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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

George Lucas wants you to futz with ‘Star Wars’

No, really.

I’m guessing he won’t be happy if you have Han Solo going on a rampage at the Mos Eisley cantina, shootin’ up all the lowlife alien smuggler scum who deserve it, but still:

George Lucas, creator of “Star Wars,” has never hesitated to protect his intellectual property, which is why some call him “Lucas the Litigator.” But this week, his Lucasfilm plans to make clips of “Star Wars” available to fans on the Internet to mash up — meaning to remix however they want — at will.

The clips — about 250 of them, from all six Star Wars movies — will land on the Starwars.com Web site tomorrow, part of this week’s 30th-anniversary celebrations of the release of his hit movie. Working with an easy-to-use editing program from Eyespot Corp. of San Diego, fans can cut, add to and retool the clips. Then they can post their creations to blogs or social-networking sites like MySpace. More clips will come out from time to time over coming months.

This is smart, on Lucas’s part. He’s trying to take control of the crazy, pop-culture-commenting creativity all the kids are into these days. I predict this will fail, wildly, from Lucas’s perspective (though fans will love it). If I may paraphrase what Princess Leia told Grand Moff Tarkin: The more you tighten your grip, Lucas, the more mashups will slip through your fingers.

And the grip is tight:

The mash-up project will come with rules, however. While it won’t stop anybody from assailing characters or casting them in unexpected lights, Eyespot has set up a program to make sure none of the doctored clips contain nudity, pornography, and the like.

Oh, as if an entire generation of straight men hasn’t been fantasizing about Leia in that metal bikini, and out of it. Another prediction: Some horny dork will figure out a way around the restriction about ten seconds after the project goes live.

And before you get any funny ideas in your head, don’t think Lucas is doing this out of the goodness of his heart or his love for the fans:

Eventually, the mash-ups will run with brief video advertising before them, with Lucasfilm and Eyespot splitting the proceeds. The efforts should bring refocused attention on all the “Star Wars” movies, helping to boost DVD and merchandise sales.

Uh-huh. Always to the future this one looks. Never his mind on where he was, what he was doing. Profits! Fame! A Jedi seeks not these things.

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