I sat down today to write a review of facemasks we had received at Fantha Tracks, my daughter and I had tried and tested them at the weekend and we had great fun, but my thoughts wandered as I started to write the article – my heart just wasn’t in it. I had had a brief chat with another Fantha Tracker the previous day and it got me thinking.
I reflected back over the last 6 months, it was truly a busy time for me personally, professionally and Star Warsy (if that is even a word). I was promoted in work, it was my daughter’s last year in primary school and the whole process of applying for schools came into play. Sophie had also been selected for her team to compete at National level for synchronised swimming and her training commitment was high she was determined and I needed/wanted to support her to achieve her goal (which I’m pleased to say she did and her team were crowned National Champions the weekend before lockdown !).
On top of that I had lots planned for Star Wars including Planet Leia podcasts, Star Wars in Concert, planning our trip to Celebration, The Rise of Skywalker premiere and visits to local cons to name a few things!
Where is this all going you wonder? Well my life was busy, time was tight but the I made sure I continued with the things I loved and enjoyed….
Our Celebration booking was successful! I was chuffed we got weekend passes, booked a hotel (the Marriott right in front in the convention centre). When I booked there was always a niggle, I thought to myself the timing wasn’t great for families, particularly from outside the US as it was so close to the start of term time, but we could make it work…maybe.
The arrival of Disney plus early in November, was galling to say the least, we’re quite used to not having a release at the same time as the US, however with the launch came the arrival of the much anticipated The Mandalorian. How on earth could fans outside the US escape spoilers? The simple answer was they couldn’t. With the best will in the world the greatest secret since “I am your father” was ruined – it was everywhere. I won’t deny it, I did watch it and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it did not have to be that way did it? It irked me greatly, but throughout I just kept a positive outlook and my love of Star Wars did not wane.
Late on in November when we heard Sophie had been awarded a place in our school of choice, the realisation of the timing of Celebration came into play, I was feeling quite annoyed about the timing. I knew this would be the outcome when I booked it, but carried on. ReedPOP, Disney and Lucasfilm had put it at a time that excluded fans from outside of the US with children. It was with a heavy heart we cancelled our hotels and I waited for Lyte to sell our tickets on.
To quote Carrie Fisher “It’s about family” but I was feeling that sentiment should have the add on as long as you’re in the US.
Then December came and my faith was restored. I went to see Empire at the symphony hall in Birmingham with my fellow Midland Fantha Trackers, we truly geeked out, met up with friends, drank in the genius of John Williams and sat back and watched the film.
When at the concert myself and Paul hatched a cunning plan…
It was the UK release day of the last film in the Skywalker Saga, watching the movies and geeking out is what Star Wars is all about to me, so Paul and I decided to do both!
This year the premier for The Rise Of Skywalker was lower key than usual and tickets weren’t available to buy. However, there was a chance we could get into the fan zone, so at 2.00am we headed 100 miles to London to queue …isn’t that what Star Wars fans do best ?
Lo and behold, 3 hours after queuing, success! Wristbands acquired and albeit in the fan pen we were at the red carpet for Star Wars! This was fandom and geeking out at its best and these opportune moments is what it is about for me!
What a night, autographs, Extinction Rebellion and a giant hoarding acquired! To top it off we drove back to Coventry to see The Rise Of Skywalker at our local cinema all in the same night! Winner winner!
I had a great time and loved the film it wasn’t the best Star Wars film but it was still very enjoyable!
The backlash, and it was quick (it almost felt given the reaction of the last 2 films inevitable almost a rite of passage for some; flip, I sound like my mother!) It was literally as people walked out of the cinema. As soon as it started, I was tired of it, actually beleaguered by it. I was appalled it was venomous, petty, self-righteous, pompous and people’s behaviour was truly shocking! Facebook groups that I once loved to read and take part in were divided, and one group at one point became so fragmented that there was talk of factions splitting.
It was fabulous to have a conversation with other hosts on Planet Leia about the film, we did not all necessarily agree but it was a great chat and it sounded balanced on our podcast. Something I felt was lacking in social media and I was actually afraid that if I said my opinion in “public” those who did not share my opinion would troll myself and even Fantha Tracks, so I felt it was best for me to simply stay away and say nothing. I am sure this is how other felt and it is a real shame things went this way.
So apart from speaking to my Star Wars husband in Sweden and my fellow Fantha Trackers I closed myself off from so called ‘fandom’. I monitored our social media accounts and although it was a small minority, it wore me down. Why hurt something you love for so long? Was it that bad I do not think so, some people just didn’t get what they wanted so just threw their teddy/ewok out of the buggy? I didn’t personally didn’t get what I wanted ( but that’s another article to write and not for now ) but I didn’t go on about it and say how disappointed I was, how Star Wars is ruined or how certain shows/people are the saviours of Star Wars and others ruined it. Star Wars is a collection of films with a galaxy far, far away surrounded by many stories told in various ways; there’s enough for everyone, isn’t there?
I simply did not understand people’s behaviour on both sides and it annoyed me, it felt over privileged, self-righteous and downright rude with bad manners on both sides. (There I said it)
Nobody and I mean nobody sets off to work at Lucasfilm to do a bad job, they are dedicated and put a lot of effort into one of the world’s biggest franchises. This bitterness and appalling behaviour from people was not something I wanted to be part of so I shut myself off and let people get on with it I had better things to get on with in my life.
Well here we are at the start of May and the world is in a global pandemic, on lockdown. Like everyone else jobs started to get completed in the house, which included preparation for watching The Rise of Skywalker which was coming out on DVD; I finished Resistance Reborn, we put up the banner from TROS premiere but most importantly my family and I started out on a Star Wars film marathon from the Eps 1 right through to The Last Jedi.
The DVD arrived our home cinema was ready….
We watched the films and were shouting out the lines, asking who is the best, who is the worst? Who would you have round for dinner? (Those sorts of questions you ask during a quarantine!)
It was great fun to immerse in a galaxy far, far away Star Wars, we needed it and had so much fun as family. Along with my continuing chats and banter with my Midland Fanthas (but don’t you tell them I said that) and my chats with my Star Wars husband this is my Star Wars and it always has been.
The cries over the last few years of “this isn’t my Star Wars, x is awful, I have fallen out with Star Wars, cries to boycott Star Wars, reshoot Star Wars” all bore me and frankly fandom is what you make it. If you choose to go negative make a drama out of it, well crack on but I’m not interested …
I love Star Wars, warts and all and I declare this …
So my conclusion is this, ultimately Star Wars is a collection of movies that when I watch them take me to a happy galaxy far, far away, something that I need to be now in fact we all need given all that going on . Its escapism, fun and it has seen me through some very difficult times throughout my life.
So this leads me back to our face masks. Sophie was Chewie, I was Darth, we had a laugh and we quoted lines while cleansing our skin.
We came full circle we may not get everything we want nor do we all like everything, but one thing is for sure
Star Wars IS about family and the friends who share that with you.
May the Force be with you, and right now be kind, stay safe and protect lives.
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