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November 8th, 2003

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03:35 am - You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
All right, let's clear a few things up right here, right now. Have a seat. Canape? Truffle? Boston Carver sandwich? Okay, fine, fine.

We might be here a while, though. Just so you know.

Well then. So. The changes George Lucas has made to the original Star Wars trilogy? With all that new CG and removal of the Yub-Yub song and Greedo shooting first and whatnot? Yes, it's annoying and smacks of revisionism and makes some of us miss the original versions which were endearing with their intricate hand-crafted models and visible mattes. (Though there are some who are more than happy to see the Yub-Yub song go, and you know who you are, and that's quite all right.)

And yes, I don't find the newer series as fun as the old ones, partly due to all the needless technological flash surrounding them and partly due to the fact that Hayden Christensen can't act his way out of a paper bag. But I'll also be the first to admit this viewpoint is obscured through the rosy-tinted veil of nostalgia, as I remember being awed as a kid by the first films on the big screen and any bad bits of acting by Mark Hamill or anyone else were glossed over in favor of the exciting action fights! and the fact that, at the tender age of 6, I really wasn't looking at the acting with a critical eye. (I honestly didn't see Luke as a whiny farmboy brat until 1993, when I saw all three films in a row with an audience of receptive yet mocking fans -- I also joined the Impromptu Wedge Antilles Fan Club because the two guys behind me kept cheering every time he showed up. But when Luke whined "Aw, but I wanted to go to Taschi Station to pick up some power converters!" the entire place just howled.)

And Steven Spielberg's revisionist E.T. with guns changed to walkie-talkies and the line "You look like a terrorist" changed to "You look like a hippie" because of post-9/11 tension? Yeah, that's really annoying as well, compounded further by the fact that it's nigh-impossible to get an decent quality version of the movie you liked without having to sit through what feels like a truly condescending change of content. This, too, has a bias of nostalgia, as I remember sitting in the theater being actively frightened of the authority figures pursuing E.T. with guns -- I may not have thought they'd shoot him, but the images produced were menacing enough to give real relief when he does in fact get away. (I don't remember the "terrorist" line, though.)

Okay, so on the whole I don't like the changes, either. This is where we agree. At least, I don't like the changes when they're presented as How Things Should Have Been, thus removing the availability of the films without the changes. I like having a choice and being able to make it myself.

But this is where we part ways, my little reactionary friend. For, you see, while I can view said changes with distaste, I will never, and I repeat, never, for one second, make the increasingly popular claim you seem to like making, that "George Lucas raped my childhood."

Steven Spielberg, as well, did not "rape my childhood." Nor did anybody involved with "X-Treme Ghostbusters" nor anybody involved with any other current cartoon remake I don't like nor any pornographic furry who draws naked pictures of Gadget from Rescue Rangers. Nobody's childhood is being raped here. Honestly. Not even in the classical sense; I mean, George Lucas didn't come down in the form of a swan and abduct my childhood from where it was picking flowers by the stream. (And if you do mean the word 'rape' in its modern violent and brutal context, I have to wonder exactly how lightly you view the term, as well as the horrible act to which it refers.)

All George Lucas did with his Star Wars Special Edition is to show me that sometimes, where filmmakers think they're wrong, I think they're right -- however, he has the power and money to go back and fix his "mistakes". I don't have the power nor the money nor the right, even, to unfix them for him.

So he changed films of which I have pleasant memories.

Big deal.

I still have them.

I still love the older versions of Episodes 4-6, I loved them as a kid, and I have many happy memories of playing with Star Wars action figures and choosing characters to play on the playground (Han Solo or nothing, baby) and pretending my clunky old bike was a real live speeder bike and thinking that the car's high beams in a snowstorm at night made it look like we were going through hyperspace.

These memories are indelible. Nobody can go back and change them. I can't, you can't, George Lucas can't. They're mine and I'm proud to have them. I know I can never go back and re-live them, and the now-canon Special Edition makes that sadly clear. But do I believe that because a film -- a piece of celluloid, for crying out loud -- has been changed, that my childhood, my youthful sense of wonder, and most importantly, my happy memories, have been completely and irrevocably destroyed for all time?

(That's a rhetorical question there.)

* * * * *
These five stars are here to give you time to ask what "rhetorical" means.
Now that you know, let's move on.

We live in uncertain times, and my generation is now learning first-hand exactly how powerful childhood memories can be to ease our worries and bring us back to a simpler era twenty-plus years ago when we had far fewer major troubles. (This in itself has been tinted too rosy by the nostalgia; can you remember any worry or problem you had as a kid that wasn't escalated in your mind to a Major End Of The World Event? Bug bites! Bad neighbor dog! Bullies! "BUT MOM, I'M STAR-AR-AR-AR-ARV-ING!!") We cling to our happier memories, we uphold them and even worship them with clinically reverent webpages, and, as evidenced by the hordes of angry comments flying around movie websites, viciously defend them whenever we feel they're being threatened. This, of course, is normal, but really, a hyperbolic kneejerk reaction is not.

