Being a real friend means that you are there, with love through thick or thin, through good or bad. When a friend does something you don’t like, do you cast the friend out? Disney didn’t kill Star Wars, nobody can kill such a thing, but toxic fandoms have spread like a disease across the internet by bitter beings, at the cost of the fans that just want to enjoy things for what they are.
Toxic fandoms are the single reason I am apprehensive about the news of Hulu developing a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, not because I think it will be bad, because I do not look forward to people pissing on it like they did the 2005 movie.
**WARNING: LIGHT STAR WARS AND RISE OF SKYWALKER SPOILERS AHEAD**
I am tired of hating the things that I love. I am tired of all the hate of the internet for the things that I love. I decided some time ago that rather than sit and fume over these things I would dwell on the bits that I like, rather than those I don’t like, and you know what? I am a happier person for it. The internet is full of callused assholes, as illustrated each day in all of our social media feeds. They fart out shitty opinions on nearly everything that many of us have become all too accustomed to taking deep breaths of and swearing they smell of roses. I think it says more about our culture than it does our entertainment that we have become more likely to point out first what we don’t like about a thing, rather than enjoy the parts we like.
I am a fanboy, like my father before me.
I have been a rabid Star Wars fan for my entire life, at least this is to say as far as I can remember. I was knee high to Yoda the first time I saw Luke standing in those twin suns setting on Tatooine, and I haven’t looked back. There is hardly a fan out there that would debate that the original Star Wars trilogy was anything other than perfection, but then there wasn’t an internet yet. If there had been A New Hope would have been ridiculed as derivative, Empire Strikes Back belittled as a cash grab, and Return of the Jedi? Fucking Space Bears.
There has been, as we know, a lot of hate for the Prequels. No, they weren’t perfect, but they were still Star Wars. Little Anakin’s acting was annoying, but then most boys his age are annoying. Anakin was the little boy who caught wind that grown ups thought he was the Chosen One, if that wouldn’t make you full of yourself I don’t know what would. Jar Jar Bink, while I fully admit I would love to see him fed to a Rancor had his place in the story when it comes to the people of Naboo recognizing indeginous rights, and the Battle of Naboo would have been lost if it was not for the Gungans. You sir hate Jar Jar becausa heso annoying, I hate him because he gave Palpatine emergency powers in the Senate in Episode 3.
The worst part of Episode 2 was Obi-Wan’s hair. He looked like that cool guy that was just a little too old for a Dave Matthews band concert, but he was going anyways. Again, more annoying Anakin, this time a teen angst Anakin. Pre-Vader Anakin in all his annoyance built the character of Vader as more of a tragic figure. An arrogant youth, headstrong and full of himself, that only figures shit out after he’s fucked up everything. So what after that? Well, Sith happens.
The scene where Anakin, newly made Darth Vader, marches into the Jedi Temple with a battalion of Clone Troopers is one of the most iconic in the Saga. If that doesn’t get your fanboy engines revved up, I don’t know what will.
“Master Anakin, there are so many. What do we do?” Lightsaber ignites.
Oh snap, they went there, dayyyyum. Padame stands in the window, on the other side of the city. Smoke rises from the Temple. She doesn’t know what is happening, she doesn’t know that the person she loves most has turned to the Dark Side. Our hearts are with her, at least until her eyebrows do that thing they did on Mustafar.
“You’re breaking my heart, Anakin.”
I could go on, and on, but the point is that in each of the films there are things we cringe at, and things we love. We have to take them as a whole, rather than bit by bit. If the prequels were never made then we would never have had the Clone Wars animated series. Why do we, and I mean you here, dwell on the things we don’t care for rather than celebrate the good in things. Luke felt good left in Vader, why can’t you find good in the new Star Wars movies? Have we forgotten how these films made us feel when we first saw them? Nobody should watch Star Wars as their adult selves, rather through the eyes of yesteryear. When there was still hope, still adventure, before the ugliness of the world had it’s way with us. I love Star Wars because how it makes me feel.
I fear something terrible has happened.
When we first heard that Disney bought Star Wars, it was like we all felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror. Nobody knew what was going to happen. Was Mickey Mouse going to be a Jedi now? What horrible cash grubbing crab were we going to be subject to? The Force Awakens, and we suddenly saw Star Wars logos on everything. I saw Campbell’s cans with Chewbaca on the side so big it was hard to tell if it wasn’t in fact Wookie soup. Grapes with Yoda on them, I mean why not? It’s all green. Kylo Ren bath and body wash, never did get to find out what that smelled like.
