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The Imperial Talker: A New Beginning

I have always loved the AT-AT debate. You know, the debate between Star Wars fans about how to say actually “AT-AT.” Is it literally said using the word “at” or is one supposed to pronounce the letters “A” and “T”? Personally, I have always said “at”-“at” but only because my childhood self grew up saying it that way. Admittedly, this made pronouncing the AT-ST (aka the Chicken Walker) all the more difficult. I mean, let’s be honest, the “st” sound alone is proof that all forms of walkers in Star Wars are supposed to be pronounced with letters/numbers, not words or sounds.

AT-AT: “A” “T” “A” “T”
AT-ST:  “A” “T” “S” “T”
AT-TE:  “A” “T” “T” “E”
AT-DP: “A” “T” “D” “P:
AT-M6: “A” “T” “M” “6”

As an adult, I still say AT-AT using the word “at” although, in fairness, old habits rooted in childlike wonder die hard. And honestly, who the hell really cares? After all, it is all in good fun.

Battle of Hoth 2
AT-ATs!!!!!!!
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

There are an endless number Star Wars debates to be had (hardly a revelatory statement) and those range from the fun and silly to the difficult and controversial. A fictional universe that is grounded in the minds and imaginations of real-world creators/fans will naturally breed all sorts of conversations, and this has certainly exploded in our modern social media age. Which brings me to this: it is really fun having these conversations and debates with Star Wars fans until things turn sour. And they turn sour way too damn much, particularly online and especially on Twitter.

Take the Prequel Trilogy as an example. I was 14, 17, and 20 years old respectively (1999, 2002, and 2005) when I watched the Prequel films. At the time, I was enamored by these new Star Wars movies, swept away watching the story of Anakin Skywalker play out on the big screen as he spiraled toward the dark side (I even wrote a paper in graduate school about his dark spiral). In my late youth/early adulthood I had no idea there were people who truly felt the Prequels were abysmal Star Wars films. I was naïve, but not naïve about my own enjoyment of the movies, naïve because it simply did not dawn on me to question whether others felt differently than me. But, I grew older, and while I still find a great deal of enjoyment in the Prequels, I can also acknowledge that the Prequel Trilogy has some pretty remarkable flaws that I simply cannot overlook. I point out one of these flaws in my piece “Women of the Jedi Council” when I show that there are way too many men, and not enough women, on the Jedi High Council in Prequels.

Growing up as a Star Wars fan, but also hearing from others and doing my best to think critically about Star Wars, has enabled me to grow into my love of Star Wars with more sincerity. I do not need to naively accept everything about Star Wars to love Star Wars, and because I love Star Wars I am willing and eager to challenge what I see as flawed aspects of the franchise. The Prequels are one such example, an element of Star Wars I can both accept AND challenge. What I find equally fascinating is that quite a few people (on Twitter and elsewhere online) have called me a “Prequel Hater” precisely because I have offered critical takes on films I genuinely enjoy.

Haters Gonna Hate, Hate, Hate

I never knew I was a “Hater” (what a stupid word) of Star Wars in any form until I started interacting with other Star Wars fans online, specifically on Twitter. This isn’t to say I never had a debate with other fans of the franchise until I created my @ImperialTalker handle. Heck, my friend Mike (My Comic Relief) and I debate the ins/outs of Star Wars all the time. Our conversations can be intense, but our conversations are always civil. Jumping onto Twitter to promote this site was also a new adventure for me precisely because I didn’t realize I would be running into so many other Star Wars fans – with their own blogs and podcasts – who were quite militant in their opinions on Star Wars. It wasn’t long after I got on Twitter in 2015 that I was called a “Prequel Hater” for the first time, an irony because I spend quite a bit of time defending the Prequels, both online and offline. I guess I’m a Prequel Hater and a non-Hater. How awesome does that make me!?!?! #Winning #StarWars #Hater.

Jar Jar Binks
Jar Jar approves of my views on the Prequels.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

That I have been called a “Prequel Hater” is pretty laughable, but that I have also had people online tell me that I seem to “Hate Star Wars” because I have offered unpopular perspectives and criticisms is the pinnacle of hilarious. Are there some things about Star Wars that really annoy me and I genuinely dislike? You betcha! Here, I will list a handful:

  • I think it is completely ridiculous that Padmé Amidala doesn’t speak with another woman in Revenge of the Sith.
  • I cannot stand that the franchise has yet to hire a woman or person of color to write/direct a Star Wars film.
  • I absolutely despise the idea of Kylo Ren and Rey being an “item.”
  • I really dislike that Ezra Bridger pulled Ahsoka Tano through a portal in time.
  • It really annoys me that LEGO hasn’t turned the Seventh Sister into a minifigure while the Fifth Brother – her less interesting counterpart – has one.
  • #YourSnokeTheorySucks – No, it really doesn’t (read more HERE).
  • Star Wars fans (primarily men) and fan-sites acting like the self-appointed authority/owners on all things Star Wars.
  • Fanboys harassing a Star Wars actress on Instagram just because they didn’t like her role in The Last Jedi (or really because they are racist and sexist).

From the way the franchise operates, to specific storylines, to fans ridiculing other Star Wars fans or acting like they are the “rulers” of Star Wars, to fanboys harassing women and people of color, there are A LOT of things about Star Wars I genuinely dislike. But I do not hate Star Wars and this is not up for debate. As a matter of fact, I think of this site as my never-ending love letter to Star Wars. And if offering criticisms of my “beloved” makes me a #Hater then so be it. I will wear that title with a badge of honor because I love Star Wars so damn much I want it to be better and do better across the board.

A New Beginning

As a Star Wars fan, my only responsibility to Star Wars is to like what I want to like, to dislike what I want to dislike, and ignore everything else. I cannot control how the Star Wars franchise and fan community operate; rather, all I can do is choose how I engage with the Star Wars franchise and fan community on my own terms. If I choose to write something praising Star Wars, I will do so. If I choose to write something that criticizes Star Wars, I will do so. If I want to buy a new Star Wars toy as part of my Talker Toy Challenge, I will do so. If I decide to ignore a new Star Wars movie, or novel, or comic because it doesn’t look appealing, I will do so. If I choose to go to Star Wars Celebration, I will do so. And so on and so on. I think you get the point.

None of this makes me unique. Heck no, it makes me completely normal. I have the agency to control my relationship with Star Wars, to interact with the franchise and the fan community on my own terms. Which leads me to this: I am done with Twitter. I have decided to retire my @ImperialTalker Twitter account precisely because it just isn’t fun anymore and I don’t believe the Star Wars community on Twitter, which is notorious for constant bickering and outrageous toxicity, is worth the headache. I’m just over it, and quite honestly, I have better things to do with my time.

What will I be doing with my time, you ask? Writing more posts for this site, of course! You see, I don’t know if you knew this, but I think of this site as my love letter to Star Wars. And, well, I have a lot more to say about my beloved.

So stay tuned. I’m just getting started. 

An Ignoble End to the Skywalker Saga

Guest Talker: Nancy (of Graphic Novelty²)

This is not going to go the way you think.”  No truer words were said, and Luke Skywalker’s words proved to be prophetic as the movie The Last Jedi unfolded.  

I grew up on the original trilogy of Star Wars movies, with Luke being my first crush. Even as a child I was a practical lass, and the bad-boy swagger of Han Solo held no appeal to me. Instead it was humble and heroic Luke who held me enthralled.  Years went by; with the trilogy being the only Star Wars I knew until the late 1990’s when the prequels began. While the prequels have been derided for many deserved reasons, I still felt they were authentic to the Star Wars universe. George Lucas might not write good dialogue, but his vision held true, and there were many strong moments in the prequel trilogy.

When Disney bought out Lucas’s Star Wars movie rights and announced yet another trilogy with other stand alone movies planned, I was apprehensive but hopeful. The Force Awakens combined both the legacy characters and added some intriguing and strong new ones and I was thrilled with the new direction. It honored the past but looked towards the future, as did Rogue One. My first Star Wars movie review post on my blog about Rogue One  (https://graphicnovelty2.com/2016/12/22/rogue-one-movie-review/) said “if this storytelling continues, Disney will have handled the buyout of Star Wars beautifully.” It turns out I spoke too soon.

star-wars-the-last-jedi
Photo Credit – Disney/Lucasfilm

*While I assume at this stage people reading this post will have watched the movie, I do want to warn you that there are spoilers ahead.*

I headed into the movie with incredibly high hopes, but twenty minutes into my first viewing of The Last Jedi, I was whispering angry thoughts about the movie to my husband. By the end of the movie I was seething. I felt it dishonored Luke’s legacy, and I was distraught.

