chris kilby -> LEAVE. GEORGE AND RIDLEY. ALONE!!! (22/6/2012 6:38:21 PM)
I love how disgruntled fanboys always diss George Lucas and Ridley Scott. You know, the two most influential filmmakers of the last forty years!
I’ve been reading a lot lately online about how “overrated” Ridley Scott is. That he’s “just a visual stylist.” How his only good films are Alien and Blade Runner! What? The two films which so revolutionised a genre that they continue to be ripped-off to this day? Is that all? What a talentless (visual) hack that man is. All style and no substance, right guys? Oh, hang on a minute – the style IS the substance! In a whole new visual aesthetic sort of way. Like I said, revolutionary.
George Lucas, however, didn’t revolutionise a genre. No, he revolutionised filmmaking itself! Indeed, you could say he revolutionised the world. Seriously.
The social and cultural impact of Star Wars simply cannot be measured. Its phenomenal commercial success immediately triggered a sci-fi boom of pale imitations which slavishly copied that instantly iconic shot of a frickin’ huge spaceship flying over audiences’ heads and precious little else - Saturn 3, The Black Hole, Battlestar Galactica, etc, etc, etc.
It also inspired none other than Ridley Scott to drop his plans to follow up The Duellists with the similarly “esoteric” Tristan and Isolde. Scott himself has acknowledged this, especially Lucas’ game-changing notion of “a used future.” Before Star Wars space movies were all gleaming, shiny and new – to this day everything in Star Trek still looks like it just rolled off the assembly line! So no Star Wars, no Alien. No Alien, no Blade Runner. No Blade Runner, no Se7en, no Matrix and no Batman Begins - it’s no surprise that Christopher Nolan’s favourite film is Blade Runner. I expect it’s the favourite film of a lot of directors working today.
Indeed, one way or another, directly or indirectly, George Lucas has influenced an entire generation of filmmakers. Lucas influenced Scott who influenced James Cameron, David Fincher (who started out at ILM as a teenager), Peter Jackson and The Wachowskis. And where would Kevin Smith be without Star Wars? Still jockeying a register at some local convenience store, I expect.
(Ridley wasn’t the only Scott brother influenced by Lucas either - even Top Gun was pitched to the studios as “Star Wars with real planes”! So no Star Wars, no Simpson & Bruckheimer? Possibly. And no, Lucas can no more be blamed for Michael Bay than Joy Division can be blamed for goths!)
Also, by popularising Joseph Campbell’s theories, Lucas inadvertently ensured that “The Hero’s Journey” became THE Hollywood scriptwriting template/cliché for decades to come. Like Star Wars, the seemingly disparate Matrix and Harry Potter both feature downtrodden Messianic heroes from humble origins, mystical guru/mentor/ surrogate father figures, evil surrogate or actual father figures as well as numerous “threshold guardians” along the way which seek to prevent their respective heroes’ “call to adventure” – Tusken Raiders, robot squids, Dementors, etc. Harry Potter even has the very Luke/Han/Leia holy trinity of Harry/Ron/Hermione. (Ron and Hermione even cop off with each other as written in The Good Book – The Hero With A Thousand Faces!)
Oh aye, and without Star Wars, I seriously doubt Star Trek would ever have come back the way it did. Sure, there was gonna be a new Star Trek TV series in the 70s before Star Wars made Gene Roddenberry think again and retool his pilot script as Star Trek The Motion Picture (complete with frickin’ huge spaceships flying overhead – natch!) So no Star Wars, no Star Trek franchise. And no recent re-boot by self-confessed Star Wars fan, JJ Abrams. Heresy, I know. But don’t take my word for it. Why do you think Leonard Nimoy called a chapter of his autobiography “Thank You George Lucas…”?
Too much? Then just try to imagine what the cinematic and cultural landscape would be like if Star Wars (and Alien and Blade Runner) had never happened. And don’t say if Lucas hadn’t made Star Wars then someone else would have come along and done something similar. No they wouldn’t have. Without Star Wars science fiction movies would still look like Logan’s Run! And all the online naysayers would have to bitch and moan about something else. Like the lack of a really good science fiction movie since 2001 probably!
