Op-ed: Chill out, everybody—Star Wars has always been for kids
Enlarge/ I will jump at literally any chance to use this pic..
This Star Wars-related op-ed does not contain any spoilers for The Last Jedi, other than a mention or two about porgs. It does, however, have some spoilers for the rest of the mainline series and possibly Rogue One.
A few years ago, when Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars, one of the first things the House of Mouse did was to throw the almost-wholly-execrable Expanded Universe into the garbage chute. With the stroke of a pen, tens of thousands of pages of what was effectively fan fiction (and written like it) became dianoga chow—and good riddance. The tiny portions of the EU worth saving—mostly culled from the work of Timothy Zahn, maybe with a bit of Stackpole tossed in for flavor—were given new life in the redefined canon, but jettisoning the rest of it was a necessary step. It removed a giant calcified tumor from the Star Wars universe’s colon, and doing so gave Disney the latitude it needed in order to tell its own stories without having to fact check everything on Wookiepedia first.
But for older folks who grew up with Star Wars—particularly us GenX-ers and proto-Millennials born in the late '70s and early '80s who experienced the movies for the first time as very young kids—it signaled something more ominous. When Obi-Wan decided to train Anakin, it was with the expectation that he would bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness (though maybe Obi-Wan should have thought through all the possible implications of what “balance” could mean in that context). Similarly, when Disney bought the franchise, the dumping of the EU was the first sign that Disney might not be out to “save” Star Wars—at least, not how we’d prefer it to be saved. In fact, by jettisoning the EU, Disney looked like it might have been about to ruin Star Wars for us. And how dare they? Star Wars was ours!
But it isn’t—not anymore, at least, because we kids who grew up as Star Wars fans have forgotten who Star Wars is really for. When we were little, it used to be for us. It’s not anymore. We grew up and, though our tastes in entertainment naturally evolve as we get older, Star Wars doesn’t. We grew up and left it behind, but Star Wars is a constant and unchanging companion. It’s just as true to its fans as it always was—we’re just not the right fans.
Don’t believe me? Let’s run the numbers.
1. Star Wars has always been for families and kids
I can point to the exact thing that made me realized that Star Wars wasn’t meant for me anymore. On an afternoon in early November 2012, I watched this short Youtube video: