May 3, 2005

JIM GERAGHTY ON GEORGE LUCAS:

I’m being warned about the dangers of capitalism from a man who made perhaps more money from merchandising than any other man in history. I’m getting lectured about the dangers of greed from man who authorized, “C-3POs” breakfast cereal, “The Star Wars Christmas Special” featuring Bea Arthur’s musical number, and not one but two Ewoks made-for-TV movies.

I’m being warned about the dangers of technology, and the glory of primitive cultures like the Ewoks, who are able to defeat the ‘technological terror’ of the Empire, in what is supposedly an allegory of Vietnam. Technology is bad, soulless, dangerous, and dehumanizing. Mmm-hmm. This from a man who replaced a tall man in a hairy suit, a projecting the human-eyed loyalty and sadness of Chewbacca, with the CGI cinematic war crime that is Jar-Jar Binks. A man who tossed aside the Yoda puppet, the spaceship models, the stop-motion animation of the Imperial walkers to go all-computer-animation-and-green-screen, all-the-time.

I’m being warned about the dangers of a “you’re either with me or against me” attitude, and the viewing of the world in a black and white morality, from a filmmaker who has his villain dress entirely in black, choke the life out of helpless pilots, and blows up entire planets. This from a man whose nuanced moral view required an edit to make Greedo shoot first.

Ouch.

UPDATE: Steve Silberman thinks that Geraghty is being unfair to Lucas:

Ouch, indeed. But what is strangely missing from Geraghty’s ostensible bitch-slapping of Lucas is any link to Lucas’ statements along these lines, which I assume were extrapolated from my cover article in the May issue of Wired, “Life After Darth” (Link ) and an accompanying online only Q&A (Link) . Instead, Geraghty links to Jason Appuzo’s post on Libertas, which excoriates Lucas for not condemning Michael Moore strongly enough. What’s unnerving is that Lucas was certainly drawing a line between his own storytelling methods and Moore’s in my interview — Lucas’ statements were critical, not praising of Moore, as you can see — but apparently because Lucas doesn’t share Apuzzo’s opinion of Moore as a modern-day Goebbels (that’s Appuzo’s word), the readers of Libertas quickly branded Lucas a “Moore-loving liberal.” They were way offbase, but such overheated rhetoric is *so* much easier to maintain when Lucas’ actual statements are absent from the debate.

I don’t have an ewok in this fight. I haven’t even seen the last two Star Wars movies (and I own Phantom Menace on DVD, still unopened) because, I don’t know, I just felt that the first trilogy was too good to equal.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chris Blanchard emails:

know this is a little late, but I thought it only fair to note that Jim Geraghty’s discussion of George Lucas is a comparison of the messages in the Star Wars
films and Lucas’s own life, not a critique of Lucas’s statements in the Wired story or Q&A. Geraghty need not bring up statements Lucas made about Michael Moore (which I agree were over-interpreted), because that
wasn’t really the substance of the critique – although it probably informed the underlying motivation for writing it.

Good point.

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