I’m hunkered down here in my native New York City, in my apartment in Brooklyn, riding out the terror of Hurricane Sandy, not knowing if I’ll make it… Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. In my neck of the woods we lost no power, suffered no flooding, and aside from the college where my wife and I work and my daughter’s school all being closed until next Monday, life is kind of business as usual.
But we’re the lucky ones. The pictures you’ve seen on CNN and the like don’t really do the damage done to portions of our Tri-State area (NY, NJ, and CT) justice. Entire neighborhoods and communities have been wiped off the map, and I wish that were an exaggeration. If you can donate to any Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, be it through the Red Cross or other outlets, I encourage you to do so. I have several friends right now who have no idea how they’re going to pick up the pieces of their lives.
So you can imagine, giving my geographic locale, that chatter of Sandy has dominated my Facebook and Twitter feeds, as I’m sure it has many of yours. One topic, though, did manage to find its way through the hurricane chatter: the surprising announcement on Tuesday that Lucasfilm Ltd. had been sold to the Walt Disney Company. That’s right: as many a meme has already informed us, Mickey Mouse now owns Darth Vader.
Not just a piece of him, either. The House of Mouse has gobbled up Lucasfilm and its two centerpiece franchises, Star Wars and Indiana Jones (the earning potential of these two alone is nearly enough to justify the $4 billion price Disney paid), and also gains ownership of all Lucas subsidiaries, including Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound, and LucasArts, the company’s video game branch. Forget the speculation about Disney’s next move, either: one of the first things Disney chairman Robert Iger said in the video announcing the acquisition was set a 2015 in-theatre date for Star Wars: Episode 7.
It’s a wonder this didn’t cause the Internet to actually, literally explode.
I realize that any public announcement in this modern world of ours is going to be met with a certain degree of eye-rolling, sarcasm, and Twitter snippiness. Certainly a massive joint announcement from The Destroyer of America’s Childhood… and Disney… is going to be met with its share of barbs in the court of public opinion. And I’m stoked by that, actually: we as a culture have suddenly been gifted with three years of Episode 7 themed jokes that have already begun shooting down the digital pipeline.
And we also get three years of unfettered Star Wars speculation.
Can you remember the heady few years before the debut of The Phantom Menace? You know, just before Star Wars fans all fell into a universal bad mood? It was a time of unfettered optimism, and it was a speculative boom that fueled the creation of Internet pop culture as we know it. Those of you old enough to remember it unquestionably used to make Aint It Cool News or Dark Horizons your numero uno daily online stop, always hoping some new tidbit of Star Wars info had been leaked, a poster or a Quicktime clip or some casting news or the text from the opening scroll. WE CAN HAVE THOSE DAYS AGAIN!
Except we’re all jaded now, aren’t we? You know the old expression: Jar Jar once, shame on me. Jar Jar twice, shame on you. But, look: everyone got their wish. Old man George is out of the picture, off to the golden pastures of experimental films and philanthropy. (Rumor is Lucas plans to give almost the entire $4 billion from the sale to various educational charities; if that holds true nobody is allowed to hate George Lucas anymore.) So everyone must be happy, because now Star Wars won’t be ruined anymore, and Disney…
Wait. What’s that you say, Internet? Disney is going to DESTROY Star Wars? But you’ve been saying for years that George Lucas ALREADY destroyed Star Wars.
I’m so confused…
Let’s ignore the fact that many people on Twitter are nothing but a bunch of hypocritical pie-holes who like nothing better than to complain about people who actually do things with their lives. Instead, let me sum up in two words why I have no problem with this Disney ownership of one of my favorite franchises:
Not just Marvel’s The Avengers either. Also, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, a very excellent piece of animated television that’s been running on Disney XD for a few years now. I even dig Ultimate Spider-Man on the same station, WHICH IS MADE FOR CHILDREN YOU GROWN-UPS WHO DON’T MUCH CARE FOR IT.
Point is: Disney bought Marvel. As Disney is maybe the most stable corporation in an economically challenged world, this iron-clad guarantees my favorite comics characters won’t disappear from the bookshelves and airwaves and movie screens of America anytime soon. Now Disney has acquired Lucasfilm, and that means we’re going to get more Star Wars instead of less. (This, I think, is a good thing. You many not agree.) Did Disney ruin Marvel? Did they ruin Pixar? No. They acquired both properties with nary a dip in quality to be found. Why shouldn’t I think they’re going to be able to pull off the same trick with Lucasfilm? Which is a company, after all, that is ALREADY HATED BY ITS BIGGEST FANS OVER ITS RECENT INCARNATIONS OF INDIANA JONES AND STAR WARS… so I have no idea what anyone is complaining about. When you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up, right?
Look: maybe you think Disney is some big Nazi corporation or something. Maybe you think monopolies are the damnation of free trade and, hey, here comes socialism! (Not that capitalism has been any great shakes in recent years…) Those are debates I’m not going to have, am not terribly equipped to have, and I have very little interest in. Maybe you’re just sick of Star Wars in general and, hey, that’s cool. Why, though, would you worry about a company ruining a franchise that you think has already been ruined, three times over?
I know this: I’ve traditionally loved Disney. And Marvel. And Pixar. And Lucasfilm. This Disney/Lucasfilm deal is, to me, a case of peanut butter and chocolate: both are awesome in their own right, but mix the two together… and hooboy, watch out!
Also, as I saw floating around on Twitter, this makes Leia a Disney Princess, which is just about the best part of the whole thing.
Tom Hoefner (@TomHoefner on Twitter) is a playwright, theatre director, college professor, and would-be novelist living in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter. Don’t worry; that Superman article is still coming. He’s been busy! And this was big!
Check out “From the Casefiles of Race and Cookie McCloud”, a blog of super-short stories chronicling the adventures of Race McCloud, Private Eye, and his 15-year old former-secret-agent-in-training niece Cookie: http://raceandcookie.blogspot.com