Why I Hate George Lucas

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.”

I agreed.

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.

And I know, these things are somehow explained in the books. I get told that a lot.

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):

Notes from Persistent Illusions

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?

No.

Just no.

I’ll never join you, Lucas.

Never.

Comments

  1. I’ve long said the worst thing about Star Wars is the fans. The second worst thing about Star Wars is George Lucas. He’s a brilliant idea man, but lacks a certain something in the execution of his vision. It’s telling that the (arguably) best part of Star Wars is the part he had the least control over (The Empire Strikes Back).

    The original trilogy was something special. Many of the special edition changes I don’t mind at all, others, I tolerate only because I have no choice. But he just keeps mucking about with them and I like the movies less and less the more he messes about with them. A good writer would have made the prequel fit the original trilogy. He, instead, chooses to retcon and rejigger the original trilogy to fit his prequel,which, by every measure except number of special effects, are inferior in every way.

    This was a man who once said “A special effect is a tool, a means of telling a story. A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.” I don’t know what caused him to forget that between RotJ and TPM. I have a weird relationship with Star Wars. There was a time when I felt like if it was Star Wars, it was awesome, without question. About 1999, I started to question that, and the more I sit and contemplate things like Sith philosophy, Jedi philosophy, droid rights, etc., I realize that it’s a seriously crapsack universe in which to live.

    I guess you could fanwank and say “Aside from the obvious use of The Force, humans in Star Wars are different from Earth humans.” They’d have to be, because if you took toddlers away from their parents, and raised them by a group of people who taught them not to form emotional attachments, then had those kids raise MORE kids taken from their parents at a young age, you’d get some seriously emotionally-stunted people. That’s NOT normal human development. Not all Jedi are human, of course, but a LOT of them are. I mean, those would be some seriously f-ed up people. Now, give those f-ed up people superpowers and weapons that can dismember opponents with little to no effort.

    That’s frickin’ scary right there.

    I could probably write a book about how George Lucas’s messy, messy divorce and experience with adopting kids have shaped the Star Wars universe to have such a messed up order of paragons. But I think I’d have to wait until he was dead to do it.

    I still love Star Wars, though. For its potential. Plus, lightsabers are awesome. I have my own personal canon; I only wish I could go back and edit the films to fit MY vision. They’d be a superior product.

    • josephdevon says:

      Ugh. I forgot about the shift in the Jedi code. In the originals Lucas was basing things a lot on Joseph Cambell’s works as well as Eastern philosophies.. The overriding philosophy is definitely one of control over emotions, and love can be a very uncontrollable emotion as they go, but IMO it was speaking more towards an acceptance of love and life and death so that one’s existence could be enjoyed without fear of loss making one do rash things. I doubt highly if anyone who coached Lucas on the philosophical aspects in the original trilogy, Cambell especially, would have agreed with the bastardization that it became in the prequels. Seeking to avoid earthly attatchments and ordering people not to love are just totally different things.

      But I usually don’t even bother arguing the philosophy of the prequels as I rarely get past Jar Jar. :)
      (it might be Joseph Campell…I’m replying on my phone and don’t remember how it’s spelled)