January 18, 2012

George Lucas is "moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff."

He's not going to make movies anymore? It seems to me he bowed out of movie-making a long time ago. But he's back and saying I'm not going to play anymore because movie executives weren't interested in the movie he made. Don't they know who he is?! Don't they care about about black people?! The movie's about the Tuskegee Airmen, and Lucas is acting as if a historically and racially important subject means that the movie is important and as if executives should bow down when a movie is important when there's no reason to think anything other than that they care about whether a whole lot of people want to see a movie and historical and racial importance is not what brings out the big crowds.

Lucas's whining is too funny. It was his "Star Wars" that ended the great movie period of the early 1970s and got the business focused on giant blockbusters. And now he's supposedly going to "to devote the rest of his life to what cineastes in the 1970s used to call personal films. They’ll be small in scope, esoteric in subject and screened mostly in art houses." Well, fine. I look forward to seeing more ironies pile up on top of each other.

Side question: Is the Tuskegee Airmen movie — "Red Tails" — any good?
All preview screenings are wildly optimistic celebrations of the possible. But this was different. This was a rally. “On Jan. 20,” an 89-year-old Tuskegee ace named Roscoe C. Brown Jr., told the crowd, “every African-American in this country ought to go see ‘Red Tails.’ ” DesirĂ©e Rogers, who is now C.E.O. of Johnson Publishing Company, said she was splashing “Red Tails” on the cover of Ebony. And Al Sharpton, sounding like a “Star Wars” fanboy in 1977, later insisted that “it’s probably one of the best movies I’ve ever seen!”
In other words, it's medicinal. It's medicine that "every African-American in this country" is supposed to take. The rich white man made it. Buy it!
He slipped into a kind of Socratic conversation with an imaginary studio head.

“I’m making it for black teenagers.”

“And you’re doing it as a throwback movie? You’re not going to do it as a hip, happening-now, music-video kind of movie?”

“No, that’s not a smart thing to do. There’s not really going to be a lot of swearing in it. There’s probably not going to be a huge amount of blood in it. Nobody’s head’s going to get blown off.”

“And you’re going to be very patriotic — you’re making a black movie that’s patriotic?”

“They have a right to have their history just like anybody else does,” Lucas said. “And they have a right to have it kind of Hollywood-ized and aggrandized and made corny and wonderful just like anybody else does. Even if that’s not the fashion right now.”
They have a right to their history... made into a craptastic Hollywood blockbuster? That is, you appropriated black history and absorbed it into the kind of overblown bullshit you made America love? This is all about George Lucas. It's not about rights for black people. It's about you, and if it's awful, it's because you made an awful movie. And you made the movies awful. And now you're going to flounce off and make art movies....

Please just go away.

46 comments:

EDH said...

George Lucas, meet Newt Gingrich.

The former should make a "historically important" movie about the latter.

Jay said...

They have a right to have their history just like anybody else does

And here I thought we had a common history.

Oh, and something tells me that the Tuskegee Airmen didn't stand on the deck of an Aircraft carrier arm-in-arm in a circle shouting "Who fight? We fight!" much as modern NFL players do.

john said...

I never knew he was so short.

BarryD said...

I'm sure that PBS will be happy to air the movie and sell it on DVD.

That's the point: the history is fascinating. People do have a right to their history, and the Tuskegee Airmen sure earned it. That doesn't mean that George Lucas has the right to make money off them, nor that he has the right to have his spec film distributed by a commercial film distributor.

Maybe it's a bad film. Maybe everyone in the business thinks it will cost them a lot of money, not make them any, to distribute it.

PBS, George. Other than Nova, I know that's sinking really, really low. But there you go.

Russ said...

My guess is studio execs weren't so interested in Lucas' movie because the last few he did were utter crap.

David said...

My dad, a very white guy, was in the 317th Fighter Group of 325th Fighter Squadron of USAAF in WW2. The trailer for this film would very have made him throw up. The notion of these guys giving a shout and answer cheer before going on a mission is ludicrous.

