Space Ramblings

That Wonderful George Lucas, Times interview

I say wonderful because it manages to give people new reasons to hate George Lucas while reminding us of all the old reasons we hate him. It’s so rare that in a brief interview a public figure can destroy his own image with every other sentence, while no one besides the fanboys pays attention. But that’s been the Lucas way for a while. The Star Wars prequels have become a running joke, the new set of Indiana Jones movies is pretty certain to end up the same way, Lucas has demonstrated over and over again that he simply doesn’t care. And so we take it from there.

In the Times interview, there are plenty of fun tidbits. Take Lucas’ admission that he really doesn’t care who he licenses Star Wars to and what they do with it, so long as they send the check to the right place.

“I am the father of our Star Wars movie world – the filmed entertainment, the features and now the animated film and television series,” he says. “And I’m going to do a live-action television series. Those are all things I am very involved in: I set them up and I train the people and I go through them all. I’m the father; that’s my work. Then we have the licensing group, which does the games, toys and books, and all that other stuff. I call that the son – and the son does pretty much what he wants.” He laughs. “Once in a while, they ask a question like ‘Can we kill off Yoda?’, things like that, but it’s very loose.

“Then we have the third group, the holy ghost, which is the bloggers and fans. They have created their own world. I worry about the father’s world. The son and holy ghost can go their own way.”

I’m going to skim over the obvious fact that George Lucas can’t seem to even talk about his own franchise without using some high minded religious metaphor that compares himself to a deity. This isn’t even the first time he’s done it, so it’s old school by now. The Mad TV George Lucas Dateline parody video above covers that one pretty thoroughly.

But let’s just recognize that George Lucas really doesn’t care what the licensees do with Star Wars so long as they don’t kill off major characters. That’s not the attitude of someone who cares about his work. It’s the attitude of someone who cares about cashing in.

“We were hoping for box-office figures like that, which is, ultimately, with inflation, what the others have done, within 10%,” Lucas explains. “So, we squeaked up there. Really, though, it was a challenge getting the story together and getting everybody to agree on it. Indiana Jones only becomes complicated when you have another two people saying ‘I want it this way’ and ‘I want it that way’, whereas, when I first did Jones, I just said, ‘We’ll do it this way’ — and that was much easier. But now I have to accommodate everybody, because they are all big, successful guys, too, so it’s a little hard on a practical level.

Of course Lucas could have just handed the movie over to one of his VFX supervisors to direct and made all the characters CGI, but unfortunately he couldn’t get rid of Spielberg and after the failure of Young Indy, maybe he’s grasped that Indiana Jones without Harrison Ford doesn’t work. But Lucas managed to be the stubbornest one in the trio, ousted Darabont and turned in a weak Indy 4 that even he admits just squeaked by. So naturally he blames Spielberg and Ford for it.

“If I can come up with another idea that they like, we’ll do another. Really, with the last one, Steven wasn’t that enthusiastic. I was trying to persuade him. But now Steve is more amenable to doing another one. Yet we still have the issues about the direction we’d like to take. I’m in the future; Steven’s in the past. He’s trying to drag it back to the way they were, I’m trying to push it to a whole different place. So, still we have a sort of tension. This recent one came out of that. It’s kind of a hybrid of our own two ideas, so we’ll see where we are able to take the next one.”

So basically George Lucas wants to take it into a future involving Communists, space aliens and Shia LeBeouf. Why stop there? Take it to the 22nd century or a galaxy far far away. The whole reason people liked Indiana Jones was because it took place in the past.

“I’m only going to produce Red Tails — we have a black director — but then I think I am going to direct some more, make some esoteric films that have a personal significance.” And what might they be?

A black director! Amazing. I’m sure he’ll do well as long as he caters to George Lucas’ expectations of what black people are like by talking like Jar Jar Binks,

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