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What If I Had Total Control?

What If I Had Total Control?

Have you ever wondered why the new STAR WARS movies were so terrible? After all, they had the same director who made the 1970s/80s originals. George Lucas put together some pretty amazing films. Yet, just a couple of decades later, Lucas came out with a new trilogy that didn’t live up to to the originals. What changed?

The obvious answer, of course, is Jar Jar Binks. He definitely ranks as one of the worst decisions George Lucas ever made. Jar Jar is emblematic of the decadence of the STAR WARS franchise.

Still, I can’t pin the ruinous execution of the prequel trilogy to one horrible, misguided character choice. After all, Mr. Binks hardly has any role in Episodes II and III, yet both of those films were pale shadows of A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back.

To truly get a handle on why the new STAR WARS movies were so awful, we need to know something about the creative process that went into them. I recently learned in an amazing, 70-minute YouTube take-down of Episode I that George Lucas faced many challenges, restrictions, and setbacks during the production of the original movies. Because of technological, logistical, and economic limitations, George just couldn’t film the early movies the way he originally envisioned them.

This was probably a really good thing. After all, did you know that Luke Skywalker was originally supposed to be a cyborg? And that C-3PO was supposed to have a voice and personality like a used car dealer? Thank goodness George Lucas didn’t get his way about everything!

But in the more recent trilogy, he did. George had a huge budget, modern computer technology, and virtually unlimited creative license to do Episodes I-III just the way he wanted. Jar Jar Binks, soulless fight scenes, and a nonsensical plot is what we ended up with. Lucas created the new trilogy with virtually no check to his personal vision, and the result was a sterile mess of computer-generated cartoons.

None of this is terribly surprising. Most of us desire to be in control of our lives, and George Lucas is no exception. When he got the chance to exercise his creativity in the most unrestricted way possible he went for it. Who wouldn’t have?

But the results of Lucas’ unfettered creativity are a reminder of just how detrimental it can be when there is nothing and no one to challenge our assumptions. As much as I hate having my ideas questioned and my plans foiled, I should be profoundly grateful for the people and situations that upset my creative vision. In a world without obstacles to my own ideas, my creations would be just as goofy and lifeless as Episode I.

If I’m wise, I’ll practice gratitude for all the trials and difficulties that come my way. I’ll give thanks every time my plans are upset, my perfect vision thwarted. Because there is a better plan to be discovered, one that more fully integrates the wisdom and creativity of the people around me.

I am blessed when I’m forced to slow down, collaborate, and compromise with others. When we slow down and work together, we end up creating a world so much more beautiful than we could have on our own.

So, the next time I’m tempted by the desire for control, I’ll remember the lesson of Jar Jar Binks: Sometimes, the best thing I can hope for is some pushback.

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    • hmm? 🙂


        Only saw the ORIGINAL Star Wars (about a week after my son was born) but I am reminded of the advice “Be careful what you pray for…”

  • Great post! You’ve “connected some dots” for me today. Designers and other creatives who are truly productive, value constraints and limits: time, budget, or materials are examples. An unlimited budget, unlimited time, and unlimited materials nearly always result in terrible design and annoying “user experience” or function. To provide another movie reference, I think of Apollo 13, and the great creativity used by the NASA team, who saved the astronauts and brought them safely back to earth by “MacGyver-ing” a solution out of paperclips and styrofoam cups (and precious little else). When you can’t do what you’d like to do (or what you habitually do), you are forced to come up with something new, innovative, refreshing!
    I had not really thought about this in the context of spiritual life and experience. The transforming power of God can use any perceived obstacle or constraint to lead, guide, and draw out each person’s inner brilliance and glory.

  • Susan Chast

    Well, I enjoyed the idea of the character–but that doesn’t negate your point! My creative work suffers an every level without feedback and challenge.

    • Haha, I wondered who was going to push back on my Jar Jar trashing. 😛

  • Duncan Pugh

    Revenge of the Sith was pretty good!?

    • OK, I’ll grant that Episode III was entertaining. Probably as good as Return of the Jedi.

  • Tiffany Vail Miller

    Well said. Another example would be the original Jaws film. Steven Spielberg was beset by technical problems, and so had to show a lot less of the shark than he originally intended. The result was an amazingly suspenseful movie.