That said, all hats should be off to the Tuskegee Airmen but this film is not necessarily going to be their finest monument.

Expat(ish) said...

The funny thing is that the 99th was famous and quickly became the best pursuit and cover squadron in the ETO. Plenty to be proud of just there. And plenty of source for a great war movie.

-XC

PS - Read a great book "Just Americans" about the 100th Battalion (Separate) and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in the ETO. Amazing stuff.

BarryD said...

BTW if Lucas were really so interested in getting the story out, he'd be hawking the film to PBS already.

Gang-raping Indiana Jones has a price, George, and it goes beyond just being made fun of on South Park. Even Jesus and Buddha have been made fun of on South Park. This is the real price.

Scott M said...

RE: Red Tails

Hasn't this story been done before at least twice? A better question...in every single look at a historic black American first, be it debate teams, athletics, military units, or giant fucking storms bearing down on small fishing boats, there's always that idiot, stereotypical white guy that hates the valiant black guy simply for being black. We've seen it over and over and over again. Has Lucas figured out how to avoid this crutch?

Doubtful.

If Lucas feels hurt because of fan backlash over the horridly done prequels and his endless messing with his original trilogy, from Greedo shooting first to NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!, good. Apparently the backlash got through to him where none of his yes-man assistance could.

Remember that some of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time helped Lucas crip his original Star Wars story arc down into three workable storylines. There were equal parts genius and lunacy in the original story. Spielberg and others helped him keep the genius and weed out the nutty. He was on his own for the prequels and you see what we got.

The Drill SGT said...

Jay said...
They have a right to have their history just like anybody else does

And here I thought we had a common history.


Morgan Freeman beat you and Lucas to it. a classic 30 seconds on Race, History and America

Having said that, if Red Tails doesn't preach (and I'm expecting it does), I'd love the movie. The story of the 99th is inspiring for any American, young or old.

The movie? don't know yet. The effects look lame.

edutcher said...

Do we know if it's any good? I didn't see an actual review in the post.

That aside, Hollyweird does tend to market projects for majority black audiences with majority black casts and projects intended to appeal to whites or general audiences usually have one or two tokens.

Scott M said...

I never knew he was so short.

The Simpsons can pretty much answer all of life's questions. That one included.

Jay said...

Morgan Freeman beat you and Lucas to it. a classic 30 seconds on Race, History and America


Watching Wallace, earnest liberal, stagger and stammer on that was fantastic!

By the way, it is comical that Wallace thinks "Black History Month" combats racism.

Simon said...

He stopped making good movies in 1983, so who cares?

bagoh20 said...

I agree with Lucas about Blacks having a right to patriotic movies like the rest of us. They are fellow patriots, it's time we stop this paternalistic treatment, where they are some separate outside group that must be handled special because they just aren't like us. Bullshit! I love that idealized patriotic stuff, just like people like their idealized version of everything else. No, we don't have a right to decide that one group doesn't get it, especially if the reason is to idealize their race in our own terms which diminishes them. That's racism.

Andrea said...

I'm pretty sure the main audience for this well-meant, "inspirational" film will be young, hip SWPLs. Most black people seem to be like most other people in the world today: when it comes to movies they want cheesy love scenes and explosions, hopefully in the same movie. They don't want to be taught a lesson about some boring history stuff because they get that shoved on them at school.

The Drill SGT said...

David said...
My dad, a very white guy, was in the 317th Fighter Group of 325th Fighter Squadron of USAAF in WW2.


David, FYI, Squadrons are the smaller unit, so it's generally (in WWII) the xxx squadron of the yyy group of the zzz wing

The Drill SGT said...

Watching Wallace, earnest liberal, stagger and stammer on that was fantastic!

You want a white history month??

Wallace reels, ....I'm aaahhh Jewish

You want a Jewish history month???

