The Dark Side of Modern Star Wars Fandom

The Dark Side of Modern Star Wars Fandom

Over the last few years, the Star Wars community has experienced a major divide - what's causing it?
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By the time you read this, Solo: A Star Wars Story will have been released. It is the fourth Disney-era Star Wars movie, the fourth written by Lawrence Kasdan, and the first directed by Lucasfilm alum Ron Howard. That should indicate that the fan reaction would be relatively positive, right? Well, not exactly. It's one thing to question why the story of a young Han Solo should be made into a movie, but there is a small but very vocal side of the fandom that just rejects any of the Disney productions out of hand, and will make it very clear that you shouldn't like them if you're a “real fan.” I feel there is too much of a divide in the Star Wars community, not unlike the political division we see now in the country. Of course varying points of view are nothing new to the Star Wars fan community, a toxicity in it has become a very visible aspect. At the core, the series appeals to all generations – so what's the problem with the new generation having “their” Star Wars?

When the Prequel Trilogy started in 1999 with the release of The Phantom Menace, fans were split. Some liked the movie, others hated it, and in time, it became more hated than loved. Which is fair, it has its share of problems – namely, Jar Jar Binks. Attack of the Clones had a similar effect on the fans, though it is usually considered better than the previous one. This film also spawned several memes and jokes in time, focusing on the dialogue that wasn't exactly natural. In 2005, the final installment in the trilogy was released, titled Revenge of the Sith. Unlike the previous two, fans generally considered Episode III the best of the prequels, and the memes were more in fun than in ridcule. However, over time, it became the norm to hate every single aspect of the Prequel Trilogy, like they were the absolute worst thing to happen to the world. The infamous RedLetterMedia reviews didn't do much to help this, going in and nitpicking the movies, trying to find issues with them. Eventually, their opinion became the only acceptable opinion, and anybody who liked the PT were looked down upon by the fandom. Not even the Original Trilogy was safe from fandom rage however. With every re-release since 1997, George Lucas added new scenes or re-did effects on the films, and fans generally dislike these “Special Editions.” Debates have been held on whether “Han Shot First” and much hate was thrown towards the changed ending to Return of the Jedi, where the Force Ghost of Anakin Skywalker, originally portrayed by Sebastian Shaw, was replaced with Hayden Christensen (who played the character in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith). The fandom had all but turned on Lucas, who repeatedly said he didn't want to make additional Star Wars films because all the fandom was doing was saying “what a terrible person” he is. Of course the entire fandom wasn't, but it's the vocal few that become the speakers for the whole.

Fast forward to 2012, and the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney was announced, along with new movies in the series being developed. Almost immediately, fans were divided. Some felt there shouldn't be more Star Wars movies at all, and the books/video games/etc were good enough to continue the story, while others were looking forward to them, though there was a slight bit of fear that the films would be closer to say, the MCU or a “safe” Disney film than Star Wars. And I'll admit, I was concerned these new movies might not be as good, but I never said Disney would ruin the franchise. Two years later, we reached what I would consider the breaking point among the fandom. It was announced that the Expanded Universe, the title for the countless books, games, TV shows, anything that wasn't a movie or the 2008 CGI animated The Clone Wars series, would be ending and the new “Canon” would be completely unified. Groups started up, claiming the EU was the “real” Star Wars and the Canon would be “fan fiction,” that it didn't matter if the general audience didn't read thirty years worth of books, the new movies should follow the EU and if the average person doesn't understand it, that's fine because Star Wars movies need to be made for fans not for the audience as a whole. Because there is no quicker way for a franchise to die than to completely alienate the people who didn't keep up with the series because they don't have time to invest into it. And there's no shame at all in that, not everybody who likes Star Wars has to know everything about it. George Lucas himself didn't keep up with the EU, he didn't even consider it canon – his own drafts for the Sequel Trilogy were going off his own ideas, not following the books that were set after the OT. And for the record, the EU became too confusing and over the top for anyone to really follow - killing off Chewbacca for shock value, books that contradicted each other to sentient mountains (yes, Mount Sorrow was a thing), it's for the better that they unified canon and let those stories just end. Canon is more digestible, doesn't need twenty years of backstory for someone to pick up a book and read it.

