With today being Star Wars Day, and the trailer for the final movie of the Skywalker series recently released, I thought it was fitting to talk about Star Wars. I am fan of a lot of things, but Star Wars was probably my first love. 20 years and all of the highs and lows of the franchise, I still adore it and eagerly look forward to more content. Today, I wanted to talk about lessons that being a Star Wars fan has taught me fandom.
01 The thing you love doesn’t belong to you.
Star Wars has seen many changes. Massive tonal shifts, studio changes, long-held canon blew to bits within a single interview, and the fans weren’t always happy with it. A notable example of this is the petition to have “The Last Jedi” be removed from the official canon and be re-edited. Numerous actors have came forth, talking about the harassment they received from “fans.” Sometimes it feels like the fandom will never be happy with the finished product, myself included. Some may walk in with theories of how things should transpire and lash out when the movie deviates from the headcanon. That conveniently leads me to lesson #1.
Sometimes the drama doesn’t have a satisfying ending. Sometimes your favorite entertainment company will make terrible calls, and sometimes your favorite actor or idol will do something that will disappoint you. All you really do is accept it, and if it gets bad, walk away from it.
In the past, I felt like I knew the perfect way to fix the franchise, to “save” everything, but that way doesn’t exist. I can’t march up to Disney or SM Entertainment and tell them how to fix things. I can only support the artists and actors and accept that this was never mine to fix.
Even when you create something, you rarely have sole control of it. This very article had to be passed on to one of my incredible editors who, in turn, left their own mark on this. Things like Star Wars or K-Pop can indeed build a community, but that community doesn’t solely belong to one person. We all leave a mark on our fandom, for better or worse.
02 There is no “Fandom Police.”
Every so often, there will be someone who proclaims that if you don’t watch a certain movie or show, read a certain book, then you are a “fake fan.” The internet is plagued with people bemoaning their encounters with “fake” fans, and in an attempt to sort out the true fan from the fakes, we must ask tricky trivia questions to reveal who is who.
Here’s the thing. If you like something, you’re a fan. You like The Star Wars movies, you’re a fan. You’re not a fan of the movies but liked the games, you’re a fan. You’ve never played the games but liked the books, still a fan.
The same is basically true about K-Pop, Hallyu or anything fandom, really. You don’t have to consume every piece of media released on your fandom. There’s no grand all-knowing master that you have to prove your worth to. There are no fandom police who will come and take your stuff if you don’t know the ancestral home of your faves. If there is, I would have been ostracized years ago when I didn’t know that TVXQ and DBSK were the same group.
Yes, some will try to challenge you. Some might intimidate you with how much they know, but it doesn’t matter.
The real test of if you’re a real fan is if you’re respectful to people you’re a fan of, your fellow fans and dare I say, other fandoms. Also, enjoy the content you get. If you don’t like it anymore, then let it go. Don’t ruin it for others.
It’s that simple. No secret handshake, no contracts. Like the thing you like and be respectful.
03 The negative fans will always been the loudest.
Imagine you’re in a room with a hundred people. You’re all talking, having a good time, when suddenly, ten people break out into a fight. Security finally shows up and kicks them out The night continues but the memories of the fight will linger in your mind and perhaps in the mind of the people housing the party.
Fandoms are the same way. There will be the loud “fans” who spread rumors, start fights and in general, try to ruin the good time we’re trying to have. You can’t stop those fans, but you can report them (when it’s an option), ignore them and keep the party going.
04 Everyone is a nerd for something.
This is pretty straightforward. Years ago, a classmate tried to tease me for being a geek. (Not the first time that’s happened, definitely won’t be the last time.) Minutes later, the conversation shifted to sports and the same classmate talked about tailgating and his favorite teams. I turned to him and yelled, “Oh, nerds camping out for movie releases is stupid, but you doing for sports make it cool?” He tried to justify the difference but gave up when I called fantasy sports leagues Sports Fanfictions.
Don’t let those who tell you that it’s nerdy or weird stop you. Everyone is a nerd for something, from the the person who regularly watches every season of “The Bachelor,” to those who can identify fashion labels from 20 paces or the person who can tell you the entire history of Jack Kirby’s work. We all have something that we love and love talking about. It might be as common as sports, and others might be more niche like ancient Grecian battle strategies. We’re all nerds here.
With these four helpful tips, I hope you can go out and have some great fandom experiences! Happy Star Wars Day, everyone. May the force be with you.
(Change, BBC News, New York Times, DenOfGeeks, StarWars.fandom, L.A. Times, Star Wars.)