Today we celebrate all things Star Wars, but 2019 finds our community at war with each other. In defending tradition, I believe we’re ruining the marvelous thing we’ve built.
Today, of course, is May the 4th, the unofficial/official international day of pride for we Star Wars dorks.
The 2019 edition finds us, I believe, at a strange pivot. We lost Chewie, RIP Peter Mayhew, but seemingly gained everything, as our new imperial overlords have decided to keep making Star Wars movies until the end of time. We, much like many other social circles, are dealing with the shifting definition of tradition, as the concepts of what we hold true are changing with time and, with it, our resistance to it grows, because what we’ve clung to, in reality, was something entirely personal to us, far beyond the characters we love.
To use an example, we mourn the closure of the small corner shop and deride the shopping megaplex that is built in its place. We may use the latter a lot more than the former, but we do so whilst lighting a candle for the old shop we ne’er ventured into. We’re grieving not the shop, but what it represented to us, personally. It is another erasure of our past and, with it, our youth.
Hence, we’ve become cinematic NIMBY’s, complaining about the later editions, but doing so whilst we line up for the latest offering. Even the laziest trip through social media today will garner you a thousand examples of halcyon recollection, as many recall the first time they saw Luke wave a lightsaber with x who is no longer y.
The Star Wars community has become notorious in this regard, what with The Last Jedi recut to exclude female characters and, in turn, the bullying of Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran – both have since pulled the plug on social media’s turgid bathtub. That is an old issue, but it will remain the same one moving forward.
As we move further away from the Empire striking back, the tiniest changes will continue to be magnified. One will always be held up to the other. This has resulted in a social schism, probably for the first time. We’ve cleaved into two camps. Those who believe that George ruined the trilogy with The Phantom Menace and modernity is repeating the mistakes. They will forever be at war with the other half of the community, who accept the old movies as the first step, but gleefully devouring the next, as more Star Wars is better than no Star Wars. For the acolytes who believe that the real number of Star Wars movies total three, it allows one to do whatever they view is required to protect what they hold as gospel. Therefore, the bullying/marginalization and the abuse of people who worked on it, or who defended it, is fine, as the ship they sail on is fundamentally broken, and they’re stupid for attempting to make us believe that it is good, or as good as the old versions.
What suffers, of course, is the standing of the community. Since forever, it has been a catchment for those who fell, a utopia for those who once supported worlds the others destroyed. However, with Star Wars so heavily saturating the zeitgeist, I fear the more antiquated members of our garden (or those who hold the same values) have grown weary with the sight of their exclusive club becoming so common and, with it, the entrance of the same influences they fled. But those views are obsolete. It will never be 1980 again.
Those who cling onto the ideals of tradition should understand that the concept of tradition changes in concert with the time that birthed it. Nothing stays the same, and everything changes, even those things that we trust to remain still. To use a canon example, George Lucas changed the originals and (for the most part) we accepted that. What we should also accept is that we’re part of something far bigger than ourselves, but we should always recognize that it has always been bigger than the individual, and the beauty of it is that there is forever room for more. Uniform support of a franchise was the only cost of admission. We’ve turned into the wretched hive of scum and villainy we once laughed at.
It’s time we recognize it.