Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Storms Both Real and Imaginary: Sandy, Star Wars, and Disney

I will talk about NaNoWriMo tomorrow.

I have been finding it hard to focus as I, along with most of America, wait to hear from friends, family, and colleagues who were in the path of superstorm Sandy. I quickly grew tired of the apparently irresistible term "Frankenstorm" as well as the political candidates and leaders showing us their best and their worst as they either sought political advantage or shut up and did their jobs/got out of the way.

So it was that I -- along with most of the internet -- were primed for a fight when news broke that Disney was buying Lucasfilm in toto and planning three new Star Wars movies.

Cue rending of Star Wars tee shirts and gnashing of nerd teeth.

(Stop that, it's bad for your teeth!)

The rage was palpable on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and elsewhere. At one point, the top five subjects being discussed on Twitter were Star Wars or Disney related, pushing the hurricane off the national list. This may or may not have been a bad thing, considering the fact that knee-jerk platitudes don't lower flood waters or light homes.

It was something else to talk about that allowed our existential dread some imaginary place to go and hide. T'were it ever so with Science Fiction. So I sent money to the Red Cross and talked about Star Wars. 

I think it might've been better that way...

Full Disclosure: I think this is a Good Thing. Star Wars has new hope. Disney is excellent at managing franchises and is well suited to stage manage the revival of Star Wars just as they did with the Muppets and Marvel.

(Incidentally, I think this means the Mouse has Indiana Jones now too. Next up, Indiana Jones V: The Nathan Fillian reboot? Let's make that happen, Internet!)

Many disagree with me.

While I cannot hope to counter all of the arguments, nor do I disagree with all of them, these are the ones that I had lobbed at me most often yesterday, along with my responses:

This is awful because...
It's the worst thing ever!
I can't respond to hyperbole. Give me a reason.

We can't trust Disney with the fate of the franchise!
You mean you trusted Lucas with the fate of the franchise? Really?

They're just buying it to cash in!
Better than a decade of Lucas cashing out. Seriously, take it from someone who had a room full of Star Wars toys, bedding, curtains, and miscellaneous paraphernalia, and has two nephews with even more of it: nothing has happened since 1977 that wasn't profit-driven. When they started introducing ships and characters just to make toys out of them (A-wings and B-wing fighters, anyone?) Sorry to burst your bubble, but movie making is and always has been a business. You weren't really paying attention when you watched Spaceballs, were you?

Now that they have The Muppets, Marvel, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars, they OWN MY CHILDHOOD!
Hard to argue with. If they bought Dungeons & Dragons and my old typewriter, I'd be contractually obligated to wear Mickey Ears at all times. That said, I don't necessarily agree that this is a bad thing if it means the things I loved as a kid remain viable for my nephews to love in turn.

They'll ruin the old movies!
If you've seen Lucas's endless special editions and re-edits and prequels and you are still making this argument... I don't know what to say to you.

The hero was Darth Vader and he's dead, so there's nothing left to make movies about.
Most cogent argument I've heard so far. And I strenuously disagree on several points. First, there are a half hundred post-Jedi novels that argue otherwise. Some of them are quite good. Also, it's an entire universe, you don't think there are other things happening that we can tell stories about?

Also, no matter what Lucas tells you, Vader wasn't the hero, he was the protagonist. There's a difference. Luke was the hero of episodes IV - VI and Ben Kenobi was the hero of episodes II and III. Episode I was a figment of your imagination. (Waves hand)

They'll have no respect for the franchise!
Remember how much it sucked when Disney bought Marvel and gave us almost a dozen awesome super hero movies, culminating in The Avengers? Gosh, that was awful, wasn't it?

By the way, go sign this petition I created. We'll be here when you get back...
Disney: Please Hire Joss Whedon to Direct a Star Wars Film that Doesn't Suck
Back? Good. Share it with your friends. Seriously. What could it hurt?

They'll make it (shudder) cute!
Everyone wearing a "Wookie the Chew" tee shirt or who shared a link or image from James Hance's site has to sit down now. I think that might be everyone. If there's anyone left, please remember that you are defending the aesthetic honor of the man who gave us Ewoks and Jar Jar Binks. 

Seriously, though, go buy yourself a Wookie the Chew tee shirt. That guy is aces.

But now there will be Mickey-themed Star Wars everything!
I took this photo two years ago. Your argument is invalid.

Here’s my prediction: There will be three new Star Wars movies. They will not be as good as the ones we saw as kids. That’s not really possible because those movies aren’t as good as the ones we saw as kids anymore either. (Looking at you, George.)

Because Disney is pretty good at franchise management, they will more than likely be competently written and directed. They will at least have dialogue that doesn't make your hair melt. They will have stories that kinda, sorta make sense. They might even be quotable. They will sell lots of new toys and there will be more rides at the theme parks.

We will survive. So will Star Wars.

We will probably pay our money to go see them for the novelty of seeing well-written, competently-directed Star Wars movies in the modern era. Lucas will finally have to stop screwing around with (and screwing up) the old movies. If nothing else, and if only because the Mouse never turned down a chance to sell us something, we will probably finally get to see the original theatrical releases on Blue Ray might finally see a re-release of the original theatrical movies on Blue Ray (if they can negotiate a deal with Fox, which holds the distribution rights in perpetuity).

In all, it sounds like a good thing to me.

In the meantime, there was this a hurricane that came ashore and punched in America's most populous region in the teeth. People are homeless, cold, and it will take time and money and a national effort to clean up and recover.

The people of the East Coast don't need our tweets as much as our more concrete efforts to help. Here is an excellent list of organizations that are already on the ground in the hurricane zone, helping our fellow countrymen put the pieces back together.

How about we release some pent-up some nerd energy in that direction...
Sandy's Aftermath: How You Can Help(via NBC news)

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Pages to Type is a blog about books, writing and literary culture (with the occasional digression into coffee and the care and feeding of giant robots).