A few weeks ago, a few concerned EU fans started the Petition of the 2000, a request that asks George Lucas and The Clone Wars crew to take note of what’s been established in books and comics. They are not attacking George or the show. They are not demanding. They are simply asking that the show take more consideration of the existing Expanded Universe.
Think what you will of the petition – I think it’s a little silly, honestly – but I’m far more concerned with the reaction to it. From some of it, you’d think they were demanding that Del Rey firebomb Skywalker Ranch.
This is symptomatic of an attitude that seems more and more entrenched in fandom these days. See, this isn’t really about a petition: It’s just the most recent example. It’s about the ‘true fan’ mentality.
People don’t deserve to be raked over the coals and belittled for a difference of opinion. You don’t have to agree with them, you don’t even have to acknowledge them. But attacking them over it? Really? Is this fandom or America’s Next Top Star Wars Fan?
Star Wars is a gigantic franchise, with many different facets. You don’t have to love every single piece of it to be a fan, and I think it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to do that. (More power to you if you can, but it doesn’t necessarily work that way for all of us.) If you love something about Star Wars, you are a fan. Star Wars is just too big and too varied and not everyone is going to love everything. You might even despise parts of it. Hey, it happens. What’s really important is how you express it, and how you treat others.
And that diversity – over years and generations and just the sheer amount of stuff – means that Star Wars is not always an easy fandom to be in. The old Star Wars fans hate Star Wars column is very much on point. (Also hilarious, but that’s neither here nor there.) People feel very strongly, and tempers are bound to flare.
Yes, there are a lot of people who really don’t like one part of the franchise while still valuing another. You see this on all levels: Movies, books, comics, games, creators, fan fiction, even down to blogs and forums. There are people who despise certain things, and are still angry and hurt and willing to wallow in it. That’s the internet for you.
But a few – or a lot – of assholes don’t give anyone license to turn around and be assholes back to the folks who are actually being civil. Forgive me for quoting a meme, but haters gonna hate. And it’s time for so-called ‘true fans’ (whatever that means to you) to be the bigger people and stop perpetuating the circle of douche.
It’s time to grow up. An eye for an eye is not a sound strategy. Get over the victim complex. Liking The Clone Wars does not make one a better Star Wars fan, any more than liking the Expanded Universe does, or thinking Boba Fett is the world’s biggest badass, or liking whatever the ‘right’ movies or books happen to be today.
Yes, you can be a fan of Star Wars and not think that George Lucas is a flawless filmmaker. Having some issues with the prequels does not automatically mean one thinks that Lucas trashed their childhood. Yes, you can be a Star Wars fan and not give a hot damn about the EU or The Clone Wars. And I, for one, try my best not to judge you for what you like or how you like it, but how you treat others in the face of that.
This isn’t impossible. Club Jade, as an organization and mainly a mailing list, has been around since 1995. And though we were united by our love for Star Wars, snark, and Tim Zahn’s novels, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. We haven’t always agreed over everything that’s come along since the 90’s, and we haven’t always done it gracefully. But what unites us in the end is our friendships and respect for each other. (And the snark. Always, the snark.) And we’re still here.
We all have our focus, our favorite facet of Star Wars that we love best. The franchise is big enough that we can all prioritize different aspects of it. And that is okay. Being a jerk – about any of it – does not make you a better fan. It just makes you a jerk.
Stop letting bad behavior excuse more bad behavior, and respect each other as Star Wars fans. Not as Clone Wars fans or Expanded Universe fans or original trilogy fans or prequel fans or New Jedi Order fans or whatever it is that floats your boat. As people who love Star Wars.
The fandom is big enough for everyone, and there’s enough negativity out there already. It’s time to calm down, put the anger aside, and be the adults I know many of you actually are.