Monday, February 22, 2010

Creative Ownership

This is just something I had been thinking about in regards to creating something for the public. A lot of people believe that George Lucas no longer 'cares' about the universe he created with Star Wars—that he is now just 'cashing in' on his creation without thought for how it is perceived by others. Every new thing he introduces into the established 'canon' of his setting seems to tick someone off (myself included in some instances). The same has been said about other creative minds—for instance, about George Romero and his zombie movies. Again, here is a case where a director pretty much created a genre and a 'universe' for it to live within. As with Star Wars, people grew up with this setting and come to expect certain things from it. And so when a director returns to it with more ideas, he is bound to alienate fans who have really internalized things.

Even though I am occasionally a disgruntled fanboy, I can really see where as a creator it is a fine line between listening to your fans and listening to your own ideas. In most cases (and especially, it seems, in the case of Lucas and Romero) the creator simply ignores (or has to ignore) the cries of his fans and just do what they want to do. I understand that, even though it frustrates me. It has to be frustrating for the creator as well. You have people clamoring for more and when you give it to them, they are suddenly all over you about how it isn't as they imagined it would be.

The only way around 'fan clamor', it seems, would be to hit the public with a setting all at once, and then duck out, never to revisit. I mean, you didn't really hear people complaining about how the Star Wars universe had changed from Episode IV to Episode VI because it was all NEW at that point—people hadn't had a chance to set their own conceptions in stone yet. But you throw a couple decades of 'living with' the movies and then try something new? Bam. You got problems. The real question, in regards to Star Wars, is whether or not they should have just left it alone and not told the prequels. On a bad day, I'm inclined to say they shouldn't have. But on most days, I can see a lot to enjoy about the prequels, and I'm glad they did it.

So...what does all this mean? Heck if I know. On the one hand, I wish directors like Lucas (and even Romero) would really listen to what their fans are wanting. I would hope that they realize that their creations have gone beyond just being 'their vision'—they've become part of society and part of the lives of the fans themselves. On the other hand, fans are often stupid (myself included) and if listened to could lead a franchise down horrible paths. I mean, if we (as fans) were that smart and creative..why didn't WE come up with Star Wars and do it ourselves?

Gah. It's a dilemma. But it would still be nice if directors at least seemed to take fan opinions (or a consensus thereof) into account, even if it's only a little here or there. Hrm...or maybe not, otherwise Episodes I thru III would have been all about Mandalorians... but wait.. they were, weren't they? I mean.. II and III anyway...

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