The other night my son spotted an interesting choice on the Netflix menu: The People VS George Lucas. We hunkered down for what was an enlightening look into the world of the uberfan, and, I must say, it got ugly fast. If you are not up on such things, adult fans of the original Star Wars trilogy were – well, are, I’m sure – highly displeased with both the three prequels as well as a few small changes Lucas made to episodes 4, 5, and 6 in the 1990’s (Google “Han fired first” if you’d like a taste).
Having dwelled professionally for a time in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, I am somewhat familiar with the kind of nerd outrage expressed by the fans in this documentary. They loved what Lucas had made, and then Lucas betrayed them. There was a juvenile quality to these men’s (and, alas, they were nearly all men) vitriol, to their sense of entitlement, and to their child-like view of what it is to create something original and put it out there for all the world to see.
It would be easy for me to simply sit in judgment – and, as you can probably tell, I spent a fair amount of time doing just that – if I did not recognize a small part of myself in every one of their geeky tirades. And no, not because I was a Star Wars fan. I wasn’t. What I saw in them was the exact same fear I used to feel sitting down to write a query letter. Will anybody really read this? I would wonder. Does anybody really care about me and my stories?
I did not understand then that you cannot be heard if you don’t hear yourself, and you cannot be seen if you don’t see yourself. It’s like a magic trick, letting yourself disappear in a crowd, even when you are shouting. These men shouted plenty. “He doesn’t give a damn about the fans!” There is no reason to shout unless you think you can’t be heard.
Meanwhile, I am sure Lucas gave as much as a damn as he could about the millions of fans who flocked to see his movies. But no matter how much of a damn he gave he could not give them what they wanted most and already had: a voice.
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