Friday, September 16, 2011

An Open Letter to George Lucas

Hey George,

It’s me, Brian. You remember me, right? The toddler who walked around the house quoting the first 15 minutes of “A New Hope” word for word and sound for sound? The kid who spent every penny of his allowance trying to put together the complete collection of “Star Wars” action figures? The teenager who skipped school to see the first screening “Phantom Menace” on opening day? The adult who has an entire bookcase filled with Chewbacca memorabilia despite the constant mocking of his wife, family, and friends? No? Well, probably if you saw my face you’d remember.

Anyway, George, whether you know it or not we’ve been pals for 28 years. Your hard work took me to amazing places that I could have never imagined and helped lay the foundation for the nerd I am today (and all the beatings that came along with that). You’re not exactly a father figure so much as a “cool uncle figure”, the guy who takes you to awesome movies and maybe sneaks you a beer or something. Everyone needs an uncle like that, right George? It is because of this relationship which we’ve cultivated over the years that I feel I must write to you today and express my concern. Just know that it comes from a place of love.

I’m concerned about you, George. This is a big week for you and I don’t think it’s going to go as well as you might have hoped. On Friday your “Star Wars” films will be available on Blu-Ray for the first time ever. The greatest trilogy in the history of film (plus the three prequels which, quite frankly, suck) will finally be available in a format compatible with the greatest home viewing technology to date. I’m a simple man, George. I wear t-shirts almost every day, I drive a Ford Explorer that has 100,000 miles on it, and I’d prefer a Whataburger over just about anything a fancy restaurant has to offer. I don’t spend extravagantly and I have few luxuries. But I love HD, George. I’ve completely embraced the HD phenomenon to the point that my friends know not to even suggest I watch a television show if our cable provider doesn’t offer an HD option. I am constantly upgrading my DVDs to Blu-Rays and not just the ones that will look appreciably better in HD than in standard; I just bought “The Blues Brothers” on Blu-Ray. “The Blues Brothers”, George! If any film didn’t need to be upgraded to HD, it’s an early ‘80s comedy with almost no value in the cinematography department. Suffice it to say, upon learning of the “Star Wars” Blu-Ray  release, my initial glee was indescribable. In my joy I skipped around the block, smoked a celebratory cigar, and had the logo of the Rebel Alliance tattooed across my back (one of these things is not true but I’ll never say which). It was a truly glorious day. I half expected Carrie Fisher to knock on my front door in order to present me with a medal of honor.

And then the bottom dropped out.

Within 24 hours of my initial high, disheartening reports concerning this box set began to surface. I refused to believe these erroneous rumors at first; surely you had learned from your mistakes, George! But alas, I realized I had to do the research. I almost wish I hadn’t, George. I almost wish I would have ordered my copy of the box set and blindly ridden the wave of “Star Wars” euphoria the likes of which I hadn’t felt since Jar Jar Binks attempted to drive me to suicide 12 years ago. Instead, I nervously flipped on my computer and ventured over to Amazon where I typed in “Star Wars Blu Ray”, said a quick prayer, hit “enter”, and scrolled down to the comments section to see for myself.

My thoughts are best summed up in the words of Darth Vader: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!”

Not only will this box set NOT feature the original versions of the films that multiple generations of “Star Wars” fans have come to love, you’ve also indicated that you NEVER intend for those versions to see the Blu-Ray light of day. Instead, our beloved trilogy will be jam packed with the added scenes and remixed sequences that plagued the “special” editions of the films in the mid-‘90s. To be honest, excluding the infamous “Han Shot First” moment in “A New Hope” and the stupid finale at the end of “Return of the Jedi”, I’m not that bothered by these changes. They’re unnecessary, to be sure, but they don’t fill me with the homicidal rage that other fanboys experience. But you couldn’t just stop there, could you George? You had to take it a step further. Over the last few months, more and more details of this set have surfaced and despite Lucasfilms’ best attempts to gloss them over, the negative aspects of these features have inevitably come screaming forward. You’ve added more changes, changes that on the surface may seem small but that further alter the original vision of the film.

Currently adorns the wall of my office. Yes, I am 28.
More importantly, George, you’ve spit in the face of your fans; you know, the people that made you the multibillionaire that you are today. I love everything about the original version of the original “Star Wars” trilogy. EVERYTHING. I love “Star Wars” more than any other piece of pop culture EVER and I love it just the way it was in 1977, 1980, and 1983. Allow me to speak for the billions of “Star Wars” fans worldwide when I say we don’t want your changes! We don’t want Ewoks that blink. We don’t want Hayden Christensen added into the final scene of “Jedi” in place of whoever the old guy was that played Jedi Ghost Anakin in the original version. (In fact, we don’t want Hayden Christensen AT ALL. If you’re going to make changes, can’t you edit him out entirely and replace him with Chris Pine, Ben Foster, or literally ANY OTHER ACTOR in the world?) We don’t want Ben Kenobi screaming like a drunken hobo to scare off the Tusken Raiders. And while we’re at it, dadgumit George, we don’t want Greedo shooting first!!! Han Solo knew the crap was about to hit the fan and he blew that little green freak away with the calmness that a normal man might show when swatting a fly. That’s part of what makes him so awesome! You took that part of him away, George; you robbed an entire generation of “Star Wars” fans of that knowledge.