Soon afterwards I contacted Jeff here at The Imperial Talker and Michael at My Comic Relief to vent. Both men are huge Star Wars fans and I wanted to see if I was alone in my thoughts. While I certainly cannot speak as to their reactions to the movie, my conversations with them were enlightening, and I watched the movie a second time on their recommendation. Once all the surprises were gone, I could concentrate more on the movie as a whole and get a more nuanced view the second time.

Afterwards, I gave myself some time to mellow, but then I struggled with writing this post. I hate to be provocative and feared a backlash of other bloggers who would vehemently disagree with me. I’m typically a go with the flow person, who rarely let’s people know if I’m truly upset (except my children- they know when I’m mad). This post was going to make me push my boundaries, and I did some over-thinking before I started to write.

But here we are, so let’s get into WHY this movie affected me so negatively. There were several smaller issues such as: Leia’s use of the Force, which was visually comical, Rose’s part, which ate up time that could have been given to already established characters, Chewbacca being treated as a pet/afterthought and the Rey/Kylo scenes (don’t even get me started on the connection through time and space!). On the other hand, there were many memorable moments, one of my favorites being when Poe is schooled on long-term strategy by General Organa and Admiral Holdo. I enjoyed the overriding idea that the rebellion is for everyone and that a small spark can ignite a winning rebellion.

But that’s not what upset me the most. It was Luke, all Luke.

As Star Wars has been around since 1977, there are now several generations of fans who have come into this franchise at different times.  So you have fans like me who grew up on the original, fans such as my children who watched the Prequels as they came out in the theatres, and now a new generation who will grow up loving the newest set of characters. You can even argue, as my oldest son observed, that I am a “purist,” for although I have occasionally read some of the Expanded Universe (now called Legends) books, the movies are really my only touch stone to the Star Wars universe.

Luke in yellow
Luke Skywalker at the end of A New Hope.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

As such, I have always viewed Luke as the true hero of the movies. Whereas Anakin, Ben Kenobi and certainly the Jedi Council from the Prequels let pride, power or shame affect their judgment, Luke was pure. He came from a humble background, not knowing of his true parentage yet, and with little training was able to defeat Darth Vader and bring balance back to the Force.

This new movie gave us a nihilistic Luke, who years later, was filled with so much remorse and regret that he refused to leave his island where he had banished himself to wallow in misery. When the actor Mark Hamill, who has embodied Luke and will be forever connected to the role, tells Rian Johnson, “I think I fundamentally disagree with everything you’ve decided for me” that is telling as to how Luke’s hero arc was going to play out. Now I know there has been further clarification that MH has shared about this quote, and he supposedly stands behind RJ’s version…but, if his first thought was unhappiness, as was mine when I first watched it, then this viewpoint cannot be discredited.

Now this is where another quote can be used to explain the movie’s direction. “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to,” says Kylo Ren to Rey. I understand if Star Wars is to be a viable movie franchise, it needs to grow and change. Han Solo left us in The Force Awakens, and Carrie Fisher’s death meant that Leia’s arc was going to end earlier than expected. That left Luke. He was to be the torch bearer to Rey and the new Rebels. So why did his destiny need to end so ignobly?

In this role, Luke could not cope with the crushing disappointment of Kylo’s turn towards the dark side and the guilt he felt towards letting Leia and Han down. Yes, I understand that he helped the rebellion when he sent an astral projection of himself to the planet Crait and was able to distract Kylo and send his sister and the other rebels to safety. I even understand that he used his hard won wisdom to help and wasn’t the impetuous youth who left his training with Yoda early to help Leia and Han. On one level- I get it- but I didn’t like it.

