Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Star Wars DVDs + Slashdot Slashdotted

I wanted to check out what was going on on Slashdot re: the new Star Wars DVDs, except the Slashdot link gave a 503 server error.  Perhaps a Slashdot page was so uniformly popular that it Slashdotted itself, instead of Slashdotting everyone else for a change!  Like how John Malkovich climbed up into his own head.  Is there even a name for that?  Just thought it was interesting.

Anyway, back to the DVDs.  I pre-ordered them a month ago.  I got excited about the prospect of the original versions finally being available.  And guess what.  I wish I'd never bought them.  In fact, I'm considering sending them back to Amazon and putting that money towards something, anything, that George Lucas hates.

Why?  Because it turns out the original versions on DVD aren't anamorphic.  The video isn't an expanded widescreen image, like pretty much every other major studio DVD since 2000, but a 4:3 image with black bars above and below the film.  So when I watch on my widescreen TV, I will get black bars around the sides, as well as extra-fat ones on top, giving me a miniature image of the film.  Kids, anamorphic widescreen DVD is an industry requirement at this point.  Even the crappiest straight-to-video DVDs come with anamorphic transfers.  To go the 4:3 route is like releasing a CD in mono instead of stereo, or selling black-and-white televisions.  It actively demeans the content.

So, you might ask, what exactly am I pissed off about?  After years of bitching, I finally got what I wanted.  It's better than nothing (arguably), since my only other option was to buy older versions that wouldn't be anamorphic either.  That's partially true.  In fact, I will probably keep the DVDs after all because of the "better than nothing" factor.  However, three things still sting me.

1) I'm most pissed because I could have saved my money.  The disc specs have been out there for months, and I never sought them out, assuming they couldn't possibly release a movie in anything but anamorphic.  Obviously, I was wrong.  But that's something I could have done something about.  I could have posted this rant, like, four months ago and spread the gospel truth about these DVDs being another fucking rip-off.

2) The whole story behind the release of the original Star Wars movies on DVD has been LucasFilm finally coming clean and releasing the films as they should have.  This was supposed to be an "okay, fine, we'll do it, but this is the last time" situation, where the consumers were actually being acknowledged.  It was a nod to the consumers who have spent waaaaay too much money over the years on the Star Wars universe, finally giving us what we want.  Instead, it's just another lesson meant to show their best customers how wrong they are.  Unbelievable.

3) This whole situation was 100% avoidable.  Who in their right mind would perpetually treat their customer base like shit to this extent?!?  With regard to his Special Editions, the people have spoken: they're fine, but most of us would ultimately prefer the originals, and all of us would like to choose between both versions.  This is no longer in dispute.  For LucasFilm to continue to deny this, at the expense of a customer base that has been unflinchingly loyal (from a profit/loss standpoint) to LucasFilm's products, shows a deep, genuine contempt for their base.  That, my friends, is truly pathetic.

But there's good news.  I'm not buying these fuckin' things again.  Well, not unless two things happen:

* George Lucas dies, hopefully from something both painful and ironic (for example, let's say he shoots first in a duel but, improbably, is shot and killed)

* The old versions are restored and re-transferred by a non-partisan firm unaffiliated with of LucasFilm or ILM.  I will never trust anyone Lucas has ever worked with, because I will always suspect some ulterior motive.

So, that's it.  Every repackaging of Star Wars henceforth shall be assumed, by me, to be some sort of rip-off until those conditions are met.  Right now, I'd rather sign up for every service Verizon offers than buy another Star Wars anything after this.  Disgusting.

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