Willie G. and G. Lucas
Master Visionaries or Retarded Revisionaries?
I thought this bit of humor was good enough to stand on its own. It is originally taken from the Terry Walton reply where he thought that because I liked Star Wars that I should also like Harley Davidson since both were based on huge commercial marketing empires. What he failed to understand was that while both franchises were huge commercial marketing empires, they were both based on fantasy and make-believe. It's an interesting premise and one which I choose to explore in further detail.
“So it seems you hate
Harley Davidson for a marketing success story, but fall victim to the same
(by liking Star Wars).”
Let's see if I understand you correctly; you
(erroneously) think that because I like “Star Wars” (yet constantly make fun of
it every chance I get) and because I dislike Harley Davidson (and constantly
make fun of that every chance I get as well) that I am somehow a hypocrite. Do
you want to compare “Star Wars” to Harley Davidson?
Fine by me, padowan. It should be interesting, to say the least.
“Star Wars” is a huge marketing success, yes, that much is without question ... but is “Star Wars” a success in the same manner as Harley Davidson? Hmmm. Yes, I believe that it is. Harley Davidson and “Star Wars” are both tremendous commercial successes because both have given something to a generation of people who lacked something to begin with. In the case of “Star Wars,” George Lucas wanted to “give a fairy tale to a generation that had no fairy tales.” In the case of Harley Davidson, Willie G. wanted to give a make believe life to a generation of people who had no life of their own. Both enterprises are fantasy, like it or not, and they are both very good fantasy at the start but soon collapse under their own tedious weight the farther along the convoluted story is spun.
Now, I would like to step off the path for a second to give you some background information that will be germane to our discussion. You see, the original movie “Star Wars,” today, exists in no less than four different versions. I’m not talking about the other movies that came later in the series, I’m talking about the original, 1977 movie “Star Wars” of which there are four different versions of the very same movie. For what it is worth, there are three different versions of “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” but “Star Wars” is the movie with the most versions and the one which carries the brunt of this discussion.
The original movie, “Star Wars,” appearing in 1977, was a stand alone movie, a tale of good and evil, with good triumphing in the end. It was a visual masterpiece and a technological tour-de-force that redefined movie making and special effects for decades after its introduction. When the movie was re-released later that year for an encore performance, Lucas went back and added the words “Episode IV: A New Hope” to the title scroll and thus we suddenly had two versions of the original movie in one year; a stand alone science fantasy and then a version which indicated that the original movie was not only part of a much larger story, but that it was the fourth part (which meant that the first three parts were missing, as well as anything to come afterwards).
Now, the so-called Special Editions (revamped original trilogy with extra CGI eye-candy added) appeared during the closing years of the 20th century and thus created three versions of “Star Wars” and two versions each of “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” The fourth version of “Star Wars” (the original movie) appeared (along with the third version of "Empire" and the third version of "Return") within the last year with Lucas releasing the “original trilogy” on DVD (with yet more CGI added eye candy) and, much to his chagrin, having to go back (by fervent demand of the fans) and unfuck up what he had fucked up in the Special Edition versions (which have often been referred to as the "Special Ed" or "SpEd"versions). Why is this information important? Simple. It shows that George Lucas is a revisionist and a rather active one (if not a very bright one) at that.
I like “Star Wars,” the original 1977 stand-alone, unedited, un-tweaked, un-CGI added movie because it is pure and wholesome. It’s something I would show my two year old daughter (and I have, she loves it) and not feel bad about it. Do I like “Star Wars?” Yes, very much so and I feel no shame in admitting that fact to you or anyone else. You see, “Star Wars” changed me. Before I saw “Star Wars,” I was just another 8 year old kid playing with twelve inch Hasbro G.I. Joe action figures, running around with toy guns and cap guns and playing with toy rockets from the Space Race. When I saw “Star Wars,” my whole life changed because I saw things I had never seen before, sights and sounds and wondrous music. It was magic. I immediately went home and started trying to recreate what I had seen, on paper, by building models, by any means I could. I started to get spiral bound notebooks and try to write science fiction stories. I drew spaceships. I drew aliens. I drew giant space battles on huge sheets of roll out paper. I learned about robots and electronics and computers. I learned about the science in the science fantasy. “Star Wars” jump started my brain, it opened my mind up and made me think and once that event happened, it was a chain reaction that is still going on today, nearly thirty years later. “Star Wars” made me want to understand science and technology, to express myself creatively. “Star Wars” made me want to learn and I've never stopped learning since.
