Star Wars Fandom: Finding Light Within the Darkness

Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about Star Wars. From Solo’s diminishing returns at the box office to the report that the standalone films have been put on hold, Star Wars fandom is at a weird place. Some people think that Star Wars isn’t special anymore. While I don’t believe this, I will agree that Star Wars is in an odd state.

There was a story this week about a podcast titled “Rebel Force Radio” (they’ve deleted their twitter due to the scandal) regarding negativity towards the host of The Star Wars Show, Andi Gutierrez. The hatred came from Andi having posted a photo holding a Star Wars toy, where you can see a mug in the upper right hand corner of the photo that has the words “fanboy tears” on it. Rebel Force Radio then posted a photo of Andi drinking from the mug. The tweet has since been deleted, but that’s not where the hatred ends. Bryan Young posted a series of sound bites on twitter from episodes of a Rebel Force Radio podcast, which you can find 

The most alarming part of the clips are when RFR rants for about 45 seconds about what will happen when “all of these comic book series all feature women and the sales just plummet”. To be honest, it was really hard listening to that clip. I heard it 5 times just to make sure I got the quote right. While this is a single example of hatred from Star Wars “fans”, this is not an isolated incident. Since the release of The Force Awakens there has been a lot of disdain for the fact that the “new Star Wars” has featured many women, from the likes of Rey, Jyn Erso, Vice Admiral Holdo, and Qi’ra just to name a few. Some people don’t feel like this is “their Star Wars”. And while that in itself is okay, the way they express that sentiment is not. I have a hard time calling such people fans, so I’ll just refer to them as commentators. These said commentators have attacked Kelly Marie Tran in recent time due to their dislike of her character Rose in The Last Jedi.

As many people know, I really did not like The Last Jedi. I’m not going to back down from my opinion just because a lot of people come at me for it.. A lot of these commentators also didn’t like The Last Jedi. Disliking a movie is fine. What they’re doing to put themselves over the edge is embracing hatred: hating on the actors in the films they don’t like, being racist and sexist towards actors, and attacking fans of the films they didn’t like. This has to stop.

After the release of Batman v Superman in 2016, a lot of the DC fandom became vicious towards people who didn’t like BVS. At the time I laughed at them. I like DC comics and films, but I love Star Wars. I always thought Star Wars would be above this type of hatred and bigotry. Well, I was wrong. It has gotten so much worse that I ever expected.

I want to get this point across before people just tell me that I’m a hater because I don’t like a movie they like: I LOVE STAR WARS. I saw The Force Awakens 12 times in theaters.

Yeah, 12 freaking times. I loved that movie. I’ve gotten made fun of my whole life for being a Star Wars fan. Yet, that’s not the point. The point is that even through the tough times that we’re in, I still love Star Wars. I think it’s important in these times we live in to make sure we don’t include those commentators into the discussion when we’re talking about Star Wars fandom. Back during the Kelly Marie Tran situation, I saw a lot of people saying “Star Wars fans suck” and “Star Wars fans have become absolutely toxic”. This hurt me. The people that were being referred to as fans are not fans. They DO NOT represent the Star Wars fandom. I think this is a really important distinction to make when we talk about the saga from a galaxy far, far away. It’s okay to dislike a part of Star Wars. You’re still as much of a Star Wars fan as the guy next to you who loved the movie you have problems with. It’s also okay to love something that someone else doesn’t like (yeah, you can like the prequels).

While Star Wars fandom is in a really tough state right now, I think we’re going to recover from this. The whole time while i’ve been writing this I’ve been listening to Star Wars music. “Leia’s Theme” played, and it reminded me of how I think Carrie Fisher would act in these tough times. In my mind, Carrie would just look at someone who was spewing hatred and give them the middle finger. That’s why we love Carrie. She didn’t put up with this kind of stuff.

If you’ve ever been to a Star Wars Celebration you know the love and affection Star Wars fans have towards their franchise. I attended Celebration 2016 with two of my good friends. My friend Keenan and I slept overnight just to get into the 40th anniversary panel, which we ended up not even getting into to. The focus then shifted to us trying to attend the Last Jedi panel, which was the following day (we’d have to sleep overnight to get into it). Keenan and I went to Walmart and both bought food, and some floating devices thingies you use in a pool, but we bought them to sleep on. I asked an attendant when she thought we  should get in line for the Last Jedi panel, and she told me to get there at around 6pm on Thursday night (the panel was Friday morning). Keenan and I got there at 5pm that Thursday just to find that there was a line two miles long full of people waiting to stay overnight to get into the Last Jedi panel. We were crushed. We didn’t know what to do. We’d come so far and missed out on the two panels we really really wanted to go to.

As we were walking back to our car, I got a text from my previous Force Talk Podcast co-host Josh Pepper about a Collider meet and greet that night. Keenan and I decided to go to the meet and greet, even though we were pretty devastated from the previous day. I think it’s safe to speak for Keenan here; the meet and greet from the great people at Collider saved our Star Wars Celebration. We just hung out and talked about Star Wars to people who loved Star Wars. It was an amazing night, and our whole attitude shifted after the event.

 

This is what I want Star Wars fans to focus on. Even when you haven’t liked one of the past few films or are having issues with some of the things in Star Wars, there’s going to be more. You’re going to find something that you love.  Find someone who loves Star Wars, and talk to them about it. Who cares what some random angry guy on twitter thinks about the saga they’re “fans” of. What matters is what YOU think of Star Wars. So many of us fans love the saga so much. We need to be vocal about this and not let people spew hate into something so great. You can still love the saga even if you dislike certain parts of it. Embrace the love within the Star Wars community, it’s a truly special thing.  

Trey Mitchell

The creator of The All Around. I'm a student at the University of Tampa. Originally from Denver, Colorado. I've written for Star Wars News Net and Dig in Denver.

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