I spend a lot of time pondering the internals of the Star Wars universe – the characters, events, factions, spaceships, philosophies, etc. – but I also spend quite a bit of time thinking about the Star Wars franchise in general. These days, it’s hard not to think about the trajectory of the franchise since Disney – which purchased the franchise from the original creator/owner George Lucas in 2012 – has been announcing and releasing new content left and right. Movies, TV shows, novels, comics, video games, and more are adding to the already rich trove of stories that populate the universe, while an endless line of new merchandise in every shape and form pops up on a seemingly daily basis. Plus, Disney is building two different Star Wars-themed lands where fans can enjoy “being in” the Star Wars universe.
As a lifelong fan of Star Wars, the fact that the franchise is going strong definitely makes me happy, but this also comes with a catch – too much of a good thing isn’t always great. While I am excited there are new Star Wars stories being told and merchandise being sold, there is also a certain amount of burn out that also comes with all of this. Admittedly, it is a bit odd for me to say this since I maintain this site devoted to Star Wars, but it is also the truth – at times, being a Star Wars fan can be utterly exhausting.
Some of this Star Wars exhaustion is a natural symptom of over-indulgence, a symptom which necessitates moving away from the franchise for a while so I can enjoy it more fully another day. Having a site like this where I write about Star Wars certainly adds to this particular form of burn out, and at times, I have to step away from the computer or notebook, giving myself time and permission to not even think about Star Wars.
On the other hand, some of this burn out is just a general fatigue associated with having to maintain interest in such an expansive franchise, one that is not going to stop growing anytime soon. Just as I look up at the night sky and have difficulty processing the vastness of space, a similar feeling of being overwhelmed hits me when I think about the vastness of the Star Wars franchise, a vastness that encapsulates past, present, and future. While I can appreciate all that Star Wars has to offer, providing fans of every type with something they will love, on a personal level, the more Star Wars grows, the more exhausted I’ve become trying to keep up with it.
And so, I have found myself trying to reconcile my lifelong exploration of the “galaxy far, far away” with the continued growth of the franchise and the gambit of ways it is making me feel: overwhelmed, exhausted, burnt out, and at times even uninspired and bored. In other words, I have found myself for some time now in the rather peculiar position of trying to decide how I will continue being a fan of the franchise (talk about first world problems). What do I mean by this? Well, it means I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my relationship with the franchise in general, and the content of the Star Wars universe in particular. It means that because I do not have an endless supply of time, energy, and money – especially money – to devote to a fictional universe that will probably still be growing when I am on my death bed that I have to decide which aspects of Star Wars I will continue to participate in/enjoy and which parts I am just uninterested in/do not feel are worth the effort.
In truth, this isn’t an entirely new approach to the way I engage with Star Wars. We all have our personal preferences and gravitate towards certain things, and I have always been the type of person who likes parts of Star Wars more than others. Even before George Lucas sold the franchise to Disney I was selective about how I participated in the franchise, what merchandise I bought, and yes even which stories I gravitated towards. For example, I can honestly say that while I am well versed in the stories of the now Expanded Universe (EU; now officially called Legends…bleh), there are some Expanded Universe stories I have never touched and know almost nothing about. Case in point: The Old Republic online game. Perhaps one day I will get around to playing The Old Republic or checking out those EU stories I haven’t read, or maybe I won’t.
Like the Expanded Universe I am already treating the “new Expanded Universe,” the Disney Canon, the same way. While I have done my best to keep up with all of the stories being released, it became very apparent early on that it just wouldn’t be possible to do so. This hardly means I haven’t tried my best, but it does mean that I am well aware there are tales I have missed and probably will never experience. Since I have no interest in subscribing to Star Wars Insider magazine, I miss out on the short-stories that appear in each edition. I have certainly read a few here and there, but otherwise I’ve missed most of them and am not rushing out to read them. This is also true of the discontinued Star Wars Rebels magazine, each issue containing a story in the form of a comic. I’m sure those comics are quite fun, and perhaps I will check them out at some point, but for now I’m just not that interested in going out of my way to read them.
In turn, even of the new stories I have encountered in the Disney canon (and this goes for the EU as well), I’ve absolutely loved some, really disliked others, and have otherwise mixed emotions about a handful. I thought Kevin Hearne’s novel Heir to the Jedi was rather bland, have been underwhelmed by the novels in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath series, felt the Chewbacca comic series left a lot to be desired, and walked out of my first viewing of The Force Awakens asking myself what the hell I had just watched. On the flip side, I really enjoyed playing the now discontinued Star Wars: Uprising video game, absolutely love the Princess Leia and Lando comic series, was blown away by Christie Golden’s novel Dark Disciple and James Luceno’s novel Tarkin, and have really enjoyed the rich layers being added to the canon thanks to the animated show Star Wars Rebels.
But just because I love one particular story or dislike another doesn’t mean I find perfection/imperfection in everything. I might not love Heir to the Jedi but there are some very good moments in the novel, The Force Awakens has grown on me over time, the Uprising game was fun but also incredibly tedious, and even though I am really loving Star Wars Rebels I’ve been a vocal critic of the overuse of the Jedi and the Force in the series. For me, being a fan of Star Wars is not a zero sum game, a matter of either love or hate. Rather, more often than not it boils down to shades of gray, the acknowledgment that stories that I feel are wonderful still have flaws, and those I believe fall short do have some redeeming qualities.
