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:

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…the great state of Ohio?

Ah, Ohio.

Known for its extremely supportive Cleveland sports fans and…well, that’s all I can think of.

Be honest. When you think of the 50 states that make up this great country, what states come to mind as those that stand out for their beauty, reputation, or life of luxury? When planning your honeymoon in the United States, do you dream of going somewhere warm with sand and a beach such as Florida or California, or do you think of going to a place where the weather is so unpredictable that you can experience at least 3 of the 4 seasons in one day as in Ohio? Planning an extended weekend trip-would you rather go to NYC and see all the wonderful attractions it has to offer, or travel to Ohio to visit…?

You get the point.

When people think of the United States, I highly doubt that many of them think of Ohio as being extremely notable for a whole lot. In fact, many people who I know who live here sport bumper stickers on their cars, similar to this:

It’s sad to think that even people who live here have many complaints about being here. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly times in which I wish lived somewhere in which the weather was a little less unpredictable and where I consistently had a winning sports team to cheer for (I’m kidding here-I’m a Cavs fan through and through, with or without LeBron). Despite my whininess (yes, I did make  up that word) about the weather and the complaints of my fellow Ohioans, I think we may need to reconsider the importance of this state in the grand scheme of things. So do presidential candidates.

Before discussing that, I’d like to point out some really awesome things about this state (which may reiterate some of Abbie’s previous post):

‘Ides of March’ starring George Clooney and Ryan Gosling was filmed (at least partially) in Ohio!

Parts of the new ‘Avengers’ movie was also filmed in Ohio! (The street scenes are in downtown Cleveland!)

Speaking of Cleveland, it is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, visited by thousands of music lovers and Rock fans alike, not to mention their many inductees (Prince, Bob Seger, George Harrison, Miles Davis, Madonna…and the list continues). We have the Buckeyes, the Browns, and the Cleveland Clinic (couldn’t think of another B there).

Enough about that already. As we all know, this is a very important year in terms of politics. Within the next few months, we will be choosing the person who will lead our country for the next four years. Will Americans choose to reelect our current democratic president, Barack Obama? Or, will our citizens decide they want a fresh face in office and support a republican candidate such as Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum? Regardless of who you support (frankly, I don’t care as long as you are an informed voter), Ohio will play an important role in this upcoming election.

Did you know that in the last 27 presidential elections, Ohio has picked the winner 25 times? As a result, did you know that without Ohio, it’s unlikely that your candidate may win this upcoming presidential election?

If you doubt my accuracy in these statements, just look it up. Oh, and if you think, ‘So what, the candidates don’t really care about Ohio’s 18 electoral votes…” Guess again.

In the last presidential election, I was impressed at how many political representatives came to both Ohio, and specifically my community. During the course of the election period, we were lucky enough to: have Barack Obama speak to our community at least twice (including as a visitor to our university where I worked the event-as did at least 1 of the other dames), host Hillary Clinton at an event (which I also worked), have Joe Biden visit, and have Good Morning American filmed in our community where John McCain was a guest (…gotta love getting up at 4:30 am to see these politicians). Furthermore, former speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi also hosted an event in our community (I have pictures), as did former senator Ted Kennedy. The crazy thing about all this is that this was all in my community and does not even account for the many visits that these individuals made throughout this great state during those crucial election months.

My favorite event that we hosted has to be Rock the Vote! When Rock the Vote came to our town, they brought Sheryl Crow, the Beastie Boys, AND  Ben Stiller (who looked like he had just walked off the set of ‘Meet the Parents’ I might add)!

Ohio’s primary is coming up in March and I expect things to get a little crazy here in the next few weeks. Even though I’m getting my graduate degree in psychology, I have a certain (hidden) love for politics. I guess I feel like I have to put my political science degree to use some how. I’m really looking forward to seeing who makes their way here and look forward to seeing as many candidates as possible (Republican or Democrat).

So…if you doubt this great state, think of this and all that it has to offer. Think of the role that we are going to play in November. Whether you vote for Obama or the Republican candidate, just remember that your vote does matter (sorry…didn’t mean to get preachy there).