In the time between Rogue One and The Last Jedi, there was a massive divide in belief within America, and that trickled down into the fandom as well. When The Last Jedi came out in December 2017, it quickly became a matter of loving it or hating it. Personally, I enjoyed it, I'd even say it's my third favorite installment in the saga (fourth if we're counting Rogue One). But others did not – maybe half the fandom says its the worst movie in the saga. That it ruined the character of Luke Skywalker, that the story was so unlike the others, that it should be retconned and ignored because it ruined the franchise. But it's really no different than any other film in the series. Compare the difference between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The tones are different, characters are in completely different areas that we didn't see them develop into. I'd be lying if I said I don't mind the scenes on Canto Bight, that whole sequence could have been shorter. But the fans are not in charge, these are decisions made by people who have been producing and making movies for decades. It's become an “us vs. them” type fandom, where if you love The Last Jedi you're a terrible human being and not a real fan, whereas others say if you hate The Last Jedi you're a bigot and not a real fan. Nobody hates Star Wars more than Star Wars fans, it seems. Are there issues with the movie, yes. But almost every movie has them. The movie happened, it's canon, there's no way of changing that. This is a series where Anakin Skywalker destroyed a giant military command ship at nine years old. If you won't complain about that but you'll declare certain things in The Last Jedi as the worst moments in the franchise, you might need to re-watch the movies.

The internet is filled with debate on the current state of the brand. Much critisim is put towards Disney and Kathleen Kennedy, the current CEO of Lucasfilm. An often-cited complaint is that Rey is a “Mary Sue,” a term meaning a character that can do no wrong and has no flaws, does everything perfectly. Kinda like Luke in A New Hope or Anakin in The Phantom Menace – you know, how a farmer can all of a sudden fly military-grade starships with ease. Or how “diverse” the newer films are by casting non-white actors in leading roles and introducing characters of different sexualities in the series, such as Rose Tico and Admiral Holdo in The Last Jedi. Jonathan Kasdan, co-writer of Solo, said in an interview that Lando Calrissian is pansexual, meaning he doesn't have a preface either way – and despite being backed up by his father and co-writer, Lawrence Kasdan, who also co-created Lando for The Empire Strikes Back, some fans online are claiming this is just Kennedy trying to “ruin” the brand. Even down to Kennedy wearing a shirt that said “The Force Is Female” on it, that's apparently destroying Star Wars as we know it. But it's just a shirt, George Lucas occasionally wore one that said “Han Shot First” despite being the guy who changed that. And in The Clone Wars series, the Light Side was represented by a female character known as The Daughter, but I digress. I personally don't agree with every decision Lucasfilm has made, but I'm not in charge of that. They know what they're doing, as does Disney. And despite outrage online, Disney has been able to recapture the public's love of the saga in a way rivaling the 1980s. Are there issues with the Sequel Trilogy, yes. But are they really the worst thing to ever happen to Star Wars? Far from it. The absolute worst thing was those Ewok TV movies from the mid-80s – at least the Holiday Special is so bad it's good, those are just unwatchable.