Oh, yes. I like “Star Wars” very much. I also like a lot of other movies, covering many genres; some of them not very good at all (many you’ve never heard of) and some of them quite great and unique. I think though, of all the movies I have ever seen, “Star Wars” is my favorite and always will be because it holds a special place in my heart, a place it earned when I was eight years old and saw Lucas’ masterpiece for the very first time on the big screen in that air conditioned cinema, sitting there, eating a bag of popcorn and drinking a grape drink, mesmerized by what I was seeing which was, quite literally, nothing short of a fairy tale come to life. Now as for the other movies in the series, you can have them; from the soap operish “Empire Strikes Back” and its cliff-hanger ending to the laughable “Return of the Jedi” which, IMHO, should have more aptly been called “The Muppets Take The Universe” (the idea of a galaxy spanning Empire getting defeated by a bunch of teddy bears with sharp sticks is about as plausible as the Roman Empire getting usurped by The Care Bears).
Trust me, Al, there is no love lost between George Lucas and I, not after what he did to my fairy tale. While I adore the original “Star Wars,” I find plenty in the other movies Lucas shoved off on us to poke ample (and frequent) fun at his hard work. Case in point, here are two humorous graphics I did for recent open contests on a forum I frequent. The first contest was to create and submit something that we could expect to see in the updated, fourth version of the original movies that were soon to come out on DVD. The thought was, since Lucas was such a revisionist (and such an inept one at that), then how much more could he fuck up Star Wars than he already had? Apparently, we thought he could do a lot worse and so we set out to Photoshop several of our ideas and mirth ensued. Here is my submission which also made it to the finals. It generated a lot of favorable comments and not a few outright bursts of laughter, one claiming it was the “best of show” though I thought different after having I saw a few later entries that were much better than mine, IMHO.
Red 6, Jeb Porkins,
NASCAR man, Dale Earnhardt fan... sorry,
Jeb Porkins, Rebel Alliance X-wing fighter pilot
Another impromptu contest / forum thread was a humorous idea of taking a quote from one movie and putting it with a scene from another movie, in essence, merging two dissimilar ideas to form a new idea (a concept you will be unfamiliar with, Al, and one which may cause you some pain should you try it at home). Here are my two entries, again, influenced by “Star Wars.” The first entry merges "Star Wars" and one of my all time favorite movies, the Robert Redford, Paul Newman cowboy classic, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
I simply took a quote from the cowboy
movie (where they rob the train and try to open the safe with dynamite) and
added it to one of the scenes from the “Star Wars” trilogy (the Falcon escaping
from the exploding Death Star). Again, it was thought to be humorous and met
with wide acceptance among my peers. The second merger was between the movie
"Star Wars" and cult film classic "Clerks." I chose one of
Dante's scathing comments, what he shouted to his girlfriend as she left his place of work
(after he got mad at her when she revealed that she had engaged in oral sex with
over thirty men before starting to date him) and merged it with a picture of
Darth Vader ominously pointing his finger at the viewer. It, too, was met with
A burning interrogative injected into a fiery scene
* and *
some damn good advice from the Dark Lord of the Sith.
I like “Star Wars” but I don’t like what George Lucas did with it afterwards. “Star Wars” went from being a mythical tale of good versus evil to being the convoluted story of the dysfunctional Skywalker family (complete with hints of brother-sister incest). I guess you could say the same for Harley Davidson. I like Harley Davidson, the original Motor Company (pre-import invasion, pre-AMF years and most definitely pre-Willie G.); I just don’t like what Willie G. did with it afterwards. As such, I think I have more than ample right to poke fun at both intellectual properties as much and as often as I feel like doing so.
