Other than Star Wars, my greatest worldly passion is health and fitness. Ergo, I pay attention to the heroes of the fitness world as I do the heroes of the Star Wars world. One of my favorite men in fitness is world champion bodybuilder Kai Greene, who has words that I think Star Wars fandom most heed: “Thoughts become things.”
In this new and unprecedented Star Wars era that is upon us, we must very seriously take into account that more often than not the things that we think become self-fulfilling prophecies. So, if we desire Star Wars to be everything we want, and frankly need, it to be, we must think it into being.
For the most part we have been doing this. Fan reaction to the new era has been mostly positive. Further, fans young and old have enjoyed The Force Awakens, as told by the astounding box office numbers. Along with that, most of the books and comics have proven to be enjoyable reads that have provided closure for some characters (Ventress) and a revival of others (Vader).
Nonetheless, I have a baby Sarlaac pit of anxiety deep within me, causing me to fear the day when things take a swift and nasty turn toward the dark side. History tells us that this is a very real possibility. In the era of the prequels, initial reaction toward Episdoe I and II were that they were wonderful films that added greatly to the mythology of the galaxy.
Then, the internet. Quicker than Paul Revere on a speeder bike, the message boards began shouting that George Lucas had committed treason by making the prequels. Now, some 16 years later, prequel fans are still having to defend themselves for liking the film.
Basically my point is that this scares me more than the idea of Jar Jar Binks being Snoke (which is a debate for another time). Why? Well, because if the rhetoric towards The Force Awakens turns to focus on the negative I fear that it will take fandom down a dark and destructive path that will do more damage than the debate of the prequels could ever fathom.
Please do not mistake what I am saying. If you loved The Force Awakens, great. If you hated it, great. If you are somewhere in the middle, or have a quibble here or there, fantastic. I just ask that you not demonize someone because your opinion varies from his or her’s opinion.
With Star Wars reasserting itself back into the popular culture in such a grandiose way, I have had the pleasurable opportunity to introduce new people to this great mythology. Yet I find myself having to temper their expectations and clear their minds as much as possible so that when they do see the films it is truly them seeing it and not the loud voices on the internet/in the media watching it for them.
For example, I recently had the joy of showing my girlfriend her first Star Wars movie when we went to see The Force Awakens. When she told me that she’d like to see it while it was still in the cinema, I began to feel a great weight bear down on me. It was expectations, my own this time, pulling on me like a tractor beam.
Thoughts began podracing through my head: What do I tell her? Should I give her any background information? What if she doesn’t like it?…. On and on like this for weeks before we got to see the film.
Fortunately, she enjoyed the movie. I had come to the conclusion that unless she were to sit down and watch the whole saga, I would just want to keep telling her more and more until she was drowning in information walking into see the movie. Rather than that, I let her experience it in her own way. Nonetheless, this experience taught me something very important about my fandom and the fandom of others: let it be.
As fans we want to share the love and joy that Star Wars has brought us with the people we meet. As we should. But honestly, we need to take into consideration the fact that everyone has the right to his or her fandom experience. We need to be welcoming of that, not attack someone because he or she views things differently from you. Do you really think Star Wars would have stuck around this long if we all had the same ideas about it?
The is going to be, and has been, a great influx of brand new fans and revived fans as this new era has begun. Some of them may want to consume every morsel of information, and some of them will only see the movie once or twice. Some of them will want to debate and discuss, some of them will not. Some of them will like the mythological aspects of the saga, and some will just like the battles and blasters. We need to not only be okay, but be welcoming toward that. If we don’t we endanger Star Wars in greater ways than we can even imagine.
So ladies, gentlemen, Wookies, and droids too, let’s just let people enjoy Star Wars in their own unique, amazing, and special ways. It is the will of the Force.