps the best way to stay. However, I’m certain the the former category will enjoy this far more than they did Episodes One through Three.

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