What Disney’s Buyout of Lucasfilm Means To Me

I can’t take the Dark Side seriously like this.

As I’m sure nearly everyone reading this has already heard, Disney has bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas for $4 billion, with plans to release Star Wars Episode VII in 2015. I learned about the buyout this afternoon while I was listening to NPR. This was my immediate reaction:

I’ve seen some mixed reactions about this acquisition on Facebook, and while both sides make decent arguments, I’m firmly in the “this is a terrible idea” category. Let me explain why…

You see, the Star Wars franchise has always been something kind of sacred to me, as I’m sure it has been for countless other fans. I can vividly recall watching Episodes IV, V, and VI with my dad when I was five or six years old. (I also remember watching the Holyfield-Tyson fight with him. Having DirecTV had its advantages.) They set the standard for what “epic movie” meant to me. All of the quotable quotes, the instantly recognizable John Williams score, the Jim Henson-crafted characters… Even then, I knew that there was something important about these movies.

Han Solo was one of my first crushes. In fact, I even had a life-size cardboard cut out of him in my bedroom when I was in elementary school. However, Han isn’t the only good-looking, rugged character in the Lucas universe played by Harrison Ford. I can’t imagine what the Indiana Jones trilogy would have been like if Lucas and Spielberg had been able to hold on to Tom Selleck to play the bad boy professor/archaeologist, but CBS had him locked down for a TV show at the time. (Who would my mom have drooled over on Magnum P.I.?!) Dr. Jones probably definitely had a strong influence on 2nd grade me wanting to be an archaeologist. RaidersTemple of Doom (scary as it was for a little kid), and Last Crusade were all very important to me growing up, too.

The originals will always be classics for me, and I’m sure a lot of other fans understand what makes both of these franchises special. Personally, I hated the Star Wars prequels; they felt sort of… icky. (Jar Jar Binks, anyone?) I don’t know anyone who prefers Episodes I-III over IV-VI. However, I don’t have any opposition to Ewan McGregor as the younger version of Alec Guinness’s Obi-Wan Kenobi. That worked just fine. Of course, there are all of the video games and animated shows and books that go along with Star Wars, but I feel, if anything, the video games and the animated shows get kids interested in the larger story. Brian has read a few of the books based on the movies, and it seems like they generally revere the original story line, staying true to the plot and characters. In 2008, another chapter was added to the Indy Jones story: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I only watched this because I felt obligated to do so, but I knew it was going to be terrible. I just didn’t know how terrible it was going to be. While several critics gave it good reviews, the film garnered a largely negative reaction from fans, earning it the 2008 Razzie Award for Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off, or Sequel. Trey Parker and Matt Stone even shared their opinion of it in South Park‘s mid-12th season premiere with “The China Problem.” For those of you who aren’t fans of the show, I’ll just say that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were not very nice to Indiana Jones. Not nice at all.

Am I the only person who gets the idea of leaving well enough alone? The Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies clearly stood the test of time; studio execs know that fans will continue to throw money at the franchise regardless of how lame any of the sequels and prequels turn out to be. When does it stop? Disney should not have made Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I love the other three, but the fourth one was just bad. Almost all of the Disney “classics” I loved to watch when I was growing up have at least one straight-to-video sequel, but why? I think my disappointment over Disney’s buyout of Lucasfilms boils down to this: I don’t want to see Han Solo become a caricature of who he was to me when I was a kid. That’s exactly what happened with Jack Sparrow in the Pirates movies — he’s a joke. I’ve heard the argument about how Disney has done great things for the Marvel franchise, and I can agree with it, to a point. The Avengers was the second-best movie of the summer, behind The Dark Knight Rises, but were all of the others that (very quickly) led up to it (Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk) really that great? It seemed like it was a “let’s get these back stories out as quickly as possible so we can release a summer blockbuster opposite Batman” situation. I have a hard time judging Iron Man, because, well… Robert Downey, Jr.

