Friday, 26 August 2011

215: Y is for Youngling

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The A-to-Z of the GFFA.

"I believe the younglings are our future,
Teach them well and let them lead the way."

It's not very often I get paraphrase a Whitney Houston song as a lead-in, and it's even rarer that I mean it. I'm going to try and keep this post positive, but for reasons which will become apparent, it'll get a bit dicey.
It may sound like a rant, but I assure you it's not.

Yes, I REALLY quoted that song.

At the pub the other week, a few of us were having a general geek conversation, which inevitably led round to Star Wars. Now, I hesitate to call myself an authority on the subject*i, but I do know more than your average civilian about it. The forthcoming live-action TV series was mentioned (not by me), and I gave a brief roundup of the information we know so far;

• It's set in between Eps III and IV
• It's not based around the Skywalkers
• There are about 50 hours of scripts on the shelf
• It's currently on hold until they find a way of making it at the quality they want for less money.

This led to someone else in the group asking the Second Most Stupid Question I've ever heard...

"Yes, but will it be any good?"

I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I suppressed a sigh. The person who'd asked the question is a fan of the OT, isn't a massive fan of the Special Editions, had been turned off 'new' Star Wars by the PT, and hasn't seen any of The Clone Wars animated series. None of these are crimes in themselves, of course, but there was an implied judgement in the question that set the bells ringing. Leaving aside the subjectivity around what people thought of the prequels, I don't believe that anyone sets out to make intentionally bad programming*ii. Complaining that your expectations haven't been met by a show "not being good" is a little like saying the oranges you bought at the store weren't quite orange enough. It was while I was exploring the validity of this actual question that the same person asked the First Most Stupid Question I've ever heard...
"But what about the real fans? Will they like it?"

...what do you mean by 'the real fans'?
"Y'know, the old-school fans. The ones who like the Original Trilogy."

An actual sigh this time.

I think it's a little churlish to say that I'm "a bigger fan" of Star Wars than anyone else. Other people frequently make that distinction, and I know what they mean, but when it comes to the experience of Star Wars, I can't say that I enjoy it more than other people. When the term real fan is used, you have to examine what else is implied by that. The person who raised these two astounding questions hasn't bought the PT on DVD. Or The Clone Wars. I doubt they buy Star Wars Insider Magazine every month, or any of the comics. As for the action figures, role-playing games, trading card games, video games, novels, reference books? Again, highly doubtable.

Although it sounds like it, I'm not talking about 'giving money to Lucasfilm'. I'm talking about being a regular consumer of new SW content. I'm not saying you have to hand over all your disposable income to Uncle George every month in order to be a part of the club they call "fandom", but Star Wars is constantly growing in many different forms of media. If the last thing you bought with a Star Wars logo on it was the DVD set back in 2004, you might want to ask yourself if Lucasfilm is placing you at the top of their target demographic.

In fact, to take it one step further (and in the magnificent words of The ForceCast);
if you haven't liked a Star Wars film since 1983*iii, you MAY want to reconsider your membership of "the club".

I won't (indeed, can't) deny that you're a "fan" of the movies you like, but if you've naysayed and brushed aside everything that Lucasfilm have offered you since, you probably aren't a fan of Star Wars as a whole.

When you were a kid and the saga had only just begun to unfold, think how excited you used to get when a new movie came out; when you got one of the figures; when the newsagent had the latest issue of the comic on the shelf. You immersed yourself in the GFFA and waited with bated breath for the new content... That's what the kids are doing now with The Clone Wars. It's not just for the kids, but that is who it's marketed at. Space films and the associated toys and comics, *are* aimed at the kids. I know, crazy isn't it? The only thing holding them back is a lack of disposable income.
Star Wars has always been for the kids.
That hasn't changed.
But you may well have.

Star Wars is inspiring youngsters now in exactly the same way as it did in 1977, 1980, 1983... hell, even 1999. Given how much media there is aimed at them these days, I think that's quite an achievement, don't you? Maybe it has to shout a little louder to be heard, but that's the 21st century.

So when you're browsing in Toys'R'us*iv and you see a six year old audibly gasp at a Captain Rex figure the way you did when you saw the Zuckuss one that time; stop, think, and ask yourself what the term "real fan" means.

Excited on Christmas morning. I know, it looks more like 'smug'.

I meant what I said earlier, that wasn't a rant. Seriously.
I'm trying to bring a little positivity back to fandom.

*i - No really.
*ii - And believe me, there's plenty of TV which I think is appalling.
*iii - Or in some cases I've heard, 1980.
*iv - And, if you're like me, looking at the pegwarmers and wondering when it became acceptable to charge £9 for a single 3¾" action figure...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• Photos and videos appearing in this blog post are for informational and reference purposes only, and no ownership of copyright is claimed or implied by me. The intellectual and physical copyright of such material belongs to its creators and owners.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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