The Fans Ruined Star Wars

Star Wars has been a huge part of my life. When I was a little one, my mom took me to see the Star Wars Special Edition theatrical re-releases back in 1997. 9-year-old me fell in love.

I’m pretty sure I saw them 3 or 4 times in theaters with her. It was a magical time; I got to see a part of cinema history, re-mastered and brought to a new generation. I got to experience a part of my mom’s young life, as she had seen them in theaters when they originally came out. I know it was as special for me as it was for her.

“Oh dear… I seem to have misplaced my head!” – C3PO, probably

Two years was an intensely long time for a little kid, and the two years it took for Star Wars: Episode I to release were almost unbearable. 1999 seemed like decades away – and for the “original” fans of the franchise, it was decades, the original Star Wars film releasing in 1977. Then, it happened: Episode I released, and it was only further fuel for my obsessions.

The story of Darth Vader was here, and it was powerful to young me. A slave kid who was a “whiz kid” with technology and becoming the “chosen one”, the evil Trade Federation and the beginning crumbling of the society that the Senate had wrought, the danger of the Sith and the power of the Jedi. For a little kid, the cut-and-dry politics presented was simple and educational – evil is bad, good should always try to triumph even in the darkest of times.

When the film ended its theatrical run and the VHS copies released (yes, this was before DVDs were really a thing y’all), I watched my copy so much it literally began to degrade in quality due to being viewed, rewound, viewed, and rewound again. I watched it hundreds of times (alongside my beloved Surf Ninjas VHS), taking in every second of it. I had the toys. I had the games on N64. I knew every line and the timing of the entire film (and still do, pretty much). I was obsessed.

Send in the CLONES… of the action figures.

Truth be told, neither of the sequels of Episode I did it for me. Episode II and Episode III were fun (even if II‘s acting left me, even as a child, cringing), but Episode I did, and still does, hold a place in my heart. Then, as the Internet grew and I got into that wretched hive of scum an villainy — even if it was less so than it is today — I found myself loving the fandom more and more. The vast majority of people voiced their love for Star Wars in all its flavors, whether it be the concept of Qui-Gonn and Gray Jedi (I might actually do a Ramblings post on this later) or whether Jar Jar really was an awful character or just a maligned-but-lovable dolt, the toxicity of the fandom was minimal from the perspective of a 11- to 13-year-old.

Fast forward a few more years, and Episode I-III were now mostly hated by the fandom. The jokes and vitriol towards Jar Jar Binks, George Lucas, and most everything about the prequel trilogy grew into malicious jeering. Rather than a good-natured poking at what made Star Wars so accessible and (most potently) kid-friendly, it became directed, focused hatred. These were the seeds that led the Star Wars fandom down the path of the Dark Side.

It was obvious by this time that George Lucas, creator of the franchise that was once so-beloved by its fans, began to hate his own creation. Anything he did to bring his creative work more into line with his own vision, he was stymied by hateful fanboys who gnashed and spit at any changes to their beloved franchise. After a while, I’m certain it drove him to ultimately sell the franchise (and Lucasfilm, Ltd., Indiana Jones and others) for the paltry sum of $4.05 billion to Disney — a pittance, as the franchise definitely was worth more in the toy line alone, and adding Lucasfilm, THQ and Skywalker Sound into the mix was a steal for Disney.

“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate… leads to suffering.” – Master Yoda

The fanboys both rejoiced and scoffed. The franchise was finally out of the hands of George Lucas, the one that birthed and simultaneously ruined the saga (in their eyes). However, Disney would never do justice to the franchise that was theirs by their definition — rather than the product of the creator and visionaries behind it. They owned it, as they were the fans; they made Star Wars what it is today.

In this was the folly of the fanboy. Disney makes smart moves. If the Marvel movies are any indicator, they know what they’re doing when it comes to acquiring and transforming an IP. Star Wars was no different. They took it and put the epic into the hands of some very capable directors, who took the new films and molded them into a more modern retelling of the original movies – evil has reared its ugly head again, and this new version of the Empire is bullying another group of rebels – this time called the Resistance. Those who were rebels find themselves fighting again. And the hardcore fanbase hated it.

These “hardcores” don’t like the themes and views shared by the new films, which are updated to focus on the modern political landscape in some pretty obvious ways. The dislike is that there are social politics, the fight against the obviously evil foe (once again, Space Nazis), and a desire to show that you’re more than your lineage and birthright in these new films.

As an aside, when I refer to “hardcores” and “fanboys” I’m referring specifically to the gate-keeping crowd who actively tries to drive “outsiders” away, like so many tusken raiders protecting a barren patch of desert from moisture farmers looking for a drop of water to survive. But I digress.

“Star Wars was perfect the way it was! Even though we hate on it anyways! Rabble rabble!”

The fanboys and hardcores don’t seem to understand that Star Wars has always been an underdog story, and a fight of good versus evil. The story is inherently political, and they literally have scenes in the films in a senate chamber, during political meetings, and much more. If you’ve ever watched The Clone Wars, it’s got even more political intrigue and politics than the films. To rail against politics in Star Wars is to fundamentally miss the point of the films.

With all this said, this ramble complete, I want to say that the reason Star Wars sucks is not because of the new films. It’s because of the whiny gate-keepers. There are many valid criticisms to be had of Star Wars films, from the Original Trilogy to modern day, but saying it’s bad because of politics or social issues just shows a complete lack of interest in what Star Wars is really about: Space Samurai fighting each other while the Space Allies fight the Space Nazis. I know it’s deeper than that, but I’ve gone so much longer winded than I intended to and wanted to try to sum it up succinctly.

My point is, if you hate Star Wars because of its themes, that hasn’t changed. You’re being obtuse because either you’re feeling specifically targeted by those themes (which means maybe it’s time for introspection) or you’re feeling you don’t relate to those themes of the struggle of good versus evil (in which case you’re living under a rock). Star Wars isn’t ruined because of prequels or because of Disney – it’s ruined because of you.

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