2011-09-19

Star Wars and George Lucas's Overreach

Recently, George Lucas has made news in the tech world by announcing changes to some of the dialogue in the original Star Wars movies to make the plot and background more complete. The reaction, at least among those who watched the original movies when they were released in the theaters, is that he is needlessly meddling with the movies they love and remember so well just to satisfy his own desires, and it's time that he opened it up (Will Gompertz, BBC News) to the fans to modify and redistribute.
I agree with most of the arguments presented in that post. Basically, the idea is that the artist doesn't have sole control over what happens to a piece of art, and that part of what makes art great is how other people view, use, and build upon it. The artist can't possibly think of every way the piece of art can be used, so it's not right for the artist to simply exclude all unofficial uses; in fact, that is stealing art from the viewers, much more than "piracy" is stealing from the artist. And finally, George Lucas, by essentially writing previous versions of the movies out of official existence, is destroying pieces of art that were valuable in their own right, even if he doesn't think so.
I'd like to add to this that I think there are basically three groups of people with regard to Star Wars fandom: there are those who will regard George Lucas's word as the gospel, those who will regard only the original movies as the gospel, and those who will create their own plot and dialogue patches to satisfy themselves and their friends. So what George Lucas should do is try to continue to sell the revised movies, because those in the first group will come anyway. Leave the movie to the second and third groups, because they will probably not be significant sources of direct revenue, yet they have the right to watch the movies as they see fit. Maybe there will be competition among the official George Lucas revisions, the original unaltered movies, and the fan-made alterations, but that's something that George Lucas will have to deal with, just like any other firm does in a free competitive market.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

7 comments:

  1. It seems fairly straight forward, George Lucas really likes money. I and many others really like Star Wars.

    If George Lucas wants to sell a 1080p immortalization of my happy memories in a format I can watch (so not blu-ray obviously because only a handful of people on earth own or want a blu-ray player) then I'm more than happy to hand over some cash.

    On the other hand if George Lucas wants to sell me a high-def mockery of my childhood enjoyment in a format nobody except a sony executive wants to give house-space to then screw him. I can spend my money on beer instead.
    If he's too smug about pissing on my cornflakes maybe I'll even torrent a copy of his new abortion, seed up to 1000 then delete it unwatched.

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  2. I can't imagine what goes on in that guy's head. He just keeps messing around with things that don't need fixing and making the movies progressively worse. If he'd just stop, create a restored cut of the original movies without any other changes and release it in 1080p he'd make a ton of money and keep the core fans happy. I don't understand why he doesn't.

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  3. @T_Beermonster, Shergill Games: Then he could do what Disney does with its classic animated movies, and just re-release them every 5 to 10 years as a new special edition; the edition should have exactly the same content as the original, but it should be in better shape technically, and it should have bonus features like extra commentary and stuff like that. Disney seems to have a very successful model in that regard, and George Lucas could learn from Disney in that sense. Thanks for the comments!

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  4. I stood in a line stretching around the theater to see the worldwide release of Star Wars in Dallas. I later saw it 18 more times that same month. The thought of this epic being altered is heartbreaking. What next, Casablanca in 3D?

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  5. @Neuromancer: I think that would be hilarious and sad at the same time. Thanks for the comments!

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