Keep your memories. Keep them close to you where they will do you the most good. Think back when you can to some good time and let it brighten your spirits or help you put things into perspective.

But for the love of Pete, don't curse the name of George Lucas or Steven Spielberg or whomever else and condemn them for ruining and "raping" your memories. They haven't. They honestly haven't. They care not about doing anything to your memories, positive or negative, because they're too busy catering to theirs. Using a term like "rape" only cheapens your complaints and makes you out to be a selfish whiner who really has no good argumentative acumen. You're really only repeating the phrase because you heard someone else use it and think "Oh gosh, that's sooooooooooo right," didn't you? Well, perhaps it's not. Think about it.

I make this appeal for several reasons; one because I'm sick and tired of reading the phrase in online discussions of popular media. I also make this pre-emptively because I've heard that there might be some last-minute changes to the Return of the King release which may prove to be very unpopular. (The rumor, which I won't spell out in detail, makes note that whatever footage cut from the theatrical release will be present in the DVD release, but the omission will require moviegoers to make some assumptions about events taking place between The Two Towers and Return.)

Nobody's saying you have to like it. I myself won't be happy about it, since it may well contain a scene that I've been waiting to see on the big screen. So don't be happy about it. Complain if you wish -- but complain about the fact that it might be bad for the narrative structure, or that it may raise questions in the minds of those who have seen the films but not read the books yet, or that, like me, you were kinda hoping to see it happen on the big screen.

But, I swear to God, if you complain that, by omitting this scene and/or making other changes to the Lord of the Rings story in his adaptation, Peter Jackson violently threw down your childhood and had his way with it, I'll ... I'll ... well, I'll do something that isn't a hyperbolic kneejerk reaction to your hyperbolic kneejerk reaction. (By that, I mean I won't beat you up, or come pay you a visit, or motion that you be dragged out into the street and shot. I've learned these reactions never serve any constructive purpose.) I may just think you're another one of those selfish whiners and go on to the next post or thread or message or whatever.

But that's, like, just my opinion, man.

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:November 8th, 2003 10:43 am (UTC)
So, Neo vs. pre-Vader Anakin.
Date:November 8th, 2003 12:00 pm (UTC)
I don't think they did anything so strong as that, no. But I do want DVDs of the original films as I remember them.

Books are so much better- don't like the revised version of Field of Schemes? It's very easy to find the original. Music, too. Don't like the changes to Tales of Mystery and Imagination? Find a copy on vinyl and listen to that.
Date:November 8th, 2003 12:49 pm (UTC)
> don't like the revised version of Field of Schemes? It's very easy to find the original.

Yeah, but the Hollywood ending in the second edition, where they save the old Tiger Stadium and have a parade, still gets me bent out of shape.
[User Picture]
Date:November 8th, 2003 03:29 pm (UTC)
But I do want DVDs of the original films as I remember them.

Exactly. I wouldn't mind the changes if I could get the originals on DVD. Wouldn't even mind if the original and changed scenes are both on the same DVD, to compare and contrast. But not to have that option is what irks me the most.
[User Picture]
Date:November 8th, 2003 02:07 pm (UTC)
Fortunately for me, I have never claimed that Peter Jackson "raped" either myself or Tolkein. I have just complained and bitched, loudly and at length for the last two years, about changes in the narrative that were only made to sell more movies and show off Liv Tyler's questionably attractive boobs more often, and which neither forwarded the existing story (which I can accept) nor removed scenes unnecessary to the forwarding of the story (like the removal of Tom Bombadil, which I can also accept.)

So, to recap: Bitch, yes. Rape, no. I tend to stand in your circle of opinion on that one.

This concludes this rant of the Tolkein Purist Bitching system. For those who dislike such rants, it is strongly suggested that my blog be avoided for at least 2 weeks after the release of ROTK, for your own mental safety.

Thank you.
[User Picture]
Date:November 8th, 2003 04:37 pm (UTC)
Date:November 10th, 2003 03:19 pm (UTC)
I basically agree with this. I think you make a great point in your questioning the way some people use the word "rape".

I don't claim to have any ownership to what Lucas or Spielberg or whomever put on film.

The thing that does bother me, though, is the extent to which we now have the ability to edit the past. More nefarious forms of what Lucas and Speilberg have done includes the White House retroactively editing official transcripts and their own website information. It's like the Soviets air brushing disgraced members of the politburo out of pictures, or the way the government in 1984 re-wrote history books and newspaper articles, etc.

Maybe this bothers me more because I had pretensions to being a historian for so long. It's hard enough to know what happened in the past without having people deliberately chaning it.
A tangent that's maybe not directly related to what you're writing? Maybe, but that's the reaction I had.

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