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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.

Mike DeVito
Cultural Compulsive Disorder


  1. I saw this topic and only had to read the first sentence before I needed to comment. I too have a special love for Star Wars, so much that I have my own mythology surrounding my first viewing of that film. I'm sure you have read the story. If not, it's the fiftieth post at the Cave of Cool. Just letting you know that I GET IT when you start a good George Lucas rant.

    How the hell did something as good as the 'Clone Wars' show get made in that kind of an environment?

    I am loving you idea of showing classic movies and enjoying them with fans. Might I suggest the movies on one Mr. Kurt Russel - always a crowd pleaser - Escape From New York, Escape From L.A. Big Trouble In Little China.

    You even got a good artist to create some cool flyers. You did your homework, you planned. That is such a New York thing to do. Make your own fun the way you want your fun to be. It's brilliant.

    Stick by your truth my brother. The bullying behavior needs to be exposed. Don't take his crap. David was right to toss that stone at Goliath and look how that turned out for both of them. EXACTLY!

    It's petty and contemptuous for an already enormously wealthy man to nickle and dime over a celebration of HIS CREATIONS!!!

    If he was half a man or business man or even artist, you think he would have taken a flight to New York and showed up at your event and stayed for a little bit. That would have been spectacular for both him and you. He could use the good fan press at this point. But, like always, the corporate George Lucas is the only one who shows up and got this situation.

    Fuck George Lucas. Whoever thought of all the things that could hurt my love of Star Wars the most would be coming from the guy who first created Star Wars.

    If you don't mind I am going to do a post about this over at the Cave of Cool. You got my dandur up because everything you said is CORRECT.

    Oh and one thing more - don't stop sharing your love of all things Star Wars with your son. It will mean alot to both of you in the future. Just try to keep him pure about the whole experience for as long as you can. One day he will realize the truth as you have - that Lucas is no Jedi. He is Sith now.

  2. just lucas is a dick bag

  3. Possibly one of the most disappointing things I've read in a long time. But well said that man.

  4. What a shame. More of the ever dwindling faithful alienated, and for what?

  5. Hmmm. Not sure I understand why you're upset. You were trying to make money off of copyrighted material you did not have license to use, and you advertised it using images and likenesses of trademarked material you did not have license to use.

    What, because he's rich the law doesn't apply to him? Call it a 'celebration' of his genius, call it an homage to classic movies, call it whatever you want but you were still going to be making money off of it and you still did not have the rights to use images you did not own.

    Go ahead and try to hold a "Mickey Mouse" celebration event and watch Disney burst your bubble.

    Or better yet, since you think Trek 'understands' the appreciation of fans, setup a "Star Trek" theme park with Star Trek rides and showing Star Trek movies and TV shows. Don't charge any admission, cause it's free, you're not charging for it, so it must be okay. But then people can buy merchandise if they want, and if people want to buy food and drinks you're going to charge them, of course, but that's not why you're doing it! You're doing it out of appreciation for the 'genius' of Gene Roddenberry! Bullshit. You're doing it to line your pockets with money and you thought that because George has enough money he wouldn't mind if you dipped in. Wrong.

    Stop acting all butt-hurt because you got caught breaking trademark and copyright law, and because you're too stupid to understand it. And start saving for that Blu Ray Star Wars coming out later, I know yer gonna buy it.

  6. Lol, anonymous #2. How much money do you really think they would have made selling beverages after all the cash and time that must have gone into to creating the event?

  7. Gotta love people with views that sign in as 'Anonymous'. Just makes those views mean so much less.

    Sign in people! Be heard.

  8. anon two posts up nailed it, whatever firm lucasfilm uses to protect their copyright is going to be looking to protect every instance of that copyright. It's probably a lot of fun to imagine George Lucas and friends sitting around a big table plotting to take down your happy fun bar event, but in reality its just a law firm doing exactly what they get paid to do.

    Failure to protect their client's materials will cause a precedent that could allow future (potentially larger) infringements, and when that happens, the firm gets shit-canned. period.

  9. Well said Mike!!

  10. I'm not sure Anonymous two posts up 'nailed it', John. YOU nailed it. Dead on. Thanks for weighing in. The event we had portrayed as something 'epic' would have been 40 people hanging around a bar watching TV as opposed to the 3 rings circuses Lucas Arts might have their attorneys in place for. Gotta nip the infringemnet in the bud at times. Big and tall short and small. I get it. Kinda douchey to wait 'til the final business day before the event to let us know. What's the chances Lucas Arts hadn't known of it all week?

    That other person seems to be coming from a slightly darker place.

    "Stop acting all butt-hurt because you got caught breaking trademark and copyright law, and because you're too stupid to understand it."

    poor form. Boo to him/her.

  11. I think Rob said it best actually....

    "What a shame. More of the ever dwindling faithful alienated, and for what?"

    So many older people that were raised on this stuff losing their taste for it these days. The prequels being what they were and the reissues being doctored.

    My sister used to work for a pretty huge Licensing company...a company that's sole purpose was pretty much to keep an eye on merchandise and product treatment. Make sure all the likenesses of the products and posters looked like they were supposed to...and go after other products that infringed upon those copyrights. She says Company's like one that was behind a familiar white beagle and his blockhead owner franchise used to have them decide how big of a monetary infringement the imposing product was or event was. If it were X amount of dollars or below they wouldn't bother with cease and desists. If it were XX amount and above than they would.

    We were X amount and me.

  12. some interesting chatter going on at the 'Canadian Cave of Cool' regarding our Star Wars Un-Event...head on over there and weigh in if you will.

  13. Remember: LucasFilm may not love us, but Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Artoo, Threepio, Obi-Wan, Yoda, and even Lando still do.