The Force Awakened, and so did the fan hate. All in all, I liked the movie. It was a good introduction for a new generation of fans. New characters for new fans to relate to, that were of course quickly dismissed by fan hate. “A woman and a black dude, oh yeah real original.” That thought didn’t enter my mind until I saw it said on the internet. I saw conversations about why Phasma’s armor didn’t have boobs. Yeah Starkiller base was just a bigger Death Star, but it makes sense coming from an Empire that like the Nazis they were modeled after, had an obsession with super weapons. There were dozens upon dozens of conversations picking apart every single bit, rarely if ever did I see talk beyond my own household on how the film fit into the whole saga.
Rey’s humble origins on a desert planet were said to rip off Luke, rather than mirror it. Her connection to Leia was said to be unfounded or unexplained. Scarcely a soul wondered if there was going to be something more in the future. The Force is mysterious, after all.
When Kylo killed his father to try to free himself from the calling of the Light, and our beloved Han Solo fell from that bridge into the darkness I wept. I clenched my wife’s hand in the theater, and was only consoled by the sobs of others over their popcorn. I felt something there, that we were united as fans. That were all knew this had to happen, the torch of Star Wars had to be passed. I didn’t expect these new movies to be anything else. I’ll never forget dropping my brother off at home after the show, he stood in the doorway of his house, solemn as we drove back into the night ourselves towards home. That night is forever ingrained in my Star Wars memories.
A New New Hope: The Last Jedi
When we last saw Rey, she had found Luke. I kind of wondered where his neck went, but I was so very excited for what I thought was about to happen. Luke would be to Rey like Obi-Wan and Yoda were to him, and train her in the ways of the Force. This was going to be where these new movies finally took off. My head almost exploded with anticipation. Rey’s arm extended with Luke’s lightsaber in hand, she met eyes with him, this was going to be epic and I was about to cry…
Luke tossed the lightsaber.
Okay Luke, what the fuck man? We wanted Luke Like Obi-Wan and we got Jolee Bindo. What followed was more of less than we wanted, and more of what we didn’t want. Blue alien titty milk, a Luke that would murder a student while he slept. Poe’s “your mom” joke to the First Order. Like many fans I found myself wondering what it was we were watching. While the fight scene in the red room was visually pretty neat, if you actually watch the choreography it is sloppy.
Who was Snoke? Rey’s parents were no one? Carrie Fisher passed away, why didn’t they just kill Leia off? Let’s be mad about this…it’s not like they are going to make another movie that might cover these things, right?
I could go on and on, but pointing out these faults has been done ad nauseum. I admit I was disappointed, but not as nearly as much by the film as by the fans. Suddenly all of Star Wars has been ruined. As a fanbase we suddenly forgot that there were definitely cool parts of the movie. Fans moaned that the Force Awakens was derivative, but when given something new to chew on they decried it as heresy. What alleged fans did to Rose, actress Kelly Marie Tran, was abhorrent.
Almost everyone seemed to have forgotten that Star Wars is something we love. I’ve re-watched Last Jedi a dozen and a half or more times now. I have long since settled on the things I didn’t care for, and realized that as much as we cry “this isn’t Star Wars,” it is, in fact Star Wars. I am convinced some editing would profoundly help the feel of the film. I realized that Star Wars isn’t a single movie, it is a saga. It is a saga that should be watched as a whole rather than for it’s parts. Of course there will be ups and downs, but we need to stay seated until the ride is no longer in motion.
I saw Rise of Skywalker on opening night.
(This is where some of those spoilers I mentioned are.)
Then I went and saw it the following morning, and again later that day. Folks, it was amazing. It was just about everything that it needed to be. The secret planet of the Sith! Leia’s training as a Jedi! Luke’s Force ghost admits he was wrong, and says that the weapon of a Jedi should be treated with more respect when Rey is about to toss his lightsaber. No weird blue alien titty milk at all!
We learn who Snoke was, and that Rey’s parents were nobody because they chose to be for a greater good. We saw in the final battle that it isn’t armies that win wars it is people, just people who bind together to fight against tyranny and darkness.
If you haven’t seen the film yet, go today. Today, December 27th, is the anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s passing and seeing the movie would be a perfect way to honor our princess. Go see it, and leave your bitter, hateful, beaten down self at home. Bring the good in you, the childlike wonder that fell in love with the saga long ago, in a galaxy far far away. You’ll fall in love all over again, and remember what it was that you loved in the first place.
But if you see it, and still can’t just enjoy a thing for what it is, rather than what it is not, do us real fans a favor: Shut the fuck up. Nobody needs more hate. Just because the child in you is dead to the world doesn’t mean you get to ruin the fun and enjoyment of others. See the saga as a whole, for it’s good, for it’s bad, for it’s everything. That is how the Force works.