Or not. If anyone saw this bit on the Forcecast Facebook page, my apologies. It seems relevant to post here, where it can enjoy a permanent home.
If there’s one phrase that gets paraded around more than any other about the creator of Star Wars, the flannel-wearing, beard-sporting George Lucas, it’s that he’s a “sell out.” George Lucas equals sell out in many corners of the internet. A few years from now, if you look up the phrase “sell out” on wikipedia or somewhere, chances are a picture of the notorious GL will be there by way of simple explanation. The two are practically synonymous!
But as Alan Watts once so eloquently put it, sometimes the most creative bits of philosophy come from questioning the most accepted elements of common sense.
In that spirit, I wanted to add my thoughts on Lucas as the most selling outest person who has ever sold out in the history of seller outerdom. Simply put, the phrase “selling out” originated in the music industry, but fortunately for us and the internet, it has branched out to encompass about any artist who has compromised their creative integrity and vision to grab as many wads of cash as humanly possible and/or thoughtlessly cater to the whims and desires of their audience to win popularity and status.
After the most cursory of glances, it seems a little odd that Lucas would be thought of as a "sell out," and more so that the label is so universally accepted. The rest of this post will examine who or what Lucas is allegedly selling out too, not to mention the hows and the whys of why this is so commonly believed and unquestioned.
First off, George Lucas’ audience - call them “fans” if you must - have been on a relentless, decade-plus campaign in which they’ve complained, argued, protested, defamed, re-edited, boycotted, and personally insulted him. Are these really the people he’s sold out to? Surely not. If so, it’s perhaps the most ham-handed, ill-conceived, horrifically-executed “sell out” of all time.
Take the Special Editions. Lucas having Greedo shooting first in the cantina has elicited nothing but anger and loathing from all corners. In point of fact, Lucas is arguably the only person alive who thinks it was a good idea. Han Solo may not have stuck to his guns, but ironically Lucas certainly has. Very few would maintain the change, but GL refuses to compromise.
One also has to stop and wonder exactly how many campaigns there have been to release the original version of the original trilogy on Blu-Ray. But nope, it didn’t turn out that way. Not only did Lucas refuse to release the original version, not only did he stick his preferred Special Editions in there, but he even added more changes! Infuriating changes. Ewoks blink! Vader says noooo! Dogs and cats, living together … mass hysteria!
And make no mistake, he knew full well the howling rage and furious indignation it would cause. Just take a look at his “retirement” interview. He’s very aware of how “terrible” everyone thinks he is online. If he wasn’t before they started insulting him on his children’s Twitter accounts, he is now. Look at the situation on Amazon. Last time I bothered to check, the Star Wars Blu-Ray set that everyone has been anticipating for years is boasting over a thousand one star reviews! One star!
I’ve already made note of this in an early post, what with all the ludicrous, high-fiving, back-slapping congratulations that are going on in the forums and comments. Certainly more than one person there has accused Lucas of being a sell out. Not to get political, but this to me makes about as much sense as bothering to vote.
If Lucas is the ultimate sell out, willing to do anything to make another quick buck and build up his fame and ego - personal vision and creativity be damned - then why doesn’t he immediately retract all the Special Edition changes? Why not make extra special super care that he doesn’t contradict any Expanded Universe continuity, thus making sure no one has more excuses to get mad at him, thus Lucas Books will sell more novels and he’ll make more money? If all he cares about is rolling around in beds full of cash while laughing maniacally, why isn’t he just farming Star Wars out to any hack director and collecting the box office receipts? Why aren’t we on Episode XXXIII: The Search For Luke’s Grandson or some such?
If he’s such a sell out, with no creative energy, talent, or integrity, why didn’t he listen to all the endless complaints of ruined childhoods after the release of The Phantom Menace? Why didn’t he go onto the countless internet forums publically tearing him and everything to do with the film to shreds and take notes? He could have reshot and re-released the film, only this time Darth Maul could have decapitated Jar Jar Binks in the first thirty seconds, and then spun his lightsaber around and done backflips for the next two hours. He could have even called it “Episode I: I Was Wrong.” Legions of angry online fanboys would have been in utter, near orgasmic, ecstasy. It would have easily grossed five billion dollars domestic if the internet forums are anything to go on.
For that matter, why didn’t someone as lazy and untalented as Lucas simply take on and release one of the myriad fan edits of the film that cut out Jar Jar and midichlorians altogether? Episode I could have been Episode III, and then Episodes II and III could have been Vader stomping around the galaxy, breathing hard, and slaughtering Jedi. How badass would that have been? Because really, the only thing that matters when it comes to Star Wars is how badass it is, mouse droids in the original trilogy be damned.
Even more recently than that, "Lucas the Sell Out" should have set to release The Phantom Menace in 3-D, heard all the whining and complaining about it, and then laugh it off and release A New Hope, arguing that that had been the plan all along. Or better still, he could have released fan favorite The Empire Strikes Back, made a gazillion dollars, and had countless fanboys eating out of the palm of his hand and erecting statues of him in the town square.
In short, if George Lucas would just bend over, grab his ankles, and quietly take it like a man whenever the fanboys barked a command, there wouldn’t be any problem. If he would simply make his Star Wars movies their way, if he would promptly respond “How high?” when they asked him to jump, he would be the most loved celebrity on the internet.
The fact is, that maverick, independent filmmaker of the seventies and eighties that everyone claims to have idolized is actually alive and well. And arguably more maverick and independent then ever. For better or worse, he’s made his movies his way ever since 1977, with an almost careless or cavalier attitude to profit or public approval.
So yes, undeniably, the fanboys do hate George Lucas. But not for the exalted, artistic reasons they claim. In fact, it’s another reason altogether.
They don’t hate George Lucas because he's “sold out.”