I was born in the early 70’s and have been in the Star Wars universe since the beginning. Now before you come to your own conclusion about that statement, I’m not saying that to be an elitist asshole, my point is more so that I’ve seen every iteration of Star Wars. The movies, the books, the video games, the TV shows, the toys and the made for TV movies firsthand. Sure, the quality has ebbed and flowed over the years with some products being better than others, but any franchise can say that. Try being a DC fan these days. Inconsistency is part of any fandom, but the great thing about it all was it was more Star Wars. Being around it from the beginning doesn’t make me a better fan. It just makes me a fan. Do I consider myself lucky to have seen it from day one? Absolutely. Does it make me better than someone who grew up with Revenge of the Sith being their first movie? Absolutely not. Tenure doesn’t make you a fan, passion does. And Star Wars are anything if not passionate. It’s what makes the franchise special. I’ll get back to that later.
When I was a child, Star Wars was everywhere. I was raised in a poorer area of England and money wasn’t abundant, but on the playground, even if you had a Darth Vader with no cape or lightsaber, you were accepted as part of the tribe. Star Wars was the one big equalizer. It was one of the few places I could go as a child where I was an equal. God knows there weren’t many for me. I was bullied mercilessly as a kid and Star Wars was the one place I could go to escape. It wasn’t just a film franchise, it was a sanctuary. It wowed me with stories of heroes and villains. It showed me monsters, vehicles and technology I could only dream about. It showed me that good can triumph over evil and that the underdog can emerge the victor. Most of all it taught me to never give up on my dreams. Hell, it made me want to be a writer.
That was a few decades ago. Things have changed. A lot. I’m older, wiser, but my passion for Star Wars never faded. Well, until recently that is, until a new type of fan, and I use that term loosely, came into the fray and ruined it for everyone. I’m not talking about complainers, complaining about Star Wars is nothing new. Fan complaints have been a part of Star Wars for over 20 years. The expanded universe was well known for controversial choices and stories, but it just lead to discussions and disagreements, not boycotts. In 1997, fans complained that the purity of Star Wars was tainted with the Special Editions. Personally, I liked some of the changes. Jedi Rocks on the other hand… but you know what? I had my regular versions if my sensitivities were so violated. Some of the changes were cute, some cool, some unnecessary. But Star Wars was relevant again and that was a good thing.
And then everything changed.
The decline of Star Wars fandom began in the mid 90’s. Not coincidentally around the time that the internet became a common place in homes. With the release of the new line of Star Wars figures, fans were no longer collecting to collect, they were collecting to make money as the vintage toys were now so valuable. I personally witnessed a child having a toy taken out of their hands at a Toys R Us where I was working the time, by a local reseller. I quit right after that. I wanted no part of that bullshit. We were starting to see exclusives and rare figures and that drove the collectors/resellers to desperate actions to be the ones to have them to turn them around for a quick dime.
When the prequels came out, fans were upset. It didn’t capture the magic of their childhood. You can’t really fault people for wanting that. We all long for the innocence of childhood at various points throughout life. And many people hoped that the prequels would capture the magic we experienced as a kid. However, that expectation is unreasonable and for the most part unobtainable. You can’t blame Lucasfilm for growing up, it happens to all of us. But that wasn’t the biggest issue. It was the fans and media turning on Jake Lloyd. A ten year old boy, Mannequin Skywalker as he was harshly dubbed by the media. He was bullied to the point of a breakdown. His career suffered. His education suffered, and he is now a resident of a psychiatric facility. Lovely, eh? The fan base turned on a ten year old boy and drove him over the edge.
Ahmed Best, the actor behind Jar Jar Binks was driven to the point of suicide. SUICIDE! Sure, the character was awful, but it was just that, a character. Why should an actor, a person be pushed to the absolute edge because some people who can’t get a grip on reality and tell the difference between an actor and their character.
And then in 2012, Disney bought Lucasfilm and things got worse. So much worse.
Before I continue, I am not a Disney hater. I love Disney. My wife and I are annual passholders to Disneyland and our house looks like Disney barfed all over it. I think Disney was the perfect company for Star Wars. So when I say worse, I don’t mean the quality degraded, I mean something got worse in the fan base.
I have loved the output from Disney so far. For me, Rogue One and Solo are up there with Empire and A New Hope. Sure, The Last Jedi was divisive, but it wasn’t a bad movie. Not by a long shot. Disney has given the galaxy strong female leads like Rey and Jyn,. We’re seeing more minority characters than ever before and that is great thing. My daughter has females she can look up to instead of just Leia.
After Disney took over something changed. A vocal minority, and I do believe it is a minority, God I hope it’s the minority, started speaking up. They hated the changes that Disney has made. They hated that times are changing and that there needs to be more than four speaking roles in a trilogy. Go back and watch the originals. Leia, Beru, Toryn Farr and Mon Mothma. The only speaking roles in the trilogy. We now have more people of color and sexual preference. But this vocal minority hates the changes we’re seeing. They say sexuality has no place in Star Wars, at the same time as they leer at Leia’s bikini. Sexuality is okay, as long as it’s their sexuality. And this anger and hate is tearing the galaxy in half.
Earlier, I said passion makes you a fan of Star Wars. What I’m seeing now isn’t passion.
Calling Kathleen Kennedy a feminist-nazi-c*nt isn’t passion, it’s hate.
Calling it anti-male, anti-white, SJW bullshit, isn’t passion, it’s hate.
Bullying actors off the internet because you feel their character has no place in the series isn’t passion, it’s hate.
Calling them out as fat or ugly or too thin, isn’t passion, it’s hate.
Starting boycotts because a black man was cast as a lead isn’t passion, it’s hate.
Making a less female-centric edit of The Last Jedi isn’t passion, it’s hate.
Rose-Marie Tran has been bullied off the internet. Daisy Ridley has been bullied off the internet. Hell, even Mark Hamill has had enough of the hate. Directors are now turning down offers to work on the movies because of the fan base. This hate is now on the radar of a lot of people.
I see posts talking about the actors quitting social media due to the bullying. The comments are always the same. “that’s what happens when you are famous”, “that’s what happens with social media”. But what I don’t see is people blaming the bad guys. This is called victim shaming. It’s blaming the victim for the acts of the bully. It’s your fault for being online/in the public eye etc.
The comments sections of website are the worst. Every knuckle dragging Neanderthal with a keyboard is spewing hate and contempt for the franchise. I don’t get wasting your time on something you hate. Go outside and play, it’s not difficult.
I am sick and tired of every last one of you who are ruining this franchise. I would have loved to have seen Alden do another run as Han, but you killed that. You don’t speak for me. You never have and you never will. You have taken away something I loved and for the first time in my life, I am ashamed to be a Star Wars fan. It is now synonymous with anger and hate.
I said earlier that Star Wars is all inclusive. Not anymore. We don’t want strong female leads. They are called Mary Janes, because god forbid a woman should be good at anything. People like myself who stand up against this behavior are called Social Justice Warriors as if standing up against bullies is a bad thing. Star Wars has become the very world I sought refuge from as a child. It is full of hate, cruelty, bullying and suffering. Everything Star Wars helped me escape from as a child.
The galaxy far, far away I have loved since I was a child that was synonymous with passion and love and adventure is now one full of the Dark Side and something has got to give. You are hating this franchise out of existence. I hope you’re happy, because I sure as hell am not.
And the shitty thing is, the people who need to read this the most, won’t.