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I am, I shamefully admit, beginning to get a little sick of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
That shouldn’t be the case, I know. With just a little over a month remaining before the movie — the first Star Wars movie in a decade, and the first movie to feature original trilogy stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford since 1983’s Return of the Jedi — my excitement should be reaching fever pitch.
More and more information about the movie is being released, after relative secrecy and speculation since the movie’s initial announcement, which should, in theory, translate into even more eagerness to find out what Supreme Leader Snoke is up to, or why Rey was abandoned on Jakku by her family years earlier. And yet … that’s not the case.
Instead, I feel overwhelmed by the constant focus on “news” from the movie that sees small, inconsequential details — Rey’s staff is just a staff! It’s not a lightsaber! — given the same emphasis and focus as more important ones, and nonstories — We still don’t know what Andy Serkis‘ character looks like, we still don’t know where Luke Skywalker is, and we still don’t know what the deal is with Kylo Ren and that Darth Vader helmet is — becoming more and more common as the movie nears theaters.
As a writer, I’m as responsible for this as anyone else, of course. Don’t think that irony has escaped me. In fact, part of me wonders if I’m more susceptible to burnout because I’m purposefully searching out as much information as possible. But this isn’t just me; I’m seeing a level of malaise and disquiet online toward the movie as more and more people start to complain about the effort needed to avoid details about what’s to come. As some trailer or other put it, there’s been an awakening.
It’s hard to know what’s to blame for this: certainly, J.J. Abrams and the filmmakers have tried to keep the movie under wraps for the most part, but that secrecy fuels the obsessive nature that turns every single fact about the movie into “news” as much as anything else. As I write, for example, I see “news stories” breathlessly sharing the running time of the movie; it’s 2 hours and 15 minutes, although I doubt many people will be checking their watches during the movie if all goes well.
Should fans be blamed for wanting to know everything now? Perhaps — some questions that fans want answered are clearly the point of the story, after all, and it’s that level of demand that drives outlets to stretch information into as many stories as humanly possible — although I remember just how excited I was to find out any tidbit of information about Return of the Jedi before that movie was released, and I can’t be too harsh toward those feeling as excited about this movie. (Yes, I’m old.)
It’s fitting, perhaps, that it’s Star Wars — a franchise that arguably created modern fandom, or at least heavily shaped it — that is the movie that’s taken exhaustive speculative culture to this new height. And if there’s a silver lining to be found in the cloud of ever-present Star Wars, it’s that this, surely, has to be the zenith of this kind of thing.
Star Wars movies, moving forward, will be annual events, presumably reducing the amount of anticipation and speculation about what to expect, and nothing has quite the grip on fandom as a whole as this franchise, much to the upset of those behind Batman v. Superman, Transformers, Star Trek or any other massive genre property.
If we can collectively make it through to the point of the movie’s release — and, predictably, the inevitable backlash that’ll come as soon as the movie doesn’t accurately reflect everyone’s imaginary version of events — then things, surely, will calm down eventually. All we have to do is survive the next five weeks without becoming too jaded about the movie’s omnipresence in the meantime — which is, admittedly, a task that even a Jedi Knight would struggle with.
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