Special Edition: Why do Star Wars Fans hate Star Wars?
By: Adam Summers
Hell hath no fury like a Star Wars Fan perturbed. And it was my grim duty to discover this fun little tidbit when I responded to the release of Star Wars Episode III by writing a now infamous little configuration of words entitled “The Complex and Terrifying Reality of Star Wars Fandom”. Written over the course of about an hour while simultaneously watching YouTube videos and throwing around idiotic jokes with my friends, the article was intended to be a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek jab at the fan’s tendency to loathe certain aspects of his or her beloved franchise.
Umbrella all the individual complaints under one name, I realized, and as a collective it seems one could reasonably – if controversially – claim that the fans are united by hate.
I thought this was funny. Hell, I still do.
Within the article, I introduced my approach by referencing my inability to get then-girlfriend Emily to like Star Wars. Ironically, upon reading the piece she was among the first to not get it. She thought it was indeed another one of my attempts to get her to like Star Wars, and in fact the most pathetic one yet. She told me in no uncertain terms that it was the worst thing I’d ever written.
Three years later, it’s created more controversy and publicity for me than any other lame-... musing I’ve ever penned, and it’s even been translated into Spanish – or something like Spanish; I’m not Spanish so I wouldn’t know. In any case, I had hit a nerve. And the Star Wars community…responded.
There were Star Wars fans in forums who urged me to break up with Emily because I “shouldn’t have to put up with” her not liking Star Wars. There were others who demanded that she break up with me, because apparently I was a despicable human being who was about to explode with hatred. These Star Wars fans will be happy to know that since the publishing of the article, Emily has in fact left me twice. Like much of my life, this had nothing to do with Star Wars.
On the Internet, meanwhile, Googling my name would bring you nothing but Star Wars forums, where I had split the community in two. Ridiculously polarized, half the Warsies seemed to agree with me completely – defending my name vehemently against the other half who accused me of being a vile, hate-filled un-fan who had somehow mustered the gall to speak for the rest. Alarmingly few entertained the idea that the article was tongue-in-cheek, and just a bit of ironic fun.
Though I was greatly relieved to read that even those who agreed with it and took it seriously still laughed at what they perceived to be the truth of the matter. Randy Stradley, one of the founders of Dark Horse Comics, took from it the fact that “Star Wars fans are crazy” and that was a confidence boost to me in a time when I genuinely thought some Star Wars fan would corner me somewhere and encase me in carbonite.
The age-old pantomime of the Internet kicked in full force when (and this is years after the article was published and I’d forgotten about it), theforce.net picked up the article. Counter-manifestos began appearing (the article had been labeled a manifesto in the past, which I found amusing due to the fact that I always imagined men who write manifestos to be committed, somber individuals in bunkers with furrowed brows and diminutive social lives). These sprawling, self-righteous works leaped from assumption to assumption about me, and somehow managed to actually skim over the gaping holes in my own article’s silly argument.
“How can you hate so much and still call yourself a fan?” some asked.
“Well that’s, you know, the joke”, was my internal response. But of course I wasn’t actually going to say anything to anyone. In fact, I ignored the requests for interviews by Star Wars sites, knowing full well that they would expect some level of catharsis from a candid tete-a-tete which I couldn’t for the life of me deliver.
When these people find out the article was just a bit of fun, I thought, they will be insulted. They will feel patronized, and the fans gracious enough to have defended me in their various communities all this time will turn on me like a bunch of clone-troopers on a totally oblivious, computer-generated Jedi commander.
Then, I found out I had mail. Various real-life obligations had necessitated my departure from JIVE Magazine in what I believe to be 2006, and apparently some time later JIVE had begun receiving mail regarding my article. I’m going to digress for a moment now – having at last returned from seclusion, and humor some of these committed individuals with responses.
Here I am, Internet. Take your best shot:
I have to admit that your take on what is irritating and wrong in Star Wars is right on the ball. You've done some top-notch writing there, and that can only be the result of quite a lot of searching and questioning. I salute your prowess in making me smile while reading a rather exhaustive run-down of every little annoying thing in the Star Wars universe.
I am a fan. This Han Solo business got me really incensed when I first heard of it, and every time I witness the scene it makes me wince. I've worn down the cassettes from my original VHS version. I put quite a dent in the quality of the VHS set of the second version of the original trilogy. I used to be able to say that I've seen each of the canon films at least two hundred times - now I've lost count. I can actually visualize any scene of Episodes IV through VI in my mind - in original and renewed versions. But I still watch the films anyway.
