Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Opinion: Respect the Mythology

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As we get closer to the release of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, the promotional machine for the film seems to have hit a minor snag.  Much of the promotion up until this point has been a combination of excitement about the future of Star Wars and nostalgia for the Original Trilogy.  The unfortunate thing about the Original Trilogy nostalgia, is that it has caused some fans to read between the lines and interpret it, not incorrectly, as an attempt to distance the franchise from the prequel trilogy.

To inspire debate amongst Star Wars fans, one merely needs to share their thoughts on the prequel trilogy.  While public perception would have you believe that Star Wars Episodes I-III are universally hated by fans, this is categorically not true.  There is a growing movement of fans, many of whom grew up with the prequels, who want it to be known that Star Wars fans don't hate the prequels.  There are many of us who want to see them held up with the Original Trilogy as key parts of the Star Wars saga.

The fear among prequel fans is that Lucasfilm will throw the prequels under the bus in order to "bring back" fans who were disillusioned when Episodes I-III did not turn out the way they wanted them to be.  The recent focus on "practical effects" during San Diego Comic Con  was interpreted by many as the team behind The Force Awakens attempting to separate the new films from the prequels. 

And this fear spreads beyond the marketing, especially when members of the creative team reveal their less than kind thoughts about the prequel trilogy.  Uproars have been caused when people like Gary Whitta, the first writer of  2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or Chuck Wendig, author of the upcoming novel Star Wars: Aftermath, reveal their less than kind views on the prequels.  The most recent uproar came when JJ Abrams revealed that Simon Pegg, a world renowned prequel hater, had helped him on the script for The Force Awakens.

(Side bar: I'm not saying that Simon Pegg, or anyone else who doesn't like the prequels is not a Star Wars fan.  They are.  As long as you love something Star Wars, even if it's not the same part of Star Wars that I love, you are a Star Wars fan and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.  When it comes to Simon Pegg, I just wish he didn't go out of his way to bash the prequels and instead focused on the parts he loved.  Would that be too much to ask?  There's enough negativity in Star Wars fandom without celebrities like Pegg adding fuel to the fire.  Can't we focus on the parts we love?  Isn't that the point of fandom?  I know it may not seem that way yet, but that's the whole point of the piece.  Bear with me, we're getting there).

I'll be the first to admit that I got caught up in the negative reactions when Gary Whitta's true feelings about the prequels were first revealed.  I even went as far as to suggest that he was unfit to write a Star Wars film.  I was upset, I felt that Lucasfilm had betrayed me and my love for movies that I had been defending for years.  And then it happened again, with Chuck Wendig, and Chris Weitz, and now Simon Pegg.  And I realized something, I don't care.

I honestly don't care what any of these people think of the prequel trilogy, so long as they respect the mythology established in those films.  As long as they don't try to retroactively change ideas presented in those films or insert "between the lines" insults at the prequels in their films, I don't care what they think of Episodes I-III as films.  And here's the thing, they can't change the prequels even if they wanted to.  Lucasfilm has publicly stated that the prequels (along with the original trilogy, The Clone Wars, and Rebels) "are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align."

What I wish is that the creators that are brought in, understand that they are ambassadors to the fans and that means respecting all aspects of Star Wars, especially when making public comments.  And to the credit of folks like Rian Johnson, Gareth Edwards, and JJ Abrams (despite all the practical effects talk), they seem to have mastered that. 

At the end of the day, I hope that the creatives behind new Star Wars will respect all additions to the Star Wars mythology.  No matter how any of us feel about an aspect of Star Wars, there will always be someone who feels the opposite.  The creatives don't and shouldn't have to focus on what they don't like, but they shouldn't be allowed to re-write it either.  As long as, within the confines of their story, they respect what came before then I am happy.  And respecting what came before doesn't mean anything more than just avoiding the urge the override or put down what came before. 

And I wish we as fans could also focus on the parts of the films we love, rather than the parts we hate.  With so much Star Wars coming in this new era, there are bound to be things we don't like.  And that's OK.  I just hope that we can focus on what we like.  That's not to say there isn't room for debate or discussion, or even letting negative feelings be known.  But isn't the point of fandom fun?  And isn't it more fun to focus our energy on what we love?

Respecting the mythology means understanding that there will always be people who like something and people who don't.  It's up to the creatives behind future Star Wars and us as fans to realize this and be respectful of what has come before and those who enjoy it.  Because, at the end of the day what matters is that the future of Star Wars is bright and even if we all don't agree on aspects of the past, it doesn't mean we can't enjoy the future together.

You can follow me on Twitter: @DominicJ25


This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization.


Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.

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