Now, I can also honestly
say that after having seen all six of the “Star Wars” movies (all four versions
of the original movie plus the three versions of each of the follow up movies
and the last three movies which comprise the “first” trilogy meaning I have seen
thirteen different movies in a six movie series), I can safely say that George
Lucas had a very grand thing going for him at one time way back in the late ‘70s
and that he’s spent almost the last three decades fucking it up. The same could
very well be said for Willie G. and his pivotal role with Harley Davidson.
Lucas’ initial fortune was not made from the actual “Star Wars” movie, but
rather it was quickly made from the merchandising rights, just like Willie G’s
fortune is not had from making copies of motorcycles his grandfather used to
build but from the rather lucrative merchandising rights associated with
prostituting the HD bar and shield logo itself. Both “Star Wars” and Harley
Davidson put their stylized logo on everything from children’s pajamas to drink
cups and clothing, that much is certainly true and both continue to do so today,
almost thirty years after the fact. Isn’t it funny that “Star Wars” and the
buyout of HD by Willie G. and his twelve disciples happened within a few years
of each other? Since HD’s new strategies for survival came after Lucas’ wild
commercial and marketing success, perhaps Willie G and his disciples are big
“Star Wars” fans as well. Maybe with the runaway commercial success of “Star
Wars,” Willie G. took a lesson on profit making from George Lucas and set about
to carve out his own rather large slice of the American pie by selling his logo
to anyone who had something to put it on.
If we further compare Harley Davidson to “Star Wars,” we find that Willie G. and G. Lucas are both very active revisionists. Willie has taken his company’s failures and spun them into a fanciful, make-believe tale of heroic survival, epic struggle and staunch patriotism against an insidious foreign invader who wants to corrupt the American way of life and put American workers out of their jobs. Willie G.s’ fairy tale, as regurgitated by the masses who believe it as truth, is nothing more than a fanciful story, especially when the historical facts point to far different, often directly opposite results than those that are commonly cited by The Faithful.
George Lucas, never happy with the original “Star Wars,” instead diddled and fiddled with it until it was perfect to him but an utter mess to the dismayed fans of the original movie. The problem with revisionists, of any kind, is that once they start to revise they seldom know when to stop and they tend to get very defensive about their intellectual properties, Willie and George in particular, often pursuing any infringement with zeal (not only for the threat of lost profit, but also because of the perceived threat of lost control over their properties). George and Willie both consider their selves to be the only people who can steer the ship of sales or to know what is best for their work when it comes to their own intellectual properties.
One other striking similarity between G. Lucas and Willie
G. is that both take established portions of their intellectual properties
(movies for Lucas, models of bikes for Willie) and they tweak them here and
there, never really producing anything radically different from the original but
different enough that each feel compelled to reissue the modified property as a
"new" version of the old item. Lucas does this with his original movies, taking
three movies and creating ten different movies out of the original trilogy. Willie is
more content just to swap pieces around from one bike to another and call the
end result a "new" model.
Yes, you are correct, Al… Harley and “Star Wars” really are very similar in most respects. Both are vast commercial empires built on the marketing of a specific logo as well as merchandise that is tied to that logo (but which may not necessarily be tied to the original product). That is why you have Harley Davidson kids pajamas, along with “Star Wars” kids pajamas. That is why you have Harley Davidson telephones shaped like motorcycles and “Star Wars” telephones shaped like robots. That is why you have “Star Wars” action figures and Harley Davidson edition Barbie dolls. That is why you have Harley Davidson pin-ball games and “Star Wars” pin-ball games, Harley Davidson video game motorcycle riding game simulators and “Star Wars” video game starfighter simulators. I guess the most obvious similarity between “Star Wars” and Harley Davidson that pops to mind is that both Willie G. and G. Lucas have made tidy personal fortunes by selling their own personal myths and fairy tales over the last three decades.
“I would not be surprised if you had full regalia for storm troopers or a Darth Vader hood and mask lying close to your computer or had thoughts of a Jedi flash light for your riding outfit for your 30 mile long distant runs.”
