I see that George Lucas has given up on his long-running battle to build more studio space on his Marin County property. His neighbors have blocked his plans to expand Skywalker Ranch for years, citing the area’s residential character. So instead, he’s proposing to use Grady Ranch for residential purposes…just not the kind that they are likely to approve of.
His new intent (pdf) for the land:
We plan to sell the Grady property expecting that the land will revert back to its original use for residential housing. We hope we will be able to find a developer who will be interested in low income housing since it is scarce in Marin. If everyone feels that housing is less impactful on the land, then we are hoping that people who need it the most will benefit.
Lucas claims that it’s not revenge that motivates him.
“I’ve been surprised to see some people characterize this as vindictive,” he said, adding that there was a “real need” for affordable housing here. “I wouldn’t waste my time or money just to try and upset the neighbors.”
The Twittersphere, also unconvinced, is abuzz with praise for Lucas for this shrewd move in the ancient game of Neighbor Go. And I was too, at first. Zing! With added social credit for helping people on low incomes! But the more I think about it, the less I like it.
Lucas is using the poor—or the specter of the poor—as a weapon. That’s a bad thing twice over. It’s harmful in the abstract: treating people as an inherent menace is never good, and doing so in a way that deepens the divisions between the classes is particularly pernicious in the Occupational Era. And it’s worse in the particular. Imagine moving into that housing, just down the road from people who use phrases like “sheer terror” about you and draw analogies with Syria.
He should have listened to the little green guy. Knows a thing or two, that one does.
Yes, another post that started as a Parhelion, and grew and grew and grew until the ceiling hung with HTML tags and the walls became the back end and a comment thread tumbled by…