- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

And here you thought George Lucas was merely an inept screenwriter. Well, his global-cultural analysis is pretty rank as well. Agence France-Presse has a report on Lucas’ remarks while accepting a “Global Vision Award” (is it just me, or is that a really sinister-sounding, black-helicopter kind of accolade?) from the World Affairs Council in San Francisco.

Here’s an except:

“As long as there has been a talking Hollywood, Hollywood has had a huge impact on the rest of the world,” Lucas said as he discussed his films and enhancing education with computer technology.

“It shows all the morality we espouse in this country, good and bad. The French were the first to start yelling cultural imperialism.”

Some people in other countries are troubled by what they see as U.S. culture “squashing” local art and cinema, Lucas said.

“I hate to say it, but television is one of the most popular exports,” Lucas said.

People see shows such as “Dallas,” about a wealthy Texas oil family, and decide they want the grand lifestyles portrayed, according to Lucas.

“They say that is what I want to be,” he said. “That destabilizes a lot of the world.”

There’s no denying Hollywood movies have tremendous global impact; they’re watched, bootlegged, pirated and otherwise absorbed from Mexico to China and everywhere in between. But it’s simply not the case that American-produced television holds as much sway. There’s the example of “Seinfeld,” whose ironic humor never translated well overseas.

Generally speaking, as much as Hollywood movies are devoured around the world, most countries want to see reflections of their own cultures on television. And even when American programming is picked up abroad, it doesn’t typically thrive in primetime slots. This is especially true in huge, insular Brazil, where the TV industry is vastly more popular than movies. Director Fernando Meirelles told me: “They tried to sell all the sitcoms, [such as] ‘Friends,’ but it never worked. It was a disaster.”

Lucas can talk about cultural “destabilization” all he wants. But he’s off his rocker if he thinks American television as a whole, much less “Dallas,” is the culprit.

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