June 10, 2024

How Disney and Kathleen Kennedy bought Star Wars from George Lucas–then stole it from the fans

In an apparent act of betrayal, a woman back-roomed a deal for one of the most iconic movie franchises in history. She then stole its heart and legacy from the existing fan base.

Full stop: I am not a true Star Wars fan in the sense that I do not revel in the extended universe, purchase merchandise, or attend fan expos. I am however, a huge fan of the first film, which I saw on the second day it was projected onto a screen, driving into NYC from Connecticut to catch it at an afternoon matinee.

This was not because of the hype that followed the release, but because I had read the novelization a couple of months prior. Not a lot of people know that Star Wars was actually available in book form before it saw light as a movie.

I saw Star Wars twice more in the theaters, and many people I knew, most of whom would hardly be considered rabid movie goers, saw it more than once. Even my mother.

Why? It was fun, it was positive, it was cathartic, given…

The times

Many people today don’t understand the state of the United States and its psyche at the time when Star Wars was released. Hollywood was at its cynical, dreary worst and had been for over a decade.

The U.S. was still recovering emotionally and spiritually from the Viet Nam war, the first gas crisis, and Watergate, and was then suffering under a well-meaning, but ultimately depressing president. The cold war was still in full bloom, and the prognosis for the future in general just seemed… Well, less than promising.

Then along came Star Wars: a simple, upbeat, you-can-do-it, good-defeats-evil tale with vivid, likeable (or hate-able) characters set (well, sort of…) in a future where we obviously hadn’t annihilated ourselves with nuclear weapons. It was a breath of fresh air and that was as much the reason for its success as the quality of the film itself.

I won’t dwell on the subsequent Star Wars history, but there were two more films, which if not as magical as the original, were pretty darn close. Ewoks or no. Then in the late ’90’s/2000’s we got the prequels. Again, perhaps not as magical (it turns out that dialog and characterization matter) as the original trio, but still identifiable as and congruent with Star Wars.

Which brings us to Kathleen Kennedy and Disney Star Wars, which I hesitate even to moniker Star Wars as it’s simply not the same thing. The tone is different, the morality is different, the characters are different, the logic is different, etc. The heart has been removed, the spirit stolen and replaced with, something cheap and often mean.

Another confession. The only Disney Star Wars movie I’ve seen in its entirely is the Force Awakens. I’ve fast forwarded through the others just to see if anything has changed in the meantime, but I was convinced that Star Wars was never going to be the same after Han was portrayed as a deadbeat dad and then killed by his own son in the Force Awakens.

When the latter event occurred, the entire theater gasped and didn’t bat an eye at my own personal tirade of profanity. I think my “WTF” was accepted simply because I was expressing what many were inwardly feeling.

The Force Awakens was astoundingly tone deaf, not to mention asleep at the wheel. I mean, who the heck brings back a renowned franchise, then fails to reunite the three beloved heroes (Han, Leia and Luke), at the same time guaranteeing said reunion will never occur. If there is such a thing as high treason against cinema, this was it.

Not in a million years was I expecting what I saw, and from the diminishing attendance of episodes eight and nine, at lot of others weren’t expecting it either. The only reason the Force Awakens made 2 billion dollars is that just about everyone else was thinking old school Star Wars was back. If I’d known what they did to the Solo character, I’d never have attended. I’m probably not alone.

Then, in what is the second most brain-dead decision in Hollywood history (after the non-reunion), Disney/Kennedy decided to release the Han Solo origin story six months after they destroyed then killed off the character in miserable fashion. Predictably, for anyone with half a brain, it lost money. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s been downhill from there.

The Liar, the Bitch, and the Androphobe

Lest there be any doubt, “who the heck” failed to reunite the original cast and destroyed the essential Star Wars concept was — Kathleen Kennedy. She back-roomed the deal with Disney and in interviews she espoused her intent to preserve Star Wars as George Lucas envisioned it. Subsequent events might give one the impression that said interview and her reassurances to George were bald-faced lies.

Then in a revolting piece of betrayal, she took the magic and turned it into pedestrian fare at best, and emasculating feminist garbage at worst. Forget the writers and directors, they were following a master plan.

Why she did this, I can only guess. But said guess includes liberal doses of jealousy, spite, arrogance, plus a severe lack of empathy for anyone not like her. Her actions are telltales of a small, petty person who imagines themselves great — despite all evidence to the contrary..

Virtually everything Star Wars-related since Disney acquired it has been of the same ilk — with the exception of The Mandalorian season one which I watched after hearing it was safe to go back in the water. By midway through Mandalorian season two, however, that show was reverting to Disney form as well.

Gone was the uber-competent, newly compassionate bounty hunter with no name, and in his place was an increasingly struggling, often bumbling, near half-wit who needed to be saved every other episode — a recurring fate with male characters in Disney Star Wars.

Male characters are now overshadowed by females in every Star Wars property. The pretense being that these are “strong women”. Perhaps in a lesbian fever dream, but what they really are, are male characters being played by women — poorly. Anyone with experience of the real world knows that. Sadly, the doesn’t include anyone currently living in Hollywood.

Leia was the last truly strong woman portrayed in Star Wars. She knew her strengths, utilized them, and and didn’t try to compete with men at their own game or treat them as inferiors. She had character, brains, and skills, but also humor, compassion, love, respect, etc. You know. A real quality human being, not a cardboard caricature.

It didn’t have to be this way

The worst aspect of all this is that Star Wars would be in better shape today if Disney had never produced anything. You can’t unsee what they’ve put out, and it takes a while to get over it. I don’t have quite the same unbridled love for the originals, knowing what follows.

I can only imagine what those who have suffered through every new bit of Disney Star Wars must feel now. A New Hope springs eternal, I suppose. If you love it, bless you, but it sucks for everyone else and the box office and streaming numbers show it.

For the fans of the originals, it’s more or less like someone went through their family album, defaced all the pictures, then added a bunch of porn. At best, Kennedy’s actions were clueless and severely lacking in empathy, at worst — malevolent.

The old guard characters could’ve been ushered out with respect rather than portrayed as corrupted shadows of their former selves. That choice was available, so…

Kathleen, for the generations of Star Wars creators and fans whose memories and faith you stomped on — shove it where the sun don’t shine!