The Lucasfilm Purchase and Why you Shouldn’t Panic

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Well, what a week it’s been. Unless you’ve been living in a cave (and one of those particularly low-tech caves without broadband internet) you probably heard the big announcement on Tuesday that Lucasfilm, playground of George “Franchisekiller” Lucas and home to all things Star Wars, was officially bought by Disney. And not only that, they announced Star Wars Episode 7 would be hitting screens in 2015.

This is a big change, and as nerds, we’re naturally inclined to fear change. Almost immediately, Facebook and Twitter lit up with portents of doom as fans spit digital venom on the whole endeavour, and some creativity-starved soul started editing a video wherein Hitler overreacts, because that shit isn’t played out at all.

Now listen, I understand that you’re nervous. This is a big thing, and means a lot for the future. By now, the dust has settled, and the cacophony of nerd rage has quieted down. But to those of you still with your bloomers still in a tizzy, I say this.

CALM THE FUCK DOWN.

Yes, this is a big deal. But it isn’t the world-shattering, pop cultural apocalypse many think it is. And this week on FFR, we’re going to sit down and have a nice little chat about why.

For starters, let’s talk about Disney. Disney is many things. A greedy, corporately-run mega-conglomerate. A litigation-happy corporate enterprise more interested in the bottom dollar than anything else. But they also aren’t a few things.

Firstly, they aren’t Bond villains. This isn’t a part of some malicious plot to destroy everything you love. They aren’t sending agents to sneak into your house and alter all your DVDs, merchandise, and other Star Wars related media to include more Mickey Mouse ears and remove all the violence. They also aren’t planning to go all Inception and jump into your brain and alter your cherished memories. The role Star Wars has played in your life isn’t going to change unless you let it.

Secondly, and far more important: they aren’t stupid. Disney is a company built primarily on nostalgia. They have absolutely perfected the art of bottling our childhood dreams and selling them to us, completely pure, at only a mildly insane markup. Now, I want you to think about that for a minute. Disney makes a substantial profit every year by dragging their old classics out of storage, giving them a quick make-over and throwing them to the voracious public on the preferred home theatre medium of the day. They make SCADS of money doing this.

Now imagine you’re some Disney exec, walking down a hallway, absentmindedly stroking your wallet, and thinking of a way to turn a profit. Off to one side, you happen to see some low-salary geeks chatting, and happen to overhear one of them say “Gosh, if only the original, unaltered Star Wars trilogy was easier to find. And on Blu-Ray! I’d pay money for that!”

George Lucas, stubborn little beardy-man that he is, would have ignored this, and gone on thinking that each time he goes back and changes something else in the original films it’s totally an improvement and isn’t making the souls of his fandom weep. But you, that Disney exec? You’re seeing dollar signs.

This is Disney, they’ll re-release anything as long as it doesn’t have Uncle Remus in it. Am I saying this WILL happen? No. But now that Lucas’s iron grip has been broken, you can bet your mint-in-box Vader with removable helmet the odds just went up.

Now yes, there is a dark side to this (see what I did there?). As any Disney fan knows, the House of Mouse isn’t also above milking its fans with awful direct-to-video movies, dubious merchandising crossovers and cash-grabbing 3D re-releases. Now that Star Wars has been added to their pantheon, it is very likely they’ll turn those same practices on our beloved franchise.

Wouldn’t. That. Suck.

Which brings me to point number two: Even if all our fears are true, and Disney proceeds to merrily exploit this franchise which has played such an important part in many of our lives….we’ve been through worse.

People, think about who we are. We are Star Wars fans. We are a people united not just by our love of one franchise, but by our collective horror at how that franchise’s very creator can then turn around and destroy it. We’ve survived the Special Editions. We’ve survived Jar-Jar. We’ve survived midichlorians. We’ve survived Hayden Christensen’s acting. We’ve survived Darth Vader screaming like a pansy not once, but twice.

Do you really think there’s anything Disney can come up with that will really top that?

Star Wars, as a franchise, has been run through the exploitation ringer, had it’s core mythology reduced to boring science, been injected with annoying mascots, had its icons go from badass no lame-ass. I’m still a fan. I’ll always be a fan. And nothing Disney can do is gonna change that.

I’d like to close with one last thought. One last thing worth remarking on. All this has happened before, you know. Three years ago, the internet was similarly rocked by the news that Disney had bought another staple of nerd-dom, Marvel. For a very similar sum of money, in fact.

The reaction back then was pretty similar. Panic, despair, terror.

Three years later, this still happened:

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