by Mary Sheridan
It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears
It’s a world of hopes, and a world of fears
There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all!
~ “It’s a Small World”
When the news broke that Disney was giving George Lucas $4 billion in exchange for his Lucasfilm empire, it sounded like someone’s crazy take on Han Solo’s payment for transporting Luke and Obi-Wan mixed with a weird reversal of the Rebel defeat of Emperor Palpatine. What’s the strangest twist? This time, good guys are taking over… from other good guys.
Social media boards lit up like Rockefeller Center in the holiday season. It was impossible to keep up with tens of thousands of tweets. Within ninety minutes of the news release, subjects related to The Acquisition became the top six trends on Twitter’s worldwide list.
For Star Wars fans, Earth’s axis splintered into points of light resembling bursts of laser fire that scattered randomly at different targets. We knew that The Maker was going to place his galaxy into the care of another, but The Acquisition sent the worldwide Star Wars community into a massive horizontal spin.
George’s replacement is the multi-talented Kathleen Kennedy. Her hands will have a different feel for everything that they touch – including all that Star Wars fandom holds dear. I tried to envision this talented woman capably in charge at Disney-Lucasfilm, but a shadowy figure loomed behind her, striking fear throughout the universe. This was a presence darker and more powerful than Sidious and Vader combined, more lethal than Skywalker’s saber blade. That’s right: it’s Mickey Mouse, once known as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Long the Disney symbol of wholesome sweetness and light, the little rat began to attract suspicion. He was too cute, too sugar-coated, always fairy-dusted, giggling, singing, dancing, smiling, and waving. Mickey Mouse, of red shorts and yellow clown shoes fame and surrounded by a gaggle of friends, has pwned the children of the free world for several generations. On Acquisition Day, I saw him through changed eyes.
I envisioned Stormtroopers lining up to receive their new standard-issue mouse-eared helmets. They were greeted by anthropomorphized cartoons of assorted wildlife, a lop-eared dog, three nefarious-looking middle-aged sisters holding pumpkins, and one very tiny, lonely-looking deer fawn. Puppies cried out in the distance and were suddenly silenced. Someone whispered the evil name, Cruella De Vil. Battle-hardened Stormtroopers gasped.
I felt a slender hand clasp mine. Standing beside me was a one-dimensional raven-haired girl with perfect skin, a ribbon on her hair, an odd dress with a tall collar, and songbirds fluttering around her head. “Don’t worry, dear,” she said, her voice tinkling like tiny bells. “Stay with us and life will be wonderful!” Her feathered friends chattered and nodded excitedly in agreement. The world seemed enchantingly beautiful, until a voice in my head cried, “Run, Luke, run!” It was Obi-Wan. He could call me “Luke” anytime he wanted, as long as he was calling me back.
The songbirds faded away, the girl disappeared, and I found myself staring at the familiar models of Artoo-Detoo, C-3PO, and Yoda that stand guard on my desk, always.
It was a dream, a nightmare. It had to be.
I looked at my computer screen.
DISNEY BUYS LUCASFILM FOR $4B
It was really happening.
There is no denying that George Lucas built Lucasfilm into a company of remarkable influence and global importance, yet Disney is the undisputed royal court of the entertainment world. This was a take-over of galactic proportions. Our questions had questions.
Could the powerful innovators at Lucasfilm be swallowed whole by the Disney behemoth?
Would our beloved franchise become unrecognizable?
Would our pre-Acquisition collectibles be worth more, or less?
Will the SciFi Plot Police start pounding on doors, repossessing Star Wars EU novels?
Would Robert Iger give Kathleen Kennedy a corner office with a view of the fireworks?
Like many fans, my thoughts were in chaos.
It took less than a Google minute to put a name on my apprehensive and confused state: a common problem known as metathesiophobia. The afflicted have destabilizing fear of change. The effects can be temporary, or permanent.
A flash on the Twitter scroll caught my eye: “21053 New Tweets.”
DISNEY TO MAKE NEW STAR WARS TRILOGY
NEW STAR WARS MOVIES STARTING 2015
First a trilogy, then a movie every two to three years…
I remember one moment of clarity before I blacked out. After paying George for Lucasfilm, Disney could not possibly have enough billions left in their vault to lure Harrison Ford into filming a two-second cameo.
Flash-forward three days:
By now I’ve decided that my primal waking dream about the one-dimensional girl and her songbirds was a traumatic anomaly.
I have grown accustomed to Lucasfilm’s artistic vision and George Lucas’s unique leadership, but my imagination could not relate to Disney. My childhood was not filled with their stories and characters. I was out of my depth trying to understand why others were excited by them.
Then Rebel Leader Leia Organa, now labeled “the new Disney Princess,” appeared on the web.
