Update: this relic of a post was written before Star Wars VII even came out.
One of my fondest memories in the mid 80s, is sitting on the brown carpet in the TV room, building an X-wing fighter with Constux, all the while, watching the real X-wings destroy the Death Star in Star Wars: a New Hope.
This toy was only second to LEGOs
I don’t know how many times I saw the flick. It was definitely in my top five most watched movies as a kid, right next to Disney’s animated Robin Hood, Home Alone, The Princess Bride, and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Out of the lot, Star Wars spoke the deepest to me. It expanded my imagination, drawing attention to an escapism that is truly out of this world, in another galaxy, in fact… one that is far, far away…
I’m not alone
Fans from all over the world love the films. I’m sure anyone from my generation can remember finding that random stick in the woods, or broom in the closet. Transformed, it became a light saber wielded by a plucky, Jedi adventurer.
It is disheartening for me to see George Lucas retiring from the mega-million dollar film industry. Does this mean an end to other Star Wars movies? Lucas was asked this by the The New York Times. His answer: “Why would I make any more [Star Wars movies] when everybody yells at [me] all the time and says what a terrible person [I am]?”
Yes… nerds can be harsh. It is a shame we can’t act more civil towards the founding father of our nerdom. I would love to meet George Lucas someday. I’d shake his hand and thank him for what I enjoyed of his art. I would not express any frustrations.
The anger nerds express is viewed as being too harsh.
We view ourselves quite differently…
This must have been how George Lucas felt when making changes to the original three movies and then creating the prequels. His once avid fan base saw it differently.
Beneath the gestures of nerds gone angry lie a solid reason of why; the same can be said for George of course–but first, the nerd view of things.
Simply put, most Star Wars fans, ages mid 20’s and up, don’t like the CGI changes made to the first movies…
…nor do they enjoy the prequels that followed.
Too many long and drawn out debates about Trade Federations and not enough surprising and sudden family relations.
Many fellow nerds have already laid waste to the prequel Star Wars movies. I won’t be doing that here. Instead, I want to focus on the nerds’ relationship with George, taken from the perspective of an up-and-coming sci-fi writer.
So far, I’m one book into the Symphony of Sol universe, a story reminiscent of the Star Wars epic… minus the aliens, faster than light travel, and quirky popcorn feel about it. Okay, so my tale is nothing like Star Wars, and more like a realistic epic of tragic events; set in our planet’s very own backyard.
But, Symphony of Sol still has the grand space opera feel to it. And this, my friends, had a lot to do with my memory of what Star Wars growing up.
While working on my second novella Symphony of Sol 2: The Haunting Past, I often wonder about what went wrong with George’s own tale.
The first three movies had memorable characters doing heroic deeds. The love triangle of the roguish Han Solo, the hard-as-nails Princess Leia, and boy-wonder Luke Skywalker touched a sweet spot deep inside, something that nerds have considered as sacred. The space adventure of rebels overcoming an empire became legend and lore for our Postmodern Era. Just like Robin Hood and King Arthur were in the Middle Ages, or the story of Rip van Winkle to early Americans.
It is ground breaking to think how influential art actually is. Star Wars is tangible evidence to this. It’s no coincidence that we love to see a good comeback story. The comeback-kid space opera solidified a David vs Goliath style of story-telling.
Everyone enjoyed these movies, in fact, I presume you would be hard pressed to find one person that did not like them. The misunderstood nerds more than simply enjoyed them though, we worshiped them. A humble film maker was suddenly thrust into the center of attention. Lucas saw all the adoration and was fooled into thinking it was directed towards him. He took it as a license to do anything he wanted. So, he went unhinged on the very core of his fame, the first-made trilogy, and tweaked with their memorable perfection.
The very creator of Star Wars took our iconic stories and attempted to change how we once saw them. I know this wasn’t Lucas’ intent, but it is how the nerds have viewed it. We feel as if the father of our movement, the one who validated our hopes and dreams, has stabbed us in the back.
Turns out we didn’t really love him as a person. We don’t even know him. What we loved was the story he created. Lucas was only respected so long as he kept making good stories. This does sound heartless on the part of the nerdy rabble. Our only connection to Lucas, though, our only relationship to him was the stories he gave us. Once trust is broken in any relationship, it turns sour.
But Lucas did not do any of this purposefully. His intent was rooted in what type of person he is. Every good artist has a philosophy that they live by. A lot goes into this foundational value-system, born from the core of their being. They take this core of their lives—how they grew up, who they have become—to create art.
George’s reason for the changes is deeply-rooted in his philosophical idea of film, which is that of the naïve, self-aware adventure. This worked well during the deep-spiritual depression of the mid-70s. It made his films stand out amidst the bitterness society felt. To then go back and change this, only because you can… well, it’s sort of like trying to change time.
The bitterness he overcame from the public has returned—and this time from the fan base. Talk to any nerd friend of yours, ages mid 20s and up… bring up their thoughts on the prequels… be prepared for discussions long into the night!
This happened to me, not a few days ago. A friend mentioned that Star Wars was being re-released on Blue Ray. My jaw was set… and I began to lecture him on why all these changes Lucas made were a bad thing. I cut my rage short, but, it could have gone on…
So, I will protest in the only way that I know how. I will write a story of a different sort. One that isn’t drawn from the bitterness of Star Wars, but rather my fondness of it. I’ll work on my books until they are published. Once published, they will be left alone. Because, at that point, they are no longer mine to mess with. They are for the audience that claims them.
Here’s my own writing philosophy, drawn from the core of a man who loves to teach. Tell a good story before anything else. Even my ego must be placed in the back seat, even my stickler’s sense of realism will be brushed aside for the sake of a good story. Well-written characters are only the vehicles for this story. Some of these characters will become the voice for my ideals, but even those closely-held beliefs will not come between a good, solid tale. Why do I place the story so high? Because this is what the audience responds to most.
My job as an artist is to change the culture for the better. If all else fails, though… I will always, and very simply, tell them a darned good story, one remembered fondly for years to come.