The People vs. George Lucas – Is fandom replacing religion?

810AE595-99ED-4299-B324-D343ED6AFC61.jpgThe Book of Job is possibly the most interesting and controversial story in the Old Testament. In it, we see God agree to let the devil inflict all kind of hardships on Job, to prove that God has servants completely faithful to him.

The majority of the book sees Job questioning the suffering he is undertaking as his friends try to find out the reason for what’s going on: claiming Job must have done something to deserve this.

The book is interesting because it sees Job daring to question God as to the reason for his suffering, for which his friends deride him and accuse him of heresy. However, at the end of the book, Job, who does question but never abandons God is given back everything that has been taken from him and more besides.

This idea of ‘questioning God’ makes for a great story: as considering the nature of our creator tells us a great deal about ourselves and our view of the universe.

Nowadays, there’s no doubt that in the west at least, people’s knowledge of the bible and interest in God is waining. However, the People Versus George Lucas exposes something threatening to take the place of religion: fandom.

One of the lines that spoke out to me in the movie was when a fan declares (and I’m paraphrasing here): “God can’t be that great, cos he didn’t create Star Wars.” This one line exposes one of the key truths of this documentary, which is that for many people their relationship with Star Wars and its creator George Lucas is very much like Job’s with God as they are forced to question the fallibility or otherwise of the man who created the universe they hold most dear.

The movie is split into four parts: the rise of Lucas and people’s unwavering belief in him; his decision to release changed special editions of the trilogy in the late 90s to the outrage of many fans; the release of the much-maligned prequels; and the hope people still have in him.

938D7F10-43CF-4CE4-A311-643D99EFF444.jpgLucas’ comparison to god is not the only one used. Some fans compare him to an abusive husband – they keep getting hurt by him but still go back; others compare their relationship to him to that of a father: someone who’s advice and view of the world in the original trilogy has had a profound impact on how they have lived their adult lives. The director in the Q&A finally compared him to Citizen Kane: someone so contradictory that it’s impossible to pin them down.

In many ways this movie is a counselling session for Star Wars fans. As they speak of their love for the movies, their hurt over the special editions where “Greebo shoots first”, and their disappointment over the prequels it feels very much like this venting and geeking out is all part of some funny, emotional and slightly tragic group therapy session.

It’s easy to laugh at some of the more extreme examples of people’s wild emotions towards Star Wars and everything it stands for. However, it’s obvious this is a movie made for people who share, or at least understand, that level of commitment to the franchise.

If Star Wars is their bible, The People vs. George Lucas is their Job: through their pain of suffering trying to understand the mind of their ‘creator’.

The level of fandom seen in this film raises some important questions about the society we live in and its reaction to great creators like George Lucas. Is fandom an offshoot of religion, as it speaks to people’s desire to believe in something and celebrate its worth? What can we learn about people’s reaction to Star Wars: both the original trilogy and its prequels? Is this level of commitment a slightly tragic but ultimately harmless phenomenon? Or does it speak to some kind of failure with society, that the only world people can really believe in is in a “Galaxy Far Far Away?”

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