Well, it took a good long time, but after more than a year of gleefully picking apart the rumors coming out around Episode VII, I finally had to make a judgment call. A couple weeks ago, Making Star Wars ran a spy report detailed what they claimed was the film’s “I am your father” moment. I’m not linking directly to it, but it should be easy enough to track down if you desire. As I’ve explained before, my standard operating procedure is to immediately assume all rumors are bullshit, simply because of the thousand mitigating factors between what someone says online and what’s actually going to appear in the finished film fourteen months from now. Even if you assume the rumor reports are coming from people who genuinely believe them, there are just too many variables in play to hang your hat on anything not released officially by Lucasfilm (or, in other words, pretty much anything at all).
But the whole “I am your father” thing gave me pause. Despite not seeing the Star Wars films as a child, one of the exceedingly few things I knew before I finally did see them—and to put this in perspective, I can distinctly remember a time when I thought Harrison Ford played Luke Skywalker—was that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. It’s almost impossible to exist in modern western society and not know that, even if you don’t have an iota of context for that information. » Read more..
In the first round (volume? saga?) of So You Think You Can Internet, I offered my time-tested advice on how to conduct oneself amicably in an internet debate. Now I’d like to move on to another area with which I’ve got a bit of experience: rumors. At first glance my target audience here might seem limited to people who actually run websites of their own, but I’d say it’s just as important for a reader to understand these things as for a writer or publisher.
When I founded the Unofficial New Jedi Order Homepage almost exactly fifteen years ago (ugh), the tone of fandom regarding the series was not altogether unlike what we’re seeing with Episode VII now—the Expanded Universe was regarded as stagnating, and suddenly the novel license was in new hands, with rumors of a drastic new storytelling direction on the scale of the Original Trilogy. The first excerpt from Vector Prime released in the summer of 1999 featured Han’s reflections on an uncertain galaxy where no one was safe; it didn’t come right out and say it, but the message was clear: someone was about to die. » Read more..
In my recent interview with author Jason Fry, I asked him about his personal reaction to the reboot announcement—and Jason took that ball and ran with it, commenting not just on his own reaction, but his perspective on others’ reactions, and what they said about internet culture overall. Some fans, Jason felt, were too quick to see ill intent in the news; a “plot against EU fans, or something Lucasfilm did casually or dismissively.” He went on:
“This is probably too kumbaya, but it’s just the latest thing that makes me wish we’d take it easier on each other, particularly online. It’s like we’ve been primed to assume that faceless person we disagree with is malevolent or incompetent. I don’t know why we do this (I’m certainly not innocent), but it doesn’t win arguments, it doesn’t elevate our discourse, and it sure doesn’t make us happier. I wish we would all try assuming the other person’s acting in good faith, attempting to understand their perspective, and if we’re still at odds, accepting that we just see things differently.”
For my part, I’ve long been a devotee of something called Hanlon’s razor—“never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” That works pretty well for politics, I’d say, but when dealing with the ins and outs of major franchise fiction, one might go a step further and say “never attribute to malice or stupidity that which is adequately explained by changes in circumstance”—Fry’s razor, if you will. Nine times out of ten (give or take a David Goyer), the people responsible for producing the media we fans consume are genuine fans themselves, or at the very least, doing the best job they can within a given set of constraints to produce something they honestly believe people will like. » Read more..