And that’s not all. Because he invested the vast profits generated by Star Wars and its much-maligned merchandising (which I was always happy to get for Christmas when I was a kid!) back into his filmmaking business rather than shoving them up his nose (unlike “cooler” filmmakers of his generation), we also have Lucas to thank for: modern film production values; THX sound (and the revival of orchestral film scores); modern special effects (where ILM led others followed, including Digital Domain and Weta); the CGI revolution (no ILM, no Abyss; no Abyss, no T2; no T2, no Jurassic Park, Gladiator or Lord of the Rings probably); Pixar (which started out as Lucas Digital before The Great Beard sold it to Steve Jobs – so no Star Wars, no Pixar; no Pixar, no Toy Story; no Toy Story, no computer animation revolution either); AVID (the non-linear digital editing system started life as ILM’s Edit Droid); and, believe it or not, Photoshop - co-created by ILM-er, John Knoll.
And that’s just off the top of my head. Grud only knows what else we take for granted on screen and off which wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Star Wars. And I haven’t even mentioned Indiana Jones! (I haven’t forgotten about Spielberg either, but he gets respect, Oscars and everything!)
I just thought of another one. Knowing that Star Wars was coming and suspecting that science fiction could well be the next big thing, an incredibly prescient Pat Mills created 2000AD. So no Star Wars, no 2000AD, no “British Invasion” of DC comics, no Alan Moore, no Watchmen and no forthcoming Dredd movie. Talk about a butterfly farting in Tokyo!
I’m sure he must be laughing all the way to the bank (the banks probably go to him these days!) but no wonder Lucas is so pissed-off at the endless online sniping from clueless, ungrateful wee fanboys who, let’s face it, are unlikely to ever venture, blinking, from their mothers’ basements. Or their grandmothers’ undies!
I mean, what have we ever done? Or are ever likely to do? Huh? As James Cameron supposedly said to one of his many ex-wives: “Any assh*le can be a husband and a father. Only three other people in the world can do what I do!” Delightful. But true - Lucas and Scott are two of them. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, blog. * sob *
The dog’s abuse Cameron gets for daring to make Titanic and Avatar, you’d think he’d never made Terminator or Aliens. (So you didn’t like Titanic. Fine. No need to make an epic production out of it. It’s not like it was a disaster or something. Er…)
Cameron gets the same crap ritualistically flung at him that Lucas does – “He can’t write.” Sure he can’t. The guy who wrote and directed the two most commercially successful movies of all-time (mainly thanks to repeat business and, admittedly, a combination of the inflation rate and rip-off 3D ticket prices) and who came up with “Fuck you, azzhole!” and “Get away from her, YOU BITCH!” doesn’t know how to tell a good story. Sure he doesn’t!
Indeed no less an authority than screenwriting legend William Goldman has said the one Oscar nod Titanic should have got was for best screenplay on account of its storytelling not its dialogue (which, admittedly did make me want to chew my own arm off at times – “Something Picasso”!?!), and that it was snobbery pure and simple that it didn’t. Snobbery – now there’s a word. So some of the dialogue in Titanic and Avatar was corny. So what? And “I know now why you cry,” and Newt’s “Mommy!” at the end of Aliens aren’t?
I have a wee theory about Avatar, BTW. Essentially an inversion of Aliens where we’re the bad guys, I think this makes a lot of fanboys uncomfortable. We can be a conservative bunch (as well as nostalgaic – funny, you’d expect science fiction fans of all people to be progressive and forward-looking) and want to be on the side of the snarling tough guys with the guns not the blue treehugging hippies! (Cameron musta mellowed in his old age. I wonder if his crews would agree with that assessment…)
Listen to me. I’m ramblin’ again. Now where was I…? Oh aye, a lot of people will change their tune about George Lucas when he’s gone. There won’t just be Oscars named after him. There will be streets and schools named after him as well. Anyone fancy going for a wee stroll down Disgruntled Fanboy Boulevard? No, I thought not.
Not bad for someone who can’t write. Or direct. Sure, Lucas does have a tin ear for dialogue – there’s no denying it. But as William Goldman (him again!) points out, there’s more to good screenwriting than sparkling dialogue. “Screenplays are structure,” goes the familiar Goldman refrain. And there is no way the creator of Star Wars and Indiana Jones doesn’t know how to tell a rattling good story. (Goldman’s other mantra is: “Nobody knows anything.” That goes double for fanboys!)
