A long time ago, before Disney broke my heart

Disney recently bought my childhood for $4.05 billion, and I’m about as hurt as Luke was when, yes, he found out who his father was. Just look at George Lucas’ face when he signed away part of his own soul/Lucasfilms. You know what you did, George.

And you, Disney. Go to hell.

Look, I’ve seen money-grabbing commercialization ruin a good thing before (to put it in basic terms) and I was mostly fine.

I could handle having Jersey Shore shoved down my throat. I could bear the fact that “Twilight” might end up being the “Anna Karenina” of our time. I don’t mind that Snoop Dogg, err, Lion, has sold out to both the pistachio and microwavable pizza-burrito industries.

Nickelback doesn’t even really bother me that much.

Because there has always been better TV, literature and music; there’s always something else, though maybe not as popular, that can fill in.

But dammit Disney, there’s only one Star Wars, and while the first Star Wars movies may have helped bring about the conception of the big, epic blockbuster, this isn’t 1977, and when I hear that Disney is going to try to release a new Star Wars movie every two or three years, it sounds to me like a death sentence.

I admit that it’s somewhat silly to be making verdicts at this point — in reality, there’s a slim chance that these new movies could re-energize the series in a way that the recent “Skyfall” seems to have done for the James Bond saga.

But I don’t have much hope.

The idea of new Star Wars movies simply screams of a corporate studio-driven money grab. Sure, every (or at least nearly every) commercial movie is a product trying to be sold for a profit — but there is a still a variation in what artistic qualities a studio is willing to sacrifice and/or compromise for the sake of the dollar. And when I see things like “Angry Birds Star Wars” or when I hear that Harrison Ford, coming off a yes-I’m-that-desperate-for-money performance in “Cowboys & Aliens,” is “open” to the idea of bringing Han Solo back to the big screen in 2015, I can’t help but cringe.

Look, Star Wars is huge. Beyond the six movies are countless books, TV shows, video games, action figures, Lego sets and Halloween costumes. The bottom line is that this seventh episode won’t be first time Star Wars has ventured beyond the original movie series. But what’s made Star Wars so great is not just its cultural relevance, but also its ability to balance its popularity with a feeling of inclusiveness. This is part of what separates “Star Wars” from similar ongoing series like James Bond or Indiana Jones: Star Wars is a cult, in the loosest of interpretations. While membership is free, there is a certain amount of investment that is needed from a viewer for them to fully appreciate the Star Wars movie experience.

Which is part of what makes this inevitable future endeavor so tragic. Because there’s something about Star Wars. There’s something beyond the lasers, and the cute little Ewoks, and James Earl Jones’ rumbling growl, something in the heart of those first three movies that simply connected with viewers and fans at a different level than the standard blockbuster does. Star Wars wasn’t Hitchcock, but it wasn’t “Transformers” either. I can’t put a name on what makes Star Wars special, and wouldn’t want to, for fear of ruining it. But mark my words, there was something there, and no amount of Disney magic is going to bring it back.

Disney doesn’t make cult movies, and as many fantastic movies that have been made by the big D, the odds are that this next Star Wars will most likely be a commercial success and a cinematic failure.

Which, to be honest, may only be fair.

After all, it was that first Star Wars movie back in 1977 that gave birth to the summer blockbuster: Its emphasis was on a simple, good vs. evil narrative, dosed in original special effects and loaded with memorable lines and characters and helping to generate a template for how to make freakin’ epic movies. But now the summer blockbusters have been stuck in a downward spiral for decades. Star Wars was the first, and there have certainly been some good ones since (see “E.T.” or “The Dark Knight”), but this genre has been slowly strangled by its over-emphasis on eye-pleasing technology, and its hard to imagine these new Star Wars breaking that cycle.

It can all be traced back to that fateful opening scene from “A New Hope”: that first Imperial ship never seeming to end, the possibilities for this new cinematic frontier stretching before the virgin viewer’s eyes.

But now it’s past, and goddammit, it looks like Mickey Mouse is about to drive that thing straight into oblivion.

Oh, a long time ago…

About John Murray

John Murray is a sophomore. He enjoys eating cheese and crackers. He misses his dog.
  • http://twitter.com/PrestonCMW prestoncmw

    Disney has never been called the “big D,” Jaws, not Star Wars gave birth to the summer blockbuster, and your failure to mention how horrible episodes I,II and III were negates your entire argument. Also, last time I checked, Fox, who distributed the first 6 films, isn’t exactly an art house production company.

  • John Murray

    Disney has never been called the “big D,” UNTIL NOW. (Yes I’m taking full credit for coining that.)

    I partly agree with you on the Jaws claim and understand where you’re coming from. But when we’re talking about giving birth, we’re talking about a lineage, and Star Wars started the legacy of over technologically-emphasized summer blockbuster epics. The kind of legacy that gave us Cowboys & Aliens and Transformers. Jaws was certainly the first summer blockbuster, I just believe that its influence was more local. Also, Darth Vader > Shark.

    Sure, I, II, III sucked. First off, that’s old news, second, that really just seems to say that this isn’t the first time the Star Wars franchise has been mishandled, so I’m not sure that my “argument” is negated, and third, to be honest, Episode 1 wasn’t thatttttt bad. Well, it was kind of. At least Anakin was kind of cute in it.

    Fox may not be an art house company, BUT STAR WARS (episodes 4-6 if you prefer) WAS SOME DAMN GOOD ART.

  • Lucas needed to go

    I do think your argument loses a lot of power by the fact that I, II, and III were weak films that, in many minds, tarnished the franchise to a degree.