I have read Zahn's sequel. I find it superior to Lucas's material in almost every way. I would actually like to see his Episodes VIII to X made to film - but obviously cinema is going to have to devise a way to create virtual Han Solo, Leia and Luke characters since the original actors are rather beyond the theoretical age bracket. Maybe in a Final Fantasy style ? Who knows.
In any case, I can relate to each and every point you have put down, and I do not think you've actually missed anything of importance.
Congratulations. I'm going to print out your text and pin it to the wall, right beside my Star Wars poster.
Thanks for a great read,
So obviously not everybody was this nice to me in their communiqués. I just thought I’d kick things off with something peaceful to which the only real response is “thanks for reading.”
Wow....what a dark perspective on celebrating the fandom of the saga you "love to hate"...The article, "The Complex and Terrifying Reality of Star Wars Fandom" is nothing more than, well, the title of the magazine you write for...Jive. The article is 100% Bantha fodder. I don't know even know where to begin other than to say your article didn't infuriate me, but instead, made me feel pity on you for not seeing any of the genius in Mr. Lucas' work. For every so called "flaw" or "failure" in the saga (none which I agree with by the way), there are dozens of story points, elements that make Mr. Lucas six-episode saga untouchable in the history of cinema. I'm not talking effects, or box office receipts, but the genius of how he told his Shakespearean myth in the form of the moving image.
Star Wars does need defending, not from itself, but from jaded fans like you who have grown up cynical, and spoiled and forgot what George Lucas' original vision was all about.
I would be glad to discuss with you how wrong you are with all of the points you find flawed in the saga. The true Star Wars fan doesn't look past any flaws in the saga, because there aren't any. Period. The jaded fan claims "Han Shot First", the true fan knows "George Edits Last". His vision is the vision. Get on or get off. Also, stop refrring to the saga as two trilogies, the original and the prequel. There's one six part saga, where one episode brilliantly complements the other...
I guarantee I have noticed 10 times more brilliant ideas (that you haven't even seen), than the "failures" that weren't up to your standards of movie-viewing.
Perhaps the reason you can't explain to your girlfriend why you love Star Wars is because you don't understand a frame of it.
Your hate leads to suffering. Yours, not mine. The true Star Wars fan loves Star Wars.
I love Star Wars.
This is the kind of thing that is repeated thousand-fold in forums all over the intertubes. While I salute you, Adam, for cleaving to the notion that there “Aren’t any flaws. Period.” in the Two Trilogies (which I must stress have so little in common that to call them one unbroken saga would be almost paradoxical), I must take to task your presumption that I “do not understand a frame” of Star Wars.
Sure I do. Permit me now to ignore the fact that the article you are responding to was a hyperbolic satire. This doesn’t take away from the fact that the reason so many people agreed with it was because around half the claims I made were legitimate grievances made by innumerable Star Wars fans. The movies do contradict each-other. This is a matter of public record. Obi-Wan did hold the twins, then forget about Leia’s existence. Anakin did forget he had built C3P0. Luke did passionately kiss his own sister.
I am also tickled by the fact that you claim Star Wars to be “untouchable” not because of box office, or effects, but in fact because of George Lucas’ masterful storytelling which is publicly and critically acknowledged as the weakest aspect of the Star Wars…Sexology? I don’t think I should tread any deeper into this mine-field with you, but I think the fact that the iconic return of Darth Vader was signaled by the baffling, respect-draining outcry of “Nooooooooo” is all we need to say regarding Lucas’ ability to take a brilliant concept and then write it like he’s authoring some kind of cooky Christmas Special.
Which, by the way, actually happened. Remember that?
Thank you for finally formulating what I was feeling all along. I saw the first film when I was 12 or so and every film that followed was a disappointment. I hated them, but as you correctly stated: I loved the idea.
Lucas did a great job in creating the technology, but telling the story was better left to someone else (Disney? look at what they did with pirates! ). Lucas even admitted he hated the whole story so I guess he went for the money, and ruined a lot of peoples dreams. You've hit the nail on the head.
Why thank you, Peter. I thought I’d slot your email in here just to drive home that I’m not the only one who noticed good ideas and poor writing in the Star Wars…Sectography? “Thanks for reading!”
Oh, you couldn’t be more wrong. Speak for yourself, which is essentially what your doing then trying to justify your flighty behavior by trying to spin to look like everyone out should feel like you do. Loved it since I was 8-loved all 6-everyone of them-I think mr lucas did the best job he could-living up to the hype that we all had created (nobody could have done a perfect job). I think your girl talked you into something that you dont really feel-look if i argued about something with you over and over again-your going to question how you feel about the subject wont you. which means you weren’t a truely loyal fan to begin with just someone who was waiting for the next big thing to like that everyone else likes too. It the most common form of self appreciation.
