Is My Star Wars Fandom Broken?

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I was sitting at my desk the other day at work just kind of slowly getting into the day. You know the feeling, the one where you’re being moderately productive but also trying to figure out what memes you’re going to be posting on your sites Facebook page? No, just me? Anyway, I was sitting at my desk and a customer I hadn’t seen in quite some time comes strolling in. Over the tenure of my job, I’ve built some strong relationships with customers because I’m not afraid to talk to people, and I’m kind of awesome at what I do (#humblebrag). This particular customer is a massive Star Wars fan. I’m talking tattoos, collectibles, EU book encyclopedia, the works and that’s how we built our connection. I noticed his Boba Fett tattoo and from then on everytime he would come in, we’d start chatting Star Wars.

Nothing changed this time. For ten minutes, during the early hours of work, I got to sit and talk Star Wars and got paid to do so. It was great. The customer left and I sat at my desk feeling good about the day, a feeling that would quickly go sideways, but something felt off. I put my detective hat on and tried to figure it out. The morning thus far had been fine, if not really good, I had a bunch of work to catch up on but none of that seemed to be the issue. As I was searching for problems it dawned upon me…

Where is my Star Wars excitement?

For those of you new to I Am Geek, this site essentially was birthed because of The Force Awakens. Granted, there were a number of other reasons that I started I Am Geek but having the site go up so close to the release of Episode VII was no accident. In a lot of ways The Force Awakens was the catalyst to me starting this new writing adventure and now almost seven hundred posts later, in a year where we’ll be getting Episode IX, I’m sitting here wondering if my Star Wars fandom is broken.

Is that even possible? Star Wars has been such a large part of my life. From childhood to adult, the galaxy far, far away has been a fictional home away from home. Something I could always turn on and get lost in. Outside of the prequels but it’s fair to say just about everyone feels that way. I don’t think I know one person who has gone up to me and started a Star Wars conversation with, “The other day I was really jonesing for Attack of the Clones, so I threw it on and you know what…”. I don’t think conversations like that actually happen unless they’re A.) ironic or B.) a set up for discussing a new reason why those movies piss you off to your core. We’re talking deep-rooted internal conflicts that slowly come out after months of therapy. It’s like untangling a web. “And when I learned to let go of the fact that… wait a minute! You know, the very concept of a midichlorian is bullshit! I’m supposed to believe that Anakin Skywalker is a Jesus like being conceived in his mother’s uterus because the Force was feeling particularly horny that day? And just because the guy from Taken hit me with some made up word, that was never once uttered in any of the original films, I’m supposed to walk away with this idea that this is how the Force operates now… whoa. Doc… I think we’ve got a new set of problems.”

The prequels are an easy target and not really the problem here. At all actually. My problem is I’m feeling, well, I’m not feeling much of anything. I’m kind of indifferent if that makes any sense. The strange part is I still love Star Wars. I put Empire on the other night before falling asleep and was instantly happy. I was back at the fictional home away from home almost like I had never left. I loved, loved, loved Rebels and think it’s some of the finest Star Wars storytelling out there. I’m greatly enjoying Marvel’s Star Wars comics and how they’re using it as an opportunity to expand the universe and slightly alter continuity in a way that isn’t a Jar Jar Binks abomination. Hell, I saw Solo in the theaters at least twice, maybe three times, and still feel that Disney dropped the ball on that one.

Which all begs the questions… what’s wrong with me? If I still love the stories that take place along the timeline of the original trilogy is it possible to believe that maybe, just maybe, I’m not a fan of these new films? The answer to that is I’m not sure. I honestly don’t know.

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Here’s the thing, when I saw The Force Awakens it was instantaneous love. The film was the apology I had been waiting for since the prequels. It reminded not just me, but all of us, the fun we could have while watching a Star Wars film. Yes, it’s essentially A New Hope 2.0 and that’s fine. I’m a big believer if it’s not broke then don’t fix it. JJ Abrams taking us back to the formula that made Star Wars great was an excellent first step towards healing a fandom who watched Padme Amidala essentially give up on living in the midst of childbirth. That’s what happened there, right? She just didn’t even want to try and be a mother to her twins? Stop. I know that she was “heartbroken” and what have you but come on. No complications during birth? Just didn’t want to do it anymore? Yeah, The Force Awakens definitely helped removed that taste out of my mouth.

When The Last Jedi came along, I was hyped. We even did an entire episode of the I Am Geek Podcast dedicated to the trailer. When the movie hit I was a big defendest of the film. The fandom seemed to be, and still seems to be, ripped in half when it comes to talking The Last Jedi and I wasn’t buying it. I thought this hate was not only the internet turning on something beloved but also hating for the sake of hating. I don’t know if you guys know this but the internet isn’t the happiest place in the world and the reactions to Episode VIII were so polar and so extreme that a lot of it seemed disingenuous. I even put The Last Jedi as my fourth favorite film of 2017. Maybe I should have paid closer attention to that.

Since The Last Jedi has left theaters I have watched it a whopping zero times. Zero. Not once. I didn’t buy it. I haven’t rented it. I haven’t even thrown it on Netflix to fall asleep. I have had zero desire to do so. I’m not interested or excited about it, which is weird, because I was so excited about it when it was released. I did this whole Twitter thread discussing how it was a return to my childhood, and now a year removed, I don’t want to revisit that feeling? If that isn’t a testament to how I actually feel about the movie then I don’t know what is.

Why don’t I watch it again? Is it possible that all the internet hate and fandom divide has kind of tainted the experience? Maybe. Is it because it doesn’t feel like any other Star Wars movie? That’s possible, but I remember walking away admiring the chances the film took opposed to hating them because they were different. Outside of Mary Poppins Leia, I thought there was a lot of awesome in Episode VIII. So much awesome that I don’t want to see it again? Weird, right?

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There are a number of movies that I don’t watch because I love them so much. I know that’s a strange thing to say but it’s a fact. Movies like Braveheart and Pulp Fiction are some of my favorite movies of all time, and it’s been years since I watched either. The reason being I want to keep them special. I don’t want to overwatch them to the point where they just become any other movie that exists in the world because they’re not any other movie. They’re Braveheart and Pulp Fiction. I can say with deep certainty that that’s not the reason why I haven’t watched The Last Jedi again since it left theaters. I think this stems more from disinterest.

Is it possible that Kylo, Rey, and Finn (a name I seriously had to think about because I forgot) don’t hold the same magic as Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie? Isn’t that the problem with the divide in the fandom? I believe that Star Wars can be something beyond a conduit for telling stories about the Skywalkers. Mathematically, the galaxy is infinite. I want to see Star Wars be something more. That’s why I’m excited about projects like Rebels or the upcoming The Mandalorian because they expand on what we know without having to depend on them. That’s how franchises evolve.

Who knows, maybe a trailer for Episode IX will be released during the Super Bowl and I’ll lose my face over it. Maybe that’s all it’ll take. Or maybe The Last Jedi of it all has broken my fandom to the point where I don’t know how to feel anymore. I’m kind of lost in this weird nebula where I want Star Wars content but at the same time, I’m more excited about Marvel Movies. Hmmm, is it possible to believe that the MCU has stolen my heart away from Star Wars? That I have been wooed by a new franchise that speaks to me on a deeper level than Star Wars currently is? Or maybe there just isn’t an answer. Just a hope that I can repair a broken fandom… I don’t know.

I can’t be the only one who feels this way. If you feel similar or think I’m crazy by all means sound off in the comments or throw me a line on Twitter @iamgeek32. We can make this a massive therapy session or a come to Jesus meeting where we figure out just where we are in this galaxy far, far away.

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