Luke & Leia
Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

Luke’s and Kylo’s flashbacks to the night that Kylo destroyed the new Jedi Academy are what truly turned me against this version of Luke and led me to feel that he was dishonored in director Johnson’s interpretation. My Luke never would have considered killing his nephew. He put his lightsaber down in front of Darth Vader, and never gave up hope that his father still had a remnant of love left in him (Jeff’s post Luke Skywalker: A Farewell To Arms beautifully describes this moment). A wiser and older Luke would have tried anything to prevent Kylo from joining Supreme Leader Snoke. Killing him would not have been an option. I believe the quote “You were the Chosen One!” that Obi-wan Kenobi shouts at Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, is in fact a better one to have used to describe Luke. His entire character was crucified in this latest movie, and he deserved better.

In real life, there are times when things go to hell. Our lives do not turn out the way we envisioned. A great success can be eroded away with failures later in life, and becoming disillusioned can be a sad reality for some. Taking all that into consideration, Luke should have gone out as a battle-worn but still dignified warrior. I wanted him to have a loving goodbye to his twin (as I wrote about in this post: https://graphicnovelty2.com/2018/01/24/star-wars-comlinks-favorite-tlj-scene/ ) and for him to have been a mentor to Rey. This lack of a proper conclusion to Luke’s story arc was not a fitting end to the Skywalker saga.

20171231_170859
I laughed at this meme about Luke, Ben and Yoda, for despite my opinion about the movie, I can see other perspectives!

Guest Talker Bio: Nancy is half of the writing team for Graphic Novelty², a blog that centers around graphic novels and geek life. She is a married mom of three who loves her job as a teen librarian and is a Star Wars & Star Trek aficionado.

Fan Reactions to The Force Awakens

While I certainly love sharing my own views on Star Wars, and I could talk to no end about The Force Awakens, it’s also nice and refreshing to get some different perspectives and hear other voices.  I’ll definitely be offering my own thoughts and experiences of the film in more of my posts, but for now I wanted to mix things up. So, like I did during Ewok Week, I gathered a smattering of reactions to The Force Awakens from fans of the Star Wars franchise. Check out what they had to say and keep the conversation going in the comment section!!!


From Jenmarie (Check out her blog Anakin and His Angel)

Now that I’ve seen The Force Awakens four times I can tell you that I have fallen more in love with it after each viewing. Each time I’ve seen it I’ve noticed more ties to the other films, I’ve experienced different emotions during pivotal scenes, and I have grown to appreciate the characters even more than I did the first time. I went in knowing that this was going to be a continuation of an incredible story but that it would also be filled with new adventures being led by new faces. I have never really compared the films but have rather seen them all as one taking place at different times with unique stories all intertwining with each other. In my experience, this mindset has allowed me to appreciate each film within the Star Wars Saga for what it is to the very fullest which has resulted in my primary focus being on what I love most about these movies.

That being said, as a fan, I can tell you that The Force Awakens is very much a Star Wars film. If you haven’t seen it yet, you shouldn’t worry. It does a remarkable job of combining the familiarity we have with these movies with the new, and there’s some fresh and extraordinary new content that has made fans like myself go crazy! Like the haven’t-seen-it-in-a-week-withdrawals kind of crazy. Without going into too much detail, the new material consists of things that I’m sure many of us never knew we wanted or could exist in the Star Wars Universe. There are some insanely incredible scenes where the Force is used in a way where you just don’t want the scene to end no matter which side you’re on, light or dark. There are personalities within characters (and a particular droid) that we have yet to see until now and it’s fascinating to watch and  wonder what goes on inside their heads, what their pasts look like, and why they do what they do. There are also brand new themes that will tear you apart emotionally. Rey’s Theme is so powerful, it has honestly messed me up once or twice. The Force Awakens is full of memorable moments (both heart-felt and hilarious), exciting action, and tear-jerking scenes that will leave you sitting there in the rawest of forms. It sounds draining, but it’s a great thing to be so impacted by a new Star Wars movie! GO SEE IT!

From Jake

I thought that the movie was fantastic. It has been years since I was sitting in a movie theater, jaw dropped, waiting for the next scene to happen. I think that the plot and characters were well written, if very derivative (A droid is being hunted for the information it holds, but it crashes on a desert planet only to be discovered by the last remaining person able to use the force who then, through a series of misadventures, makes their way to an older Jedi to be trained, but, on the way destroys the biggest, baddest, most unstoppable space titanic of a weapon”). My biggest issue with the movie actually comes from the original actors. I think that it was great that they reprised their roles, and I went into the movie excited about it but when they appeared on screen it took me out of it for a second, it seemed a little “force”-ed to me (other than Anakin, I loved his cameo). I loved the movie as a whole, though, and am looking forward to the next installment.

