[GUEST POST] A. Lee Martinez on Why You Should Stop Telling Fans to ‘Get Over It!’

I am not a big Star Wars fan. I enjoyed the original trilogy, think they’re fine, fun films. Not a fan in any sense of the new films. Never read a Star Wars novel. Don’t know one damn thing about the expanded universe. If everything Star Wars vanished tomorrow, my life would be fine aside from an Admiral Ackbar-shaped hole in my heart. This doesn’t prevent me from empathizing with the fans who get annoyed by George Lucas’s constant monkeying with the films. Just because something doesn’t matter to me, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

Star Wars matters to an awful lot of people, and it is an undeniable part of our culture. Maybe you’re one of those people who don’t “get” it. And that’s fine. But it’s also important to realize just how much it means to so many people. It’s always struck me as obnoxious to blow off these concerns. At the very worst, it’s condescending, a suggestion that the emotional investment of millions is somehow meaningless. At the very least, it’s merely dismissive.

Maybe I’m annoyed by it because so many things I love are so often dismissed…


…I’m the guy who likes the obscure comic book superheroes, the ones most likely to die in service of a more popular hero’s story. I really, really, really like Godzilla. Not just as a giant monster, but as a character. And I care about a lot of “dumb” things. And if someone should screw with those things, I get upset. And just about the worst comment I can hear is “get over it.”

We all expect everyone to be sympathetic to our own concerns while simultaneously being puzzled by their annoyance at us at our lack of sympathy. We have all our hangups, our own sacred cows. And while it’s unfair to expect everyone to bow down to our concerns, it seems that a little quid pro quo is in order. It’s not like it takes a lot of imagination to see where the other guy is coming from.

If the church replaced the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a giant high def TV monitor, we wouldn’t be surprised if people found that troublesome.

If BBC went back and used CGI to erase your favorite Dr. Who actor from existence, you’d be justifiably upset.

If a supervillian used a doomsday device to erase every copy of every Jane Austen book in existence, there would be some rage expected.

Maybe none of the above apply to you, but if you can’t see why people would be annoyed by it, then you’re just not trying very hard.

It’s not that I expect Lucas to stop screwing with Star Wars. I imagine that he’ll do so until he dies, and even then, he’ll probably build a special robot that lives on after him with the sole purpose of finding things it doesn’t like about Star Wars and “fixing” them. Lucas is pretty clear on where he stands, and since we can’t really stop him, the only thing we can do is complain. It won’t do much good, but at the very least, it shows fans care. If they didn’t, Lucas would, ironically, be out of a job.

We tell stories, create art, etc. because we want to have something to care about. It’s the whole point. So the next time you feel like telling someone “to get over it”, I’d suggest reconsidering. You don’t have to care. You don’t even have to pretend to care. You only have to keep quiet and allow them their rage.

And hope that one day, they’ll return the favor.


A. Lee Martinez is a writer you probably haven’t heard of but really should have. He is the author of Gil’s All Fright Diner, In the Company of Ogres, A Nameless Witch, The Automatic Detective, Too Many Curses, Monster, Divine Misfortune and Chasing the Moon. He credits comic books and Godzilla movies as his biggest influences, and thinks that every story is better with a dash of ninja.


8 thoughts on “[GUEST POST] A. Lee Martinez on Why You Should Stop Telling Fans to ‘Get Over It!’”

  1. The Star Wars films do not belong to the public. The Star Wars films do not belong to fannish groups. The Star Wars films do not belong to me, and likely not to you. Mr. Lucas is the overall creator, father and owner of the films. While slightly interesting from an anthropological perspective, the cries of outrage do not obtain in any other meaningful way. Mr. Lucas is free to de-colorize his films, to remove major characters and replace them with household pets, to withdraw them from circulation, to deface, amend, re-cast and edit them in any way he sees fit. Consumers of his films may choose to ignore these changed versions. What they may not do, in my opinion, is command Mr. Lucas to defer to their wishes in reference to his films. That is simply infantile.  

  2. Here, I’ll make the same argument that I’ve generally made against film colorization and addition of 3-D effects. The original films were produced by seasoned veterans who made hundreds of artistic choices based on their understanding of the cameras, lights, and film stocks they had to work with. While Lucas certainly has the power to change all of those decisions (in many cases, made by people with a much better grasp of how to deliver narrative and drama to the screen) we can look at the contrast between versions and find the revisions to be artistically lacking.

