|Star Wars owned by the Empire|
The talk of a public domain insurgency has been a hot topic for quite some time now. With films like RIP: A Remix Manifesto and other documentaries, the word is spreading fast: We need our culture back. Now. When a story like Star Wars becomes ingrained in our mental/emotional world, we feel as if we have a stake in our culture. We don't want to deprive our artists from their well-earned money. But let's face it, after fifty years and fifty billion worth of paraphernalia, maybe the work should be handed over to us, the people, where it belongs, ad infinitum. Just to reiterate: Artists should make an insane amount of money with their profits. But after fifty years and fifty billion dollars later, shouldn't it be given back to the people who made it so big in the first place?
Lucas & Shakespeare & Co.
Star Wars, like Shakespeare, deserves a place in the public trust rather than the film art markets of Hollywood. It's not a futile dream. Although they've changed the copyright acts to never free Mickey Mouse, we can still fight, as a group, to keep our culture alive and diverse, especially since the large studios repeatedly fail at doing this. Which brings us to a scenario which would have changed the world, a missed opportunity from a lovable old man who wanted exactly $4.05 billion dollars to donate it back to charity. Honourable, of course, and well-deserved. But a missed opportunity nonetheless.
Imagine if Star Wars became public domain. It would experience a revitalization like no other. Filmmakers from around the world would turn the once-franchise into an instant plethora of creativity, diversity and self-expression. Every country would have their version of the Empire and the Force. Artists of all kinds would develop characterizations, plots and themes. Adult-oriented themes would flourish. Children themes would grow by the thousands. We would witness a resurgence of the Star Wars mythos around the world, a spirituality that would surpass any work in the market. True, the billions of dollars to charity would be missing, (I didn't say it wouldn't be a risk, potential loss), but perhaps proceeds to these new materials would in part be sent in that direction to make up for it.
Almost But Not Quite "Saint George"
Regardless, George Lucas would have been the first, pop culture saint, to induct a major pop culture work into the annals of public domain. Then, just then, the Ewoks would have truly won. The "white slave traders" would have lost. Would that not have been the true end of the Death Star? You would have been remembered for an eternity! But alas, Saint George will never exist. But there are other works, other opportunities to return culture to public domain. We don't need high-level execs leading our culture because their profits, their bottom-line has no soul in it. We need that, to live. Let's not allow any post-nationalist state with massive, worldwide branding, determine what we like and what we find acceptable, desirable and even fun.