Navigating Fandom's Pitfalls

Image Used Courtesy of Lucasfilm, Ltd. 

“Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?” Sometimes I feel like Han Solo could just as easily be describing the perils of being a Star Wars fan. Navigating the sheer amount of content, the negativity of some fans, and trying to not get burnt out on Star Wars (something that happens occasionally despite that seeming as improbable as Luke’s Death Star shot) can seem just as miraculous a feat as flying through the Anoat Asteroid Belt.

The amount of Star Wars content released each month is staggering. There’s the comics, the animated shows, the novels (both adult and young adult), the non-fiction books, the console games and mobile games, the merchandise, the weekly Star Wars Show and Rebels Recon, and of course, there’s also the actual films themselves. You could run yourself ragged trying to keep up with all of it. I’ve almost done it. In the end, it left me feeling like a Hutt who’s eaten too many Klatooine paddy frogs. All the material was fun to consume, but it left me feeling more tired and worn out than anything. The trick is to pick what I love. I’ll always read the comics and novels, but I may not always get to all the non-fiction. The console games will always go for a spin in my system, but I may not always get that app. I’ll pick the specific content that most interests me.

For as much as we fans love Star Wars, we are also its most venomous critics at times. From the hateful rhetoric leveled against the prequels, to the constant outcry against Star Wars: Rebels and its “filler episodes,” to the viral freakout that ripples through social media when the film productions announce the hiring of a new actor, the dropping of a director, or the need for reshoots, Star Wars fans can be particularly vitriolic. I don’t think many of us mean to be so negative. It just happens sometimes because we care so much about the saga. The trick is to know when to step away. Engage in discussions and even mild arguments with other fans, but when it turns hurtful, it’s time to go.

I recently engaged in a conversation with many fans about how Star Wars put out a beautiful video celebrating Father’s Day when they didn’t have a video also celebrating Mother’s Day. We went back and forth on whether it was a mistake that fans needed to call the franchise out on or if it was just something the franchise hadn’t thought about. What started as a conversation between myself and one other person ballooned into a thread with between six to ten individuals, but it was awesome because we were able to discuss the topic in a kind and polite manner. At the end, no consensus was reached, but we still spread heart and high five emojis all around. That’s how it should be, and when it’s not like that, you might have to step back in order to avoid that negative quagmire.

Even though we all love Star Wars, sometimes we also just need a break from it. At the start of summer, I had spent so much time rewatching the films, reading the comics and novels, playing the games, and just Star Warsing that I needed to stop. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra and playing through some of the various video games that had piled up on my system’s hard drive throughout the school year. It’s been great. I’ve felt a weird sense of non-sensical betrayal when I’ve felt more interested in the exploits of Aang and crew than whatever’s happening in Star Wars. It’s like I’m telling a lover, “No. I’m still mad about you, darling, but I need some time with the guys!” In both cases, it’s good to take a break. Doing so will help you to want to go back into that relationship with more passion than if you let yourself get more and more burnt out.

Despite all the danger that Han puts Chewie and the Falcon in, you know that in the end, he’s going to take care of them. It’s the same with fandom. You have to decide how you’re going to invest your energy in fandom, and when you’re beginning to feel weighed down, you have to break out the old hydrospanner to fix up and fine tune your fandom ship, so it can soar again.

Do you have any strategies you use to help your fandom recover when times are tough? Feel free to share them with us on Twitter at @mapplebee7567 and @farfarawayradio.