From Andy (aka Andykin)

The Force Awakens, oh boy, I was an emotional wreck throughout the whole movie. Seeing all of our beloved characters come back from the original trilogy was like going home. I got those warm fuzzy feelings which lead to lots of joyous tears- the lady next to me for sure thought I was crazy! I was clapping, laughing and crying like a little kid. And of course, I had no shame in it.

FirstOrderTroopers
First Order Stormtroopers
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VII:   The Force Awakens

Rey was an incredible character to be introduced to and she delivered; she is easily my favorite new character. I could not be more happy with her and the strength she represents as a female. The First Order is so badass, I LOVED the new modernized feel the Stormtrooper armor has. They got a sweet, sleek, upgrade but kept the integrity of the original design. The riot baton was so cool to see in action!

John Williams, god bless that man, (thank you Steven Spielberg for introducing Williams to Lucas all those years ago) he did it again. My favorite track is the The Scavenger, as it has so many beautiful elements to it and personifies Rey so well. Special effects/sound effects were amazziinnngggg, it’s an IMAX dream and still holds up so well in the standard version. My favorite still has to be the humming and sparking of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber, you hear him before you see him coming, and I thought that was genius. You gotta tip your hat to the sound editing team for that and so many other things! (pew pew!) So, uh, I think it’s safe to say that I loved this movie and it’s the best time to be a Star Wars fan!

From Alicia (Check out her blog Not So Super Heroes)

Let me begin by saying, I love spoilers. Love them. I read the epilogue to The Deathly Hallows to prepare myself for the possibility that Harry might die. [Spoiler: He didn’t.] That being said, as the release date for The Force Awakens drew near, I found myself wanting to avoid the dreaded spoilers. And, since I’m not a good enough fan, I wasn’t able to see the film until almost two weeks after its release; the anticipation was killing me. But still I attempted, for the first time, to steer clear of blogs, Tumbles, and Tweets. I failed. Miserably. About a week and a half after the release, I learned the truth about my forever love, Han Solo. [Spoiler: He dies.]

Kylo-Ren-by-kyloxrens-tumblr-kylo-ren-39176197-500-220
Kylo Ren
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Crushed. Inconsolable. There were lots of aggrieved moans and groans. Han dies. I needed to know more. I immediately went to Wookiepedia and got the scoop. Damn that Kylo Ren. Damn him straight to hell. But—by the time I saw the film, I had moved into the acceptance stage of grief and watched the film knowing that my first and constant movie crush was going to die. As I walked out of the theatre, I left with a sense that it couldn’t have played out any other way. And, of course, not being a rube, I knew as soon as the film was announced and Harrison Ford signed on, that they’d kill him off. I just hoped they’d make his death worth something.

I wasn’t disappointed. Star Wars has always been about fathers and sons. The Force Awakens carries that motif throughout. We see Han struggle with his belief that he is not enough to redeem his son, to bring him back from the Dark Side. Han never once shows that steadfast optimism that Luke embodies so clearly in Return of the Jedi. And as Han walks out on the bridge and calls him son by name, he does so knowing how it will end. Han was never enough for young Ben. But finally, in his last act, Han gives Ben everything he has, possibly for the first time.

From Jared

It’s hard for me to sort through all my feelings about The Force Awakens. To start, Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood growing up, and through the podcasting and online community I’ve been fortunate enough to become a part of, it’s helped my life become much better.

Over the last year and a half or so I’ve become more and more a part of the fandom, and a large part of that was following The Force Awakens news as it broke, and the advance spoilers that were released through various reports. The build up to The Force Awakens has led me to some of the most meaningful friendships in my life.

Finn
Finn
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Which brings us to the film! To be able to share it with every member of my family, and to discuss it with friends from around the world, it makes the whole experience that much more incredible! I immediately fell for all our main heroes. Finn was my favorite by a VERY small margin, with Rey a close second. The earnest quality and sweetness of their bond, the seeds of romantic potential on both sides (Finn more than Rey) had me like a teenager with all them feels! I’m pulling for both of them in the future saga films. At half an hour into the movie, I was sold, they’re my new heroes.

