“White slavers” — George Lucas actually had the guts (or stupidity, depending on your point of view) to go there, and as many expected, he has since issued a much-needed apology.
As you likely know by now, the comments were made in a November interview with Charlie Rose, and were aimed directly at the new owners of the Star Wars franchise, Disney.
Quite expectedly, the backlash was severe enough to warrant an apology and a complete 180 from the creator of Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
To call a company that had just paid out $4.26 billion “white slavers” for wanting to use their own take on the franchise was particularly harsh, but using the “white slavers” line at all was what really incensed people against him. By using lines like this to describe such a dispute, Lucas was essentially equating movie executives to the harsh practice of buying and selling people, then stripping them of dignity and humanity.
That’s what “white slavers” actually did. They didn’t pay their slaves billions of dollars for the “right” to whip them, work them, and kill them. Slaves got nothing but grief and inhumanity for their troubles.
Lucas, on the other hand, received billions of dollars in compensation that he could then apply to whatever new movie or television show that he wants to make.
Evidently, he thought so, too — or was at least made to think so — and issued these comments in response.
The BBC notes that Lucas admitted to misspeaking and that he “used a very inappropriate analogy.”
“I have been working with Disney for 40 years and chose them as the custodians of Star Wars because of my great respect for the company and Bob Iger’s leadership,” Lucas said.
“Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise. … I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks. … Most of all I’m blown away with the record-breaking blockbuster success of the new movie and am very proud of JJ and Kathy.”
In the Charlie Rose interview, reported on here by Deadline, George Lucas sounded much more bitter about it all, commenting that Disney “wanted to do a retro movie.”
Lucas felt that, unlike with every Star Wars film that he’s ever worked on, Disney didn’t go out of their way to make each one completely different, with “different planets, with different spaceships, make it new,” he said.
“They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway, but if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble, because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that any more,” Lucas acknowledged, before moving into the last part of the interview (aka the part that got him in trouble).
“When you break up with somebody … You have to put it behind you and it’s a very, very, very hard thing to do. These are my kids … All the Star Wars films. I loved them, I created them, I’m very intimately involved in them. I sold them to the white slavers that take these things.”
It will be interesting in the coming days to see if Star Wars fans are willing to forgive George Lucas for “going there” with his thoughts on selling the saga. While his statement of clarification attempted to repair some of the damage, many feel it was too much of an about-face to be sincere.
But what do you think, readers? Did the “white slavers” comment from George Lucas anger you? Sound off in the comments section.