For a large part of my life, I have been a Star Wars fan. In the last two years, I have also become what I like to call a Star Wars Activist. What exactly is that? I’m dedicated to seeing all of Star Wars, on film at least, to be looked at as the classics they are.
One of the many commenters on my post from this weekend asked me a simple question. Why? Why do I feel the need to beat my chest and blow the horn? Why am I so passionate about it?
Well, in this post I hope to tell you why. And the answer is far from simple.
Because I’m tired of being looked at like a subversive for liking the Star Wars saga as it stands now.
If you’ve never experienced it, count yourself lucky. I was lucky enough to avoid it until shortly after Attack of the Clones had made its theatrical run. However, the sad truth is that there are people calling themselves fans who would like the world to believe that I-III are unmitigated disasters that should never be repeated.
Now I have to clarify something. I’m not talking about personal tastes here. One of my mantras is that art is subjective, even in the Star Wars fan community. Many people regard The Empire Strikes Back as the best of the saga, and yet I know many fans who, while they like it, thought it missed the mark. It’s true for any of the six. You can certainly like IV-VI better than I-III or vice versa due to what you as a person find engaging. That’s not what I’m fighting against here.
What I am fighting against are the people who feel the need to inundate every Star Wars-related article with a comment bashing Lucas or his vision. I’m fighting against the professional journalists who feel the need to lie about the critical and commercial success of I-III to make it seem like they were flops (in reality, critics were split down the middle and the films made a ton of money, exactly like IV-VI). I’m fighting against popular names in the film industry citing as a paragon of critique a man who claimed that The Phantom Menace provided no explanation to a major plot point that was actually spelled out fairly clearly in the opening crawl. It’s the attitude of “if I don’t like it, nobody else who’s smart/has taste possibly can.” I get passionate, but I invite people to disagree based on their own taste as long as the conversation is respectful. We can have intelligent debate on what each of us feels is the merits of some films over others. But when you try to call something objectively bad for reasons that are either merely subjective or else downright inaccurate? When you tell me that I am objectively wrong for finding joy in something you somehow don’t? Then I have a problem.
“So what?” you say, “It’s just trolls.” Yes, I know that the majority of fandom and the general public at least enjoyed I-III if not loved them. But Lucasfilm doesn’t know. Aside from the money generated from tickets and merchandise, all they have to go on is what is reported and blogged about. And right now, the haters have a bigger megaphone. Why else would a five minute video on the official Star Wars site entitled “The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Anakin Skywalker” devote barely a minute to I-III, Anakin’s actual rise and fall, and completely leave out his overwhelming motivation (his wife)? Why else would they totally miss the milestone ten year anniversary of Attack of the Clones?
The kind of people who just hate on Star Wars while claiming to represent the fanbase? They’re miserable and they won’t be happy until everyone else is miserable too. They’ll shoot down even the tiniest notion that I-III has any redeeming qualities, or that they somehow misunderstood what was going on in any of the films. It makes it hard to say I’m a fan. I have to defend myself against the hater mantra almost every time. I have to endure the dirty looks when I talk about what’s actually good about I-III. And on the rare occasion that they do hit on something that can be considered an objective flaw? All it does is make me see that flaw more in IV-VI than in I-III. They claim that Star Wars has been “ruined.” In the words of Obi-Wan to Anakin on Mustafar, “You have done that yourself.”
I don’t want Star Wars to be ruined. Not for me, not for my fellow fans, and not for the fans who have yet to be born. I want fans of any of the six films to proclaim whichever is their favorite without fear of being looked down upon as tasteless, or mentally deficient. I want to see all six films recognized by history for their actual quality of work, regardless of everyone’s personal favorite order. I want Disney as the new caretakers to know that the audience for the Skywalker Saga – The WHOLE Skywalker Saga – is just as big as ever and worth investing in. Last but certainly not least, I want Disney to know that it’s okay to do whatever they feel is artistically right for Star Wars – just as long as, at the end of the day, it’s still George Lucas’ Star Wars because the magic was always with George. Star Wars, and loving Star Wars, should be fun.
That’s why I’m a Star Wars Activist.
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