None of this is to say that my particular reactions/thoughts on each Star Wars story, or my moments of exhaustion, boredom and dispassion with the franchise as a whole, must be globally accepted. My personal fandom is no more or less important than any other fan, and my subjective experiences of Star Wars need not dictate the experiences others have. Besides, I can think of nothing more absurd than being a fan of Star Wars and lording my fandom over others. No, I am far more interested in sharing aspects of my fandom with others, engaging people in rich conversation about Star Wars. By maintaining this site, my hope is to always do just that: share aspects of Star Wars that stand out to me – the good and the bad, inspirational and discouraging – and open the floor for conversation.
And that being the case, I have to ask: what are your feelings and opinions on the current state of the Star Wars franchise? Am I the only one who has moments of Star Wars fatigue and boredom, or are there others like me who are out there? If you care to share your thoughts and feelings, leave a comment.
I think due to time restraints I don’t get to be as immersed into Star Wars as I once was. I still love it the same and enjoy every bit that I can and I ponder and wonder about what bits I’m exposed too. So to me I say “bring it on Disney. Keep Star Wars alive FOREVER!”. But I also know what you mean about being fatigued and “burnt out” about having too much Star Wars stuff. Over the years I’ve been burnt out and bored by things I loved and I’ve put them down, but after a while something gets me back into it and I enjoy it all over again.
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I agree! I’ve always considered myself a fan of both Star Wars & Star Trek, but never felt I was a true FAN, for I never was interested in picking up many books about either. While I did read some of the SW books about the Solo twins, they are no longer canon according to Disney, so was it a waste of my time? As a busy mom, wife & librarian I also don’t have time to invest in the spin off SW cartoon shows (although they are canon), so I sometimes feel out of the loop on the expanded SW universe. It’s like how many time or knowledge do I have need to have to devote to the franchise???
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Something that I dislike is the concept of the “true fan.” Fandoms of recent have been trending more and more towards drawing demarcation lines between the true believers and the casual worshipers. I hate that crap with the passion of Zeus. You enjoy something about the franchise at all and, to me, that makes you a true fan. You love the movies but don’t read the books? Doesn’t matter, you are a true fan. You read the books but don’t play the video games? Doesn’t matter, you are a true fan. You only watch the Lego Star Wars shows and nothing else? Doesn’t matter, you are a true fan. I am happy to provide other examples but I think you get the idea 😉
I would also say that one of the greatest draw backs to SW at this point is that the stories – all being canonical – are spread across so many damn mediums. While that is cool and all it is also discouraging as it puts clear limitations on the capacity to experience the entire story. In some ways I feel like they are so focused on making money across those mediums that they have never considered – or just don’t care – that they effectively cut the story from many people.
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Great post here.
Even (especially?) under the old EU I thought it was too much to keep up with everything, so I picked and chose what I enjoyed. Personally I find the idea of one story ‘counting’ more than another is redundant; it’s all fiction and some of it is better than others. That’s why when I finish Lords of the Sith I’ve got Revan lined up to read. They’re all stories about characters I love in a galaxy I love.
As a moderate gamer (and huge Lucasarts fan) I do tend to elevate the games that little bit higher. The Azzameens mean more to me than Mara Jade or the next generation of Skywalkers and Solos, but it’s great that it’s all out there and (was, at least) co-existing peacefully. That said, between the number of Jedi in Rebels and character assassinations in TFA I’m more sceptical of the new canon because I see it as damaging to the source material. But then Rogue One is a phenomenal example of how to do it right, so I can’t even draw a dividing line between the old and new canons. It’s just a prime example of how being more selective can boost my enjoyment.
Franchise fatigue is an issue, and it definitely seems more prevalent when you commit so much of your life to blogging. Sometimes it feels like trying to keep up for the sake of it, and with my blog I’ve always felt that when that happens, it’s time to take a break. I’ve just found your site and this post was a really thought provoking read, so if you are taking a break at least I’ve got a backlog of posts to catch up with!
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Your words are very kind- I do want to be a true fan, I just do not have the time or interest in keeping up with it ALL! There are times I need to look characters up on SW Wiki (Wookieepedia) just to know who someone is, since there are now so many to keep up with.
I think it’s totally normal to have burnout/fatigue with anything, even if it’s your #1 fandom (like Star Wars is for me). Despite having read nearly everything in the EU, I haven’t really gotten into the new canon books at all. Part of that is having less reading time now that I’m an “adult,” but I’m sure some of it is that I’ve had “enough” Star Wars stories right now. At the same time, I’m getting more into other aspects of the fandom, doing things like my coloring book, blogging, etc. So, my love of Star Wars will never be over, it just may change it’s shape from time to time.
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Agreed! My fandom has definitely been changing over time. I used to soak up everything I could, now I am far more patient and give things time before I rush out to get them. And, even when I do get them (like the comics that keep dropping left and right) I don’t read them immediately, just sit on them and then read them all at once (even if I wait a year to do so).
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I feel like the current direction of Star Wars has been designed to reach, and create, a new generation of fans, rather than reach back to long-time fans. I think that approach plays out really well for young fans but is exhausting for even me (a lazy fan who loves Star Wars but doesn’t devote a ton of time to it) to see it change and not burn out on trying to keep up with it.
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I agree with you, there is quite a bit of reaching out to new fans and that is perfectly fine. I have no problem with that. To sustain the franchise it has to happen. At the same time, there is some reaching back here and there but it is certainly not grounded in the Expanded Universe stories that paved the way for where we are now. This isn’t entirely negative, but it is disappointing in some ways because there were rich stories in the EU that – I feel – are superior than some of the new stories.