Just quit while you’re ahead, please

In the last twenty years or so, it has become entirely obvious that most people who produced massive hits don’t understand what made their work successful. George Lucas is the quintessential example—need I detail why?—but there are plenty more. Ridley Scott’s repeated desecration of the Alien franchise is a more recent example.

What’s unclear to me is why so many of these men, already wealthy beyond imagination, able to do anything they want, keep¬†personally shitting all over their own work. It’s one thing to sell it for a giant pile of money and let someone else fuck it up a la Mouse Wars. It’s another to go out of your way to prove to the world that whatever talent you had—if it wasn’t simple luck to begin with—is long gone.

I can only speculate, of course. Plausible explanations range from approval seeking to guilt to delusions of grandeur, but I think it all boils down to selfishness in the end. Lucas either wanted to prove he did, in fact, have the chops people credited him with in the 90s (spoiler: he doesn’t) or he wanted to piss off the fans of not just Star Wars, but Indiana Jones. Rowling has been approval-seeking for a decade with her retcons. Ridley Scott is… I don’t really know what he’s doing because I haven’t been paying much attention to him, but since he’s worth $400 million I doubt he’s ruining Alien just for the cash. For all I know he’s just bored.

Yeah, creators (generally) own their IPs and can do what they want with them. But it’s just such a dick move to come back decades later and take a huge, steaming dump all over the characters and stories so many people grew up loving. If you want something to play with,¬†write something new*. Don’t smash apart what you already successfully created. Let people enjoy what you built, even if you don’t quite understand why it works or think they’re enjoying it wrong.

*It’s not like new ideas are hard to come by. I could probably spend the rest of my life writing the stories I’ve had ideas for in the last year alone. For every one story I even start, I have 10-20 ideas I’ll never have time for. And I’m hardly unique or especially gifted in the idea department. Every writer who doesn’t fall into the “wants to have written” category is this way.

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