I'm not (I totally just wrote "Nute") really sure what to make of this. My head is still spinning, I feel a little like crying, a little lost, and a whole lotta confused. The Star Wars community (and pretty much the whole damn internet) is exploding at the minute; I'm getting message notifications every half second, my iPhone sounds like it's on some permanent vibrate setting, and my email inbox is going to be a mess, and now, there's an impromptu chat. I really should be working on a physics problem at the moment, but I'd like to get this all out while it's fresh, and maybe I can come back in a few days and reflect on my first impressions.
Now, in case you don't HAVE internet (in which case, I'm not quite sure how you're reading this), or have just crash-landed on Earth and don't know how the news works yet (if you're Neimoidian or Duros, give me a call ;D), Disney has just bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion.
It feels unholy, or at the very least nonsensical, just writing it. Here's the release from the Disney website http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/disney-news/press-releases/2012/10/disney-acquire-lucasfilm-ltd
I found out, myself, just moments ago. Logging into TFB, I noticed a link, clicked it, and as it loaded, I read the comment attached, explaining what had happened. At first, I thought it was literally a joke. Not only because it just sounds so unlikely, but also because, in all honesty, Disney is the absolute last company I want in possession of Star Wars (I'll get to that in a moment). When it hit me (like a ton of bricks) that it WASN'T, I obviously did what any sane Star Wars fan would...I panicked. Irrationally. I think I actually let out a half-sobbed "NOOOOOOOO!" Fast forward a brisk comment-chat on a friend's status, and a couple of frenzied Facebook posts. The initial shock has passed; however, I don't think I'm any closer to actually processing and accepting this. I'd like to go through this bit by bit; this will probably turn into a long read, and for that I do apologise.
First off, I think the big question any reader may have is "what do you have against Disney?" Oooh boy. Where do I begin on that one? I grew up on Disney as a young child, it's a part of my past, as it is with just about any young child. BUT, I can't say I ever held it in as high a regard as everyone else. I've heard countless times how films like The Lion King and Aladdin were childhood favourites (perhaps even continuing to this day). I honestly can't say I was ever terribly affected by them enough to call them favourites. Don't forget (if you've read my Why? page) I saw Star Wars at four. I had a whole new world opened up to me at a very young age, that didn't have sparkly princesses or talking animals that do big song and dance routines five times in a 90-minute timeslot. I've never liked musicals. Even at four, they made me uncomfortable and even embarrassed. But those aren't why I dislike Disney; those are just personal preferences. I'll try to break this down into several points.
1.) They have little to no respect for original material, or even history. Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame (despite being my favourite Disney film), The Lion King (see Jungle King: Kimba), and every princess film ever made. Star Wars is original material. It's established original material. With a huge history, a worldwide fanbase, and some potentially-homicidal fans. It's already clear that they have no boundaries, and I fear what they will do to the Star Wars canon. Let's not forget those direct-to-video Disney sequels...I'll leave that right there!
2.) Disney "values." Don't even try to deny it. Forget what they said in the press conference with respect to boy/girl roles. I'm not trying to be feminist in any way. Hell, I'm more or less an antifeminist, but Disney has very clear gender roles, and almost universally weak, borderline annoying female characters, and superhuman males. I think their princess films give wrong ideas about what to expect in life, as a whole. Let's look at one character, Ariel from the The Little Mermaid (you have my sympathy, Hans Christian Andersen). She changed herself, her entire body for a man she saw once. That's just not okay. Compared that with Star Wars, which, I believe has some of the best values of just about any fandom: loyalty, courage, determination, tolerance, diversity, sacrifice. And they get the point across in an exceptionally elegant way. Star Wars isn't exclusive at all. It's a big, huge galaxy with thousands of species and culture I always said that if I ended up having a child, II would raise her on Star Wars and Sesame Street, and keep away from Disney. Now, it appears I don't have that option anymore.
That's just the beginning of this point (not including the fairly blatant stereotypes Disney makes frequent use of, body images, and views on homosexuality...I'll get to those shortly) but what I also feel needs addressing is its "family-friendly" nature. Star Wars is totally "family friendly"...but it also has an edge to it. And sometimes, this edge is too sharp for "the whole family," but it gets the point across. I'm terrified that Star Wars, as a whole, will be dumbed down to an unrecognisable point. Now, at this point, you can point out things like the Droids and Ewoks cartoons, or, in the eyes of some, perhaps even The Clone Wars. There are, of course, areas of Star Wars for younger audiences, and areas for older audiences. But that's what makes Star Wars so brilliant: it's a spectrum! I would hardly call Disney a spectrum; they seem to reach their maximum audience age around 14.
3.) Public relations. Hoo boy! That's a biggie there! There are some pretty outrageous (HA!!!) stories out there. At one point, Disney banned men with long hair, and, even today, employees are not allowed long hair or long facial hair. In 1989, Disney threatened to take a Burbank daycare centre to court for putting pictures of Disney characters on the walls; Hanna Barbera stepped up and gave the centre pictures of their characters AND even threw a party for the children. In 2006, Disney forbade a couple in Britain for putting a Winnie the Pooh headstone on their stillborn baby's grave. There are continuous allegations of homophobia on both Disney Channel and ABC in the States. Until 2005, shark fin soup was offered at their wedding banquets.
(quick pause here...I actually am crying now because I just realised that Lott Dod is now a Disney villain)
The list goes on, but of everything I've seen, that incident with British family just takes the cake. That's just cruel. Just plain callous! I'm sorry, but I do NOT want Star Wars associated with anything like this. On a personal note, I am now more afraid of being sued, for running a Star Wars fansite and blog.
