The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom.
I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.
And I just want to grab him by the shoulders and shake him. Do I even need to address what's wrong with . . . ? Oh, I'd better . . .
Shooting someone before he obviously intends to shoot you is not shooting someone in cold blood. If we're going to be generous, we could say that Solo was fighting a little dirty, which would be in character. I mean, it's a character establishing moment. But, gods, not--I can't believe I'm even--GGRYGHNGHH!!! Lucas? The fuck is wrong with you?
Oh, and that's just part of it. It's not just that he's saying Han shooting first is cold blooded, it's that he's saying Greedo had always shot first and it's just bad editing that somehow obscures this. AUGH. In that case, your real editor was a very benevolent deity or ghost who did us all a huge fucking favour. But your ego just couldn't handle giving control over to a happy accident, huh?
On the other side of the coin to-day, I want to say I dearly, dearly love Alan Moore. Not just because he's a great writer, but because of statements like this where he talks about how the comics industry infringes on artistic integrity. As Moore says, this is a problem throughout entertainment media, but so rarely do you hear someone actually acknowledge publicly what's plain as day because their mouths are taped up by contracts everyone signs because the impression has been generated that it's the Thing to Do. Moore knows better, and oh, how I love this quote;
I thought about it for a while--I could perhaps sue, although I suspect DC would be very comfortable with that . . . They have a whole battery of lawyers who could continue to fight this case for decades. And it’s not like I’m after money. It’s always been about the dignity and integrity of the work. I just want them not to do something. There’s no point in wasting resources for decades, when effectively, if there’s a legal case, I’d be prohibited from speaking about it, which DC is more worried about.
Just the simple fact of someone having more faith in direct communication with the people than in the legal system pleases me unspeakably. And I believe he's right. Oh, love this man.
So how do I let my stance on George Lucas stand next to my stance on Alan Moore? Well, at the end of the day, I do think Lucas ought to have control over his creations. Though I don't think artistic integrity is as simple as saying it's about an artist having absolute control over his work. A lot of being an artist is more about seeing what exists and arranging it than about creating something from scratch. One can see this in the fact that Watchmen is itself a commentary on superhero comics, with characters loosely based on DC superheroes. The problem is when the heavy, machine hand gets involved. Lucas doesn't want Han to shoot first because it's too morally ambiguous. Lucas feels that maintaining creative control means knowing exactly how everything in the story adds up to a specific impact. And this, as Nietzsche observed (I'm still reading Birth of Tragedy), wasn't just anti-Dionysian but anti-art. And Nietzsche says part of Euripides' problem was that he allowed his internal critic, generated from his perception of other critics' opinions, have too much impact on his work.
An artist needs to stay wary of philosophies that say there's an algorithm, a way Things are Done.