“Welcome back, my master. How was the singles cruise?” Darth Vader asks the Emperor as he waddles off of his spacecraft. The Emperor answers, “Well, let’s just say there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, which was confusing, since it was raining chicks!”
The terrifying, tragic exchange above appears in the trailer for “Star Wars Detours,” an animated television series scheduled to begin airing next year. Writers and producers from shows including “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “The Backyardigans” and “Robot Chicken” are collaborating on the series.
It then ought not come as a surprise that Lucasfilm, the owner of the Star Wars franchise and the company behind this sadistic animated undertaking, will be adopted into none other than the Disney corporation, which this year released such cinematic gems as “Frankenweenie” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta!”
Disney announced its $4.05 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm last month. We, the global fans of Star Wars, are afraid that our franchise and story will become Disney-fied, a term we use to denote the shameless merchandizing and soulless commercialization that results from associating with the titan corporation.
Star Wars was about good and evil. It was about growing up thinking you’re alone, but realizing you have the ability to fight for what matters. And now, Star Wars has fallen to the dark side — a money-making scheme that takes our story’s heroes and puts their heads on PEZ dispensers.
Consider Lucasfilm’s Star Wars branding initiatives over the last three and a half decades. They include video games, books, comics, TV shows, action figures, Halloween costumes, theme parks rides, Chewbacca slippers, Lego Star Wars advent calendars and the Jar Jar Binks toothbrush I had when I was 9. It takes a perverse imagination to guess what more commercial damage Disney might manage to do to one far away galaxy’s political conflict.
Star Wars as we know and love it ended with small fuzzy creatures called Ewoks, from the forest moon of Endor, dying in self-sacrifice during an epic battle. It was sentimental, it was powerful and it allowed us to imagine how our heroes would live out their love stories while leading the Galactic Republic in peace.
But Disney has announced its intention to release the first installment of a third Star Wars film trilogy in 2015, to be followed by another film every two or three years after the trilogy’s completion. Luke, Han and Leia’s fates will no longer be for us to decide.
Some more generous fans have expressed hope that a veteran sequel-maker like Disney might be able to save Star Wars by returning it to its original cinematic medium. But faith in Disney to restore the dignity of sequels seems misplaced: we’re talking about the company that thought there ought to be another Atlantis movie. My guess is that Episode VII will feature Han and Leia’s daughter’s training in the Force, but we should consider ourselves lucky if we see anything short of an eventual Episode XIX: Prom on Tatooine.
We, the loyal fans, fear we are already on our way there. What was once the Jedi (the good guys) against the Sith (the bad guys) has devolved into a cartoon television series. In “Detours,” Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo do ’70s dance moves in a disco-ball Death Star to a dubstep remix of the iconic Star Wars theme, while a fist-pumping storm trooper calls out, “All my troopers in the party say yeah!”
Of course, the Star Wars premise has been continuously remarketed since 1977. Rather than let the Jedi era come to a dignified close, George Lucas has given his creation to a notoriously shameless label in order to be further manipulated. As Yoda tells a young Anakin in “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” “The fear of loss is a path to The Dark Side … train yourself to let go.” I guess Lucas belongs with the Sith.
Helen Rouner is a freshman in Davenport College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This column is part of the News’ Friday Forum. Click here to continue.