No!

Well I don't either...

cassandra lite said...

"...And you made the movies awful. And now you're going to flounce off and make art movies...."

Amen, sister. Guaranteed that the dialogue will be cringeworthy, laced with stilted, noble-savage lines.

Scott M said...

David, FYI, Squadrons are the smaller unit, so it's generally (in WWII) the xxx squadron of the yyy group of the zzz wing

Not to mention the fact that there was no Air Force until 1947.

MayBee said...

I hope he finds a way to put food on the table.

grackle said...

I'm for any war movie that highlights patriotism instead of the usual Hollywood anti-patriotic liberal crap. I'll wait until I see it before I make a judgement.

Joe said...

Time for ranting about one of my pet peeves: when in battle, pilots didn't remove their air masks!

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

Correction: USAAF = United States Army Air Forces

(The last was plural.)

Cedarford said...

Jay - "Oh, and something tells me that the Tuskegee Airmen didn't stand on the deck of an Aircraft carrier arm-in-arm in a circle shouting "Who fight? We fight!"
===========
Something tells me you are right, as the highly overrated Tuskagee pilots never set foot on an aircraft carrier.

Sigivald said...

Scott said: Not to mention the fact that there was no Air Force until 1947.

Yeah, but David said "USAAF". Notice the second A.

So he got that right.

Scott M said...

So he got that right.

That is correct.

William said...

The stereotypes never change, but they hang the cardboard cutouts on different people. The old Hollywood stereotype of blacks being good natured and dim witted is now directed towards evangelical Christians. The Nazi super-villain with his diabolical intelligence and ruthless disregard for all that is decent and holy has now moved into the corporate hq of a major oil company.....I like watching brave men blow up things, and I'll probably see this movie. Lucas is very good at special effects, and in terms of explosions you'll probably get your money's worth.

Joe said...

(The Uncredentialed, Crypto Jew)

Does Jar-Jar Binks make an appearance…”Ohh, Meesa- gonna shoot sum Nazi’s”

Ace of Spades says it best, it is bad BECAUSE George Lucas made it….

Beyond that there are fanboi objections to be made…they fly the P-40-at one point, and it’s made out that this is a crap-tacular bird given to them because they are just Blacks. The reality was that for the Mediterranean Theatre well into 1943 the P-40 was a frontline aircraft, for the USAAF and the RAF. They had the P-40 because it was a good bird for that time and place and it’s what we had.

Mostly it’ll be bad because George Lucas made it.

Joe said...

(The Uncredentialed, Crypto Jew)

If you want to read a good book on Blacks/Africans in US Service, read the novel 761. It concerns the 761st Medium Tank Battalion, a “Coloured” unit…very good, the first 40-80 pages are amazing: if you want to truly understand what happens when an 8.8cm AP round does to the human carapace, or if you want to see a totally alien world, when the protagonist journeys into the US Army’s rear areas, armed as if he were journeying into a hostile land….which in many ways he was. It’s a world that simply is unbelievable, that any society could hold the assumptions, prejudices, and attitudes of the US Army, in that era.

damikesc said...

So, is Lucas trying to kill art house movies?

MadisonMan said...

Lucas first heard the story of the Tuskegee Airmen from a friend, the photographer George Hall, in 1988.

So I learned of them first. Strange that it took him so long.

That NYTimes article is ridiculous.

Scott M said...

So, is Lucas trying to kill art house movies?

If he's going to try and make art house movies, yes. He's going to try and make a Star Wars live-action tv series next year. He may well destroy television for good.

(in reality, though, he's supposedly not involved with the show and it takes place on the periphery of the SW world. It could be decent...they should let Frank Darabont direct...I hear he's free)

William said...

