George Lucas on The Daily Show (And What We Can Learn From Not Taking Our Work Too Seriously)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
George Lucas

Ran across this video today with low expectations, only expecting to see another rant on Lucas' prequels and Lucas not quite getting the humor, trying to defend himself against Stewart's tirade.

What I found instead was a pleasant and humorous exchange between them. Yes Stewart started out with questions of why the prequels don't make sense, but when the moment of truth came, when I expected Lucas to try and defend the movies and come up with an answer....he replied to Stewart's questions about Alderaan with a "I never thought of that."

I was shocked. The interview continues and Stewart is less accusing than I expected after all the rants against Lucas I've heard and they engage in a pleasant conversation on the effects of nostalgia on the films and whether people take it too seriously. The jokes turned from being on Lucas and his films to crazy fans! Not what I expected at all.

As I was thinking about this video, I realized that it was Lucas' attitude and ability to have a sense of humor about his work that let the conversation turn from being yet another rant. Yeah, Stewart's apparent love of Star Wars and the fact that he had George Lucas on the show may have had something to do with it. But I've seen him tear into big stars with no fear so I don't think it was just that. I mean, Lucas jokingly admits that he only wrote his new book to get him on the show! He can obviously laugh at himself.

I think if we could get the same ability with our own work it might be helpful. I'm not saying we shouldn't have any respect for our work, or never take it seriously. We obviously put a lot of work into the movies we make, and we shouldn't take that commitment lightly. But I think there may be a point where we may get too defensive, trying to answer every question possible.

Lucas was able to laugh at his movies, why? Not because he thought they were worthless or meant nothing. But because the questions were ridiculous and people were taking his movies for more than he ever meant them to, or possibly should be.

So perhaps we should realize with our own movies, we don't have to defend every "flaw," and come up with an answer for every question posed at our work. We may just need to look at our work for what it is and what is not. To honestly admit, "I never thought of that."

There may also be a question about something in our movies that reveals something we may never have intended, yet may turn out truer than anything we thought of. These revelations from our audience, identifying that which even transcends our attempts at meaning, will only be listened to and learned from if we aren't too quick to answer for ourselves. Either way it requires admitting the limits of our own knowledge and intentions. Letting our work be what it is and getting out of its way if necessary.

-Ben Brandt