People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians, and if the laws of the United States continue to condone this behavior, history will surely classify us as a barbaric society.Lucas refuses to allow the National Film Registry to preserve the actual 1977 version of Star Wars, pretending that the version that had an impact none of his subsequent solo efforts ever did or ever could was unfinished. His endless larding of films with crappy videogame CGI and infantile slapstick gags and leaden fanwanking exposition to render his whole bloated execrable saga consistent may indeed finish the film for good. I found the original film enjoyable -- and it actually mattered to me as a kid who watched it in a theater on my twelfth birthday on a screen the size of a football field. Of course, the prequels are literally unwatchably bad, and in consequence Return of the Jedi now seems mostly unwatchable as well, as forgivable missteps in that movie now seem like anticipations of the awfulness of the prequels and so have gotten retroactively implicated in their crimes (the camp resonance of a few moments -- like "It's a trap!" -- and, of course, the Emperor's scenery chewing evil monologues alone save the movie for me), and at this point the bullying sexism in The Empire Strikes Back makes long stretches of the best in the bunch nearly unwatchable for me too. Lucas can do what he wants with his movies, of course (the opening quote refers to the profitable colorization of classic films by those who did not have a hand in their making), but the original Star Wars was a cultural phenomenon. That really happened and archivists and historians shouldn't have to contend with Lucas' bad taste and elephantine ego in doing their work of doing justice to that reality. Once released into the world, the world has its way with our work, the changing receptions of the work collaborate in the significance of which it is capable. All actually relevant and living works of art are unfinished in this way. Lucas' effort to control the circulation of his best work is of a piece with the amplifying awfulness of the rest of his work -- closing himself off from the world he contributes less and less worth taking up by the world. The world will win this contest, and when Lucas vanishes it will the archivists and historians and critics he disdains who will be the likeliest to save the trace of his part in the contest that might live in worlds to come.
Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Is George Lucas A Barbarian?