Few films become cultural touchstones, become ingrained in society, and change the way movies are made and influence things going forward. Since Star Wars was released in 1977, and has done all of those things and more. It has also given rise to a widespread, vibrant, and vocal fandom. A fandom that transcends age, race, and borders.
That passion has given birth to an expansion of the Star Wars universe thanks to novels, video games, and animated tv series that fill in the blanks before, during, and after the original trilogy of films. We have also seen re-releases of the original trilogy in various forms. A theatrical release of the original trilogy in 1997 saw changes with addition of CGI characters, inclusion of a deleted scene in Episode IV between Han Solo and Jabba The Hutt, and improvements in different visual effects.
Further changes were made when the prequel trilogy was released, including a controversial addition of Hayden Christensen as a Force ghost at the end of Return Of The Jedi. These changes have prompted a vocal response from a section of the fandom calling for a re-release of the original and unaltered theatrical versions of the original trilogy. Logistically, that may be tougher than some think. Unless you own the original VHS releases, they can be hard to find and even though Disney has purchased LucasFilm and is now the sole propieter of any and all Star Wars related media going forward, 20th Century Fox still retains some distribution rights over the original trilogy. The original trilogy DVD set released in 2008 does have both the remastered special editions and the original theatrical versions of each film, but the quality is not acceptable to many fans out there. There have been numerous online petitions to both 20th Century Fox and Disney to release a high quality version of the unaltered theatrical releases, but those requests seem to have fallen on deaf mouse ears. Some fans have gone so far as to craft their own “despecialized” editions, using various DVD releases cut together with HD tv broadcasts.
Another very vocal section of SW fandom are the fans of the Expanded Universe novels, beginning with Splinter Of The Minds Eye, published in 1978, and the most recent being published in 2013, the EU novels have chronicled various events throughout the universe and covered everything from Han Solo’s early years to 30 years after Return Of The Jedi. When Disney purchased Lucasfilm in October of 2013, the future of the EU was in question. In April 2014, Disney and Lucasfilm announced that the Expanded Universe would no longer be a part of the official timeline, but exist under the new ‘Legends’ banner. The upcoming release of The Force Awakens has spurred Disney to streamline events and give the new filmmakers of the upcoming trilogy the freedom to tell new stories, and having use of some elements of the EU. This has bought about a myriad of reactions from the fandom. Some expected Disney to streamline, a very vocal minority is in the midst of what they call a ‘campaign’ to get Disney to recognize and continue the Expanded Universe, even going so far as to threaten to spoil The Force Awakens across social media.
This is the dark side of fandom. A hostile and malicious entitlement that seeks to ruin things for anyone who doesn’t agree with them. That’s not what Star Wars is supposed to be about. It’s about the wonder of a galaxy far, far away. The joy in a child when they get their first toy lightsaber or sharing an afternoon watching The Empire Strikes Back.
It is important to love what you love, but don’t let it become an anchor, don’t let it push you to the point where you disagree with any change or criticism towards things. Change is how things get better, and gives us all more stuff to enjoy.
Tell us what you think in the comments and what your fandom means to you. No disintegrations.