… to just breathe. Like for a second. I’m not asking you to stop, asking the internet to stop doing things is like standing in front of a tidal wave with your hands out expecting it to crash around you, but just take a breather. Just one. If it leads to two, great! But can we please kind of pause it all for a moment?
We are arguably in the most exciting time to be a Star Wars fan, possibly ever. There is just so much potential Star Wars within our grasp it’s mind-boggling. If you went back in time and told five-year-old Kevin that in 2019 we would have a live-action Mandalorian series, Baby Yoda, a video game about a young Jedi on the run after Order 66, three different trilogies, Marvel comics expanding canon, a theme park where you can step inside the freakin’ Millennium Falcon, a yearly convention celebrating the universe we love, and shows expanding Rogue One and potentially bringing in Doctor Aphra (latest rumor) to the live-action universe, I’m not exactly sure how I would have reacted. That’s a lie. I would have reacted with the most extreme excitement. My immediate interpretation would be “man, the future is going to be awesome.” The knowledge that this thing I love as a child would still be so important when I become an adult… I mean, what more could you possibly ask for?
Yet, instead of focusing on all that we would much rather be angry about The Last Jedi... still. There is a population of the fandom that can’t let this movie go and the press tour for The Rise of Skywalker, which should be celebrating the ending of this forty-year era of the franchise is instead continuing to invest time in this toxicity. It’s exhausting and is completely missing the point of what The Rise of Skywalker means to this franchise.
Guys, we survived the prequels. We made it past Jar Jar Binks. We somehow continued watching Star Wars movies after the “romantic” dialogue of Attack of the Clones. We didn’t turn our backs when George Lucas pissed all over the originals forcing us to strange back alley transactions to catch a glimpse of the original films. As a Star Wars fan wouldn’t you argue that we could literally get through anything at this point? I’ve written about my complicated feelings on The Last Jedi after my initial excitement but those emotions haven’t clouded my excitement for Episode IX. If anything, it’s enhanced them. How do you follow that? What comes next? How will JJ Abrams tie this all together? Am I emotionally ready to say goodbye to these characters?!
It’s okay to not like The Last Jedi. That’s your right and social media, the press, and some actors (*cough* John Boyega *cough*) are trying to force you to feed into your hate. It seems that everything being written lately is there to re-enhance the fact that this film is a “tad bit” divisive. Do I really think JJ Abrams was throwing shade at the film with a recent interview? No, but I do believe that taking his quotes out of context and click-baiting an article is feeding directly into this toxic energy that the fandom so desperately needs to shake. For Christ’s sake, we have Baby Yoda now! If there’s anything that can bring about some healing it’s little Baby Yods.
I was listening to a Star Wars podcast on the way to work the other morning (Binge Mode), and they opened the episode with the dialogue of Vader’s father confession from Empire. This is a scene I’ve watched more times than I could possibly remember yet I got choked up. I got caught up in the Star Wars of it all. That feeling of being a kid and waking up and seeing my mom bought me a figure while she was working her second job. The chills I get any time I hear John Williams’s “The Force” theme. Remembering what it was like to watch these movies as a kid and how that’s evolved into a deeper understanding of what they’ve meant to me as an adult. How they’ve shaped so much of my life beyond trying to open automatic doors with my hands. Star Wars has been such a massive part of my life that the idea of saying goodbye to Luke, Leia, Chewie, Rey, and Kylo is hard to grasp. Of course, there are going to be other Star Wars films and maybe these characters resurface as a fun easter egg, but by all intent and purpose… this is it for them. Like Threepio says, this is a chance to see our friends “one last time.”
The fact that we’re still exerting so much energy throwing hate at each other for liking a movie is missing the point. Spoiling the movie for a whopper is missing the point. Ruining the experience for someone else because their opinion differs from yours is missing the point. Don’t forget, only a Sith deals in absolutes. Star Wars has taught us about hope, acceptance, and becoming the best possible you imaginable. Why should we ignore those lessons now? Aren’t they what we love so dearly about these films? The divisive nature of the fandom feels more and more like the fall of the Republic. A fandom dying to thunderous upheaval that is drowning the possibility of conversation.
Geeklings, the internet is going to internet. No matter what you’re going to find people who hate something for the sake of hating something. But when a fandom turns on itself so decisively making it seem that being a Star Wars fan means you either have to be in Column A or Column B, well, that’s just sad. It’s defeating to the kid in all of us who played with the action figures or read the books to escape to a galaxy far, far away. We are a week away from the end of a saga. Something we’re all clearly passionate about. Maybe if we just take that breath and a step back we can try and enjoy this final ride. Star Wars will continue to exist but this is the last time that it will exist like this. Wouldn’t it be better if we put down our grudges and anger and enjoyed it together? Who knows, isn’t it remotely possible that The Rise of Skywalker enhances the viewing of The Last Jedi? Then you’ll be left wondering, what was this all for. So much venom and anger spewed over something that no longer matters. That you have lost this opportunity to celebrate the thing you love. It’ like looking into the horizon of Tatooine and not seeing the dual sunset… just dust.
And if that doesn’t work, maybe just look at some Baby Yoda gifs/memes and try to find center. The Skywalker Saga is ending next Friday, maybe let it all go and have some fun with it. If only for a minute.