Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The George Lucas Effect

In the old days of movie-making and publishing, the original creator didn't have a whole lot of control over the final packaging of the product. There was only one version of a movie or a book. We didn't have the director's cut or the extended version or the author's preferred text.

In some ways, that control is a good thing. The extended version of Suicide Squad makes a hell of a lot more sense than the theatrical version. The same with the author's preferred text of American Gods. Both of these expand on the original versions without changing the essential character of the work.

Then there's George Lucas.

*sigh* He's changed the original version of Star Wars so many times it's become an embarrassment. The most egregious of these changes is the "Who shot first" question. By changing the Han-Greedo confrontation, George turned Han from a bad-ass space pirate to TSTL joke.

And therein lies one of the dangers to any artist who cannot let their work stand on its own merit. By trying to "fix" something, which was frankly the best possible art for your age and/or experience, you can end up ruining it.

First of all, I would hope that ALL artists improve as they practice their craft. And most of us do.

The problem is when we look at our first works, our older selves see how amateurish our older work is. To us. The mistakes and miscues are glaring. To us. And there's a part of us that wants to "fix" the problem so we don't look too stupid. To us.

Unfortunately, "fixing" those problems insults our readers. What we're really telling them is "You're such an idiot for buying and loving my shit work".

The other side is maybe our work wasn't shit to begin with. Sometimes, it's the inner or outer critic who enjoys pissing on your art really talking. And that's someone you want to ignore.

So what brought this up?

I'm going through the paperback proofs of my novels. Yes, there's some typos that weren't caught by any of the five editors or myself six years ago when the book was first published. But that's akin to when the boom mike accidentally gets caught in the shot. With today's digital processes, boom mikes can be edited out of the film. Typos can be fixed.

But what you really need to do is resist the urge to change the story itself. You do your fans a disservice by telling them the story they loved is "wrong". You do yourself a disservice by not acknowledging and accepting you have grown as an artist. And you turn into the crazy politicians who want to redefine "truth" every time Winston Smith blinks.

When you're looking at your older works, resist the urge to change shit. Otherwise, you could turn your hero from a badass to TSTL, and that ruins the story for everyone. Relish the imperfection because they show your path as an artist!


  1. Yeah, that. [wince] I love that Lucas was so emotionally invested in the Star Wars universe, but dude.... [headdesk]


    1. That's exactly what I mean. I have the same issue with the digitally remastered Star Trek episodes. Thankfully, those were mainly the space shots, and they didn't give the Gorn superspeed. Part of the experience is letting your imagination fill in the blanks when the cast is throwing themselves all over the bridge set while the cameraman rocked his equipment.