Written by Sarah

Last year was the 30th anniversary of Empire Strikes Back. I’m not a huge Star Wars nerd, but I’m enough of a Star Wars nerd to be excited about this, especially since the Field Museum hosted a charity screening of Empire, which afterward included a cocktail reception honoring Lucas. Tickets were not cheap. Even using my USC alumni connection, my ticket was still not cheap. At the reception I had nothing to say to Lucas—any interaction would inevitably end with me screaming, “Why do you hate my childhood?”—but I was observing him interact with his fans. There were a few kids, but by and large, these were older people who had grown up with the trilogy. There were a couple of guys I noticed slowly edging their way closer to Lucas, well dressed guys if a bit geeky, somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 years old.

The geeks eventually got their face time with Lucas and I want to stress how respectful these guys were, and that they paid a lot of money for face time with Lucas. This was not a surprise interaction; Lucas came to this event knowing he’d be expected to mingle with the peons. I don’t advocate bugging celebrities in their daily lives, but this was a professional event designed to encourage these interactions. The guys were not out of bounds. They started by telling Lucas that they loved him/the movies/grew up watching them. Then they very politely asked why he wouldn’t make the original versions of the movies available on DVD/Blu-Ray. They stressed that they don’t mind the retroactive edits (doubtful, but they were being nice), they just wanted good digital copies of the original cuts, too. Lucas’s response? An eyeroll and a huffy, “Grow up. These are my movies, not yours.”

Imagine that you begged your parents for a puppy all year. Imagine that it’s your birthday and you open your presents until there’s one left and that last present is a leash and your dad opens the door and in rushes your new puppy. Imagine that that puppy becomes your best friend and you do everything together and you have years of joy with your puppy. Then imagine one day you get home and find your parents gave away your puppy for no reason at all and then they hand you a turtle and tell you it’s the same thing. Imagine how crushed you would be, how betrayed. That’s exactly what those guys looked like.

Lucas’s point—“these are my movies”—is debatable. Episode IV and the prequels? Yes, sure. He directed them. But Empire and Return of the Jedi were directed by other people. Does Lucas really have the right to alter a movie he didn’t direct? Well obviously he thinks so because he’s at it again, adding a new round of “improvements” to the original trilogy, due on Blu-Ray later this month. The most insulting change is probably adding Vader screaming “Noooo” as he kills the Emperor. Darth Vader is one of the most enduring villains in all of cinema and Lucas seems determined to turn him into a complete pussy. But the bigger insult to his legacy is easily the lack of respect Lucas has for his fans, the very people who kept Lucasfilm afloat by buying pointless Star Wars crap after an expensive divorce leveled his finances. It’s one thing to see a beloved childhood movie defaced but I’ll never forget the disappointment in those guys’ eyes as their hero belittled a lifetime’s interest in his work.

Attached - Lucas and James Cameron at CinemaCon earlier this year. Amazing that couch hasn’t buckled under the weight of those two egos.

Photo from Ethan Miller/Gettyimages.com