Monday, November 5, 2012

The Disney/Lucas deal from a Trekkie's POV

"What you fail to grasp is that Star Wars is probably the biggest thing that ever did or ever will happen to our generation. And if there's an angle by which we can profit from 'The Force' in our little corner of the world, then why don't we?... Face it, my friend - the Force will be with us. Always. Star Wars is the future." 
- Randal, Clerks: The Comic Book, written by Kevin Smith

I don't like to think of it as a rivalry, but it is. Yes, it's possible to like them both - I do - but I've always believed that even those who do still favor one over the other deep down, depending on which one they were first exposed to, perhaps, or some other circumstance.

Anyone who's read this blog long enough knows which side I'm on. I could go into a bunch of reasons why I know my side is better, but you don't care about that. Besides, these days, there are so many other franchises that have become part of the mainstream, part of the great geek conversation, that it's no longer a matter of two sides, if indeed, it ever was.

Still, there's never been a question of which one was cooler, has there? As far as the world at large is concerned, there's never been any doubt which franchise was "acceptable" and which was "nerdy," even now, in 2012, when the nerd mentality has come to dominate American pop culture.

And now this. A deal that was once considered unthinkable, unimaginable, one that is practically guaranteed to keep you-know-what number one for generations to come. But you know what? That's okay. If it means bringing in new ideas and new people to execute them, then that's all to the good in the long run. There's actually one hope I have that I'd like to address, one I haven't seen discussed anywhere else yet, though.

One of the most profound, fundamental differences between Star Trek and Star Wars is that the latter is pure fantasy - influenced by a variety of real-world sources, but still firmly within the realm of imagination - while the former is more grounded in the real world. From the outset, Trek has made a greater effort to base its fictitious world on not only real scientific principles, but Gene Roddenberry's philosophy of mankind and how he believed people ought to live... and this included having a diverse cast of characters.

The humans in George Lucas' universe - let's be honest - are much less so. Indeed, with the prequels, he has been accused of indulging in some of the worst racial stereotypes in creating some of his alien characters. When you compare SW to more recent franchises like The MatrixThe Hunger Games, and even non-sci-fi ones like The Fast and the Furious using this as a basis, SW comes up looking dated and almost retrograded.

If SW is to truly move forward story-wise, with new creative talent to back up Lucas, I believe it needs to make an effort to reflect the changing storytelling standards. Fandom has greatly diversified in terms of race, gender and sexual orientation since the original trilogy, and as a result, they've been demanding to see that same level of diversity in their fiction. Trek showed the way forty-plus years ago, and I believe it's incumbent upon whoever comes in to continue SW to keep this firmly in mind.

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4 comments:

  1. Rich, you made excellent points about the Disney/Lucas deal. Fandom is no longer just a boys' club; everyone can play, and they should. The more fresh and interesting people and elements that enter the STAR WARS, the better their stories will be in the long run!

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    1. Glad you agree! I suspect both Disney and whoever steps in to direct will keep it in mind, although personally, I'll still need to see proof of it before I truly believe it.

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  2. Star Trek and Star Wars is definitely one of those "Beatles People and Elvis People" things - some like one more than the other, but NOBODY likes them both the same.

    The Star Trek novels tried real hard to break into new directions, but were met with apathy. The Corps of Engineers books (there was more than one, wasn't there?) was a brilliant idea, as were Peter David's new adventures. But on the whole, people wanted more of the same. There's ever the "when are the real characters going to hava a crossover?" and all.

    Star Wars seems more willing to explore into new directions, both in time and space.

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  3. Wouldn't the Beatles and the Stones be a better comparison? :-p

    Funny you should mention the Trek novels, because it seems to me as if they've gone out of their way in recent years to mix and match characters from the different shows. Did you read the 'Destiny' trilogy? Perfect example right there.

    The novels used to be self-contained 'episodes,' so to speak, where all the toys were put back in the box at the end. Now there's greater continuity between novels. That was a change dictated by the fans.

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