As the Star Wars turns: An ever-evolving franchise


Today on Tor, Emily Asher-Perrin writes about Star Wars and the sequels and the Expanded Universe and generational differences and mostly, how the franchise is always changing along with the audience.

Those who saw it first in the theater will often remark how its title was initially just Star Wars—the “Episode IV: A New Hope” was added later, after the second film was released and one more was on its way. Children of the 90s had the Expanded Universe novels, which arrived just before the Special Edition was released. Those who were born in the 90s might have skipped the the original trilogy altogether, or watched the prequels first and then tracked back. And now that new films are coming, there is no telling how the new generation will see Star Wars, what it will mean to them, whether its history will be worth delving into.

This is a must-read and an important reminder: Star Wars is not a static thing, and it hasn’t been a static thing for decades now.

8 Replies to “As the Star Wars turns: An ever-evolving franchise”

  1. I mainly agree with the spirit of the article.

    Perhaps it is because I like all the Star Wars films that I don’t see a divergence between them. I was born in 1979, Return of the Jedi was the biggest movie of my life when I was four years old. I grew up with them all and the prequels were coming when I was a teenager still. So the films all feel like they are for me, as if they belong to me. I feel that Episode VII will continue that.

    Where I buy into the analysis is the Ewok films. Those were huge deals for me as my friends when they came on TV. It was so cool, they played the audio on the radio, so you could turn on the family stereo and have “theater like sound!”

    My wife is five years younger than me. She totally missed the whole Ewok film train, and when I tried to show her those films, she was not into it at all. She loves the films as much as I do, but the Ewok films, the Droids cartoon, and the Ewoks cartoon, that’s my generation’s Star Wars.

    I think the argument made is pretty valid, but I think it pertains to the periphery elements that orbit the films themselves.

    The films themselves are the pillars that hold Star Wars up. I think those are forever, regardless of our opinions, positive or negative.

    Star Wars is a buffet. We take what we want. Just because I don’t like green bean casserole doesn’t mean it isn’t there, but I simply don’t put it on my plate. That’s how I’ve always treated the comics and novels.

    Maybe it is presumptuous and arrogant to say this, but I feel like level headed fans know when something is in the spirit of Star Wars or not, even if they don’t prefer it.

  2. I was born in ’78 and I actually didn’t grow up with much Star Wars at all. I mean, I was aware of Star Wars. I knew who Darth Vader was and such, but it really wasn’t around much for me for various reasons. So much of the 80’s era stuff like Ewok movies were just not on my radar at all until much later.

    I didn’t get into Star Wars until the books started coming out – and because of the books, really. I loved the movies the first time I ‘really’ saw them in 1991 but the books – specifically, HttE, are what hooked me on it.

    I do think Star Wars means different things to different people. I mean, yeah, I grew up reading the EU, but the idea of vast swaths of the EU being ‘invalidated’ by the new movies doesn’t bother me. Maybe it’s just my personal experience with having one foot in the fanfic realm for so long, maybe it’s that I don’t see the EU – or any SW, really – as some sort of pillar of perfection. It’s not, and it’s never been, that kind of franchise for me, and so what if I got into it at age 13 instead of age 5? Does it really make THAT much of a difference to perception?

    I also subscribe to something like the buffet theory. I don’t think we’re required to love every dish up there – it’s highly personal. I don’t begrudge anyone their love of whatever aspect of SW they like best, but it’s not all my thing.

    What really gets me angry are when people start acting like jerks over their own preferences. It’s like fighting about what’s better, the potatoes au gratin or the mac and cheese. It’s silly and pointless and who cares if you like one better or both equally? Eat whatever you want: it’s your meal.

  3. I think Dunc raises an interesting question of “does it matter if you got into something at 5 or 13?” I think we’re on the same page there.

    It certainly does not make one perspective more empowered and genuine than another, that’s for sure. The nostalgia I feel for watching The Ewok Adventure is no valid than our shared nostalgia of reading “Heir to the Empire” in 1991.

    People being absolute about preferential things really gets on my nerves too. I’m a huge Episode I, II, and III fan. I get they’re not for everyone. That’s cool, so just leave it, the way I leave other movies other’s love that I do not. I have had fans come at me, in what I can only describe as a bullying style. Going to see Episode I is more wrapped in nostalgia for me than my graduation that year.

    I think that’s the real essence of all of this. Nostalgia. There’s going to be a whole generation of children that are going to remember when their parents where still together, the world was right, and on Friday nights, they watched The Clone Wars together. No one can take that from them and they shouldn’t try.

    I think some of the fear and annoyance at the idea of a shift in the continuity is that perhaps some people feel it negates the authenticity of their nostalgia. If “it didn’t happen” in the larger story, then “it didn’t happen” to them. Maybe I’m out on a limb on this one, but that’s my assumption. They shouldn’t feel that way. They will always have that book or that story and they can always go back there, just like I go back to my Star Wars Marvel comics collection and The Battle for Endor. I can read Luke Skywalker hanging out with Hoojibs and not try and reconcile it with anything else.

    1. The stories exist on their own, whether they’re ‘canon’ or not, which I’ve been saying for years. But some folks do feel differently, and I admit I’ve had very little patience with that attitude. (Hey… I’m human.)

      I mean, the experience I had reading Splinter of the Mind’s Eye in 1993/4 (whenever it was reissued) is going to be completely different from someone who read it when it first came out in 1978. Being able to watch all three films back-to-back in 1991 gives me a different take on it from someone who was 8 or 16 or 22 in 1977 and had to wait three years between each movie. Etc, etc, etc. Everyone’s experience is going to be a little different… The only thing I wish is that people could be a little more clear-eyed that their personal experience is not the be-all and end-all of SW fandom.

  4. I think there’s some people who enjoy scaffolding much more than the building let alone the skyline. I can get that — I admire well put together scaffolding. But that’s so limiting.

  5. I’ve had people ask me why I enjoy laughing at The Star Wars Holiday Special so much.

    Yes. I agree. It’s crap. But it was actual Star Wars content at a time, post-movie, when we didn’t have all that much official content. I remember what an event it was to get to watch it. And, thankfully, I was young enough not to realize how truly awful it was at the time.

    So yeah. It’s associations.

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