A Dark Force Rising in Star Wars Fandom

It’s an incredible time to be a Star Wars fan. The internet is filled with news and rumours about the many releases Disney has in store for us, and the fan community is thriving like never before.

Sadly, amid all of this, there’s a dark force rising. One of the most important features of the internet is the fact that it affords everyone a voice, but there are times when some voices become needlessly negative and – ultimately – toxic. I’ve recently witnessed some troubling examples of this within the Star Wars fan community, and felt it was time to break from my usually dispassionate posts to say something about it. After some careful consideration, I’ve found that everything really boils down to three main things that we as fans need to keep in mind:

1. If you love Star Wars, then you’re a Star Wars fan. It’s that simple. Star Wars fandom isn’t an exclusive club. There’s no entrance exam, and there’s no required knowledge. You don’t need to have read every Star Wars book, or played every Star Wars game. There’s no such thing as a “true fan”, and pretending that there is only serves to harbour divisions in the fan community.

2. Star Wars: Episode VII hasn’t even been released yet. In recent weeks we’ve been seeing a lot of rumours of what might or might not appear in Episode VII. Most fans have met these with curiosity and excitement, but others have responded with scathing criticism – already writing off the film as doomed to failure. But this isn’t fair. I’ve said before that there’s every reason to have hope in Episode VII, and I stand by that position. At the very least, we owe it to the cast and crew of the film to wait until 18 December 2015 before we even consider passing judgement on it.

3. Whatever happens, “your” Star Wars will remain intact. I’ve often said that one of my favourite things about the Star Wars universe is that you’re always free to take what you want, and leave what you don’t. If you don’t enjoyEpisode VII, then that won’t be a problem – you’ll always have the original six films (or original three as the case may be). If Star Wars: Rebels doesn’t float your star cruiser, then you’re under no obligation to continue watching. The important thing to remember is that for some – or, hopefully, for many – these new additions will become as important as the classic films that we’ve all grown up with. While we might not like a particular entry in the saga, there will always be fans out there who genuinely enjoy and treasure it. Respecting that fact is what genuine fandom is all about.

Ultimately, we need to remember that we’re all here for the very same reason: a deep and abiding passion for that galaxy far, far away. So long as we keep that in mind, and meet our fellow fans with kindness, the Star Wars community will continue to be as incredible as it’s always been.