Thursday, April 18, 2013

Staring into the Abyss

Regarding yesterday's SW/Disney post: Perhaps "Dead" is too strong a word.

Oh I'm angry. Angry and hurt. Not the least because I trusted Disney to do the right thing and they let me down flat again and again, even after I defended them. If they had done just one of the many things they've been doing, I'd be shaken but still cautiously optimistic. But no, each new bit of news is like a kick in the gut.

However, as I was trying to explain my anger and my outrage, I almost said the unthinkable. I started with "They're..." and then I stopped cold. I was one step away from saying the most offensive and hyperbolic of the hateboy memes. One I've been personally trying to ban from the lexicon for years.

But I will not say it. I'm throwing my lightsaber away on this one. I'm putting down the deathsticks to go home and rethink my life.

The last month or so has been very tough. I don't talk about news of the world here because this is the place to get away from all that, but things like the gun debate and the tragedy in Boston do weigh heavily on me and my heart goes out to all the victims (I also humbly request people keep politics out of the comments). Add all that on top of my own financial worries, time management issues, and just overall daily struggles most of the time, and I've been in rather a blah place. Now, on top of everything, this stuff happens. I was legitimately depressed yesterday. No matter what I did, and how much fun and good and relaxation I took, I still couldn't get happy.

I just needed a little bit of perspective.

What Disney has been doing is still not okay with me. Unfortunately, there's no real way to tell them that in a way they'll take seriously except with my wallet. I knew yesterday, however, that there was no way I'd be able to totally boycott Disney. There's too much I want, too much I love, that will wind its way back to them. The best I can do is be even more selective with what I spend my money on than I already am, show them there's a market they may not believe exists. At the very least, I plan on producing a number of I-III t-shirts, wearing them proudly, and if anyone gives me stink about it say I'd gladly pay for authentic ones if they existed. Keep my merchandise collecting strictly to I-III and Clone Wars era characters (except for Tarkin - I've been waiting for him for too long) until I'm satisfied that the entire saga will be kept in tact. I've been avoiding Angry Birds Star Wars because it always felt like Angry Birds Half Star Wars, but if they do decide to add levels for I-III I'll not only get it, but I will PAY for the full version. I urge any like-minded fans to do the same: pay only when they give you what you really want and don't settle, and perhaps they'll come around.

However, I can't take any of this personally, because it's not personal. In fact, it's as insultingly impersonal as it gets. If George Lucas Owes Me Nothing (tm), then neither does Disney. That's what we all need to remember as this goes on.


  1. I get what you're saying, Adam--but I think there's a massive difference between GL and Disney. Nobody will deny that GL is a great businessman, but at his core, he's an artist, and all of his business success was in service to his art and his vision. Whether the money went directly into making his movies the way *he* wanted, or back into building his companies in order to fund innovation that benefits the entire film industry, it was never about the accrual of wealth for wealth's sake. Disney, on the other hand, is a publicly-traded company whose primary focus is to make the most money possible for their shareholders; art and vision are used in service of the pursuit of profit. I'm not at all saying that art doesn't come out of Disney--of course it has, does, and will--just that the head of LFL c.1977-2012 was an artist, whereas the heads of Disney since the 1960's have been businessmen.

    An artist owes you nothing, a business owes you consumer satisfaction. ;)

    1. That's a good point. I just never want to become what I'm fighting against.

    2. "but at his core, he's an artist, and all of his business success was in service to his art and his vision."

      I'd argue it's been the other way round since at *least* 1983. Not a lot of evidence to suggest he's been enormously artistic over business-minded.

    3. How about the fact that he stuck to his vision even when the fanbase turned on him.

    4. Knowing full well that anything Star Wars is gonna make a boatload of money and a handful of vitrolic fans aren't gonna change that? Doesn't really indicate art over business to me (though I'm not sure what incident you're referring to, exactly).

    5. Anything since 1983.

      If he was really all about the money he'd have simply made Star Wars the way everybody else wanted. Instead, he made it how he saw it.

    6. He *did* make Star Wars the way everyone wanted- that's what Return of the Jedi ended up being, and you can even view his constant re-edits as an attempt to speak to more modern audiences by updating effects and aesthetics (there's no proof to that latter point, though, so I won't push it). Let's not forget the prequels are enormous crowd-pleasers and gigantic moneymakers, so saying he deliberately didn't make Star Wars the way "everyone else wanted" is a bit of a stretch.

      Really, though, the fact he deliberately simplified Raiders and Return of the Jedi to be more successful, stopped directing for 20 years and, upon returning, directed three movies in the most simplistic and passive directing style imaginable (that were additionally derivative of prior works), has constantly pushed the marketing of his films through toys, games, rereleases, etc., and developed "Red Tails" based directly on a list of highest grossing films of all time speaks to me he's more business-minded than artistic minded.

      There's certainly an element of "artistic vision" seeping through (the fact, for instance, that he refuses to release the original cuts of the films doesn't speak of any financial sense) but on the whole he's really been more about the business since Star Wars changed the face of Hollywood.

    7. Simplified? Not at all. Simplistic directing? What films did YOU watch? And Red Tails was trying to tell a good story from an unusual point of view.

      If he made Star Wars the way everyone wanted, then the second someone cried foul on Jar Jar, he would have been GONE. The updates? He thinks new technology is cool and wanted to fix things he perceived to be mistakes.

      How can you be so cynical to assume otherwise?

    8. Return simplifies a lot of the complexities from the earlier films and derives a lot from the original Star Wars, and the A/B shooting style Lucas adopted for the prequels with a lot done in post-production is an extremely passive form of directing. And the stories behind the development stages of Red Tails suggest otherwise.

      I could also get into how much the prequels (TPM in particular) try to appeal to as mass an audience as possible, but I'm a bit pressed for time right now.

    9. Dude, just stop with the "A/B" shooting style thing. I have eyes, I can see there's more to the cinematography and composition than that. As for TPM being cynically put together, well forgive my saying but whatever brought you to that conclusion can't be a legal substance.

      Jedi did suffer from repetition, but that was leftover from when IV-VI were one script. The Death Star was meant for the big finale before it got pushed forward to New Hope, but Lucas still really wanted those old DS scenes when Jedi rolled around so we got Death Star II (Electric Boogaloo). The best decision? Perhaps not, but motivated by vision rather than greed.

    10. "I have eyes, I can see there's more to the cinematography and composition than that."

      Dude, Lucas himself uses that terminology to describe his shooting camera- even calling them "A camera" and "B camera". And again, watch any of the dialogue scenes and they'll have extremely similar camera placements, almost identical blocking, even, non-dynamic lighting, identical composition, etc. The only thing that really changes between them are the greenscreen.

      As to Jedi, beyond the fact that the whole "it was all one script" is actually fairly overstated, its problems extend to more than just using the Death Star again- mostly in how morally reductive it is and how it removes most all the complexities introduced in the prior film in favor of a lighter, feel-good ending. That's what I mean about it being simplified to become more palatable to a mass audience.

    11. Complex and feel-good are not mutually exclusive, and that type of thinking is awfully pretentious.

    12. You're right. In this case, though, it ended up being that way.

    13. While certain things we're glossed over that shouldn't have been, to say it lost all complexity is untrue and unfair. But that's all I have to say about it for now.