From that moment on, I was hooked. I inhaled Star Wars. I lived it. I had every Hasbro toy, every action figure. I read every expanded universe book, from the Young Jedi Knights books (yes, all of them) all the way through to the epic Heir to the Empire/Thrawn trilogy. I collected the CCG. I had every vehicle, creature and weapons guide book. I played every video game. Star Wars was my life.
And what I loved about it was something very specific: It wasn't the legacy of the Skywalker family, it wasn't the minute and specific details about how the force works, it wasn't the mechanics of whatever form of physics exists in the Star Wars universe. It was the universe itself: its people, its imagery, its boundless creativity. Its ability to whisk you away to a world which you could only imagine; taking that world and making it real. THAT is the magic of Star Wars - always has been, and always will be. And I always felt - naively, it seems - that the Star Wars fandom at large loved the property for the same reasons I did.
Which brings us to 2017, a year in which a faction of the Star Wars fandom - the same fandom I have so proudly belonged to for so many years, that I built my life around - has decided that a film that DARES to show them something slightly different, marginally unexpected, ever so slightly challenge the status quo of what the universe has been up until this point, is some sort of personal affront, and have made it their mission to destroy it.
The negative responses to this film - the level of anger, of vitriol, of pure and vicious hatred - make me sick to my stomach. Look, film criticism is a subjective opinion - if you didn't enjoy something, you didn't enjoy something, and that's fine. If you thought that this film had plot issues, character inconsistencies, bad dialogue, leaps of logic - again, that's totally your prerogative (though I suggest you take a long, hard look back at the original trilogy before you criticize a Star Wars movie of having plot issues, character inconsistencies, bad dialogue, and leaps of logic.)
But to think that a film is bad JUST because it defies your expectations? Because it dares to show you something unexpected? Because it commits the horrendous offense of ADDING to the Star Wars lore instead of just re-packaging what already existed and selling it back to you as something new? Because it features strong female characters? Minorities? These opinions range from pathetically short-sighted to outright sexist, racist, and vile.
And I've had enough. Because this movie had lightsabers. It had epic space battles. It had beloved original trilogy characters actually growing beyond what they were originally, and opening a door to a new chapter in the saga, while closing the door on their own chapter on the way out. It has engaging and likable new characters. It takes us to new places and shows us sides of the Star Wars universe we have never seen before. And more than anything, more than The Force Awakens and Rogue One that preceded it... it re-captures that feeling of watching the original trilogy, of seeing something totally new and unexpected, of being whisked away to a magical and fantastical place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
And if that isn't enough for you ungrateful, spiteful, hateful ingrates... I simply don't understand what is. The Star Wars fandom is dead. Because it's just not fun to be a Star Wars fan anymore, if all you get is hate and vitriol and sexism and temper tantrums, and arguments about inane and unimportant minutia, while entirely missing the bigger picture. So, congratulations. You killed the fandom. I hope you're all proud of yourselves.