The Question of Fandom: Star Wars Edition
So… this happened.
And… just… wow. There’s just a lot to unpack here. The whinniness of it. The entitlement. The sense of a triggered browflake in need of a safe space. And it’s making me think about criticism as a whole and the process by which we measure story and culture.
To begin with, I need to criticize myself. My most recent look at narrative was a comparison of two fictional weddings, one handled well and the other most decidedly not. One is a progression of story, while the other feels like a forced regression, and I think that same set of tenants can be applied here.
Disney, to their credit, didn’t say that the pre-Disney Star Wars universe didn’t happen; they simply said that they were starting a new time line and that the old stuff was still there, it just wasn’t something they were going to move forward with for a variety of reasons.
It’s painful to have those stories pushed aside, yes, but Disney went out of their way to say they were still valid. Since then, they’ve done new and interesting things with the Star Wars universe, building up a new mythos with a variety of mediums and with a varied amount of quality.
But then there’s this:
And I’m not angry about so much as just sad. Disappointed, even, that some broflake is this entitles and has missed the entire point of the thing he’s claiming to be a fan of.
Still, that’s not entirely shocking; there’s still people that think Hydra doesn’t equal Nazis.
Stories don’t come from nowhere. The myths and legends that we tell one another come from the cultures that we find ourselves immersed in, and we use them to define ourselves, our place in the world, and what we want the world to be. As an aftereffect of Colonialism, a great many stories became tainted by the Great White Hero and the ideals of British and American Exceptionalism.
The outcome of this is black lives not mattering, minorities being disparaged, and angry white boys feeling that they are entitled to women’s bodies and whatever else they want without consequence or responsibility. It’s the legend of the white man coming in to fix everything, when every real-life example we have of white men sticking their noses in things is that it makes things worse.
We acknowledge this, or we try to. But the ones that have benefited from privilege don’t like having their privilege pointed out and really like to project their fears and failings on other people. When there are no white characters for them to latch on to, they get angry and lash out. When the white character is a bad guy they do anything they can to justify that character’s actions and forgive them.
Kylo Ren is a space Nazi and bully who murdered his father and doesn’t deserve a redemption arc. He’s a rapist and murderer who doesn’t care about anyone but himself, is entirely self-centered and incapable of seeing that he might be wrong. He’s a monster who denigrates others from a position of privilege and tears down anyone else that wants to make a better life for themselves.
Sort of like this so-called fan.
The root of the word fan is fanatic, someone who is obsessed with a thing. Obsession is a mental disorder wherein a person focuses on a thing to the exclusion of all other things, and maybe doesn’t understand the thing as much as they think they do. They know that they are right and are therefore incapable of seeing that they might be wrong.
A friend of mine talked about this, and what it ends up looking like.
Listen: stuff changes. People, places, and things change. Cultures change. Going back or wanting the status quo or regressing never works out, and the people that try to do these things end up hurting other people and themselves. Change and evolution are what we do; diversity is good, complexity is good, being able to admit that you were wrong is good.
Attacking actors for the parts they play in movies or television shows is the height of stupidity. Actors are not their characters.
If you like a previous version of a thing, enjoy it for what it was. If you don’t like that someone else is being represented – especially when eighty-to-ninety percent of stories still represent you – maybe imagine what it’s like for someone that has no representation. Have a little empathy and grow a little.
We can be better than this.