I know there’s no stopping the machine that is Disney. If they must, though, make more sequels, I hope they will take these 15 “do’s and don’ts” into consideration, especially the idea of bringing nerd king Joss Whedon into the mix and getting John Williams into a recording studio as soon as possible. Maybe, like this article from The Atlantic argues, Star Wars will survive whatever silly things Disney does to it. However, I can see one positive to Disney’s new purchase:

Disney will finally have a princess who can really kick some Stormtrooper keesteralthough as far as strong princesses go, Brave‘s Merida , Disney/Pixar’s latest princess, is still my favorite. (Even for a practical, liberated princess, I would still recommend having a tissue handy for this movie.) Besides, who knows? We may even get a follow-up to another Lucasfilm classic:

In Celebration: Public Radio Music Month

Like Jeannette mentioned in her most recent post, there has been quite a hiatus here at The Dish. April is always a busy month, and for me, that was no exception. I’ll be finishing up grad school in May, and it seems like many of my classes backloaded our syllabi with rather large projects (or busy work, depending on the class), and my projects and events for my internship have been consuming most of my in-front-of-a-computer time, which is ok with me since I definitely love working in Student Programming. Besides being a part time graduate intern, part time student employee, and full time student, I’m also serving as one of my sister’s maids of honor for her upcoming wedding, which kind of equates to another part time job. (I really like doing this, too — if Student Affairs doesn’t work out for me, I’m totally becoming a craft concierge!)

April is almost over, though, and I wanted to write this post while it was still relevant. Public radio stations across the nation are celebrating Public Radio Music Month, in recognition of these small, locally supported radio stations that aren’t afraid to take chances with their playlists and programming. These stations are able to bring a more diverse sampling of music to a wider audience than mainstream stations on the dial, providing tunes that don’t necessarily sound like anything else that’s out there right now. For classical music lovers that can’t make it to the symphony in person, public radio puts the listener right in the front row, and alternative music fans can have that small club right in their own car. According to NPR Audience Insight & Research, public radio stations play 4,797,660 hours of music a year. That’s a whole lot of listener supported music.

In Northeast Ohio, my public radio of choice is The Summit FM (91.3 Akron/Canton, 90.7 Youngstown), and that’s usually where you’ll find my radio set. Don’t get me wrong, NPR is great, too, but I just can’t get into classical music on the radio. I do, however, like to catch up on the news and listen to Fresh Air and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me when I get a chance. (Can I please have Carl Kasell record my voice mail message?!) The Summit is an entirely listener-sponsored radio station, and has been for over 30 years. This allows them to bring you music for your drive home, minus all the annoying commercials that you get on other stations. Plus, there’s a wider variety of what you’ll hear, since they don’t play the Top 40 in a continuous loop. As I’ve traveled all over Northeast Ohio, I’ve discovered a lot of great music that I never would have heard on other stations. While some of the artists they feature are quite well-known (Bruce Springsteen, Adele, and the Black Keys, to name a few), there are others who are gaining more and more notoriety by being featured on these local stations.

Here are a few of my favorite finds that I’ve discovered listening to The Summit (which you can listen to right now, since they stream it online for free, and also through a free app for your iPhone!). Whenever the first two songs on this list come on, I tend to crank it up and rock out…  Support your public radio stations and tune in; you never know what you may find!

Other songs on the list:
Mat Kearney –  Hey Mama
Michael Franti – Subterranean Homesick Blues
The Head & the Heart – Lost in My Mind
Of Monsters & Men – Little Talks
Eric Hutchinson – Watching You Watch Him
Mumford & Sons – The Cave
Dr. Dog – That Old Black Hole
Imelda May – Mayhem
Wilco – Dawned On Me
Florence + The Machine – Dog Days Are Over
NEEDTOBREATHE – Drive All Night
Dave Matthews Band – You & Me
Red Wanting Blue – White Snow