  3. Never read any of the star wars books? For the most part I don’t think you have missed much. I must however reccomend The Heir to the Empire trilogy by Timothy Zahn. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrawn_trilogy ) Considerably better than the Original Star Wars books imo. Things aren’t nearly as black and white / good and bad. We get to see more of how the Empire views itself rather than “we are evil muahahaha”

     

    Anyhow… highly reccomended. :)

  4. I don’t care how much he fiddles with his movies, as long as the originals are available. For years it was impossible to buy anything but the edited versions, but I believe that’s been remedied at last?  I’d rather watch the movie I vaguely remember from the 70’s, not a pseudo remake. It was the best they could do with the technology and the budget at the time, just like old Doctor Who episodes.

  5. I will start by saying that I was an enormous fan of Star Wars, right up until I watched the first prequel. After the second, as far as I’m concerned, it’s dead to me. Now, with that said, I’m going to quote a famous director who was part of a movement to protect films from exactly this sort of tinkering. Way back when Ted Turner broke out a box of crayons and started slapping colours all over black and white films, alot of directors appealed to Congress to protect motion pictures. Here is the quote in question:

    People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians, and if the laws of the United States continue to condone this behavior, history will surely classify us as a barbaric society. The preservation of our cultural heritage may not seem to be as politically sensitive an issue as ‘when life begins’ or ‘when it should be appropriately terminated,’ but it is important because it goes to the heart of what sets mankind apart. Creative expression is at the core of our humanness. Art is a distinctly human endeavor. We must have respect for it if we are to have any respect for the human race.

    These current defacements are just the beginning. Today, engineers with their computers can add color to black-and-white movies, change the soundtrack, speed up the pace, and add or subtract material to the philosophical tastes of the copyright holder. Tomorrow, more advanced technology will be able to replace actors with “fresher faces,” or alter dialogue and change the movement of the actor’s lips to match. It will soon be possible to create a new “original” negative with whatever changes or alterations the copyright holder of the moment desires…In the future it will become even easier for old negatives to become lost and be ‘replaced’ by new altered negatives. This would be a great loss to our society. Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten.”

    These nice words brought to you by George Lucas circa 1988. So to all the fanboiz who say the films belong to Lucas and he can do whatever he likes with them – well, according to 1988 George Lucas, no motion picture belongs to the creator once it has been diseminated to the public. At least, not in the sense that they can go back and start altering the original creation.

  6. I think the point of Mr. Martinez’s post has gotten a little lost on some of the commentors.

    For good or ill, George Lucas has decided to futz with his movies again. Whether that is his right is not what this discussion is about. What this post is about is the fact that some fans dissaprove of others getting upset about it and the utter lack of respect we have for one another if we don’t think it’s something worth getting distressed over.

    The very first comment completely missed the mark, calling those who were upset about the changes “infantile”.

    It is completely within your rights to think that it’s stupid to get riled up over something you percieve to be silly or incosequential. But this post is basically suggesting that you keep it to yourself because one day, you will have something changed on you that will be upset about, something that someone else will feel is “infantile”. Wouldn’t you appreciate it if the Internet kept their “get over it!!” to themselves?

  7. In my opinion, Lucas can mess with his films all he wants and create as many ‘director’s cuts’, extended editions, limited editions, etc. as he wants, AS LONG AS THE ORIGINAL FILMS ARE STILL AVAILABLE.  What annoys me is that I can’t find the version of the film that I watched as a child and rewatch it, cheesy effects and all.  I have to get the ‘improved’ versions.  And while this is Lucas’s project, my emotional response to the films, my love of the characters and story, songs, etc. is my own.  And I shouldn’t have to have those messed with.

    I think Martinez is right though, that there’s always someone who won’t understand your complaints because they don’t have the same emotional investment in whatever it is you’re complaining about.  Had I never seen Star Wars as a kid I wouldn’t care about the changes Lucas makes every time he rereleases the films.  I think the problem with Star Wars is that people become so passionate about it that they don’t ‘get over it’ within the acceptable time frame for ‘grief’.  Ie, people complain when it’s announced there will be new changes, then complain when they find out what the changes will be, then complain when they see the changes in the film, etc.  For those not emotionally invested in the films, this can get tiresome.  Hence the complaints of being ‘infantile’.

      

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