(or George Lucas’ Say the Darnedest Things)
In a stunning move that stunned no one, George Lucas, the brains behind some of the greatest screenplays of the 70’s and 80’s, tried once again to quell the rumors (or facts) that he had no idea what he was doing when he made Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III. Perhaps the reason this was not shocking to anyone has to do with the fact that he has been saying this for years.
“It’s a film for 12 year olds,” Lucas declared at the 2017 Star Wars Celebration, as humanity’s collective unconscious let out an audible groan that filled the auditorium.
“Here’s what you should pay attention to,” he went on, now apparently addressing 12 year olds all over the world. “Friendships, loyalty, trust, doing the right thing.”
Fans were quick to point out that the Gungan character, and literal ass flap, Jar Jar Binks never exemplified any of these qualities and is in direct conflict with this statement. Allegations that Binks was created and shoved into the plot of The Phantom Menace to sell merchandise have endured for years. Many believe that of all the times Lucas could have decided to open old wounds, the biggest gathering of Star Wars fans and cast members was probably a stupid choice.
Hiding behind the claim that only children really understand his brilliant space opera has been Lucas’ M.O. for years, but has never really stood up to logic. It’s as though he is claiming children have a more fine-tuned bullshit meter than adults do, and that his cinematic prequel trilogy passes with flying colors.
Whether it was defending how not racist the portrayal of Jar Jar Binks was by explaining that those claims were made by “people who’ve obviously never met a Jamaican…” (“How in the world you could take an orange amphibian and say that he’s a Jamaican? It’s completely absurd.”) in a 1999 interview with Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark, or insinuating that the transition from practical to computer generated effects was very similar to the Renaissance Era move from fresco to oil on canvas paintings, this isn’t the first time this raving psychotic has made these sorts of delusional claims.
A sensible person might have made a rational argument, not an even more racist statement, or an attempt to impress people with his/her views of historic art movements, as exegetical as that interpretation may be.
At the heart of this argument, some Star Wars fans will point out, is that Mr. Lucas long ago lost the ability to successfully shepherd a movie from beginning to end. This point is backed up by multiple examples of video evidence. There are the films themselves and their emotionless, vacant dialogue that not even the most seasoned character actor could pull off. One could also reference the hours of bonus material and special features that anyone could find on the Star Wars website during the production of the respective movies (and later on the DVD’s themselves), depicting a slothful Lucas making questionable, stream of consciousness decisions, while Rick Mcallum and the rest of the production team follow behind, applauding and taking turns telling his penis that it is still as virile as that of a young man’s.
Even still, many feel that the blame rests on some of the glaring casting decisions that documentary crews captured on video while covering the making of the prequels. The most poignant of these may have been his decision to cast then emotionless child actor Jake Lloyd in the pivotal role of young Anakin Skywalker. Lucas has said before, 9n the aforementioned Newsnight interview, that he doesn’t care about money, yet, in the Episode I documentary, he is on the record saying that he cares about box office results and breaking records associated with them. This may explain his decision to go with a star of a high profile Arnold Schwarzenegger movie over Devon Michael, a nine year old who was capable of actually emoting.
It is unclear as to why George Lucas decided that young viewers wanted to watch a puppet-like child deliver lines devoid of feeling, but, as he said, he purposefully made Star Wars for children and must know something about their sensibilities. Perhaps he took into account the fact that studies show children do not begin to develop a sense of cognitive empathy until ages 5-8[i], and wanted someone they could relate to.
It has historically been hard to tell just how well Lucas believes his own explanation that Star Wars was always meant for children, but perhaps his latest comments on the 13th of April go the furthest towards justifying what is perhaps the most hated actor/character of prequel trilogy.
Speaking once again on how he intended for Star Wars to speak to and teach the youth of the world important life lessons, he remarked, “You’re about to enter the real world. You’re moving away from your parents. You’re probably scared, you don’t know what’s going to happen.” If this something that was always in the back of Lucas’ mind, this would be the strongest evidence for why Hayden Christensen played Anakin like a whiny, annoying, self-aggrandizing, teenage prick.
Was it George Lucas’ direction all along that brought out such an uninspired performance, or did discerning movie goers simply misunderstand Christensen’s subtle method acting? Whichever it was, it is clear, if Lucas is to be believed, that only young children and pre-teens actually understood the subtext and undertones that the legendary filmmaker was going for. This justification, however, does not explain Christensen’s monotonous delivery. No one may ever know the reasoning behind that.
Taken at his word, even on blind faith, fans still point to one major hole in Lucas’ “rhetoric”. Mainly that, 20 years earlier, he wrote/cast/produced some of the best, most lively, believable, charismatic and funny dialogue/actors/movies of all time. If one hoped to simply pass off the original six Star Wars movies as something made exclusively for child-like hearts and minds, then why insult the latter generation of youngsters by not holding the prequels to the same standard.
There is the possibility that Lucas himself is full of shit and will never admit that the whole ordeal of Hollywood studio politics killed his love for the series back in the early 80’s, making it impossible for him to ever truly care about it ever again. To ever truly understand what it is about Star Wars movies that still draw in people of all ages. If that were the case, it would make sense why he would pass off his greatest artistic achievement to a giant multi-national media conglomerate/empire. But, as George said, don’t worry. The prequels are the way they are because… children, and who are we to disagree.
[i] McDonald, Nicole M., and Daniel S. Messinger. 2011. “The Development of Empathy: How, When, and Why.” pgs. 4-5