Good, I Can Scratch That Off My Ethics Mysteries List: Han Shot First After All!

Star Wars Bar Script

Peter Mayhew, a.k.a. Chewbacca the Wookie, has released to the internet the page from his original Star Wars script that answers the crucial ethics dilemma discussed on Ethics Alarms in 2012.

As it seemed when we all first saw the film, Han Solo shot the porcupine fish-headed space-thug Greedo with a blaster before being fired upon, and I have no problem with that at all. It was self defense.

Nonetheless, a large group of activists, led by Greedo’s family’s lawyer and whipped into a frenzy by cable TV, demonstrated and protested based on a bar patron’s false report that Greedo had his hands up at the time. Luckily, the film proved this was false, though “Hands up! Don’t blast!” survived as a provocative refrain.


Pointer and Spark: Tim LeVier

Greedo Ethics

Who shot first?

Jedi Emeritus George Lucas betrayed a warped concept of cowboy ethics, self-defense and ethics generally in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview in which he was quizzed about his technological fixes on the original Star Wars trilogy. The topic was the shooting of Greedo in the bar, when Han Solo blasts away at the green, fishy porcupine-like villain, who has a gun pointed at him:

Lucas: Well, it’s not a religious event. I hate to tell people that. It’s a movie, just a movie. 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.

Lucas’s idea of what constitutes a “cold-blooded killer” runs counter to law, common sense, and ethics. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Is This Racism, or Just Business?

The Mother Jones headline is designed to provoke a gasp: George Lucas: Hollywood Didn’t Want To Fund My Film Because Of Its Black Cast.

The headline is literally accurate. Lucas tells the magazine that he had trouble finding backers for “Red Tails,” his upcoming film about the fabled Tuskegee airmen, because the studios told him that films without white protagonists didn’t draw a wide enough audience, especially overseas, to make his film a good investment for them. Presuming that the film-makers know their business—and presuming their real reason for rejecting Lucas was not that the movies he’s produced lately were god awful, —Lucas’s story raises this Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Question, which you may answer if you dare:

Is a studio that refuses to fund a movie with an all-black cast engaging in racism, or just practicing business responsibly? Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Steven Spielberg

The dwarf in the cloth monkey suit is just fine, thanks.

In a long, entertaining interview in the current issue of Entertainment (naturally!), director Steven Spielberg expresses regret over his decision to change his 1982 classic “E.T.” for its 2002 re-release, and vows never to do such a thing again. Here he splits off from the philosophy of his pal George Lucas, who continues to fiddle with his past films as technological upgrades become possible. Spielberg:

My philosophy is now that every single movie is a signpost of its time, and it should stand for that. We shouldn’t go back and change the parting of the Red Sea in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” just because with the digital tools we have now we can make it even more spectacular than it was.” Continue reading

The Huffington Post Bloggers’ Lament

There is ethical indignation in Left-leaning Blogger Land, where Ariana Huffington’s Huffington Post just got $315 million to become part of AOL’s media stable.  The six-year-old  online news site supplements its staff of 2oo with an estimated 3000 volunteer bloggers of widely varying talent, reliability, and sanity. Those writers, who traded periodic contributions to “HuffPo” in exchange for more traffic and notoriety than they would have received in months of laboring, pajama-clad, on their own obscure sites, now are loudly complaining that they were exploited. Their unpaid labor built the site into a multi-million dollar asset, they cry, and yet Ariana is pocketing all of the profits. Where is the justice in that? There is talk of boycotts and mass defections. Continue reading

More Zombie Ethics: George Lucas, Re-Animator

It seems that cinema innovator and mega-mogul George Lucas is using a large chunk of his “Star Wars” merchandising lucre to purchase the rights to screen images of dead movie stars. His plan is to give his tech-magicians at LucasArt the opportunity to perfect the process of re-animating and manipulating them to appear in new roles in new films. Imagine Humphrey Bogart in “Pirates of the Caribbean 5”! Imagine Marilyn Monroe joining the girls in “Sex and the City 2”!  Imagine Cary Grant in a buddy picture with Adam Sandler! Or Jar Jar Binks.

Undoubtedly there are many movie fans who would enjoy having digitally resurrected Hollywood legends appearing side-by-side current idols, and there is probably a lot of money to be made by giving them what they want. Turning deceased stars into computer-generated images and making them do and say anything the programmers choose, with the pace, volume and inflection the directors desire, would represent a significant technological advance. Another obvious benefit is that Lucas’s method is preferable to just digging up the carcasses of the acting greats, hanging them on wires, and using machinery to parade them through movie sets like marionettes.

But not much. Continue reading