Oh, and try these oft-quoted zingers on for size: That’s no moon, it’s a space station; These aren’t the droids you’re looking for; and – oh, how does it go again? - May the force be with you. I love it when people who can’t spell tell professional storytellers they can’t write!
Even if it was true that George Lucas hasn’t done anything decent since the original Star Wars trilogy (and Ridley Scott hasn’t done anything decent since Alien and Blade Runner) that’s kinda like saying Michelangelo hasn’t done anything decent since he painted that ceiling!
Don’t get me wrong. Nobody’s perfect. (Legend? Howard the Duck? And what’s with Lucas’ obsession with surrogate fathers and sons?) I’m no mindless idolator, drooling sycophant (Psychofant?), or wilfully blinkered apologist. And this is no fawning hagiography. Merely an attempt to redress the balance a little in light of the frankly witless criticism of these two I routinely read online.
Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions no matter how half-baked or arse-witted - indeed, some fans are welcome to them! But legitimate and constructive criticism is one thing. Personal abuse bordering on contempt is something else entirely. Sure, Prometheus and The Phantom Menace aren’t great - although it really is far too early to judge the former reliably. But you’d think Lucas and Scott were (star) war criminals the way some fanboys carry on. Bin Laden didn’t invite the kind of online opprobrium that Lucas endures.
The fanboy’s lot is not a happy one. We seem to be made to suffer. And moan. It’s our lot in life. We all feel let down sometimes. But some fans take this way too far, treating every disappointment like it was a personal affront or an insult directed at them specifically. Lucas and Scott can’t have shagged all their mothers, surely!
Far too many fans act like they are owed something. Like their loyalty somehow makes the recipients of their wide-eyed adoration beholden to them in some way. This can all too easily spill over into bitterness and resentment – love’s like that. But that way madness and obsession lies. Yes, I am talking Mark Chapman and Annie Wilkes. They were number one fans too!
I’m all for fair comment and constructive criticism but all this pettifogging nitpicking and kneejerk online hostility for its own sake strikes me as sheer churlishness.
I’m really looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises and, especially, Dredd. But if they’re not very good or simply fail to live up to impossibly high expectations it won’t be the end of the world. Nor will a disappointing Bat threequel in any way make me want to question Christopher Nolan’s undoubted skills as a filmmaker or radically reassess his * ahem * bat catalogue.
And I’m sorry (No I’m not!), but anyone who thinks a disappointing prequel to a much-loved (possibly overrated) classic somehow amounts to “The Rape of Their Childhood” is overreacting more than a tad and maybe, just maybe, is being a wee bit disproportionate as well as jawdroppingly offensive and stultifyingly insensitive. It IS only a movie, after all. I mean FFS!
The long-awaited Prometheus has suffered from the same unrealistically sky-high expectations that The Phantom Menace did - Prometheus has even been compared to the much-maligned Star Wars prequel. But no film could ever hope to live up to that level of rabid fanticipation. The Dark Knight Rises beware…
If you insist on demanding the impossible all the time you are surely doomed to a lifetime of crushing disappointment. Somehow I suspect a lot of online fanboys already are, hence their bitterness and resentment born of frustration. Angry. Angry young men. Who clearly have never seen The Simpsons, hence the alarming prevalence of the frequent (and unironic) online outburst: “Worst. Film. EVER!”
So the next time you feel the need to spit venom at the two most influential filmmakers of the last 40 years for trying to entertain you, well, a bit of respect, eh guys? And if you can’t manage that, how about a bit of perspective?
Or, to put it another way –
*snort* * sniff* *dribble* * drool *
LEAVE. GEORGE AND RIDLEY. ALONE!!!!
(Thought I’d chuck that in there before someone else did it for me.)
Phew! That’s better. Sorry to go off on one but that’s been bugging me for a while now. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Now… let the backlash begin!
Eh? Sorry? What was that? Lucas and Scott hog all the credit for the work of others vastly more “creative” than they are? Well DUH! Film is a collaborative medium after all – auteur theory, my ass! But as Sir Ridley says: someone has to drive the bus!
End of rant. Abnormal service will be resumed as soon as possible.