I owe George Lucas an apology. When I was younger, I was one of the negative fans who bashed him for the quality Prequel movies. Not with any basis in cinematic criticism, not because my actual opinion of them was all that low, but merely because the people around me were doing it. Continuing off of my thought process in the last article (which you can find here), I thought to myself, If we as a fanbase want to begin to promote positivity above all else, then it is important to admit our past wrongdoings. Myself and many others like me, need to sit down and remember that Star Wars hate is not a new thing. I was once part of that. I was wrong to be.
I was eight years old when The Phantom Menace came out. I didn’t care about Jar Jar being a weird character and I didn’t have any opinions on the political goings on between the Trade federation and Naboo. I just thought everything I was watching was awesome. So why do I have such a strong dislike for Gungans now? Why is my default response to anyone asking about the prequels to start sentences with “I know, they aren’t good.”? Well, I think it was all because of the fans.
Lately, fans have forgotten that Episodes I – III had almost equal amounts of negativity thrown at them. George Lucas was consistently told by his fans that he ruined Star Wars. He had the same kind of hateful rhetoric and threats thrown at him that we see being flung at current generation Star Wars cast and crew. The difference is, for the most part, this became the commonplace mentality. Sure, not everyone was threatening to blow up Lucasfilm or some other nonsense, but the universally agreed upon truth was that “These movies are bad, the Originals were better.” The fans told this to their friends and family until it was accepted by people who had never even SEEN the movies.
Once this “truth” was established, if you were a kid like me who grew up on the Prequels and generally enjoyed them (even loved them), you couldn’t say that to your friends. It was “uncool” to like these movies. You had to say that the Originals were better. You had to say the Special Editions were terrible because your friends said it. Your friends thought it because the older people in their life thought that. At this point in my life, I had never even SEEN the non-Special Edition theatrical cuts. But I had to pretend I had. Eventually, pretending not to like the prequels became actually disliking them. I said it so much to so many people, I actually started to come around to that idea, and then telling other people that they were bad. At that moment, I was a toxic fan.
What do I mean when I say I was a “toxic fan”? Remembering back I don’t think I was nearly as hateful or belligerent as some of the people in the fandom now. But I was overly critical of someone who was directly responsible for a significant portion of my childhood happiness. All because the people around me said he was bad at his job.
George Lucas gave us Star Wars. It was from his mind that this cultural juggernaut was born. And we drove him out. We let the hateful fans influence the popular opinion and did nothing to stand against that. A good portion of the people who are calling for his return are the same ones who railed against his work when he still owned Star Wars. And this attitude was then inflicted upon young people who only wanted to be part of the phenomenon of Star Wars. George wasn’t the only victim. We stand against the things that have been said to Kelly Marie Tran, Daisy Ridley, and other new generation cast and crew, but I never saw the same efforts being made for Hayden Christensen, Jake Lloyd, or Ahmed Best. I see it now, and I’m sure it was around then, but it most certainly was not the focus.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I was right as a teenager to go with the popular opinion over my own. I’m not excusing my past actions. I could have set an example among my peers and said “Eh, even with all their flaws, I still liked them.” I didn’t do that even thought that was what I originally thought, and that’s terrible. But I ended up being able to come around because of people who DID set that example.
That’s what I’m trying to do now, with this podcast, and by interacting with and promoting people who are doing the same. So let’s be positive in our conversations, smart and mature in our criticism, and mindful that the example we set will be the precedent followed by the next generation of Star Wars fans.
Let’s remember too, the people who just got caught up in the rhetoric of the toxic fans CAN be convinced and influenced by your positive Star Wars experiences. Some people cannot be reasoned with, but not all are lost. Continue to push your Star Wars love and renounce the toxicity, and someone like me will wake up and join our fight for a better, happier, positive fandom.
To Mr. George Lucas, I say: I am sorry for forgetting the lessons your Galaxy taught me. Fear of not fitting in lead to anger at my own opinions. That anger lead to a perceived hate of something I never really hated. And that hate lead to suffering. But I was returned to the light by the legion of positive people who reminded me of what it was like when I was a kid, to be absorbed by the magic you created. The generations after me deserve to experience that same magic. We’ll keep the light on for them. Thank you for creating Star Wars. May the Force be with you.
Another long article. I promise these won’t consistently be about negative fans. It’s just what was on my mind. Who are your favorite positive Star Wars influences? Let us know down below.