Last month I did what every geek boyfriend should, no, has to do. I sat my girlfriend down and made her watch Star Wars.
As I approached this daunting task I realized I had an important decision to make. Do I go in order starting with the prequels or do I jump in at episode four? Do I even mention the prequels at all?
Ultimately I decided to start at “A New Hope.” We watched in order until we got to “Return of the Jedi.” If you didn’t know, George Lucas, creator of the famed sci-fi franchise, has decided to re-release the entire saga on Blu-Ray before the end of the year. Later there will be a 3D theater release, but that’s another rant.
This seemingly commonplace re-issue of the classic space opera has drawn nerd rage from every corner of the internet. From parents'basements to geek celebrities everyone has something to say about Lucas and his new project, and most of it is negative.
Complaints range from “How dare he, my childhood is ruined” to “Wow, what a cash grab.” These people may be right, but why are they so upset? To understand the reaction to Lucas’s supposed bastardization of his most lucrative asset you have to understand one thing. Geeks love Star Wars.
I will admit that I was motivated to expose my girlfriend to it because it’s just what you do. Star Wars is a massive part of our culture, not just geek culture. Everyone knows what it is and it’s been referenced in most of the media we consume three decades later.
To many, Star Wars is not just a series of movies. For them it’s an idea, something they’ve put up on a pedestal. That’s why they get so caught up in the controversy surrounding the re-releases. Just think of what happened when the Cougar football uniforms changed slightly. Yet just like the football uniforms are WSU’s property, Star Wars is George Lucas’ intellectual property. There’s no law that says he can’t change it.
There is however the issue of whether he should or not. We’ve been hearing about this issue since 2004 when the first re-release hit stores. Chief among fans' concerns was the alteration of the now-infamous scene where Han Solo shoots a bounty hunter in a bar.
In the original 1977 cut, Han shot first, making him out to be a devilish rogue that might not be trustworthy. In the re-released version of the scene, the bounty hunter shot first and Han returned fire. Many argued that this made Solo feel like a softer character, and it hurt the story overall.
Even if changes like that do ruin the story and George Lucas really is hell bent on destroying your childhood there’s nothing that you can do about it. People seem to have forgotten how much force they have over the entertainment industry.
If people stopped buying the Star Wars re-releases Lucas throws out every couple of years, there wouldn’t be any more. Then we could stop having to hear about this issue, which I think we could all live with.