A gripping analysis of my psyche here, but once again I think since this was actually sent to me, a response is being sought and I’m more than happy to oblige: Then-girlfriend Emily is not responsible for my apparent bias Against Star Wars. It’s comic exaggeration. I mean, at one point I say Knights of the Old Republic is good, but you have to be an RPG fan to like it. That’s a pretty hollow “argument”, but for some reason I’ve not found one person on this whole net of inters that challenged it outright. You are, however, comfortable assuming that I’m just ‘waiting for the next big thing’. And apparently I’ve been waiting since 1977.
Thanks so much for this article. I laughed so hard I was choking -- because I SO agree with you. Fortunately, my wife just accepts my obsession and even joins in with it to some extent.
You may appreciate this: about as month before Episode III came out, my wife and I were walking into Walmart and as I was trying to avoid ANY contact with the new toys -- pre-Episode I, the whole Padme/Amidala switch thing was spoiled for me by a plastic cup! -- she was reassuring me that the movie was almost out. All of a sudden she realized what I'd thought was obvious, and said, "Oh my God, you don't WANT this movie to come out!"
I explained that she was right. For the first time in my entire life -- I'd been 8 when the first film hit the theaters -- I wouldn't have a new Star Wars movie to look forward to. I felt like that part of my life was coming to a close, and I finally had to grow up. And I didn't want to.
We went inside and as we were walking around, we saw the new Star Wars sneakers. I thought they were pretty cool, so I asked one of the employees, an older woman, if they came in big boy sizes. She said they didn't, and when I expressed my disappointment, she looked down her nose at me and said,"We all have to grow up sometime."
Ouch. Skewered at Walmart.
Anyway, thanks so much for a great read.
I thought I’d wrap up this display of the kind of thing people are saying with another un-condemning one. Thanks for reading, Nick, and I’m glad to hear your wife lets you buy whatever sneakers you want, factory specifications permitting. I’d like to use your email, if I may, to springboard us directly into the conclusion of this current article, whose objective, I suppose, has been to elucidate people with regards to what I actually believe about Star Wars. And how it compares to what people took from that one little article my friends and I chuckled over in Sydney Australia that May.
I love Star Wars. I discovered it in grade 5, and throughout my teen years it was an immersive, inspiring universe that was never far from my daily entertainments. But, as Wal-Mart employees are often heard to say, we all have to grow up sometime. And by the time the prequels came out, I had. As a writer, I was now able to discern good writing from bad, and as a movie fan I understood the process of creating a film, and where that process can and does go wrong.
However, all of this aside, Star Wars has always been and will always be for children. George Lucas understands this, and therefore I think his biggest mistake with the prequels was obscurely shoe-horning Trade Federations, bureaucrats, and groaning political systems into what should always have been a story about a boy becoming a man. At their basest levels, the two trilogies (and I apologize to the guy who told me not to call them that) are indeed separate works with separate tones. In one, a boy grows up to be a good man. In the other, a bad man.
An audience who has already grown up is perhaps not the best one to relate to this.
The night I saw Revenge of the Sith, maybe a week before writing “The Complex and Terrifying Reality of Star Wars Fandom”, it was at a small, obscure theatre in a suburb of Sydney, Australia. We waited in line for a couple hours, and obviously – it being the midnight show – the place was crawling with costumed Star Wars fans sweating in the crowded Australian night. When we’d been seated, a half hour before the film, a costume competition was held to reward the best costume.
Uber-fans dressed as Obi-wan and Darth Maul did their best to duel convincingly with plastic light-sabres. Somebody was dressed as a storm-trooper. It was apparent that these 20-30 year olds had paid a lot of money for their costumes and expected to win. Then, two young kids appeared in front of the crowd – maybe ten years old each. They had dressed up as an AT-AT made of painted cardboard boxes. The one portraying the front half of the walker was wearing a very convincing cockpit on his head. They moved like an AT-AT, too, doing their best to appear mechanical. I applauded.
Then, as the noise of the crowd began to amplify it dawned on me that these children were being boo’d. Two kids with an original, creative costume, and an obvious love for Star Wars were harassed off the stage that night by men in their 30s dressed as Jedi. Nobody else was, and I still don’t understand why.
If I had ever genuinely lost confidence in Star Wars fans – if I ever believed that they had actually forgotten what Star Wars was supposed to be about, it was at that moment.
I wrote an article the following week for JIVE Magazine. Perhaps it was about that.