I loved Adam Driver’s performance as well. He really nailed the quiet rage and, the more violently expressive kind as well! But his performance was exceptional. Overall, this film was a great way to share in something I love with my family and my new Star Wars family together, and to have fun doing so!

I am completely ready for the future of the Star Wars franchise!

From Mark (Excerpt taken from a piece Mark wrote entitled Star Wars and Good Stories.)

“What makes The Force Awakens so refreshing is its clear attempt to move the series back to a place where it can tell stories about people at their most people-y. Stories about a group of individuals; their hopes, dreams, fears, pains. Stories about lives lived. You and I can’t connect emotionally to intricately woven plots about trade negotiations and senatorial upheaval any more easily than we could emotionally connect to a newspaper. But a story about a boy, lonely, eager to do something special with his life, who finds friends and adventure, who feels the crushing disappointment over his father’s identity on top of the grief he’s always felt for his absence… these experiences we can get. These are things any one of us might actually live through.

Good stories are about people. When a story isn’t about people (or at least people-like things), for better or worse we have a hard time figuring out why we should care. Good stories, as those which connect us to other people across time, culture, distance, or even reality (when we’re talking works of imagination), also connect us to our deeper selves. We love the tale because we see ourselves in it. This connection rings so deeply to who we are as humans, it pulls taut the line between us and the first storytellers, passing words around a campfire about gods, humans, and the nature of the seen and unseen world. In this way, we are also connected to the divine, inasmuch as the desire to create comes from Createdness itself.

rey
Rey
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

This connectedness to Being through story and myth is also an answer to one of the more prominent critiques of the new film. Some feel that Episode VII lacks originality. While I agree that the plot follows the same structure as the first movie, A New Hope, I’m just as quick to say that this isn’t cause for critique. Rather, it’s what works about The Force Awakens. The new film is resetting the myth, not reinventing it. This is what we do with good stories. We develop them, not scrap them. Han Solo takes the place of Obi Wan. Rey is our new Luke. The story isn’t unoriginal for these facts because originality doesn’t always come from inventing new themes; in most cases, it comes from using myths we already know to develop new strands of the tale through old character growth and new character perspective.”

(Check out the rest of Mark’s thoughts HERE.)

From Michael

When I walked out of our first showing of the film on December 17th I…I didn’t like it.  I felt horrible owning those feelings but I didn’t know what to do with it. I mean, I thought it was fun and funny and exciting but it didn’t feel like Star Wars. George Lucas’ absence was obvious. Whether you love Lucas, hate him, or are indifferent to him, you can’t deny that Star Wars is his story.  It’s his world, his characters, his myth.  So to have a story set in that world, with those characters, but lacking his influence and his vision in the writing and/or directing felt jarring. It felt wrong.

Mike
Mike stands in line for The Force Awakens
Photo Credit – Me

Walking into the second viewing (1:10 Friday afternoon) I knew what to expect and was ready to appreciate the film for what it was.  By the third viewing (7:50 Friday night) I found myself really enjoying it.  The fourth viewing (9:50 Saturday morning) saw fatigue begin to set in but, after a needed break, the fun was back for the fifth viewing (8:10 Sunday night) and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.  As I’ve spent (more than a little) time with this film over the last few weeks I learned something for certain I’d believed would be true.

Star Wars is George Lucas’ story.  Nothing, in my mind, can be as good as what was created by the original myth-maker.  He thought all of this up and has guided it directly (the original six films) and indirectly (the EU, the Clone Wars TV series, etc.) for over thirty years.  Those are the Star Wars stories I grew up with, the ones I fell in love with, and they will always be the bedrock of all things Star Wars (at least in my mind).  After all, we’d have none of this if Lucas didn’t share his vision with us.  In addition to being the myth-maker, few filmmakers can rival Lucas’ intelligence.  I love Star Wars (meaning ALL six films) and I’d argue what he did in his films mythically, theologically, literarily, and creatively, was unprecedented and remains unduplicated.  Glance at the works of Joseph Campbell.  Google “Star Wars and Ring Theory.”  Read any number of books published explaining Star Wars through various faith traditions (from Christianity to Buddhism to Taoism).  While the new film does a brilliant job referencing Star Wars itself, Lucas did a brilliant job of incorporating the tapestry of human thought, mythology, and theology to give us a story at once both new as well as ancient and familiar.

