The Perils of Fan Canon

I don’t have issues with fan fiction. Most of it is pretty bad, but most of everything is bad, so that’s nothing remarkable.
But a big problem with fan fiction culture is an obsession with minor details. The reason is simple enough. If you want to create an interesting story and not really sure what to write about, pick something you like, pick a detail of it that is unexplored (usually because it doesn’t need to explore), and expand upon it.
And that’s fine. Nothing wrong with that.
But it has led to a larger assumption that every element in a story is important and an obsession over details and faux mysteries.
I saw it with The Force Awakens, when people were furiously debating over who Emperor Snoke was going to be because he had to be somebody important! Not just anyone could become Emperor. Certainly, if not a film character, he must be a version of an extended universe character!
I’m trying to imagine the original Star Wars in this context, and if you watch the original film, there is almost no mystery in it. Darth Vader is later found out to be Luke’s father, but there are no hints of it. The Empire has no secret agenda, nor the Rebels. Luke is not a mystery. He’s just a good kid who has access to the force.
And, lest we forget, the Force binds all things, and there’s really no reason to believe that Luke himself is particularly special in this regard. That stuff came later.
In fact, there’s absolutely no hint that the Emperor is a Sith. There’s no discussion of how the Jedi work, if they are a product of innate gifts or special training. We know Princess Leia is a princess, but we don’t know what that entails. The mystery quotient in Star Wars is almost non-existent.
At the time, we didn’t overanalyze things like we do now. There was precious little debate over the film and when its sequel came out, people weren’t debating about who would die and what mysteries would be revealed.
Granted, that wasn’t the culture at the time, and that’s not the film. In a way, the reveal of Luke’s parentage as a big surprise was sort of the beginning of fan obsessive culture, and it only worked because we didn’t overanalyze the hell out of everything back then.
As I’ve said, I think there’s precious little artistic discussion to be had about the merits of Star Wars at this point. It exists beyond such points. People love or hate or are indifferent to Star Wars for a million reasons, and I think to actually talk about the films themselves is mostly a waste of time. Not because they can’t be criticized, but because criticism and praise on any technical level is unimportant to their success.
At this point, if they rereleased the Star Wars Holiday Special, they’d make a billion dollars, so quality, while always subjective, isn’t worth talking about for me.
But liking or disliking a movie because it fits into your own personal headcanon is tricky business. Yet in a world where we will spend a week talking about the color of Luke’s lightsaber and what it might mean, it’s inevitable that things are going to get messy.
May the Force be with you.
Or not.
Posted in Blog | 1 Comment

The Long Halloween of Horace Slater (short fiction)

Life in Rockwood

Rockwood spread across the desert, and aside from the trailer park and a few clusters of houses here and there, it was a long walk from door-to-door on Halloween. Some parents drove their kids around, but it was a lot of work for not much candy. Especially since the next town over had an annual carnival with a bounce house for the kids and reasonably priced alcohol for the parents.

There were a still few diehards who’d make the rounds, but these exceptions were usually done before dusk. Except for Horace Slater, who came out long after darkness fell to prowl the night in search of tricks and / or treats.

Posted in Short Fiction | 3 Comments

You and Your Hippo

Imagine one day, someone (maybe yourself) buys you a hippo toy. Who knows why? Maybe they saw the hippo and it reminded them of you. Maybe they thought it was just cute and worth buying. Maybe they love hippos and wanted to share their love for hippos with you. Regardless, you now own a hippo toy. Maybe you asked for it. Maybe you didn’t. But it’s there, and you don’t throw it out.

Posted in Blog, Commentary | Leave a comment

The Fanfic Dialogues, Part One

What defines something as fanfiction?

It’s not as easy a question as it might appear at first blush. Most of us have an idea of what fanfiction is, and that idea is built on our experience, or lack of experience, with it. Most people who care know that 50 Shades of Grey started out as a fanfic of Twilight, which is usually added to the list of its failures. Even if you’ve never read a fanfic in your life, you probably have some passing acquaintance with its tendencies and flaws. Whether talking about Mary Sues or slash fic or shippers or mash ups or whatever else, anyone with an opinion on fanfic probably has it shaped by their expectations rather than the reality.

Posted in Blog, Comic Books, Commentary, Writing | 5 Comments
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