2007-04-08

"A New Sith" and Other Thoughts

Agree or disagree with this, but it's refreshing to see some real and thoughtful speculation on Star Wars.

It's interesting, really. Lucas has called Star Wars fans independent-thinking people, which is true to a point. But I think the EU, which tries so hard to answer all of the questions, curtails that. Sure, they recently cancelled the planned novel on Darth Plagueis on the grounds that "the mystery was worth keeping", but really . . . why cancel it? There's very little mystery that the EU hasn't cast aside.

Thanks to the EU, we just about know everything. At this point, when there's an EU story covering almost every face and droid and building seen in the films, opportunities for relevant independent speculation largely dry up. Hardcore fans who don't accept the EU get their ideas attacked by EU Defense Forces and whatnot. This is especially true if the idea contradicts the EU, though that isn't an absolute necessity given the attitudes of some EU-philes.

For this guy to have taken an idea, expanded it into such a large bit of speculation, and posted it is downright bold in such a climate.

Perusing the StarWars.com forums, you'll find that, largely, the speculation is about the next answer from the EU . . . or the speculation is about EU minutiae and directed as a question to the EU VIPs. In a way that's quite nice, but in another way it might be considered stifling, at least in this context.

The issue hits me along what we in the US call "red-state/blue-state" lines. That description is technically inaccurate . . . a look at this page breaks it down by counties. As you can see by the blue peaks in the 3D map, as a rule those who dwell in large cities tend to vote more to the left. And as a rule, the left in this country tends to be more of a big-government sort of party.

In the rural areas, government is limited in its reach. Without the needs or budget of cities, the level of what we might call "government impression" and regulation in one's daily life has historically been fairly low, contributing to the image of self-reliant rural types. But in cities, the level of government impression has historically been very much higher. Worse, as the service-oriented sector of the economy has grown, the fundamental disconnect with the means of production (i.e. "food comes from McDonald's like magic! Shutting down those cruel cattle ranches won't hurt!") seen among some has increased. We thus get more people viewing the government as the necessary caretakers of the population without knowing how that works at all, an image very much different than the self-reliant "show-me" one.

This simpification takes us back to the EU. Star Wars fans may be independent thinkers, but insofar as speculation goes Lucas Licensing is, for many fans, their necessary caretaker. Speculation, like the services of government, is more visible and official, and more regulated too. And dare I say, it may help foster a certain disconnect with the methods of logical speculation.

Star Trek doesn't have an EU of that sort, though Pocket Books and other licensees are wanting to create that sort of thing. Certainly there wasn't much of a Trek EU during the first Trek interregnum (circa 1969-1987). Indeed, there was a Trek magazine in that period that often featured extensive speculation on TOS and the characters. It's really quite amusing to read now.

Some of this speculation was treated as fact by other fans, while others didn't agree. There weren't flames about it and no indication that camps formed and considered other camps idiots . . . though of course this was prior to the social de-evolution of the internet.

In short, there was, then, a sort of liberty of speculation and spirit of cooperation that modern Star Wars fandom doesn't have.

I'm not sure which is better insofar as franchise longevity is concerned. But, given that welfare often begets welfare, I'm hazarding a prediction here that Star Wars will be the long-term winner inasmuch as keeping a fanbase. But the trick is, the fanbase has to avoid becoming so fractured and negative that Star Wars ends up going the way of Trek.

This probably won't happen, despite certain elements in SW fandom doing their best to bring it about. Star Wars, unlike Star Trek, has been scarce enough in common media like TV that the new live-action show, if ever actually made, will have people flock to it, overwhelming the nay-sayers.

It'll be interesting to see, though, if the show fans transition into EU fans, and if Licensing can have products that integrate the two well enough that folks aren't overwhelmed with the detail.

Then they'll just have to manage the newbie speculation . . .

5 comments:

  1. I think it unlikely that Star Wars will generate a TV series any time soon. More than likely they'll experience the problem of juggling numerous episodes with the movies just as trek has had.

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  2. Indeed, they seem focused on the animated one(s) now. Not sure what the delay is in regards to the live-action one.

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  3. An I think that best. It should be the same artist team and writers they put together for the Clone Wars shorts which were perhaps the best writing and illistrations since the first trilogy. I noticed many areas where bad guys were never heard from again, such as the Lady Sith and the shapeshifter from the first volume that Obi wan appeared to defeat. But anime takes time and a lot of it. But there may be other issues. The Force Unleashed will feature characters, such as the Lady Sith and Shak Ti who seemed to have a demise of somesort but escaped, I believe they might be trying to work through the continuity or perhaps Mr. Lucas is having a problem extending rights to further his franchise. Lucas has seemed very protective of who he puts on his projects.

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  4. Say what you will, but I have always enjoye the EU for what it was and did. My own interest in Star Wars has waned a bit because it is a one trick pony, all of the stories are mostly about conflict and/or war (I know I know, big surprise considering the name).
    Thats one of my main reasons for my interest in Star Trek vs Star Wars, I think the two could benifit greatly from one another, especially when you get pst the rabid warsies wanting to see Earth blown up.

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  5. Which, of course, is why there is that other universe of Star Wars that only contains Lucas's films and everything else is mysterious...

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