Monday, May 16, 2005

Much anger in him

It used to be we couldn't be sure if George Lucas was an out-of-touch artiste of a director-producer, or just a B-movie-making hack with delusions of grandeur. Now we know: CANNES -- Star Wars is a wake-up call to Americans about the erosion of democratic freedoms under George W. Bush, George Lucas said yesterday. Lucas, responding to a question at a Cannes Film Festival press conference, said he first wrote the framework of Star Wars in 1971 when reacting to then U.S. president Richard Nixon and the on-going events of the Vietnam War. But the story still has relevance today, he said, and is part of a pattern he has noticed in his readings of history. "I didn't think it was going to get quite this close," he said of the parallels between the Nixon era and the current Bush presidency, which has been sacrificing freedoms in the interests of national security. "It is just one of those re-occurring things. "I hope this doesn't come true in our country. Maybe the film will awaken people to the situation of how dangerous it is ... The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we are doing now in Iraq are unbelievable." Yes, it's exactly alike. Especially how the US was initially drawn into the fight as a proxy for the maintenance of French colonial rule. In the latest film, the Palpatine character takes over as ruler of the universe with the co-operation of the other politicians. "Because this is the back story (of the Star Wars saga), one of the main features of the back story was to tell how the Republic became the Empire," Lucas said. "At the time I did that, it was during the Vietnam War and the Nixon era. The issue was: How does a democracy turn itself over to a dictator? Not how does a dictator take over but how does a democracy and Senate give it away?" Richard Nixon was a fairly appalling man, at least (at the very least) a sleazy, unethical paranoiac. But a dictator? Hardly. If you want to see the untrammeled power of the executive whim running roughshod over the Constitution and democratic tradition in American history, the best case is probably FDR. Nixon never proposed blatantly packing the Supreme Court, or kneecapping the free market by forcing corporatism onto American industry, after all. Lucas cited the Roman Empire in the wake of Caesar's death, France after the Revolution and Germany with the rise of Hitler as historical examples of countries giving themselves over to dictators. Wow. That's even one-upping the usual moonbat argument; Bush isn't just Hitler, but Hitler, Caesar Augustus, Robespierre and Napoleon all rolled up into one. I'd be slightly upset, if this wasn't coming from someone who's spent the past thirty years wholly immersed in fantasy worlds of his own making.

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