The cartoon image of the new Leia went viral. With her blaster rifle at the ready, she stands at the head of a group of Disney’s most famous female characters. Leia looked like a real woman in charge. The others appeared bemused, uncertain, bored, unbelievably happy, or unreasonably trusting – as if they had no idea that Sith Lords could be hiding in the forest. If dark side Force users did appear, Leia would be left to take care of business while the other ladies made tea. These were the type of quintessential Disney characters I’d heard about. What I couldn’t get past the thought that if “Disney Princess” Leia was really taking the lead, she’d arm her new sisters with blasters and train them to leave their exceedingly wholesome personas behind.
There was no evidence that even hinted at such activity.
Was Leia – and, by association, Star Wars – a simple add-on to the Disney image? Did she symbolize real change, or was this a token appearance designed to ease the transition to a different, more Disney-esque Star Wars?
Was Leia the victim of a misguided spell by that hapless Sorcerer’s Apprentice?
Or perhaps she took a bite of a poisoned apple?
Even I found my lack of faith disturbing.
I stared deeply into my blank computer screen as if it was a crystal ball.
What I saw wasn’t likeable. I was allowing The Acquisition to suck the life out of me, and being negative about it was dragging others down as well.
I had over-reacted to the Momentous News based on very little information. I was instantly terrified of the worst possible outcome – the loss of Star Wars as we know it – and pretty much shouted absurdities about it based on supposition and rumor. Nothing that I said or did was constructive.
I was afraid. I thought that my dreams for the future of Star Wars might vanish. I hoped that my connections with a community of friends I have come to know through the franchise would not meet an unhappy, untimely, unexpected end, but feared that could happen if the galaxy far, far away imploded.
It really was a bit over-the-top, now that I see it all in print.
None of these reactionary fears had any basis in fact.
The truth is that no one can take away thirty-five years of Star Wars fan experiences, not a wacky mouse, not evil stepsisters, nor even Prince Charming. The memories – and memorabilia – belong to us.
I actually spent the first seventy-two post-Acquisition hours struggling with a jumble of emotions that boiled down to two concerns: a sense of sadness, and an irrational feeling that a huge piece of my life was gone forever.
Saying a virtual “goodbye” to George Lucas was unfortunately real and definitely sad. I am sure that he is ready to retire. We know that he has impossibly grand and generous plans to oversee. George will continue to be the man who dreams big and inspires others to do the same. He is, and always will be, The Maker.
There were actually no losers among the deal-brokers, beneficiaries, or extras in The Acquisition. Disney executives are undoubtedly happy to add one of the largest, longest-running, most successful franchises in entertainment history to its family and can only benefit by creating a successful future for Star Wars. George can step back with his company’s resources assured and knowing that he has placed his life’s work in excellent hands that he personally selected. Lucasfilm will continue to create, and best of all, will be making more Star Wars movies. Fans are both nervous and excited, but in two short years, we will be sitting in darkened theatres around the world ready to watch something none of us ever expected to see.
My fears ease as the shock subsides and possibilities are imagined, but now I sense another presence beside me. A chubby hand in a white glove – with only four digits – is my newest hand-holder. He whispers something conspiratorially, looking hopefully at my expression. “Just so that we understand each other,” I say, “maybe a T-shirt but I will never wear one of those mouse ear hats – or sing that darned song.”
Naturally, the chorus begins another cycle in my head.
The Acquisition is the start of a new hyperspace trip. I think an official reassurance that Leia’s hair buns won’t be reinvented as round black things on the top of her head is in order. Otherwise, I am willing to give Kennedy and Disney the chance to prove themselves with Star Wars. In fact, I would support them in any way possible as they attempt to do what everyone thought was impossible.
Luke Skywalker: “I don’t believe it.”
Yoda: “That is why you fail.”
~ The Empire Strikes Back
Many years ago, George Lucas asked us to do this, and millions responded. Today, I choose to believe that Kathleen Kennedy will be a fine leader for the Star Wars universe.
“A dream is a wish your heart makes…In dreams you will lose your heartaches…
Have faith in your dreams…if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true.”
This, too, is a big part of being a Star Wars fan: creativity and innovation. Remember that Disney has built an incredible following by making dreams come true.
In what way are those two ideals not compatible?
The Star Wars community has always believed in George Lucas’s vision. If we stop believing now, then we devalue everything that he created with Lucasfilm – most of all, Star Wars. No, we cannot change what has happened. Yes, new Star Wars movies will be different. The franchise will have grown and changed by the time we see George’s galaxy on the big screen again, but change isn’t necessarily bad.
The biggest, most impossible dream in fandom is almost guaranteed to come true:
We will see Artoo and Threepio again.
You have the solemn Oath of Gossip from a tiny blue Disney songbird on that.
And I believe that the Force will be with us, always.
Mary is a retired Registered Nurse who specialized in Trauma and Emergency medicine. Science Fiction, Fantasy, and comic books top her list of interests, with Star Wars dozens of parsecs ahead of the pack. Mary likes to dabble in multimedia creative expression and also strives to become a better writer. A professional horsewoman for many years, she continues to ride regularly.