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Hey Adults…just let Star Wars die

October 20, 2014
jar-jar-binks

Jar Jar Binks- a mere symptom of a larger problem. Image copyright Disney.

I’ve a confession, something I feel I can only talk about online. Were I to say it in real life most of my friends would disown me.

I really don’t care about Star Wars anymore. Because I’m no longer a child.

Now before people come down on me for saying Star Wars fans are all children or that I’m the worst person in the universe or some rubbish*, lets add some nuance to this. At the heart of me there’s a part of me that will always love Star Wars. Though I’ve moved onto other things in the past few years, I can’t deny influence it had. I can’t pretend that for a while, my reading list as a teenager was exclusively Expanded Universe novels. I can’t deny how the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy have changed how some parts of our world work. These are all facts. And I certainly can’t deny its affected me personally. I also don’t mean to say its wrong that adults play with things aimed at children. I’m a nerd – I have no leg to stand on with that last point.

But to perhaps labour a point after that whole paragraph of defensive prerequisites, all the adults out there- really– have you never moved onto something else? Can’t we just give it back to the kids and teenagers that it belongs to? Growing up in the Star Wars universe, even though I love it, I’ve always been aware of how reductive it is. Its roots lie in things that inspired people pushing 70. How can it still have relevance?


 

This is isn’t some sudden decision spurred on by the new films either-by all accounts, what I’ve heard about the films seems generally positive. Its been a personal realisation that’s been a long time coming and has roots in Patton Oswalt’s 2010 article on geek culture’s slow osmosis into irrelevancy. Because at its heart, Star Wars hasn’t moved on in 30 years. Its still the same, fantasy in space epic that it was in the 70’s.Now, its only used to milk a generation that were’t even born when the films were re-released in the 90’s. Its the cash cow that will never stop delivering, because as geeks we are brought up and trained by our culture to believe this is one of the sacred cows. The untouchables. Its generally accepted that as a prerequisite people must be willing to wrap their heads around some insane logic (‘The prequels don’t count’, ‘x book series doesn’t count’ etc) to still justify why its still the force it is in pop culture.

When its not. As a pop culture movement and propulsive force, its long spent.

Now I admit, Star Wars still has its uses. Its ability to inspire kids is still brilliant. But as we grow older, as much as we all have our own interests, as adults- isn’t there a richer vein of fantasy or sci-fi to tap into- something slightly more enriching that being allowed to wallow in nostalgia that was around before some of us were even born?

My general point is that we should be taking those influences and using them to make something new- where’s our generations’ Star Wars? Are we simply doomed to be stuck with a lumbering juggernaut that won’t be allowed to die because its worth so much money? I honestly don’t know.  Though its too early to call, perhaps the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be the new Star Wars. Even that is based on concepts that were mostly stale 25 years ago, but have now exposed to a larger audience. And thats pretty unhealthy- things becoming stagnant always is.

In the end I don’t have any answers, but Geek/Nerd culture has always supposedly been defined by a willingness to embrace the new, to push the borders. Despite the very small but vocal regressive groups, I still believe that at heart our generation are probably the most tolerant we’ve been in a long, long time. So lets take that and create our own future. Perhaps Star Wars will part of that things DNA. But for now, we don’t, shouldn’t need Star Wars anymore.

Its time to die. So we can be reborn.

*Having been involved in some minor way in #GamerGate, I’m aware of what people are willing to call or do to others on the internet for simply disagreeing with them.
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From → Rant

4 Comments
  1. Very interesting post. I think you can attribute some of this to the nature of space opera. It’s a genre built on big, colorful gestures, and isn’t necessarily concerned with a whole lot of nuance to begin with. I do believe some of the novels have pushed the material harder than the films (I’m thinking specifically of the Thrawn Trilogy and the Dark Empire comic). I think you rightly identify corporate concerns as a constraint on the films, though. Especially now that Disney owns the rights. There is simply too much money at stake for them to risk alienating large swaths of their target market.

    • I suppose part of the staying power is how simple it is- its easier for people to clearly remember all the story beats and sequences with childlike glee, because at heart, it is a primary coloured film that is keyed towards making you wide eyed with wonder.

      I suppose what makes the Thrawn books stand out from the rest of the pack even if they don’t really hold up to close inspection reading them as an adult, is that Timothy Zahn was an author who didn’t really have much reverence for Star Wars- he just wanted to write a good couple of novels!

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