Mondays Are For Moaning – Episode 1: The Fan-tom Menace

So before Christmas I finally got around to watching The Force Awakens and, after months of trying not to get myself too worked up about it, I was super fucking excited. My heart nearly burst out of my chest the second the opening titles started. It was all so familiar and fun. I mean I had some problems with it but, as a whole, it was Star Wars done as we all wanted it to be done. However, I decided not to review the film in my traditional way. The problem with picking something like this apart is that you run the risk of ruining it. So what does it matter that there are narrative issues and underdeveloped characters? It didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment. The film didn’t need to be best ever film: it just needed to be a better Star Wars film than Attack of the Clones. It was. It isn’t perfect but, we have to be honest, neither are the originals… even before Lucas edited them again. The deeper you look at something the more problems you find and that’s okay. Some films don’t need to be flawless to be great. If you came out of the cinema feeling like a kid again then Abrams did his job brilliantly.

The problem with something like Star Wars is the pressure that the fanbase put upon everything. It is a series that has, quite rightly, meant a great deal to a fuckload of people. So much so that they start to mistakenly believe they are the rightful owners of the franchise. That they have final say over decisions made to the series. We, the fans, don’t own shit. George Lucas recently gave an interview on Charlie Rose. A lot has been made of his “white slavers” comment which has meant most of the sentiment has been ignored. Yes, Lucas was a fucking idiot to compare selling his company to Disney with selling his “children… to the white slavers” but the underlying emotions got me thinking. In fact, it left me feeling a little bit sorry for the director I’ve bemoaned so many times of the years.

We all know that Lucas has faced a lot of criticism because of the underwhelming prequels but what has been forgotten in all of this is that Lucas has as much riding on those films as the rest of us. The franchise is like his child and he has spent such a large portion of his life developing it and watching it grow. Just like any other excited parent, Lucas loved his child in a way that only a parent could and had specific ideas about what he wanted it to be when it grew up. Whilst fans wanted the new films to taken them back to their childhood, George wanted them to move people forwards. Deep down, he’s an artist (of sorts). He wanted to push the boundaries and experiment with technology.

Now imagine, for a second, that you’ve spent such a large amount of time creating a piece of art that you love with only to be turned into a demon. As hard as it might be to imagine, Lucas wasn’t making Star Wars for the fans or at least he wasn’t just making it for the fans. He wanted to tell a story and he wanted to do it in his way. The fact that other people liked it too was just an added extra. That’s why he hasn’t seemed to give a shit about fan opinion in the last few years and why he won’t release a Blu Ray version of the theatrical release of the original trilogies. Whether we like it or not, the way Star Wars was before Episode VII was exactly the way George Lucas wanted it to be and he’s in charge. If other people don’t like your parenting style are you really going to turn around and say “oh yes you’re right. I am a shit father. Let me do things your way”? Fuck no,

So imagine again, that you’ve spent time and money nurturing your child, give it up for adoption and find that the new parent is much better at it than you are. Now maybe it’s just me but I feel bad for George Lucas. He was trying to perfect Star Wars and keep it fresh and new. Whenever a new technology came around he got overexcited and wanted to play with it. We can all understand that. Parents are forever showering their little bundles of joy with fucking new toys and clothes and shit. He thought he was doing the right thing. He was following his instincts as an artist, which you have to give him some respect for.

So, JJ Abrams and Disney comes along and take the franchise back to the beginning. Good news for the fans but stab in the heart to the man who was trying to keep it modern. There has been fan backing for this as soon as Abrams was announced to direct and Lucas has had to keep jovial and happy throughout it all. I mean, essentially, all it took for the fans to love the film was a few references to the original, a few new (real) faces and a retro filter. To keep flogging this dead horse of an analogy, it’s like a father telling their child to study programming instead of art because that’s where there’s more security. Then, years later, the father has to look on as his artist child is beloved by everyone and he looks like a fucking fool.

I guess what I’m saying is, George Lucas is King Lear. He’s made all the wrong decision but he was doing it for the right reasons. He was blind to what really mattered. Although, so were the fans. With fandoms becoming so much stronger and crazier these days, it’s hard to remember that we’re not in charge. Yes, films need fans to make money so our opinion matters. However, just because we pay for a cinema ticket or watch a series doesn’t mean we should have ultimate creative control. Now if you’ve read enough of my rants you’ll be ready to accuse me of being hypocritical. You’d be right. I’ve spent enough time ranting about how Steven Moffat has ruined Doctor Who with his awful plot lines and characters. I stick by my opinion on a personal level. It’s not the way I’d have it. However, I have to try and be understanding from a creative level.

I’m not such a terrible person that I can’t see the good in something I don’t like. Just look at my justification for the prequels if you don’t believe me. I still respect Doctor Who and Sherlock as being well-made television series with great moments. Yes, I’m a melodramatic twat sometimes but, deep down, I understand that Moffat hasn’t ruined Doctor Who at all. He’s ruined my vision for what Doctor Who should be but the show remains in tact. Similarly, I really love less than half of the episodes in Sherlock’s history but I still see that it is a beautifully crafted show. I still respect it; I just don’t like it all the time. Ultimately, I’m just one fan and nobody gives a shit about my views.

Fans have been demanding too much of their creators for fucking ages. I mean Arthur Conan Doyle was sick of his great detective so killed the fucker off. He was forced to bring him back from the dead thanks to the endless petitions from his fans. Forcing a man to continue writing a character he resented? Am I the only one who sees that as fucking selfish? Then we have the modern example of George RR Martin. The poor man was writing a series of books for a dedicated group of fans before HBO came along. Then the fandom exploded. Instead of his loyal fans who were willing to wait 5 years between books, Martin was now faced with impatient TV fans who wanted the writer to hurry the fuck up. Give the guy a fucking break. He wants everything to be perfect but that’s not good enough for his so-called fans.

We all just need to calm the fuck down. You’re a fan. We are being given something wonderful by hard-working and creative people. They have their vision and it doesn’t alway fit in with ours. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean your childhood is ruined. It just means life sometimes sucks. Get over it. The next time you’re about to tell someone how much better The Force Awakens is compared to the prequels, think about George Lucas. Think about him staggering around on a misty moor going slowly mad. Think about what he once gave you and give him some fucking credit for a change. If Star Wars really means that much to you then you owe George Lucas a lot more than you’re giving him now.

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