I’ve been bullied most of my life.
Seeing as how I spent Elementary school at a Hebrew private school, I was thankfully never really bullied for being Jewish. However, due to behaviors and proclivities that I only now realize are heavily connected with Asperger’s Syndrome, I’ve still been bullied for just about everything else about me.
I’ve always been the weird kid with the long hair. The guy who would overreact when you got stuff wrong, so let’s do it on purpose to get a reaction. In college, I was too weird for the other theatre kids. Oh yeah, you read that right.
So naturally the three things that make me angrier than anything else are the following: Maliciousness, dishonesty, and hypocrisy. I hinted at all these as the reason I’m a Star Wars activist in my inaugural entry of this very column. But I feel I must further elaborate on why things like the cancellation of Clone Wars and the 3-D rereleases makes me so depressed and angry.
The Phantom Menace is my favorite film, we all know this. For those of you who have never been bullied, or forget what it was like, I want to take you down a little hypothetical.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are a fan of the Earth, everything about the planet, but most of all you love the sky. You just love looking at the sky. Then somebody comes up to you and says “The sky sucks.” “Oh really?” you say, “why is that?” “Well, for starters, it’s that ugly shade of puke-green. Everyone knows green is horrible.” You look up and say “But…it’s blue. And even if it weren’t, there’s nothing terribly wrong with green…” “Wow, you’re an idiot,” the guy says, “even monkeys can see it’s green, and that green is objectively bad. Plus, it’s got all these birds and bats flying around, mucking it up. Not like the ocean. The ocean is classic.” Now, you love the ocean too, but you have to speak up “But the ocean has tons of lifeforms in it. In fact, much much more than the sky. And, frankly, a little bit of green…” “That green wouldn’t be there if the guy in charge of the sky hadn’t put it there after I fell in love with it. At least water supports our life. The sky is useless.” “But the sky has air,” you say, “which is also essential…” “What the hell have you been smoking?!”
This goes on and on, the guy never realizing that he’s calling you an idiot for liking something that has the same things that the part he says he loves has.
Now imagine it wasn’t just one idiot, but the mainstream media. What if everyone who spoke about the Earth couldn’t go two paragraphs without saying something like “Everyone is indebted to the creator for the Earth, but nobody really cares for the puke-green sky.” Imagine having the same argument with nearly everyone you meet, nobody realizing that the sky is in fact blue, and becoming ostracized because of it. “We don’t care if you like the sky,” they say, “as long as you admit at the end of the day that it’s a horrible creation that should never have been.” And you know the sky has its flaws, it’s not perfect, but neither is any other part of the planet. And you know people, plenty of people, who like the sky too, but nobody talks about them. However, you can never bring up how much you adore the sky again without someone thinking you’re insane.
I know this is a huge exaggerated example, but feel free to substitute anything that makes sense to you. This is how it feels to me and to a lot of others when someone bashes I-III. It’s not that they don’t like it, people’s opinions are their own, but it’s the way they treat those opinions as absolute fact when most of the time they don’t even have the information correct. You can like Star Wars, love it, hate it, feel indifferent towards it, whatever. Hell, have your own order as to which ones you prefer. But the objective elements regarding how the movies are made and handled are exactly the same. If the objective criteria makes one good, it makes them all good. If the objective criteria makes one bad, it makes them all bad. You could debate over which one it is and I’d heartily respect your opinion either way. But realize when it comes down to a subjective disagreement and treat it accordingly.
This is how I’ve felt as part of the Star Wars fandom for the last decade or so. And this ties deeply into why Disney is losing the confidence of me and those within my circles.
I’m sure there are legitimate reasons why so many Star-Wars related projects are being cancelled at this time. I’m also sure that those reasons have nothing to do with what we’ve been told. As Jar Jar Binks once put it, “That smells stinkowith.” It has been said by many in my circle that George Lucas owes us nothing, and I stand by that. He can do what he wants with his art, regardless of how we feel. The trouble is, he’s not in complete control anymore. In fact he’s starting to relinquish it. So now we have a group that did not create this and therefore has a very real chance of “getting things wrong,” as the haters have had the audacity to accuse Lucas himself of on a number of occasions. With all this emphasis on IV-VI era stuff and the sweeping under the rug of projects that owe a lot to I-III era, this feels like the old chestnut of a lover leaving the one who was loyal and loving to try and court the ex that did nothing but abuse them and their memory.
But that’s being a little extreme. As I write this, it starts to sound too similar to the very thing I’ve been railing against for years. Perhaps I’ve fought so hard against the dark side that it has quickly joined me in the fight. As much as they shouldn’t cater to the haters, there’s no reason they should cater to me or my friends either. They should cater to who Star Wars has always catered to: the 7-12-year-olds who appreciate the stories and get lost in them so that they grow up to be us.
So I will not demand, as the haters do, that things go my way. I will not be that presumptuous. And as long as George is still involved even slightly, I will not espouse conspiracy theories about malicious brutality against my own nostalgia. I will not go into Episode VII expecting to hate it, and even if I end up disliking it the last thing I will do is perpetuate the cycle of bullying.
What I will do is ask, as humbly as I possibly can: Disney, please don’t alienate the fans of all ages who love the Saga just as it is now. Please do the best you can to highlight all the films equally, I-VI and beyond. Every time you authorize a piece of Boba Fett or Han Solo merchandise, please at least consider throwing in a Jar Jar Binks or Sebulba in the line too. If that’s a lot to ask, I understand. Whatever happens, may the Force be with you. Always.
Addendum 3/22: I actually won't understand. I'll never truly understand why so many people are so venomous against I-III. But I won't get in your face about it. I'll just most likely stop buying merchandise that's not I-III related which, aside from the occasional action figure I need, is pretty much what I'm doing now anyway.