Saturday, November 03, 2012

Worry Wars

I had a very lengthy, very interesting discussion with the guys about the Disney-Star Wars acquisition for the next MovieFilm show (which you can listen for this coming Monday). One observation I made was how, for as much of a money-minting machine Star Wars has always been, it was a money-minting maching under the oversight of one guy, which lent it a weird kind of purity (and I know that sounds contradictory given how much blog-space I've given over to piling manure on the prequels).

But with Disney's announced plans to keep their Star Wars spigot in a perpetual "on" position through another trilogy and beyond for as long as possible, there's now going to be an institutional, assembly-line quality in place, a la the Bond series or Star Trek or any one of a dozen other corporate-owned franchises. Here's The American Prospect's Tom Carson (no Star Wars fan, he), who I think makes a very cogent observation that mirrors my own thoughts:
I think one reason for the deep bond fans feel with Star Wars is the awareness that the whole stupid, nutty legend all came out of one man's head. Those tin-eared character names, goofball non-human sidekicks—Jar Jar Binks (boo) no less than Chewbacca (yay)—and inane narrative compulsions are all homely testimonials to an authorship that stayed idiosyncratic and personal even when Lucas hired other hands to direct four out of the six installments. Unless James Fenimore Cooper counts, the only real comparison may be to L. Frank Baum, another clod whose private crotchets hit mysterious paydirt. 
Integrity may seem like a lunatic concept to apply to a multibillion-dollar franchise that created the template for modern movie merchandising. But so far as having an only begetter goes, Star Wars retained its integrity for 35 years. The Bond franchise it wasn't; even at their worst, the movies never felt calculated or anonymous, and Lucas was seldom more hapless than when he did try to cater instead of just spawning. The Disney sequels may be able to mimic his blueprint, but they won't be able to mimic his trademark gaucheries, neo-Victorian inhibitions and hangups, and peculiar notions of profundity—the stuff that assures us it's still his vision we're watching.
Just to be clear, and to reiterate my point from earlier in the week, I don't necessarily think any of this is a bad thing. I don't have enough information to make any kind of judgment. But whatever the relative quality of the Star Wars product that comes down the pike, the delegation of George Lucas from "First, Last, Everything" to "Revered Figurehead We Can Ignore" can't help but mark a remarkable (and total) shift from what had been status quo for the entirety of the brand's life until now.

5 comments:

The Mad Swede said...

I might have been more inclined to agree with the notion had I not actually believed that this "one vision" guy has been the number one bad thing for the franchise as a whole from The Phantom Menace onwards.

Had Lucas been less concerned with remaking his own mark and actually stuck with some of the better ideas from the extended universe (as suggested in the works of Zahn and Anderson for instance), I think the argument could have been made credibly. However, as it stands, I doubt anyone can piss any worse all over the franchise than Lucas has already done, so basically, it cannot really get any worse.

(It can of course still be bad, but that'll just be keeping things precisely where Mr One Vision left things, and thus constitutes no downward trajectory.

Zaki said...

Good point, sir!

Anonymous said...

Indiana Jones x Darth Vader
x Iron Man x Phineas and Ferb,
in 3d!!!

The Cool Guy said...

Oh, it could still get worse.

Michael Bay could get chosen as the director.

Zaki said...

We don't make jokes like that, man.