Do I love Star Wars unconditionally? As a franchise, yeah you could say that. But there are things about the movies that I'm not a big fan of. I don't like Anakin Skywalker being a little kid and flirting with a teenage Padme Amidala in The Phantom Menace. I don't care for how R2-D2 is barely even in the Sequel Trilogy despite him being one of the most iconic characters from the series. Even The Empire Strikes Back, which is my absolute favorite movie of all time, has the issue of Luke Skywalker never getting lightsaber training, yet can fight Darth Vader for a good amount of time without issue. And yeah, I'm not sure if a Han Solo origin story is interesting enough to be a movie. But that's okay, I'm still seeing the movie opening night. At the core, and even George Lucas has said this, these movies are essentially made for kids. Of course it's not just kids that like the series, but it is that kid in our hearts that does. When I saw The Force Awakens, the crowd cheered when Han and Chewbacca came onboard the Millennium Falcon. For a decade, the only new content that was easy to get for the franchise was The Clone Wars television show. But now, kids are in an era where there is annual movie releases, TV shows, video games, books for all ages. To them, the Disney era is their Star Wars. Who cares if The Last Jedi isn't what "fans" wanted? This is how things are, generations change. Kids these days wouldn't care as much for a movie just like the OT. I know because at comic cons, kids are cosplaying characters like Rey, Kylo Ren, and even Sabine. When I was a kid, it was seeing Revenge of the Sith that made me want to make movies. And out there, there's another child who wants to be a filmmaker because of The Last Jedi. They are the new fans, they're the ones growing up with these characters. In time, when there's another movie in production, perhaps they won't let the divide continue.

Cover Image Credit: StarWars.Com

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13 Things That Need To Happen Or Be Answered In Season Two Of 'The Umbrella Academy'

The first season left us with so many questions, ones we need answers to ASAP.

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This new Netflix show has only been out for around two months, but it's already a hit. People, including me, are wanting the second season right away, just because there were so many things unsolved and so many WTF moments in the season one finale. Here are some of the things that I want to see or have answers to when the second season comes out.

WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for season 1!

1. Where Did They Go?

The main cliffhanger: where did the Hargreeves "kids" go to when Five teleported them away? Or more importantly: when? Did they go in the past, so that somehow they can try to prevent the world from ending (again)? If so, was it a time in their childhood? Dating further back?

2. Will Vanya Be Redeemed?

People have a lot of mixed emotions about Vanya as a character. She isn't my favorite by any means, but I definitely think the apocalypse is more on Luther than her if I'm being honest (but that's a whole different issue).

She didn't seem to have any humanity of any sort left during the final episode of season one, considering Allison had to knock her out to stop her from killing their siblings. But, who knows, maybe being a kid again a being somewhere else with her family will give them a chance to help her. Or maybe not.

3. Is Ben Still Dead?

Since we only saw the Hargreeves turn into kids and disappear as the world ended, we never got an answer to this question. The whole time travel thing threw me off, because if they are kids again, does that mean that Ben is back alive, getting a second chance as a child again?

Or, since Five was still the same person just in his child body when he came back, is Ben still dead, just a dead child now? Although it would make more sense for it to be the latter, I would really like some miracle to happen where Ben is alive again, it could really change the dynamic of the siblings and make for an interesting story.

I also just love him so far, so I definitely want to see more of him.

4. How Did Ben Die?

As much as I love this show, I'm salty that we never got any explanation on what happened to Ben. Obviously, when Klaus sees and talks to him, he is about their age, so his death must have been fairly recent to them, but it's impossible to tell.

The siblings never really talked about what happened, or just Ben for that matter, they all seem to have their own issues to deal with. Still, I really want to know what could kill something as powerful and deadly as Ben was, so hopefully, we get a flashback or explanation of the day that he died.

5. Klaus' Powers

Okay, that moment when Klaus was supposed to be the lookout, but he ends up using a new found power to bring Ben into being somehow to save his siblings is one of my favorite moments from the entire finale. Klaus' powers were perceived as useless by his siblings, so this was an epic move where it showed how powerful he really is. I'm excited to see how he develops these powers in season two and becomes more of a fighter.

6. Will Allison Get Her Voice Back?

In the finale, it was still unsolved as to whether or not Allison was ever going to be able to speak again. This is a huge deal, not only because it was Vanya who slit her throat, so that's a whole obstacle to get over for them, but also the fact that Allison's voice is the source of her power.