As for the “Star Wars” outfits, I can honestly say that I have neither nor do I care to own either of them. I don’t personally know what the SNELL or DOT rating is for a set of Stormtrooper armor but I haven’t seen anyone riding in full field kit locally so it can’t be very high, if it is tested and approved at all. Still, seeing someone on a Suzuki Gixxer 1000 riding in full Stormtrooper armor (let alone someone dressed as Darth Vader or even Boba Fett) would probably make me laugh so hard I would piddle my boxers. I would most definitely have to pull that person over, get a picture of me taken with them by their bike, thank them for the laughs and probably offer to buy them lunch just for making my day. I wouldn’t even write them a ticket for “not wearing a helmet” even though they were wearing something that was not approved for use on a motorcycle and I'd let them off with a warning (as long as they promised not to do it again).
I also think that it is hysterically hypocritical for a dyed-in-the-wool (note proper spelling of the traditional phrase) Harley owner to make fun of someone who dresses up like an Imperial Stormtrooper from “Star Wars.” I really see no functional difference at all between some diehard fan of George Lucas’ fairytale wearing a full set of Stormtrooper armor (with a fake laser blaster at their side) mingling with other “Star Wars” fans at a sci-fi convention and some diehard fan of Willie G.’s fairytale wearing all of the officially licensed and endorsed fashion clothing (while sitting on their fake motorcycle) pretending to be a real biker among a group of similar pretenders at a rally like Sturgis. Both are simply different examples of someone enjoying (perhaps enjoying a bit too much) the same type of make-believe lifestyle that is available to the average consumer today, for a (rather hefty) price.
Now, if I remember correctly, a full kit of Stormtrooper armor will set you back about two to three grand, done professionally from a reproduction company that specializes in duplicating movie props. The fake blaster will probably set you back a couple hundred dollars, adding that to your bottom line. What this means is that for about two to three grand, you can either look just like an extra in George Lucas’ fairytale or (for the same amount of money) you can look just like an extra in Willie G’s fairytale; take your pick. Now, while nobody ever said that playing make-believe was cheap, the biggest difference between you and I is that I have far better uses for three thousand dollars than to dress myself exactly like someone else is dressed and pretend to be something that I am not.
A “Jedi flashlight” you say?
Let me ask you something, Al ... Have you ever seen one of these?
If Milwaukee built a
this is probably what it would look like.
Did you know that not only do these things exist but that they are officially licensed and endorsed Motor Company products? What is it, you may ask? Well, let’s look at the product description:
"This flashlight combines the look and feel of Harley-Davidson® with the power and durability of Rayovac®. The heavy duty corrosion resistant chrome casing and genuine leather grip is the ultimate combination of function and fashion. The unique lens engraving projects the official Harley® bar and shield at short range. Also, the Harley-Davidson® logo is embroidered on the grip and stamped on the end cap."
Give me a break…
“Your word is a light onto my feet and a lamp for my path.” Psalm 119:105.
That one Bible verse could be taken out of either the Holy Bible or used as a tagline in a Harley Davidson accessory catalog and it would have equal meaning for this sacred Milwaukee Orthodoxy religious artifact (though we might want to change "word" to read "logo").
“Your logo is a light onto my feet and a lamp for my path.” Psalm-O-Willie G. 119:105.
"The ultimate combination of
function and fashion?" Bwahahahaha! Who the hell are they trying to kid (or
market this thing to)? That statement can only be true if you consider cheap
white trailer trash to be the leading edge of fashion sense. Hillbillies such as
yourself call these powerful religious artifacts “magic moon beam casters” (or
"electric candles") but the proper name for it is the Rayovac Harley Davidson
Flashlight complete with the bar and shield logo (aka the “scoggin signal”)
built right in to the design of the lens itself. That’s right, folks! It’s
leather trimmed and when you turn it on, it casts an outline of the bar and
shield logo on the wall or way up on the clouds above so that other HD owners
will know you are in trouble and come running to your rescue with their pickup
trucks and flatbed trailers (though seeing all of those signals waving around in
the sky at one time might become a bit confusing, after all, there’s only so
many pickups and flatbed trailers to go around).
A word of friendly advice here, Al (and I will have more friendly advice to share as we go along); before you try to insult me by saying that I dream of riding around on my bike with a “Jedi flashlight,” perhaps you should first make damn sure that Willie G. and his disciples have not only already given their official stamp of approval to just such a device for use by your pathetic kind but that they aren't trying to make a profit off of it as well.
Thus I refute thee and you do stand corrected, chimp.