Yes, that’s right, no matter how many things go wrong, real fans will always come back for more. Does this mean we’re trapped in an abusive fanship? Or does this mean there is still something worth coming back for every year? Both of these are opinions that have been presented to me over my decades of Star Wars fandom.
Love It or Hate It
Surprisingly, I’ve considered both of them true at one point or another. But the reality of being a Star Wars fan is that it’s bigger than all of the silly problems. Did Jar-Jar hurt all of our consciences? Of course, he did! It wounded the pride of everyone who has to defend his universe. Because whether we like it or not, he’s a part of the greater whole. This weight that is given to the franchise is a double-edged sword.
If anything is given a certain level of gravitas, then it will be inherently taken more seriously. Every aspect will be given care and painstaking work will be applied at every opportunity. It also means, however, that every decision is put up to a certain level of scrutiny that can be difficult to overcome.
What This Really Means
So as a fan of any level, it means when you express an opinion, it WILL be divisive. If you like Darth Vader because he scared you as a kid, that’s awesome. But TONS of people won’t like that because lots of Sith fans hate him for being the poster boy. There are those who would respect you because to them Anakin will always be the Chosen One. Just check out the millions of forums online debating this violently. It seems like this level of intensity shouldn’t be used to protect fandom.
With fandoms this heavy, carrying it can feel more like a religion sometimes. No, I’m not even addressing the fact that some people call Star Wars their actual religion. What I’m talking about is, as a fan, it seems like you HAVE to convince people of your opinions. So even the least pedantic and petty of us end up devolving into ravenous debate. But the creator himself has had the most complicated relationship with Star Wars.
George Lucas and Star Wars
This series has literally almost killed him twice (two heart attacks), just trying to film. He took steps along the way to show his devotion. Even being quoted about the deeper aspects of the story he clearly loved at that point.
But after every film, every project, he pulled back a little. Letting more and more responsibility go to other people. Heavy was his head, wearing the crown of all Star Wars lore. To the point where he literally sold it off to Disney, giving most of the money to charity.
For most Sci-Fi properties, there are a host of people who enjoy cosplaying their most beloved characters. But Star Wars has taken it to a level far and above the norm. The well-known organization called The 501st has made incredible contributions.
The 501st and Their Contribution
These people follow INCREDIBLY strict guidelines to design film-accurate costumes. They create character backstories and spend countless dollars and hours reenvisioning themselves into Star Wars. Their character can be a Stormtrooper, a Jedi, a Sith, a Bounty Hunter, or any other accepted Star Wars archetype. It’s a way to cosplay on a semi-regular basis, offering charity and community work. These costumes are up to such a standard, they were recently called upon to fill scenes for The Mandalorian. That’s right, being part of this community offers a possibility for screentime.
With charitable efforts always at the forefront, there are often stories that run deep. One such example can be found in a little pink droid featured in The Force Awakens. Designation R2-KT was a fan creation from a member of the 501st. Their young daughter “Katie” had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. While her battle was sadly lost, her parent was a member of the 501st. They created this working mech droid as a remembrance to their daughter. This droid now goes along with its human counterparts in the 501st to visit children’s hospitals. Bringing joy to kids experiencing what Katie had, is an incredible way to honor their daughter.
Other fandoms don’t offer opportunities like this one. Not to say that there aren’t other fan organizations with charity work in mind. There are countless uniquely amazing charitable organizations around the globe. But being a fan of other movies doesn’t hook you up with opportunity as Star Wars does.
May The Force Be With You
Yeah, I know. Yes, I did have to say it, it was honestly legally required. I checked my Star Wars tattoos and they’re contractual obligations. I have to mention that phrase a certain amount of times per day.
Okay, But Seriously…
All jokes aside, it’s the connections that fandoms offer. That’s what we’re all actually looking for, just connections with like-minded humans. It seems like it should be a simple task, but some people spend their entire lives trying this. So if what we’re searching for is the connections, then look at what kind of connections your fandom gives you.
If you are happy with the people you’ve met and connected with exploring your fandom, brilliant! With Star Wars, it’s going to be either an extremely positive, or an extremely intense experience. But with that level of love, people’s passions are going to be on display. That’s because Star Wars is what these people love.