    Will Disney do much worse? I doubt it. If anything, this acquisition may lead to the franchise blossoming, now that it is away from George Lucas’ influence (he directed and wrote episodes I through III, while V and VI were directed and largely written by other people). Disney is no hack in the industry, and I’m sure they will have a high degree of reverence for Episodes IV through VI, especially given all the doubters out there.

    I’m excited about new movies coming out. Lucas created a world that should not only be explored in our imaginations, but on the Silver Screen as well. There will always be IV through VI, and no Disney acquisition and future movies will take that away.

  • John Murray

    1. Still not buying it. The “I, II, III suck” monologue is overplayed. I don’t disagree, but I’m not going to take the time to rant about how much Jar Jar Binks blows. I also wouldn’t call this piece an argument – more like a mourning.

    2. Will Disney do much worse? I mean, have you seen what Disney does with sequels? I’ll call Toy Story 3 a success, but that’s about it. The Pirates of the Caribbean series is probably the closest series in nature to Star Wars, and just look how those sequels turned out.

    3. Also, this: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/357610/Darth-Vader-to-be-resurrected

    Bringing back old characters (especially from the dead) is certainly a way to retroactively change the way in which IV through VI are viewed.

  • Nicholas Everett

    Why does Disney’s purchase of Star Wars tarnish the integrity of the original three movies. I mean Star Wars has in the past 20 years become the most exploited fandom in this galaxy or the next when you consider all the Extended Universe published, a library of video games that ranges from Knights of the Old Republic to Star Wars Kinect’s Dancing Solo. Is Disney a corporation desperate for money? Yes. Is Disney powerful enough to cause you to lose you love for the original trilogy because of a new post trilogy? Well that all depends on how strong your grasp of the force is.

    I will confess that I love Disney, and they have as many hits as misses. But the truth of the matter is that with all of Disney’s acquisitions as of late, it’s turning into too many cooks in the Hollywood kitchen from a corporate standpoint. Disney isn’t making Marvel movies, Disney is putting its name on Marvel movies. Kevin Feige and Ike Perlmutter are still in charge, and as much as Disney wishes it had more control, they recognize that Marvel fans don’t want a Hulk arguing with Donald over who speaks less understandably. Pixar, Marvel, and now Lucasfilm are all powerful names in their own right and Disney is having internal problems dealing with the egos and fanbases.

    Disney acknowledges that there is a HUGE fan base for Star Wars; they’ve seen it in their theme parks. And yes Disney is going to milk having Lucasfilm for all its worth, but I have hope that the fans will hold onto tenuous optimism until proof is delivered otherwise. Lucas himself has “remastered” the original trilogy in ways fanboys (and girls) disagree with, so if you want your kids to know that Han shot first, then expose them to the original trilogy as it was originally presented, raise them right, and the preservation of Star Wars as it should be is will continue.

    The day Disney puts this –> http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3327/3634114980_d2338cb297.jpg in a movie is they day that Burbank burns to the ground.

  • Nope

    Perhaps we hear I, II, and III suck because, well, they suck. There are good parts, sure, and I may watch them when on TV, but they hold nothing to the originals except in visuals (and even then, some of the most powerful images of the franchise are the binary sunset and the opening star destroyer flyover). I, II, and III are half of the Hollywood outputs- you can’t just ignore them.

    Pirates of the Caribbean is not an apt comparison- the Star Wars world, being removed in time and space from Earth, means that new characters/aliens can be invented without us saying “really!?” as long as these characters don’t piss us off like Jar Jar.

    And I’m pretty sure that is a tabloid, if not a joke article. They didn’t actually quote anyone from Disney, and I give no authority to what they say.

  • John Murray

    I agree with everything you say about I, II, III, but still feel fine omitting explicit reference to them in my article. The fact is that I’m focused on this current move, and am not going to waste time and words on something that I feel has been well documented. I mean, you all keep bringing up the prequel trilogy, but what about the infamous Christmas special flop? Or all the other books and toys and Angry Birds games that have probably de-valued the series? I’m not going to make a list of Star Wars rights and wrongs, I’m going to comment on the current news and how I think/feel about it.

    I disagree with you’re take on POTC, and don’t quite see how your character creation explanation is meant to differentiate movies. But fine, I’ll let you get away with that – the point still stands that Disney is infamous for its awful sequels.

    Lastly, I’m not sure that the article is a joke, but I do agree that it’s most likely speculation and shouldn’t be taken officially. No matter, the idea of bringing back old characters is still floating around all over the web:

    http://entertainment.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/07/14986721-report-harrison-ford-mark-hamill-and-carrie-fisher-interested-in-returning-to-star-wars

    And I do believe it would negatively impact the way in which the original three movies are viewed.

  • John Murray

    Couldn’t agree more, especially about Star Wars becoming an over-exploited series over the past twenty years. My point with this article wasn’t as serious as I believe most of you are making it out to be. I was simply to express the bummer reaction I had when I found out more Star Wars movies were being made, that they were exploiting the series further, and that they were considering bringing back original characters.

    I don’t dislike Disney. My main anguish comes from the fact that new Star Wars movies are coming out, period. Who takes credit for the movies is semi-meaningless to me.

  • http://u-mon.blogspot.com/ mfoushee

    Star Wars Episodes 7-9: When Star Wars came out, the creative God producers offered the actor players points and a creative university to vent their creative minds into the future to finish this series on their own. The God producers were not going to put any input in the final three Star War Plays. Sell the future to the Jews, said George Lucas, and let the Third Reich put the cash in the bank and for them to figure out his future for him.

    What does it get you to steal someone else’s points, someone else’s future, someone else’s dream.

    Less than zero, hell in a resurrection of pain and suffering in a jerk-off Jesus hand basket.