So, it’s been confirmed that J.J. Abrams will direct Episode VII. Okay, let me start off by saying AAAAAHHHH! MASSIVE GEEKGASM! Look, folks, Disney taking over Star Wars could ONLY be a good thing for the franchise. Just looking at what they did for Marvel’s second string of characters, (let’s be honest here, few cared about Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America before they awesomed them back up in the movies) there was no way they were going to let us down. This confirms it. Disney is willing to throw whatever money and talent is necessary to stroke us all to pop-culture climax.
That said, as a writer and creative, I worry that our entertainment industry is becoming too top-heavy. With J.J. helming the reboot of Star Trek, (masterfully, btw) and now doing the same for Star Wars, that leaves the two most important and popular franchises in the history of sci-fi under the direction of the same person’s creative vision. I can’t help but feel like something approaching a merger of two huge banks just happened. A pop-culture monopoly, if you will.
Couple this news with folks like King of the Nerds Joss Wheadon in control of Avengers, Seth McFarlane dominating prime-time animation with three shows, and James Cameron owning most of the billion dollar range movies, I’m concerned that a whole generation of writers, directors, and artists of all stripes are being middled out. I am in no way saying that these immensely creative men, (all men, btw) don’t deserve their success, because they totally do. Their popularity is not an accident. They have consistently turned out superior products that audiences clamor for.
However, what’s being done to cultivate the next generation of creatives? In writing fiction, one used to be able to make a decent living as a mid-list writer. Those days are dying off fast, as the chains and publishers focus their advertizing budgets and display space on a shrinking pool of best-sellers that sell by the millions, instead of thousands of books that sell merely very well. I feel the same may be happening throughout pop-culture.
The Blockbuster is here to stay, mainly because of risk-averse studios who only want to gamble on bets they know will win in the end. But, it’s easy to forget in this era of massive budgets and superstar directors that the dawn of this age happened because a studio took a chance and threw a paltry sum of money at a virtually unknown director, who then cast a bunch of actors no one had heard of, including a carpenter who had once worked on his house, and went on to make the single most famous movie in the history of film.
That studio was Twentieth Century Fox, the unknown director was George Lucas, and the movie was Star Wars.
I’m glad J.J. gets to realize his dream of working on a Star Wars franchise. It’s a dream I’ve had my whole life, first as a model builder, and now as an author. I’m certain he will do an excellent job. But, in the future, I hope to see some of that adventurous spirit return to the entertainment industry. Take risks on new talent. Help develop them. They are the real wellspring of your success, in the end. And if any Disney or Lucasfilm people happen to be looking for that new talent to pen a Star Wars book, for fuck’s sake, pick me!