THE POLITE VERSION
I am officially breaking from the Star Wars franchise, in all regards. Being that I am maintaining a fantasy fiction franchise of my own, Ceaseless Fables of Beyonding, I cannot continue to absorb the intellectual properties of other creators, for fear of possibly regurgitating them. Respectfully, I will not be seeing any upcoming Star Wars films, and will in fact be avoiding them for this reason. I wish the cast and crew, present and future, well. I’m sure the new episodes will be heralded as everything the fans have always wished for, and will gross billions of dollars. Please in turn respect my decision to distance myself from this franchise. Thank you for your understanding. “May the Force be with you.”
It takes a lot to offend me. Really, it does. You have to be very specific about it- take something that I honestly admire, and truly make it all about money.
I’ve been defending George Lucas since 1997, when he started a firestorm of controversy by releasing altered “special editions” of his beloved Star Wars trilogy. He had to re-release them to maintain the rights, and he didn’t want to repeat his mistakes. Audiences just refused to understand that some changes HAVE to be made, for consistency’s sake, but the bottom line is this: the creator of the galaxy decided certain things should be changed, and the fans decided he was an old feeb who couldn’t stop futzing with movies that were already perfect.
This attitude, this whole “fuck what the creator wants”, spoiled-brat outlook of current fandoms- you cannot in good conscience expect me to get on board with that shit. Don’t get it twisted; I am the creator, and you are the audience. I don’t make it easy for visitors to email me because I don’t take suggestions. I know what the fuck I’m doing. If you suddenly decide that I don’t, I don’t care. Those are the breaks.
I had the honor of sincerely enjoying the Star Wars prequels as they were released. It was a tremendous experience for me, watching the creator of the most influential intellectual property in film history grow that brand, as he advanced into middle age. As a creator, I like to observe how other creators maintain a franchise over a lifetime, for pointers. When all was said and done in 2005, I was in awe of George Lucas. The idea of linking a philosophy and a literal galaxy across six movies and three decades; THAT is science-fiction. Yet, in my view, he pulled it off.
There’s a scene in the first episode of the saga, the unfairly-maligned Phantom Menace, where the desert junk dealer Watto has to surrender the young slave Anakin Skywalker to Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn, after betting him in a race and losing. Watto has tried every dirty trick in the book to keep the kid, to no avail. Finally Watto admits defeat, and mutters “take him”.
Even though Watto is a computer-generated animation of a grotesque alien, he is tremendously emotive in this scene. You can see that he feels affection for Anakin, and he liked having him around. When he reappears in the next episode, it’s clear that he was never the same afterward. His heart is broken.
All of this is the work of designers, programmers and animators. It’s the kind of thing that you used to read about in Cinefex or Starlog, detailing the grueling process of bringing this weirdie to life. But there’s been an open prejudice on CGI for the past 20 years, that one can only avoid by doing a total blackout before seeing a film. Do you think that audiences of 1977 thought the puppets in Star Wars were real? If CGI is used to simulate something that really exists, then it’s relevant if it looks fake. If it’s a CGI space goof, who cares? Why is Phantom Menace such a scapegoat for bad CGI, when the effects are basically flawless?
There are a hundred amazing moments like this in the Prequels. But I have finally realized that the passion I have put into defending these movies is better spent on my own work. I never would have attempted Ceaseless Fables without the films of George Lucas. It’s as simple as that, and I mean all six Star Wars, and the fourth Indiana Jones. If you think that someone like Joss Whedon or J.J. Abrams has grown a universe like George Lucas, you are wrong, and they would agree. When you really get an idea of what it takes to build a world in fiction, one that endures, you can’t help but see detractors as spoiled and obsequious ingrates.
So it is that I have no room in my heart for more Star Wars. I won’t be celebrating in December, when you all get what you so dearly wish for: an utterly reverent and familiar sequel that sanctifies the characters you already adored, with special effects so realistic that you won’t possibly need to suspend your belief, its meddlesome creator silenced. No part will cause you to cringe. Every thrill will be carefully planned and manufactured for you, to play on your sense of nostalgia, and to exact money from your desire to recreate the summer of 1980 with your kids. You’ve got a director who’s built a career on appropriating ’80s movies, so it’ll look just like you want it to, and you can go see it again and again, like you want. Never mind that the saga was complete. Never mind that there’s no more story to tell. There’s money to be made. And look! There’s a lightsaber with lightsabers sticking out of it! Isn’t that terrific.
Anyway, have fun. Ignore my hateful comments. Really, I’m sure it’s gonna be a great trilogy. It’s Disney, how could it not be? The franchise is obviously in great hands. Disney’s made tons of great stuff so far this century, like Wreck-It Ralph, and ___. You’re gonna have a blast this December. Because, you know, that’s when Star Wars movies come out. Not in dumb summer, when people are having fun.
My final word on this: Star Wars I-VI represents to me the idea that one man can create a fictional world that takes the real world by storm, over and over, while imparting valuable spiritual lessons and values.
Star Wars VII-? represent to me the reality that a huge company can buy that world, and do whatever the fuck they want with it, integrity, continuity and respect be damned. Whereas once new episodes came with new colorful worlds, now they revisit whatever was the most popular. The fictional galaxy will never grow again, and will only be inhabited, not populated. There’s just too much money in cosplay and LARPing to change things, even if they need to change.
So that’s when it just becomes people play-acting their childhood fantasies, and it gets boring for me. I like my sci-fi weird, and my aliens impossible to physically build by human hands. I don’t bitch about CGI because I fucking animate on a computer, and nothing galls me worse than adults bickering about what looked fake to them. You’re a fucking adult- everything that is not reality on film will look fake to you. Be sure to complain to your children, so it’ll kill the sense of wonder they need to actually appreciate the fucking Star Wars movies you grew up on. Try not to cry when they tell you Yoda looks like a hand puppet.
But don’t cry for me when I sit all this out. I still have the only six episodes I need. (Where Greedo shoots first, because Han Solo is not a fucking murderer.) After that, it has gone down a path I can’t follow. My heart is broken, because hearts break. And after all, breaking hearts is what Disney is all about.
We’ll always have Naboo, though.