The Charlie Rose Interview, a year later
Give or take a couple of weeks. Charlie Rose, a person I have never heard of before, interviewed George Lucas, a person who needs no introduction, in December 2015.
This interview is a huge inconvenience to Disney|Lucasfilm and the monster that is New Star Wars, so as the patrons and defenders of trEU Star Wars, we must never let this interview disappear or become obscure. There are so many great lines in this interview that as I listened to it, I kept thinking of so many things I wanted to touch on, so I’ve decided to do a post about it.
This is the one I want to start with — George Lucas, the human.
ROSE: Because you have worn all these hats, though — filmmaker, director, storyteller, writer, technological innovator — what do you want the first line of your obituary to say?
LUCAS: I was a great dad. (Long pause.) Or I tried. (Heh.)
And in that pause, he looks like he might cry. Rose seems kind of frustrated and repeats, “But do you consider yourself any of those things first? Writer, director?” And Lucas persists, “Dad.” And there’s something so deeply human in this that I had to stop and write a few words on it.
We all have some vision in our minds of who or what George Lucas is. Star Wars connects with each one of us so deeply that it feels like it’s our own. It feels so deeply our own that we can get irritated with him for not executing our vision of what it should be — but the fact is, while he made the OT for himself, he made the PT for his kids. He tells Rose he quit directing to be a dad. George Lucas is just a human being who made some incredible movies, and he is just a human being who wants to be the best father he can.
This is why, however you feel about him, he deserves our thanks and our respect, and why I am increasingly glad I’ve organized Thanksgeorging Day to try and give him something back for everything he gave us.
Lucas’ humanity also struck me in a surprising way when he explained his motivation for selling the company was concern for his employees; he emphasized that the films he’s interested in making now cannot make money and eventually would run the company into the ground.
Around the half hour mark is when he starts talking about how Star Wars is more than “just a silly kiddie movie” and how people keep failing because they make movies about spaceships and it’s “more than just spaceships.” Around the half hour mark is also when I began wanting to hit Rose in the head with a crowbar for sheer annoyingness. He was the most tedious and frustrating part of listening to this whole thing. I know interviewers tend to do this, but it seriously infuriates me how he kept interrupting Lucas to tell him to keep talking. Dude, you want someone to keep talking, you keep your mouth shut.
Anyway, where was I? Oh!
You’re telling a story using tools. You’re not using tools to tell a story.
In Yoda’s terms — that is why you (Disney) fail. Lucas’ observation is spot on that the American film industry is so constricted, so regulated, that it cannot tolerate innovation or creativity. He controlled his emotions pretty well, but it was clear how much disdain he felt that he sold this franchise and all they did was a glitzy re-cast of the film he made 38 years earlier. Movies are growing increasingly worse, with shallow, confusing plots and bad acting coupled with incredible special effects. Because the industry 1) will only sell what has already sold, and 2) puts the tools first.
This is the interview in which Lucas famously described Disney as “white slavers” — he takes full responsibility for selling, but at the same time grimly observes that the six films are his children and he gave them up to white slavers. The metaphor is clear, grim, and doesn’t break down. What are “white slavers”? In the modern context of Lucas’ interview, and especially coupled with the description of the Star Wars saga as his children, it means sex slavery — forced prostitution, especially of minors. It is undeniable that Disney lured Lucas’ brainchild away from him and is whoring it out for money.
That is why I call Disney and Disney’s treatment of Star Wars immoral.
That is why I will never stop resisting and fighting them.
They turned my best friend into an enslaved child prostitute.
This interview came out during the hype of “The Force Awakens” (many sarcastic air quotes), when Disney was frantically pumping that Lucas loved the movie and loved what they’d done — and this interview has been a huge wrench in their works. They tried to suppress it. We must never forget and or forgive while the injustice continues.
A few random quotations from the interview that I enjoyed although don’t have any particular comment to make on them:
If you want to say, I want to convey an emotion to another human being — that’s something only human beings can do.
I’m not much in to awards. It doesn’t mean that much to me because I’ve gone through this. … You’re there to draw eyeballs. … I know it’s about the TV show; it’s not about me.
On Hollywood industry
You’re forced to make a particular kind of movie … I know a lot of Russian filmmakers and they have a lot more freedom than I have. All they have to do is be careful about criticizing the government. Otherwise, they can do whatever they want. You have to adhere to a very narrow line of commercialism.
[In politics] they are doomed to repeat themselves every few years because they do not listen to history.