Although I don't want her to lose her voice forever, I think it would be interesting to explore how she gets used to life with no powers and no voice at the same time.

7. Who All Was Teleported Away?

Obviously, Five took the Hargreeves with him wherever he was going, but right after that, it showed some random people that seemed to also be surrounded by the blue light that was the portal. Hazel and Agnes seemed to have been sucked into it, possibly Cha-Cha but I don't remember if I saw the portal by her.

And then some random people that the portal seemed to grab. It made me wonder if these really were random people, or if maybe they are some of the other children with abilities. And will they all be the only ones who remember what happened to Earth?

8. Will Luther Actually Feel Bad For What He Did?

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Coming back to my idea that Luther is the real cause of the apocalypse, not Vanya, I wonder if he will actually feel bad for locking her up. Then again, he may be too selfish or dumb to connect the dots that Vanya may not have lashed out if he had to listen to LITERALLY all of his other siblings that just wanted to help her.

His ego got in the way, and even though he claimed it was because of what Vanya did to Allison, I think it was really just because he enjoys the title of Number One a little too much, and uses his mutation and strength to intimidate the others to listen to him.

Therefore, it has me wondering if he and Vanya will have a confrontation about it in season two. I wonder how that will go since he would no longer have his huge build to boost his ego and strength. Sorry if you are a Luther lover, but part of me wishes he was still on the moon when Vanya blew it up.

9. Flashbacks To Their Childhood/Teenage Years

Even though it might be weird to include flashbacks of their childhood as they are currently living as children again, I kind of want to see more of them growing up. I am just always interested in the backstory of characters, and although they did include a few flashbacks in the first season, I want to see more.

I mainly want to see closer to when they all went their separate ways, instead of them just describing it. I just think this always helps develop relationships and characters if we know more about their upbringing.

10. Relationship Development

I am always a fan of family dynamics, especially when those people aren't related by blood. I love watching relationships develop through issues and triumphs. This show is filled with so much action and so many different storylines, that it was kind of hard to focus on the relationships of all of the siblings.

There was an obvious emphasis on some, like Allison and Vanya's relationship, and even Klaus and Five's relationship as well. But I hope in season two they have room to slow down a little bit and develop all of the siblings' relationships with each other, instead of just choosing a few important ones. Who knows, maybe them being kids again will give them that opportunity.

11. Will We Meet More of The Special Babies?

In the very first episode, the hook of the entire show is the fact that 43 babies were born across the world randomly on the same exact day, without being pregnant. While I definitely want to find out what was up with that, and what exactly happened, I also wondered if season two will explore them discovering more of the other 36 babies with superpowers that are all over the world.

I definitely want to them to at least meet a few more, and maybe band together to once again stop the apocalypse.

12. Where is Hargreeves Really From?

The finale started out with Sir Reginald Hargreeves on seemingly another planet or another universe entirely. Does this mean he wasn't human? Or he was exploring other planets?

I think this definitely needs to be expanded upon, and maybe the Hargreeves siblings can discover something about their adoptive father, who he truly was, and what his real intentions were, cause let's face it: that man is still a huge mystery.

13. Klaus

I'm obviously picking favorites, but I just want to see a lot more of Klaus. Not only is he funny and sarcastic, but his powers are pretty cool, too. Oh, and he talked to God, so I'm interested to see if they will keep having talks. If so, that's definitely an interesting friendship to explore.

Also, I just want Klaus to be happy. I want to see more of Dave and their story, and just more of Klaus' experience in the war. I'm especially excited to see his powers develop, and his relationship with Ben as well. In season two, Klaus deserves more appreciation from his siblings.

I mean come on, the guy saved their lives, and they were the ones who didn't even notice he was kidnapped and tortured. I'm basically excited for anything Klaus related.

So many questions, so long to contemplate them. Hopefully, time flies and season two is here before we know it. With everything that happened in just season one, I can't even imagine how season two will unfold, but I'm definitely excited.

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