There’s been a lot of internet noise about your Blu-Ray set, George, and a number of people who have simply said, “Well, they’re his films so he can do with them as he wishes.” But that’s not entirely the case. Sure, you made these films, God bless you. You changed the world with your revolutionary special effects and your rejuvenation of the sci-fi genre as a whole. You put together a set of films that have accepted more love across the globe than any other film franchise and that’s really not an overstatement. As such, they are your films and you can mess them up if you want to. But this sentiment fails to take into account the fact that without us, the fans, without ME, you’d be living in a three bedroom townhome on the outskirts of Malibu producing mediocre films that receive mediocre reviews and wondering about what would have happened if people would have just embraced your vision. We did embrace your vision, George. We flocked to theaters in a way that had never been seen before. With just the returns on “A New Hope” we set you up for life and that’s not even taking into account the sequels and prequels, the numerous theatrical and home viewing re-releases, the parodies and the merchandising. You made the films but we made you.

The thing you have to realize is that this is a partnership, George. You make films and we go to see them. You create merchandise and we snatch it up like it’s coated in gold. You put together a freaking Disney World thrill ride and we stand in line for hours to ride it. Without you we have a “Star Wars” sized hole in our lives but without us, your work following “A New Hope” doesn’t exist. Simply put, if no one buys into your product it doesn’t matter!  And if you don’t believe me just ask Joss Whedon and the cast of “Firefly.”

I’ve stood beside you, George. I’ve handled the ups and the downs and I’ve done my best to deal with the changes that you seem hell bent on shoving into my life because at the end of the day, my life is better with “Star Wars” than without (Jar Jar Binks aside). I have owned no less than five versions of this franchise on VHS and DVD and I would like nothing more than to walk into Best Buy on Friday and pick up my pre-ordered copy of the Blu-Ray set. In all honesty you have jammed this set with INCREDIBLE bonus features and it will kill me to not delve into those extras with the voraciousness of a Wookiee attacking an opponent following a loss (I stretched it a bit too far there, didn’t I?). But I can’t do it, George; I can’t continue to support the glee you seem to take in destroying my childhood memories. I can’t trust you, George, and that is perhaps the greatest tragedy of them all. As someone who paved the way for understanding and drawing upon the power of the fans, your inability to comprehend our ownership of your films is STUNNING. All of this animosity could have been avoided simply by providing the original version of these films in addition to the altered version you claim to like better. Would that have been so hard, George? Wouldn’t that have been worth the extra cost to avoid all the hate, anger, and frustration? The effort you made to put these films together so long ago has been repaid a trillion times over and now it’s time you repaid us in kind. I want my cool uncle back, George; I want the guy who showed me a wide world of awesomeness, not the guy who shows me dorky YouTube videos and treats me like an eight year old. Make this right, George. Make it right.

With love and concern,
Brian

7 comments:

  1. A man of my own heart. I'm going to carry a copy of this in my pocket should I ever meet George Lucas.

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  2. This letter is so.. pathetic. And selfish. And for the love of God, if everyone hates the prequels so much, don't watch them! Of course they never had a chance of living up to the originals, but good lord. I own the blu-ray box set. Why? Because I love the saga and refuse to whine about the minuscule changes that were made. Grow up, and stop taking credit. It's ridiculous.

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  3. Sorry you feel that way, pal. Next time you want to trash someone's work, which is fine by the way, maybe have the stones to attach your name to it. "Grow up" indeed.

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  4. I apologize for not providing a name, I am unable to see that option as I am using my phone. My name is Kellie, by the way. I simply have yet to find a reason why people continually bash the work while simultaneously holding onto the illusion that they are the ones responsible for it, as if they were the ones who spent years and years creating the movies. Nothing against you as a person, it's just not how I see it. My apologies for the rude tone of my previous comment.

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  5. Well, to your point, like I said in the article, it's his baby and he can do what he wants with it. And I don't intend in any way to take credit for what Lucas created. But to ignore the relationship between fan and product is irresponsible. Without the literal billions of people who've bought in over the years, what does Lucas have to show for his creation?

    I, too, love the saga and I always will. I just want to be able to enjoy it without having it become further bastardized by dumb changes and the relative awfulness of the prequels.

    My whole point boils down to this: just include the original version with the director's cuts. That's all it would have taken to assuage millions of angry supporters. That way everyone, Lucas included, could enjoy the films they want to enjoy them. I don't think that's too much to ask and I think that's clear based on the choices made by other great filmmakers. Ridley Scott gave us a Blade Runner Blu-Ray with all of the editions of the film. Spielberg is on record as saying the E.T. Blu-Ray will go back to the original form. Clearly it's the way to go, it's just that Lucas seems to revel in doing things his way with no regard to what his constituents think.

    Thanks for the comments even if I am diametrically opposed to your viewpoint!

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