Some years back there was a movie made about the Alamo starring Billy Bob Thornton. It was, perhaps, more historically accurate than the John Wayne version, and for just that reason it bombed at the box office. The myth of the Alamo has a great deal more appeal and, one could argue, truth than the reality of that battle. I have a feeling that this movie will be gaudy with crapola, but maybe it will be entertaining and create a viable myth.

t-man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Drill SGT said...

Joe said...if you want to truly understand what happens when an 8.8cm AP round does to the human carapace, or if you want to see a totally alien world, when the protagonist journeys into the US Army’s rear areas, armed as if he were journeying into a hostile land…

In AOBC (Armor Officer Basic Course), they showed (now days, not so much) some film of a goat tied in a tank turret before and after being hit by a 105mm Armor Piercing, Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) round. The upgunned verion of your WWII 88mm shell.

The 105 round, which looks like a large heavy dart, goes in one side of the turret at a speed of a mile/second punching a 2 inch hole through 8 inches of plate steel, and out the other side putting a 3 inch hole in the turret again. If that doesn't scare the crap out of you, the shell and the shock wave takes the goat out through the 3 inch hole as well.

In tanking, if it can be seen, it can be hit, if it can be hit, it can be killed

Steel on target!

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m900.htm

Oclarki said...

What made the original Star Was movies so good, was their use of scale models for the space battles. The over use of cgi has created movies that don't have nearly the depth or realism of older mvies that used real physical objects.

William said...

I think the scrap metal dealer, the one who cares for and exploits young Luke in the first Star Wars prequel, was an allusion to the Fagin character in Oliver Twist. So far as I know, no one ever claimed that this character was anti-Semitic. I think Lucas was aiming to present the archetype of a stereotype in this as well as the Jar Jar Blinks character. Some days you paint the archetype and some days the stereotype paints you.

Thorley Winston said...

He's not going to make movies anymore?

I don’t care if Lucas (and Spielberg for that matter) never make another movie – I just wish they’d quit going back and running the ones that they already made.

EMD said...

Amen, sister. Guaranteed that the dialogue will be cringeworthy, laced with stilted, noble-savage lines.


Lucas didn't write the story nor the screenplay, which is a Godsend.

Although, Aaron McGruder of "Boodocks" fame is co-writer with the book author John Ridley, so you can direct your ire his way.

Lucas did not direct this, either. As far as I can tell, there are not a lot of "sitting on couches talking about boring diplomatic shit" going on, which is Lucas's trademark.

There is hope yet.

Eric said...

every African-American in this country ought to go see ‘Red Tails.’

When Malcolm X came out they were marketing it the same way. "If you're black you have to see it." Some of the local school districts were browbeaten into doing a class field trip to the local movie theater.

Blacks are, what, about thirteen percent of the population? Manipulate most of them to see your movie and you can make a lot of money.

cassandra lite said...

"Lucas didn't write the story nor the screenplay, which is a Godsend.

Although, Aaron McGruder of "Boodocks" fame is co-writer with the book author John Ridley, so you can direct your ire his way."

As a participant in this industry, I think I can safely say that Ridley's contributions will not overcome McGruder's didactics, resulting in cod-liver-oil dialogue: It's good for you, and you'll like it, dammit!

Revenant said...

an allusion to the Fagin character in Oliver Twist. So far as I know, no one ever claimed that this character was anti-Semitic

I'm not sure if you're joking or not, but in case you're not: Fagin is widely considered one of the most famous and influential anti-Semitic stereotypes in English literature, and has been since the 19th century.

William said...

My bad, Revenant. I was referring to the scrap dealer in the Lucas movie, not to Fagin. The scrap dealer is based on Fagin.

ken in sc said...

I think black history month is an unjustified display of favoritism to one particular group, however, as a high school and middle school history teacher, I had to teach something about black history every February. I always picked the Tuskegee Airmen. Their story is one of the most inspiring stories in American History. It does not matter what race you are. It makes you proud to be an American. They never lost a bomber they escorted. The Nazi pilots were genuinely afraid of them. And the P-51 is a marvelous airplane.