Re: attn jms: Star Wars DVDs - Your opinion on who "owns" a story

 Posted on 9/25/2004 by to

>So my purely abstract question to you is - do the fans or consumers of a
>story (in any media) ever really have a right to complain about stuff like

Unfortunately, this is a whole bunch of questions in one...and the answer to
just about all of them is yes-and-no.

Do fans have a right to complain? Absolutely. I get buckets of it...some of
it quite well founded, some of it arguable, but I only tend to argue on points
of fact and logic, NOT taste...because you can't argue taste. If somebody just
doesn't like a book or show of mine, that's their right. Lots of folks like just leaves me cold for reasons I probably could never qualify.
Different strokes and like that.

The larger question is, once something enters the public consciousness, who
"owns" it, and what comes of changing it?

Ultimately, the creator of a given work owns it, in some cases outright
legally, in other cases morally and ethically. WB *owns* B5...but it's *my*
show. Fans of a given form can purchase that work, can give their opinions and
reactions to it, but they do not *own* it any more than the audience in a
symphony owns Ode to Joy.

Then there is the side-issue of what happens when you cange something after it
enters the collective consciousness. In the B5 situation, I re-did The
Gathering...some people liked the new version better than the original, some
preferred the first one. (In most cases, it was what people saw the first
time. Somebody once said, "Patriotism is at its core the love of the food you
ate as a child.")

It's your right as a creator to make those changes...and the right of the
audience to pink you if they don't work...though again "work" is subejctive. I
think the re-edited Gathering works better...your mileage may vary, as it

In the case of Star's George Lucas' baby. He owns it, morally,
ethically and to a large extent legally. He can re-edit it to his heart's
content, that's his right. Some will like it better, some worse, but that's
just the way it goes.

Subjectively, I prefer the original Star Wars over the re-done one because
there's something about the pacing in the special edition that feels...slower
to me, less dynamic, less involving. But is it *really* that way, or is it
that way only in comparison to the way it *used to be* and the way part of my
brain *expects it to be*?

George says this is the film the way he wanted it to be, but couldn't do it
originally, and for me that's the end of the discussion. It's his baby, and he
has to be happy with it. I may or may not like its latest haircut, but then it
ain't my kid.


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