For fans of long-running series – Marvel and DC fans will be very familiar with this, as will Transformers fans – reboots are, at best, an occasional hazard and, at worst, a fandom-killer! Which will it be for you? Well, there are various strategies you can opt for to tilt the deck more in favour of the former over the latter and this article sketches them out briefly.
The Scorned Consumer: A deal was made with certain conditions of sale – this reboot has deviated from those terms irrevocably! In the words of Bugs Bunny: “You realize of course that this means war?” and to invoke Chris Morris’ The Day Today: “Yes, it’s war!” Or rather – no further Star Wars purchases ever, no more money to SW ever, no more funding of perfidious snake oil executives who’ll do anything to sell SW! It would be fair to say that while a good few EU fans may well try to pursue this strategy, very few of those will likely not see Episode VII in one shape or form. Once acquired the fandom habit is hard to stop, reduction is the name of the game here.
The Lebowski Strategy: All the Dude wanted was to keep Luceno’s work in, man! It really tied the EU together! And the Dude has a point. If Luceno, one of the best going at working collaboration, especially in the wake of Allston’s death, gets deemed non-canon, nothing’s safe. For this strategy, a certain laid-back attitude is essential. The Dude may well consider Star Wars: Tarkin an adequate replacement, if he gets it dirt cheap or free or talks Kathleen Kennedy into giving him a free copy, as it really ties the EU together.
Senecan Resignation: This strategy is one of managing expectations with a downward slant so as to avoid disappointment. It is an outlook of a fan that likes SW greatly but has been burnt one too many times by its marketing promises, thus revising expectations is eminently logical. A Senecan approach would have identified a full reboot as a possibility months ago and asked the question then of how to respond, thus being fully prepared for the recent actuality. It will also not seek false hope in marketing, but will be open to a new work being particularly recommended by readers or, in the case of Rebels, viewers.
The Enraged Fan, or the Sobchak: This will not do! This is unacceptable! We will fight to regain our lost EU! We will fight them in the message boards, we shall fight them in the chat rooms, we will never forget and we will never surrender! Oh, you will? Very well…. This is easily one of the most useless responses if you wish to still retain any liking for SW. Raging, unlike venting, isn’t actually all that cathartic, rather more toxic really and it’s that toxicity that can spread to your liking of SW and wreck it beyond all repair. Indeed, if a fan is not careful they will end up like the Dude’s long-time acquaintance Walter Sobchak, raging about being fucked in the arse!
The Reciprocity Principle: This has some commonality with the Scorned Consumer but is grounded differently. This view sees reboots as the act of the creatively bankrupt, of those who declare it’s too hard to come up with something new amidst this mountain of material, thus sweep it away! It reasons that since those producing the material care so little for it, why then should they? Though they may find themselves buying the odd exceptional new work here and there, in the main, this is a reduction strategy.
More SW = Good: This fan does not care about conditions of sale or that an entirety of continuity built up over 20-30 years has gone out the window, no, for this fan all a reboot means is there will be more SW material and that is good! This fan will be first to pre-order the new stuff, be highly enthusiastic and likely first in the line to see Episode VII. This fan will have found a way to make the adjustment from SW’s declaration of a single continuity to that of multiple continuities or will simply have never bought into that declaration in the first place!
Old = Good, New = Better: For this fan the reason for their embrace of the new structures created in the wake of the reboot is that it is a chance to correct where the old continuity went wrong. The Senecan will point out there is no guarantee of the new stuff simply being better by virtue of it being new and being in a continuity void, but that is unlikely to dim their enthusiasm.
The Reconciler: This is the strategy of a highly dedicated yet optimistic fan, one whose attitude to a reboot is to say: “Bring it!” They see a reboot as their ultimate challenge in reconciling information. Not for them rage or despair, reduced involvement or net campaigns – no, they will try to make it all work regardless. Impossible you say? Don’t be so sure! SW fandom has been creating fixes for years as a cavalier creator and company threw various slings and arrows around with abandon! There’s nothing to say someone can’t come up with an ingenious means of meshing it all together!
Is this every possible outlook? Probably not, people are likely to be a mix, but the object of this series is to find ways to continue to maintain interest in SW no matter what. Reboots are one of the biggest challenges for that but they are far from insurmountable. To continue to be engaged with a story like SW is to grant it the most precious thing you have – time. For some, who have been engaged for 20 years, they may conclude that’s more than enough, time to use the new structures as an escape door. For others, it will still have that indefinable enduring hook, something that demands their continued attention, even if in reduced form. For others, whose interest in SW had waned, the reboot will be a signal fire to re-engage them. Well, maybe until Episode VII comes out – at which point the internet will probably melt!