Over this past weekend, for some reason, Spike TV was on constantly in my apartment. They were airing the entire Star Wars saga over and over again in a continuous loop. I’d head out for errands and come back to watch Luke get de-handed. After a late dinner I watched some Jar Jar. On Sunday I watched the finale of the original while texting with a friend.
It was during this text conversation that we realized that all of the movies would be trotted out, once again, starting this spring…only now in 3-D!
My friend had one thing to say: “I hate George Lucas.”
But over the past few days I’ve come to realize what a strong phrase that is, “I hate George Lucas,” and I began to wonder why a guy obsessed with puppets and magic could bring such strong emotion out of me. Oh, I know there are plenty of reason to hate the prequels (ChefElf covers those far better than I ever could). I have long since downgraded all of them to “Crap.”
But it wasn’t the prequels my friend and I were watching when our issuance of hatred arose. It was the originals. The new originals. The ones packed full of just utterly absurd changes that serve no purpose. In A New Hope we get to see Jabba! Hooray! And he’s presented in a way that makes absolutely no sense and as if fucking up his physical appearance wasn’t enough, we now get a scene where Han Solo steps on the tail of the most feared crime leader in the system and nobody cares. It’s played for laughs in fact. Ha. Ha.
In Empire, R2 gets eaten by a swamp monster and spat back out. Luke, in the original, wipes mud off of R2 and says: “You’re lucky you don’t taste very good.” Now, through the magic of editing, he says: “You were lucky to get out of there.” Awesome!
And this goes on. And on. And on. It’s like a madman is at the wheel of my childhood, and instead of passing by all my favorite memories he’s randomly making right-hand turns to see things no one cares about and tell fart jokes.
And yet still, I’m not sure that’s where my hate comes from, though mucking about in my childhood memories is not a good thing, to be sure.
No. I think I hate George Lucas because the prequels manage to make THE ENTIRE FIRST THREE MOVIES MAKE NO SENSE. Obie-Wan ages forty years in the time it takes Luke to grow into a teenager. Chewbacca, who fought at Yoda’s side during the Clone Wars (apparently), never once pipes up with the slightest bit of information. Vader doesn’t bother to look for his children or old master in his hometown. Oh, and also, nobody remembers or cares or believes in the Jedi, who less than twenty years ago were a major part of the Imperial whatever the hell it was called.
But I don’t care about the books. People are constantly plugging up plot holes using a jury-rigged explanation from material that doesn’t exist in the movies. I get angry when fans defend the existence of cities that make zero sense by conjuring up some bizarre native cultural belief that is not addressed in the films. Or how I get assured that scenes of complete nonsense are actually perfectly explainable if I know the back-stories of the characters that got made up to explain the nonsensical scenes in question. In short, I get angry when anything outside of the movies needs to be brought in to explain the movies.
Because that is crap.
Pure and utter crap. You don’t get to have legions of fans and gh0st writers scramble to cover up the mistakes you were too lazy or too blind to see, Mister Lucas. You are not a writer, if you do so. You are not a creator. You are not giving anything to your art and you are not respecting your craft.
And that is why I hate you.
Look. Here. These are some notes I wrote trying to piece together one set of scenes for Persistent Illusions (warning: there might be spoilers in here assuming you can read my handwriting):
That’s a sequence of maybe four scenes. I wanted to make sure that my time-lines made sense. I wanted to make sure, since my characters are all over the world, that I had sunrises and sunsets occurring at the right time in the right places. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t accidentally skip too far ahead or give a character knowledge they couldn’t possibly have. I wanted to make sure that emotional responses had time to build, that fights had back stories, that breakdowns had build-ups.
I wanted to put together the best possible product I could for my readers.
I’m sure I made mistakes. And I know I fudged some things. Artists do that. But I thought long and hard about everything I fudged, everything I did that pushed the unspoken agreement between me and my readers that I’m going to be a good guide for them. And I tried as hard as I could to dim those down and I tried my damnedest to eliminate all my mistakes.
I’m not sure when George Lucas stopped caring, or if he ever did. Maybe he just got lucky in the originals. But I know that the minute you stop caring, the second you shrug and give no thought to putting your name on something you haven’t sweat for, that’s when you stop being an artist.
And to do that with your biggest project? To do that and manage to ruin your previous projects in the same motion?
I’ll never join you, Lucas.