July 6, 2011
Why George, Why? - An Open Letter To George Lucas
I have been a life long Star Wars fan. At 32 years old, there has been NO OTHER MOVIES that have had as much influence on my life as the Star Wars films. I have loved them since as long as I can remember. I have also had an extreme respect and admiration for George Lucas, creator of Star Wars. I have long felt in debted to Lucas and fellow crew for crafting such a classic series for me to be a fan of. I loved every second of the prequels for the simple fact that it was NEW Star Wars material, regardless of how it stacked up against Empire or Jedi. It didn't matter to me... I was just happy as a fan to have MORE.
A few months ago some of my friends and I started a movie night at a local bar in my Bay Ridge, Brooklyn neighborhood. We are a bunch of movie fans who decided to gather up on a Sunday night once a month and show some classic films. We charged absolutely NO COVER and just welcomed the chance to watch some great movies with fellow fans. Whats so wrong with that? When the events went well, we decided to undertake a bit of a ambitious project. We decided that on the Sunday of July 4th weekend we would hold the ultimate fan event for a Star Wars addict such as myself and view all six movies back to back... over 13 hours of Star Wars in a row!!! We planned on starting with Episode 1 at 1 pm on 7/3/2011 and weren't going to stop until around 3 am on 7/4/2011. I have never watched all 6 movies in a row, and I imagined that not many people have done this. So why not put together a viewing event for all my like-mind Star Wars fans, and once again do it with NO COVER WHATSOEVER!!! So we got to work....
A local artist named Tommy Lombardozzi created an awesome flyer featuring the Death Star orbiting over the Verrazano bridge. I started a blogspot website to provide everyone with information for the event. I started a Twitter feed to help get the word out. We printed up 5,000 flyers to hand out around NYC and help spread the word for what was going to be the most epic Star Wars viewing ever held. We started all of this way back in May. We devoted much time and effort into making this event a success for true Star Wars fans around this city, and we did it so that it wouldn't cost anybody 1 dollar. No cover, no mandatory drink minimum. No monetary requirements whatsoever. Everything was going great. That is until July 1st.
I was going through the final motions for the event when I got an email at around 5:30 pm on my phone. It was an email from the Anti-Piracy unit of LucasFilms and in a PDF file. In the letter it talked about taking down websites containing copyrighted LucasFilms images and how we can't show the movies if we plan on charging admission to get in (you can click here to see the full letter). What? How can this be? I was shocked and confused at the same time... my phone immediately began ringing off the hook. The bar owner immediately said we needed to cancel the event. My partners were wondering what we should do in its place. While all this nonsense was going on, I only thought about one thing: I can't believe this is happening right now!!!!
I couldn't understand why this was happening... but not because I am dumb or do not understand what copyright infringement is. I couldn't believe this was happening because I was acting as a complete and total fan of the films. I was only trying to promote a local event that was completely FREE and celebrating the love I have for Star Wars. But here is the thing that really bothered me: They said they went on these websites and saw all the promotion material, yet they accused us of all types of things that weren't true. If they had gone to these websites that were started, they would have seen FREE EVENT plastered on everything. No admission at all. Not only that, but we were offering drink specials and food in order for the event to be more economical. No required purchases to watch... just things to make day easier. You wouldn't even have to leave the screen for a second to get refreshments. This is a plus, no?
I was even more disgusted with LucasFilms. I know they are a huge conglomerate that makes billions of dollars... but why do they make billions of dollars??? Because of fans... fans like me. You would think they would celebrate something like this. I didn't set out in this event to make money. That wasn't my goal. My goal was to watch all 6 Star Wars films in a row. I wanted to look around the room and see a bunch of people mouthing the words to some of the greatest Sci-Fi films ever made. I wanted to see people's awesome (and not so awesome) costumes. I live for this geek shit... and this was going to be the geekiest thing I could ever imagine. I just wanted to support a franchise of films that I have loved my whole life. I never expected to be blindsided by their corporate arm, mere hours before the event was to take place. What kind of bitch move was that?
I would have been mad had I gotten this email a few weeks ago... but at least I would have been able to respond. At least I could have contacted LucasFilms and tried to make the event work. Instead I got a letter with three typographical errors that attacked me for my intentions to do something I never intend on doing (charging to see the movies). I got a letter that asked for a response on July 8th even though the event was taking place on July 3rd. I got a letter that showed that LucasFilms does not care about their fans... its all about the money. And while I am not naive enough to make believe that I didn't know LucasFilms was about the bucks, I did think they would have liked something that promote 6 films they have already made hundreds of billions of dollars off. Nope. I was wrong.
So from here on out, I am done. No more arguing about Lucas getting a bad rap for his character choices and decisions to make the prequels. No more caring about all 6 movies as touchstones of memories in my life. No more indoctrinating my son in everything Star Wars for the sake of having him feel the way I have felt for so long. I'm done. And you know why? Because George Lucas doesn't give a flying fuck about us. About a true fan. About lifelong admiration and respect. The reason why he doesn't give a fuck about these things is because they can't be regulated or spent like the dollars he covets so much. That's all Mr. Lucas cares about.
I'll tell you one thing.... the Trekkies would never be treated like this by the Roddenberry estate. Their fandom is celebrated and part of the reason why the franchise has been so successful for all these years. they are rewarded for all the love they show Star Trek and the fan events they put together. They are not shunned. They are not threatened. They are revered. I don't need to be worshiped by Lucas for my fandom of his product... but it would be nice to be looked at as an asset instead of a liability. Maybe I have spent to much time wondering about Wookies & Jedi's anyway. Hot green chicks with lackadaisical morals are more fun anyway, and say what you want about William Shatner but at least he wasn't a pussy like Luke... and George Lucas for that matter. So in closing I say this: FUCK YOU GEORGE LUCAS. You won't get another dollar or any matter of respect from me again. I know you won't miss me... but knowing what you and your company think of people like me, I won't miss you dickbags either.
Cultural Compulsive Disorder