When I first heard that Star Wars was being purchased by Disney, that most current Star Wars content was to become “Legends,” and that a new canon would be established that included another, new trilogy, I was, like most people, apprehensive. But after realizing that I was quite happy with how the new owners been handling the MCU films, I made the conscious decision to go “all-in” on Star Wars again. I’d always been a die-hard fan of the films (that’s right, films, all six of them), and dabbled in the old EU (I consumed roughly 40% of it…give or take), but I figured since Star Wars was “starting over” (so to speak, I’m well aware they didn’t actually start over), so would I. My plan was to absorb absolutely everything Star Wars from that point forward…and I did, for a while, but, frankly, it started to feel like work…not to mention, along the way, something else happened that I hadn’t expected: I didn’t like it all. This led me to wonder inwardly if I was really a Star Wars fan – maybe I don’t really like it as much as I thought, maybe I’ve been wasting time on this fandom and should find something else that I love unconditionally…but then I had an epiphany: I never questioned my fandom before when I didn’t absorb all of the EU, why should it be any different now? It shouldn’t, and isn’t, but why did I feel that way? Let’s find out…
The False Importance of “Canon”
I think perhaps the largest culprit in my lapse into self-doubt stemmed from one silly word: “canon.” When it was announced that the old EU was now “Legends” and the new content would be Star Wars “canon,” it gave the new content this grandiose sense of deep meaning and importance. There was going to be a Star Wars Story Group that was going to ensure that content across all mediums worked harmoniously together and impacted each other. The stories were going to be woven together like a magnificent tapestry, and missing out on any part would cause the greater Star Wars picture to have holes in it. Well, that’s simply not the case. All that Star Wars canon means is that these are the stories that exist in the post-Disney timeline. They’re not special. They’re not better than Legends. They’re just the stories that create the pool from which all other Star Wars content will emerge. The only reason a new canon was created was to allow the Disney era to tell new stories during a time-frame where stories already existed. What they really did was create a new continuity, and I wish that was how they would have worded it because, unfortunately, nomenclature carries a lot of weight, and the word “canon” has become much bigger than itself. (Artwork from this article – the artist is not credited, so if you know who it is, please let me know.)
Fear of Missing Out
As I state in the title, another big reason that I decided to overindulge in Star Wars this time around was the dreaded FOMO, fear of missing out. I thought if I didn’t read, watch, play, etc. everything having to do with Star Wars, I wouldn’t be a “real” fan, I wouldn’t be able to talk to other fans because I’d be missing part of the story, and I’d eventually get lost in the sea of new content, get overwhelmed, and have to bow out of my favorite fandom. That line of thinking is so absurd it’s embarrassing, but such is life sometimes, eh? The reality of Star Wars FOMO is the only thing you may miss out on is a good story (or, in some cases, a not-so-good one). The purpose of the Story Group is to keep the pretty much unprecedented amount of content across a huge variety of mediums from contradicting itself – a monumental task that they’ve not quite accomplished, but one they’ve done a fairly good job of as far as “major” elements go. But, to be completely honest, unless it’s something that’s part of a larger story like the film trilogies, a TV series, or the Aftermath novels, for example, you don’t really need to absorb one thing to understand another. For example, as with The Force Awakens, there’s going to be a collection of stories referred to as “Journey to The Last Jedi” coming out this fall. If you read those stories, you may have a little more backstory about certain characters than the average movie goer, but there’s not going to be anything in those stories that’s required to understand what happens in The Last Jedi. If your everyday fan had to read three novels, a comic series, and play through a video game before a movie would make sense, that movie would not be very successful. Each individual Star Wars story works basically the same way. Sure, many of them have threads from other stories that are woven in, but there’s generally nothing contained in those threads that informs the actual plot of the story. For example, several people have mentioned that there are references to Rebel Rising in Inferno Squad – well, I’ve not yet read Rebel Rising, but I’m having no problem understanding everything that’s happening in Inferno Squad. The plain truth is Star Wars stories seem to be built such that you can take what you like, leave what you don’t, and be just fine for it. And that’s exactly how it should be.
It’s okay not to like it
When I was reading through Heir to the Jedi, I kept thinking to myself, “oh man, I don’t really like this…at all…in fact, it’s kind of dumb.” But I kept struggling through because I was sure of two things: it’s Star Wars, so I must like it, it might just take time to grow on me, and I have to read it anyway because, well, it’s Star Wars. Those are two pretty messed up things to associate with a fandom that I’m supposed to enjoy because it’s fun, speaks to me, and gets me engrossed in the story…but that’s where my head was at the time. So I did it, I read the whole thing, and I’m worse off for it, honestly. Had I just stopped reading when I realized I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t have that particular stain on my overall view of the greater Star Wars story. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn my lesson, and I’ve been slowly (very slowly) struggling through the Ahsoka novel (granted, I wouldn’t call it “bad” like I would Heir to the Jedi, I just don’t enjoy it). I have grown a little, though, and I’m allowing myself to put it off anytime there’s something else I’d rather do – previously, I would have made myself power through it because I was somehow convinced that’s what I had to do. But I didn’t. And I know now that I don’t have to finish Ahsoka if I don’t want to, but there’s another part of me that doesn’t like to leave things unfinished, and, like I said, it’s not that it’s “bad,” so I’ll just get through it when I get through it. Going forward, though, I’m going to stop blindly buying anything that’s Star Wars just because it’s Star Wars, and start looking into it to see if it’s something I’ll enjoy. The only exception being comics, mostly because they’re serial and, even when they’re bad (like the abysmal “Screaming Citadel” story line) they don’t last long or require much time (though I will most likely not be buying the Thrawn series since it’s a story I already know – I can probably find something else to spend that $24 on…the same goes for film adaptations, or, I guess, any kind of adaptation of a story that already exists…having one version of a Star Wars story is enough for me).
So, there you have it. I am a Star Wars fan, but I haven’t read everything, nor will I, and that doesn’t make me any less of a fan than anyone out there that has (ironically-ish, even when I was at my most “completionist,” I hadn’t read all the short stories, so even when I thought I was an elitist, I wasn’t); canon isn’t a superior group of stories, it’s a different continuity – that’s all; and, yes, there are things in Star Wars I don’t like; in fact, I might go so far as to say there are things in Star Wars that I hate, but I still love Star Wars, and I always will because, no matter what happens going forward, they can’t take away the Star Wars that already exists that I love, and that goes for canon as well as Legends. In closing, love what you love, and let the rest go, and by “let it go” I mean don’t harass or argue with people that like what you don’t or vice versa (and no, it isn’t a Frozen reference). Other peoples’ opinions don’t impact yours unless you let them. We’re all Star Wars fans, let’s bond over the parts of the galaxy far, far away that we have in common and save our animosity for those awful Star Trek fans! (Only kidding…sorta…no, really, I’m only kidding…) Just be cool, fellow fans, and may the Force be with you…