4.) The Disney Image and "quality". This is probably more of a personal preference than anything. But that Disney image, that ideal...I don't like it! I'm sorry, I just don't. I think it's the same, recycled formula intended to get under your skin and slither into your heart. That gushy, sugar-coated Disney-esque formula. You can't deny it...Disney has an image. And Star Wars has an image. Can you see Star Wars on the Disney image? In my mind, almost by design, it seems to me that Star Wars has been lowed tremendously simply by association. Which leads me into quality. Once upon a time, Disney was incredible. I won't deny it. And even 20 years ago, I might have respected them. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is a masterpiece of animation. Even today, I'm just blown away by the beauty of it! And Pinocchio. You can see the work and, dare I say, love that went into every frame. It's like an American Miyazaki film! Even the Mickey Mouse shorts. I won't deny it...I love them! It's the heart of soul of Disney...fast forward a few years, and look at what the 2000s bring: Suite Life of Zach and Cody, cartoon originals you'd no sooner attach a Cartoon Network (a shambles now, in itself) label to a Disney, and, the worst of the worst Hannah Montana. Look at how much Disney invested in that girl...and look at her now. Arguably, a laughing stock. While I don't believe she was a particularly good role model, she was a role model, nonetheless, for millions of small girls. And now look at her. Miley Cyrus and Princess Leia...no comparison! They don't even belong on the same webpage, let alone in the same sentence! What I'm saying is Disney, even to this day, holds itself as a creator of "quality" entertainment, and a quality of its own creation. And yet it continuously falls short. Look at recent "classics" such as Mars Needs Moms, Prom, The Shaggy Dog, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green (which I knew, even from the previews, would be nauseating). Disney, I dare say, has forgotten what gave it some semblance of greatness, and, instead, milks a cash cow. There is no continuity, no sense, no rhyme or reason. Where's Mickey Mouse? And Goofy? And Donald? Your original masterpieces! Many would argue the same for Star Wars...but the soul remains. The Force, the Jedi, the Sith, the politics, Darth Vader, Yoda...it's still there! And it belongs to Star Wars! These, among many other things, are the heart and soul of Star Wars. If Disney has no care for even its own soul, what, dare I ask, will it do to another?
5.) Neimoidians. (my, admittedly, least well-formed point) You knew it was coming. Disney owns Neimoidians.
MOTHERF***ING DISNEY OWNS NEIMOIDIANS!!!!
I'm sorry about that, but words (at least polite words) do not adequately convey what I'm feeling right now, as far as this is concerned. I don't think I need to elaborate my feelings for Neimoidians...after all, you're here, aren't you? You're surrounded by it! They're my babies as much as Lucasfilm's, even if all I have done for them is fanwork, at this point! Yes, I feel attached to them, yes I feel extremely protective of them...and that's why, more than anything, this news makes me physically nauseous. I'm not even kidding; I actually feel sick. Of all the people in the world, of all the companies, of all the entities I hate and have no respect for, it had to be Disney. Disney owns my babies. There are few worse organisations or people I can think of, having control of them, and among them are Mitt Romney, Westboro Baptist Church, the Church of Satan, and Al Qaeda. What, oh Lord, are they going to do to them?! I don't care if we get more of them, I don't want another Neimoidian, if he's got a Mickey Mouse logo tattooed on him somewhere. Actually, knowing Disney, they'll just say the Neimoidians never existed or something.
Oh gosh! Nute Gunray is now up there with Jafar, Ursula, and Scar.
So...closing thoughts, as I hopefully return to a more mature and rational level. I...don't think I'm happy about this news at all. I feel extremely saddened by this, and while I've never been outraged (HA!!!) by any of the changes brought about in the Special Editions or Prequels, I think, for the first time, I understand how millions and millions of fans felt, as they watched something that was incredibly special to them, their childhoods, and, arguably, their lives, be, in their eyes, killed. There are now Episodes 7, 8, 9 in planning. At one point in my life, I would have been overjoyed for this, and I was just thinking about this recently, about how I would react to such news. My first reaction would have been that it would be dreamlike...but then...I'd feel as I do now, and the feeling is bittersweet. I have long come to the acceptance that Star Wars, as a film, is over, and I was looking forward to seeing what the EU had to offer (now with The Clone Wars, Star Wars 1313, and The Old Republic). It was like accepting retirement...I was sad for a time to see "my life" end, but happy to move onto another stage of it. To see it being revived, and now in the hands of Disney...I don't feel happy at all. I feel despair and, to an extent, disrespect. Frankly...I don't want 7, 8, 9. I don't even want it with Lucasfilm, as was, in charge. The Star Wars saga is a done deal. It's a 6-film work of art and perfection, and should be left as such, and respected.
Now, a good friend of mine recently made a video about this subject...about people complaining endlessly about the changes in Star Wars. The underlying message was "get over it; Lucas is in charge, not you," and, honestly, I would like to try and follow that advice. He's absolutely right. There is nothing I can do about it, and it's not my decision; complaining won't help. I don't like the decision in the least, I don't like that Star Wars is not only affiliated with but OWNED by one of my most hated entities, which, by default, owns my Neimoidians. I'm going to be honest and say there are definitely things I like about Disney. I do enjoy a few of their films, I love their old shorts, and I adore Kingdom Hearts; however, it doesn't make me like the company or the ideals or the image any better. What can I do? I can blog about it to get my feelings straight (done!), I can reflect on this in a few days, when it's sunk in, and see how I feel then, I can cherish my non-Disney Star Wars collection, I can appreciate the fact that my Neimoidians in my collection will never have a Disney logo on their foot, I can cling to my old DVDs and VHSs, and more than anything I can hope for the best.
As always, this was my blog and my opinion; please don't flame me. If you hate it, I'm sorry. It's my opinion; go and make your own blog about it if you want, and tell us your opinion. Otherwise, feel free to comment and discuss!
May the Force (and Neimoidians) be with us all, and always.