Star Wars and the Toxic Fans
Let’s face it, Star Wars is both the greatest and worst fandom in the geek realm. The lore is amazing, the loyal and excited fans are fantastic and the future looks bright. On the other hand though there are pockets of toxic fans due to Lucasfilm’s inability to properly handle the beloved franchise. Why is that? A property that has been around for more than 40 years should have it together. Right?
While we can probably point out a handful of reasons on why the toxicity has grown so large over the last few years there is one reason that stands out the most. Something that recently began to make A LOT of sense.
Where did it start?
Many will continue to blame the prequels and internet boom for the toxic fandom within Star Wars. While the early 2000’s saw it’s fair share of Star Wars bashing nothing compares to what has transpired since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in late 2012.
Fans first got annoyed when Lucasfilm announced the exclusion of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (now known as Legends) in 2014. This decision was made to give a clean slate to the new creators and storytellers. Not a horrible decision on Lucafilm’s part but the way they handled it is partially why it was received so poorly.
“In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe. While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe. For example, elements of the EU are included in [upcoming animated series] Star Wars Rebels.”
There were ways to write around those EU books. HELL even some of them could have been thrown out altogether and fans would have been ecstatic. But to simply erase 30 years of storytelling and then (let’s face it) give us a sub-par replacement was not a good move. This is where the fans truly began to turn on Disney, Lucasfilm and Kathy Kennedy.
Don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely positives in what we have received in regards to content since this change took place. But there is equally just as much negative.
Why has it continued?
Normally a company, when seeing their IP causing so much negativity, will try and right the ship. Bring glory and excitement back to the franchise and lead everyone back together. Since 2014 though very little has been done by Lucasfilm to do any of that. To the contrary they have actually continued to fuel the fire that burns inside the toxic fandom.
This has happened because they do not realize the weight of Star Wars in pop-culture. They may say they do, they may remark on how great the fandom is and how much they appreciate how the fans are.
BUT, DO THEY REALLY THOUGH?
Fans hold Star Wars to a high standard. The fans LOVE the lore and adore the characters. It shouldn’t be that difficult in continuing the franchise. Somehow though Lucasfilm found a way to split the fandom and have yet to figure out how to rectify it.
Over the course of 8 years the stigma surrounding Star Wars has progressively worsened. From George Lucas being muscled out of the creative process, Tony Gilroy replacing Gareth Edwards during the re-shoots of Rogue One. To Lord & Miller, Josh Trank and Trevorrow being fired. The perception from outside Lucasfilm is not great. Without getting into detail on each of these changes and departures Lucasfilm has done a poor job in handling the PR with each of these issues. Allowing outlets to write the narrative and spread half truths.
The fans deserve better than what they have been given when it comes to Star Wars. No, I’m not talking about the creative content. But when it comes to the not so behind the scenes type of stuff. A better explanation or handling of the situations would go a long way in preventing so much toxicity.
Let’s take the most current news that broke.
The World nearly stopped the day this information dropped. What you may not realize is the initial reports were this…
People freaked out and lost their damn minds. (I know I did). But this all could have been prevented had Lucasfilm understood how Star Wars needs to be handled differently than other franchise.
Lucasfilm should have released a statement via Starwars.com or even through an exclusive with one of the many reputable publications out there. But, they chose not to and the information was leaked and a false narrative was written. The show is cancelled. The show is delayed indefinitely. There were creative differences.
All fuel to add to the fire of those toxic fans.
Hours, yes HOURS, after the reports started releasing did we get confirmation, not from Lucasfilm, but from Obi-Wan Kenobi actor Ewan McGregor. He basically stated it’s simply a small delay and things are moving swimmingly. Something he shouldn’t have had to explain had Lucasfilm properly handled the situation.
While I agree there are other areas in which the toxicity has grown. The most noticeable is the lack of understanding in the weight of Star Wars in the World.
You can’t compare Kathy Kennedy‘s pre Lucasfilm career to her current one. She is the face of Star Wars now and understanding how to properly handle the franchise is a must. No reason that a company, as large as Disney/Lucasfilm, can’t nip these non-stories in the bud.
We can only hope that as things progress Lucasfilm and Kennedy learn how to properly handled Star Wars so the fandom can begin to come together once again.