The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.
– George Lucas, The Hollywood Reporter, Feb. 9, 2012
Like most American men of my generation, “Star Wars” was one of the formative events of my childhood. It might have been a long time ago in a galaxy far away, but in some ways, it was much more vivid and real and glorious than the cold cruelty of a real world where it was 20 degrees below zero and the good guys were always defeated by the black-clad bad guys in the Super Bowl. For more than two years, every birthday party I had, or attended, consisted of a group of ludicrously excited boys going to the theater to see “Star Wars” again.
Some of the life lessons I learned from “Star Wars” included:
- Lying to the police is a moral imperative.
- Sometimes the rules don’t apply, aka “let the wookie win.”
- It’s easier to pay your debts than run away from them.
- The government isn’t always right.
- You can’t fight another’s battles.
- Public schools are hotbeds of immorality. (I was the happy owner of a complete 66-card set of the original blue cards, courtesy of a lunchtime trade, for all of about 15 minutes before they were stolen from my school desk.)
- Don’t waste your money on collectible cards.
- The importance of preemptive action
That last lesson was one of the more important ones, especially growing up in an unjust world where the teachers and referees didn’t give a damn about who started what, and retaliation was always punished more swiftly and soundly than instigation. The reason that I, in company with millions of other middle-aged men, so intensely despise Lucas’ revisionism isn’t because it violates my ideal vision of Han Solo – I preferred Luke’s earnestness to Han’s bravado – but because it strikes directly at the idea of intelligent and moral self-defense.
And in doing so, it is part and parcel with the slow and progressive suicide of the West. Just as Han cannot be permitted to ascertain his lethal peril, despite the fact that Greedo could hardly miss at a distance of two feet, and act accordingly, nations cannot be permitted to act upon the knowledge that importing millions of criminals and barbarians will destroy their societies, and homeowners cannot be permitted to act upon the probability that a stranger attempting to break into your house in the middle of the night has evil intentions concerning your life and property.
The sad thing is that if George Lucas made “Star Wars” today, one tends to suspect that Han not only would not be allowed to shoot first, but would not be allowed to shoot at all. Instead, he would be encouraged to fill out a standard complaint form at the local storm-trooper office concerning the excessive violence utilized by debt collectors in the employment of Jabba the Hutt; after six months he would receive a letter informing him that Greedo possessed all the correct licenses required as well as official immunity for any crimes committed in the process of his duties. In the meantime, the Millenium Falcon would have been foreclosed and sold at auction, Han sentenced to the salt mines to work off the remaining balance of his debt, and the old guy accompanied by the kid would have wound up hiring a ship that took 15 parsecs to make the Kessel run and was therefore easily caught by the star destroyer patrolling Tattooine.
After the summary execution of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the recovery of the Death Star’s blueprints, Princess Leia’s suicide would represent the last great act of defiance toward the Empire. As the Empire swept away the last vestiges of a broken rebellion, an unemployed and broken-hearted Chewbacca would return to his previous job as a bouncer at an Ewok strip club. Eventually, upon the passing of the Emperor Vader, Luke Skywalker would ascend to the Imperial throne as the Third Sith Emperor, thus reminding us that resistance is futile, the government is always right and the bankers always win in the end.