The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

The Lucas Museum Saga Is A Story With No Hero

By Mark Konkol | May 5, 2016 5:19am | Updated on May 6, 2016 10:51am
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel (l.) insists Chicago is the top location for the proposed George Lucas Cultural Arts Museum.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel (l.) insists Chicago is the top location for the proposed George Lucas Cultural Arts Museum.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Ted Cox and Michael Buckner/Getty Images

CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s quixotic battle to save the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is the worst story ever told.

It’s a tale without a hero and virtually nothing at stake, unless, of course, you’re the kind of rube who believes the most recent narrative being presented by the mayor: Chicago would suffer an epic tragedy if rogue idealists known as “Friends of the Parks” continue to “hold hostage” billionaire filmmaker George Lucas’s vanity art museum.

When Emanuel announced his latest Hail Mary court move to prevent Lucas from taking his privately owned museum to another town, the mayor publicly declared that the park-loving special interest group “cannot be trusted.”

Now, that’s ironic coming from a mayor most Chicagoans have said they don’t trust.

But it’s certainly not the ironic plot twist that inspires regular folks to care about the fate of a rich guy’s museum of narrative art, whatever that is — and Lucas has been vague with details.

Emanuel continues to defend his plan to turn over valuable lakefront land for the "Star Wars" creator’s storytelling museum by spouting statistics on the alleged benefits of the project — the hundreds of jobs and more than a billion dollars in economic investment.

The mayor called the Lucas Museum an “incredible gift” to Chicago, when in fact the city would be giving Lucas valuable public land for almost nothing — and not collecting a penny in property taxes, ever.

In post-Laquan McDonald Chicago, though, the mayor’s critics see his stalwart support for the museum as a sweetheart deal that beautifies the rich part of town and benefits a billionaire who wants to put his mark on a prestigious part of Chicago ... or nowhere in the city at all.

Emanuel’s response has been to dig in his heels and cling to a bold, unshakable resolve in hopes the end result of his efforts will be viewed as right — maybe even heroic — and somehow redeem him in the eyes of certain Chicagoans who say he has failed them as mayor.

There’s nothing heroic about it.

It’s a dangerous game of chicken played by a mayor clearly willing to risk his political future.

He told the Sun-Times that if he fails in his effort to keep the museum in Chicago, “I’m gonna be fine. My health is OK. My kids still loved me — as of this morning at least. I didn’t do this because I thought this was in my political benefit.”

Emanuel’s willingness to ignore the potential pitfalls of having such rigid resistance to change his big-money, Downtown-focused development priorities in a city starkly divided by class and race threatens to be his fatal flaw.

It might not be in Lucas’s best interest, but he certainly could teach Emanuel how to be the kind of hero Chicago needs right now — a leader who overcomes a character flaw standing in the way of a greater good.

Two of Lucas’s greatest heroes — Luke Skywalker and Han Solo — survive life-or-death situations when they admit to their character flaws or weaknesses and force themselves to change.

In the "Star Wars" trilogy, Luke Skywalker overcomes his defeatist self-doubt to trust “The Force” when firing the defining shot that blows up the Death Star.

Han Solo, a loner with trust and commitment issues, becomes a loyal friend when his friends rescue him from an otherwise certain death at the hands of Jabba the Hutt.

And along their journey, Skywalker and Solo’s actions proved to themselves, each other and the people they fought to save, that the personal changes that made them heroes were neither phony nor selfish.

Emanuel, well, that’s a whole different story.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: