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Imagination Connoisseur, Luke Becket, shares that his disappointment with STAR WARS over the past twenty years hasn’t been with the movies … it’s been with the fans. Will toxic fans ruin the things we love?
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I was listening to your show the other day about toxic fandom, and I thought I would share my thoughts about the subject. I have had such a miserable time in the past 20 years with one of Hollywood’s biggest Sci-fi series, Star Wars, but not the movies, the fans! So bad that I barely enjoy watching the movies now because doing so makes me feel as if I have to subscribe to somebody else’s idea of what a Star Wars movie should be.
Now the original Star Wars came out when I was two, so I did not see that it in theaters at the time. However, my family was one of the first families I knew to buy a VCR in the early 80’s and rent movies. One of the first movies my dad rented for us WAS Star Wars, and of course, I loved it. I also saw The Empire Strikes Back of video. Return of The Jedi is the only one of the original three I saw in theaters, and I think I enjoyed it a tad bit more then you did. In fact, I loved it.
As a child I remember Star Wars just being part of life. My friends and I had the action figures, I got a toy X-Wing fighter for Christmas, by brothers got the Millennium Falcon, and the Twin Pod Cloud Car, and we would play Star Wars all the time. Of course with a name like Luke, people would always tell me to use the force and claim they were my father…which really got annoying….but I digress…
Anyways I grew up with the original three movie, I enjoyed them, and I was happy to be part of its fandom. Then the Special Editions came out and the prequels, and my association with the Star Wars fandom slowly got eroded. Why? Because I could not stand being part of a fandom that would tell me what I could and could not like as a fan.
Now I was more than happy with the Special Editions. I never thought that adding scenes, and fixing up the Special Effects on these movies was like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa, like some people might. I thought: Extra scenes? Great! More Star Wars! I thought Jaba the Hut looked kind of cookie in the extra scene in Mose Eisly, and Han stepping on his tail was weird, but it made me laugh, so I was fine with it. Mose Eisly itself was a busy place full of creatures instead of a desolate town. Different, but OK. I could go on with more examples, but it suffices to say that I had fun watching the Special Editions. I did not think of them as destroying my childhood like some say they did.
Then the prequels. Never, with any other franchise, have I seen hatred for movies the way some fans have for the prequels. It is just mind boggling! I on the other hand, like the prequels. Are they great? No! Are they garbage? No! Some like to call them the worst movies ever made.
I do not share that point of view at all. If you think the Star Wars prequels are bad I could name hundreds of movies that are worst. Ever seen “Jaws the Revenge”?
From an imagination point of view, from a technical point of view, and from a story point of view I think the prequels did very well. Of course some of the acting was atrocious, and I do wonder what they would have looked handled by a more experienced director. I love George Lucas for many reasons, and I think THX-1138, American Graffiti, and the original Star Wars are some of the best movies ever made. However, George had not directed for over 20 years when he made The Phantom Menace, and it kind of showed. But that does not make the prequels garbage. Guess what else? I liked Jar Jar Binks!
I think what really went wrong with the prequels from a fan standpoint is that they went in wanting something, that being more of the original 3 movies, and what they got was something else. It is like going into a restaurant wanting a good burger and getting stew instead. It might be good, but you won’t like it because that is not what you wanted. That is why The Force Awakens is so popular with fans, no matter how good or bad it is. The Force Awakens is an exact copy of the original Star Wars and that is what fans wanted. Personally I hate it!
So I have spent the past 20 years defending the Star Wars prequels to a fandom that take it as a far-gone conclusion that it is impossible to like the prequels, and if you do, you are NOT a real Star Wars fan. THAT is what I call TOXIC fandom. That is what I do not like. You can argue with me your likes and dislikes of any movie.
However, you will not tell me what I can and cannot enjoy. Big Star Wars fandom does exactly that, and they do it ALL THE TIME. It makes me sick! To the point now that I do not want to be associated with them. So if you ask me if I am a Star Wars fan I will say no. If the movies are good, I will enjoy them, but I do not consider myself a fan because I do not want to be associated with a fandom which is toxic.
Now I can get their point of view on some issues. Like you, I do not like it when a mythology is established and then somebody, out of nowhere, changes it. Your example of Spock on Star Trek suddenly having a sister that was never mentioned in over 50 years, and then crediting HER for the way Spock is? That is insulting. The same might be said of Star Wars and medichlorians. Never, in the original three movies, was it said that the force was the product of medichlorians. Suddenly in The Phantom Menace it is.
This destroyed the presumption people had for over 20 years that the Force was spiritual, and made it physical. This angered fans. The difference between the two that I see, is that The Phantom Menace and the rest of the prequels were still written by its creator, George Lucas. As the creator, Lucas could invent anything he wanted because the stories were his. So if he said the Force was the product of medichlorians, then that was that.
Star Trek Discovery is not being written by Gene Roddenbarry, he’s dead. It is being written by new writers who are out to prove themselves. I just say, then write new characters and leave established ones alone. Which I can see is also your point of view.
Any of this however does not give me the right to go insult people for liking Star Trek Discovery if they do. Nor do I think, like you might, that if you were ever a fan of the previous 50 years of Star Trek, that you could not be a fan of modern Star Trek. That is very presumptuous.
Just like saying if you were a fan of the original Star Wars you could not like the prequels or the sequels for that matter. You can like anything you want. When you start telling people they are wrong for liking something for whatever reason they do, that makes them feel bad, or that there is something wrong with the way they think. THAT is what I find distasteful and TOXIC.
Unfortunately that is the way fandom seems to be these days which I find ashamed.
Are we on the same Starship about this one?
– Luke Becket