  14. the man killed off Darth Maul and let Jar Jar live. And we expect him to be benevolent?

  15. I couldn't agree more Jeff... don't sign in as anonymous and come at us. If you make a valid point, fine. Mr. Puma above criticism is taken into consideration because he was man enough to do it under his own name... but I will not be talked down to by someone to scared to even identify themselves with a clever code name or moniker. Lame...

    As per the event, I KNOW and ACKNOWLEDGE that we are in the wrong. I thought that because we were charging no cover and making no minimum drink requirements it would be ok. Thats my mistake. That's still not an excuse to get a C&D letter in the 11th hour before an event and still not an excuse to be accused of something in said letter (charging admission) that clearly WAS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. If they were doing such diligent research to protect the copyrights they could have at least accused of of the proper violations... and at least sent us a letter without THREE spelling errors on one page. But what do I know....

  16. And that's the real issue with this specific case. The insult to injury. A C&D littered with grammatical errors and incorrect facts sent at zero hour. For what? To stop a handful of Star Wars fans from watching the movies together on a rainy day?

    There are instances of "fair use" when it comes to copyrighted material, which I even suspect this event may have fallen under, but due to the nature and timing of the notice there was no opportunity to even investigate. It was obviously done with the express intent of intimidating. Why that type of tact for a tiny group of obvious fans?

    Bars often have screenings of movies and TV around the city. A friend specifically mentioned "Buffy" and "Doctor Who" showings all the time. CCD and the bar have done plenty of other movies with no issue. And who knows what's really "legal" but it would seem most things don't really concern themselves with the nickel and dime. Especially when it's fans serving to keep something relevant. And maybe Star Wars doesn't give a fuck, and that's their prerogative, but then why should we?

    I as well, lifelong fan, I won't say I won't ever enjoy anything Star Wars again, but I have an immense sour taste and and my outlook is forever changed.

  17. I can't fucking believe this!!!! You guys at CCD know that me and Mike D pretty much agree on all things Star Wars, so as a fan of the same level as Mike, may I also say, THIS IS BULLSHIT!!! You guys weren't even charging for this shit! That shit is just SAD!!! I'm too pissed to write anything else!

  18. Can I still like Star Wars...pleeeEEEEase?!

  19. Three words: Public Performance License. Pay about $100 a year to a few different umbrella companies and you have the rights to play any movies produced by studios under that umbrella. As long as you don't charge an entry fee. Criterion covers 20th Century Fox as well as several other studios. covers the rest. You can use videos that you personally own or you can rent movies from their collection. Don't put a picture of a stormtrooper on the poster, get your friends to chip in, and you can play Revenge of the Clones (or whatever nonsense that was) on an endless loop for the year-long duration of your license.

    I know Lucas controls the merchandising rights, but if it's Fox and not Lucasfilms that controls the distribution, then you're covered with that license. Read for yourself:

  20. Hülye fasz Lucas !


  22. If you guys really believe you weren't doing anything wrong then stand up for yourself! Show the movies and fuckall that LF has to say about it.

  23. @balazs- If you read the article before your witty 13 year old girl-esque comment then you would see that I TOTALLY acknowledged that we were in the wrong for the copyright issues but took more offense to the lateness of notification that Lucasfilms provided, and with the overall unprofessional nature of the letter itself (i.e.-Spelling errors).... Thxbye

    @Steve Jobs- I would have had it been my place of business... unfortunately it was not, so we deferred to the owners.

  24. Don't fell in love with a movie in the first place, it's not good for you.

    And in second place: movie companies are assholes and copyright laws are fuckin jokes?

    Wow, that's something totally new.

  25. I the city where I live I had been in an event a couple of years ago...
    star wars... all of the episodes in a row... free of charge.. in a pub.. drinking... (unfortunately drinking was not free of charge :( ) and George had no problem with it... (but we hadn't ask him about this happening...)
    But I live in a small European city, and the organisers didn't promoted in twitter...
    Anyway... it was cool! :)
    I suggest that You should find a shortcut... cancel the movie party, but in that night the owner of the pub suddenly will have the feeling that he would like to watch the star wars... all of the episodes... in the pub... ;)

  26. "some of my friends and I started a movie night at a local bar"..."We printed up 5,000 flyers to hand out around NYC..."


  27. Do you think the reader above thinks 5,000 flyers garners 5000 responses and attendees? I didn't think it was THAT easy. Next time we want 100 people to show up....we could just run off 100 flyers then, right?

  28. Great to see coverage of this story has reached international borders. I know all the basis weren't covered in creating this event but if the 'powers that be' take notice to all the attention this is getting, maybe future fan functions will be met with more care.

    Thanks for reading and responding, guys!

  29. I am really confused by all the (usually anonymous) commentors that keep saying that I am thumbing my nose at Copyright Laws and LucasFilms right to defend their copyright. Are you reading the article above (and others we have written in the past few weeks) at all? If not, here is a quote from THIS POST:

    "I couldn't understand why this was happening... but not because I am dumb or do not understand what copyright infringement is."

    I fully acknowledge what Copyright Laws are, and I understand them. Doesn't mean you have to wait until the last minute to take action against people who love your product... and just because LucasFilms are "in the right" legally doesn't mean I have to be ok with it. I arm entitled to my views on any and all subject manor, regardless of the legal standpoint. That's whats great about this country I live in.

    On another note, I might respect your opinion more if you signed in using one of the 50 accounts you can use to sign in under with a screen name and/or include your name in the comment portion if you don't want to sign in (like my man Wayne above!). If you feel so strongly that you need to add a comment, at least have the decency to stand behind it. Just saying....

  30. Dra til Helvete George!

  31. I just saw this, it reminded me on your letter, wonder what will Lucas Co. do if they hear about him...

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