Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Not So Fan-tastic

Fans, they're the pits, aren't they?  Oh, I don't mean your casual fan of things - the sort of people who are interested and knowledgeable about something, but not obsessive about it.  You know the sort I mean - they become obsessed with a film, TV series, pop group, book or celebrity to the point that they seem to believe that they have some kind of 'ownership' over the object of their obsession.  I've talked about their ilk before, these 'fans' who have developed a clear idea of what their favourite TV series or film franchise should look like or be about and won't tolerate any deviation from this, seeing it as a 'betrayal' on the part of the series' creators.  As I've noted before, Dr Who fans seem particularly prone to this mindset, with many seemingly unable to get past whichever regeneration of the Doctor they first saw, denouncing all other versions as heretical.  I was reminded of them the other day when I was reading, for no particular reason, something about Star Wars.  I was struck by the level of hatred many of the Star Wars fanatics directed at the franchise's creator, George Lucas.  Indeed, their refusal to allow him any credit for the movies' success is extraordinary.

According to them, the first film was a success in spite of Lucas, rather than because of him.  In this fan narrative, the film was saved by the intervention of others, particularly in post-production.  (This type of narrative is also common amongst those trying to debunk cinematic idols: the film Hitchcock, for instance, tries to rewrite history by casting Hitchcock's wife as the true genius behind Psycho, rescuing the film in the editing suite.  A nice story, but completely untrue).  As further evidence of Lucas' failings as a film-maker, they point to the despised (mainly by them) prequel trilogy.  Which, of course, brings us to the kernel of their problem - Lucas delivered a set of prequels which didn't conform to these fans' vision of Star Wars.  They'd convinced themselves that they 'owned' the franchise and saw themselves as 'keepers of the flame'.  Unfortunately for them, Star Wars was George Lucas vision, (at least, until he sold Lucasfilm to Disney).  Whether the fans like it or not (and they don't), Lucas was the creative force behind the franchise - without his determined efforts to put his vision on screen, the first film would never have happened.  And without that, the rest of the franchise wouldn't exist.

Regardless of who may or may not have done what to Lucas original footage, they couldn't have done it without his having shot it, imperfect though it might have been, in the first place.  Which is why their mean-spiritedness irks me so much.  They should be grateful, not petulant.  However, Lucas had the audacity to maintain creative control of his concept (for six films, anyway), challenging their vision. How dare he frustrate the ambitions of people who had no part, whatsoever, in the creative process?  It's notable that the first non-Lucas Star Wars film pandered to the fans by effectively recycling much of the plot and imagery of the first film.  Not surprisingly, they loved it - it wasn't challenging their vision of Star Wars.   Sadly, such an approach to film-making leaves little room for originality or innovation.  



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