My initial problem with The Force Awakens was I was hoping it would (or could) be as good as what Lucas created.  I was hoping it would feel like it fit perfectly after Return Of The JediBut even seeking that comparison makes no sense.  Star Wars has moved into a new era.  There was Star Wars.  And now we have Star Wars: the Disney Era.  Those are two very different animals.  Looking at The Force Awakens in this light, I can say I love the film.  I do!  Obviously, I’ve seen it nine times.  It is, easily, the best entry into the Disney Canon (which is how I choose to see this new era) thus far.  I’ve loved J.J. Abrams since Alias and he made a film worthy of the Star Wars name.  He gets Star Wars, even if he can’t replicate what Lucas can do.  The Force Awakens was made with love, by people who clearly love Star Wars.  And the end result is something worth seeing (again and again).

What struck me with The Force Awakens was, no matter how exciting it was to see Han and Chewie piloting the Millennium Falcon again, all my absolute favorite moments centered around the new characters.  And I think that’s how it should be.  In the Disney Canon, Star Wars isn’t the story of Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie anymore.  It can’t be.  They are Lucas’ characters and their story was Lucas’ to shepherd.  The story now belongs to Rey, Poe, Finn, and Kylo Ren. And I can’t wait to see where their story goes!!!  They are captivating, layered characters who have worthily claimed their place in my Star Wars-loving heart.  Yes, the classic characters will always remain on the periphery of the story, as will Lucas’ influence and presence. But they are not the stars of the story any more.

We are now living in the age of Star Wars: the Disney Era and the story will be shaped by the Disney Canon. The myth is moving in a new direction, and if The Force Awakens is any indication, it’s in good hands.  I’ve let go of any illusions that the Disney Era can be as brilliant, connected, and intelligent as Star Wars was with Lucas at the helm.  But that’s okay.  I’ll always have the original six films, the EU, and The Clone Wars.  And as long as we have talented filmmakers who truly love Star Wars, like J.J. Abrams to guide the story, I’ll keep excitedly buying tickets (and spending a day waiting so I could be first in line) to explore the next chapter in a galaxy I love, a galaxy far, far away.

 

 

 

 

 

An Ewok Week Conclusion

The Woklings are sad that Ewok Week is over. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

The Woklings are sad that Ewok Week is over.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

I have to admit that I am a little sad that Ewok Week is coming to an end. When the idea was conceived, I wasn’t really sure how I would approach it or what I would do for it. Quite frankly, over the summer, I just started making it up in my head, throwing ideas around and seeing what  made sense. Somethings I was planning to do, like an exploration of Ewok religion, I didn’t end up doing (I will at some point in the future). But other things I hadn’t even considered, like writing about Ewok Jerky, came to me at the last minute. I suppose that is just how the creative process works.

Putting all of that aside, though, what I am truly sad about is that with the end of Ewok Week comes the end of my months of obsessing about Ewoks. This hardly means I will stop loving them, or stop enjoying them, or stop thinking about them. It just means that it is time to move on to other Star Wars-y things – and oh do I have a lot coming up for you all! But who knows, perhaps an Ewok-related post or two will find its way onto the blog again, or, maybe someday, I will put together Ewok Week 2.0. And in the meantime, maybe some more Ewok Haikus or Fan Feelings on Ewoks will trickle in from a few more fans.

Derek Waddell's thumb looks better with an Ewok band-aid.

Derek Waddell’s thumb looks better with an Ewok band-aid.

Speaking of you fans of Star Wars and The Imperial Talker, I want to thank you for helping to make Ewok Week a success! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would receive the support and fangagament that I did this entire week. Plus, I want to extend a HUGE thanks to all of you who took the time to submit pictures, haikus, and your feelings on Ewoks. When the next week-long series rolls around, I hope that you not only submit again, but that others do so as well!

And so, I need to ask you all a question: What should the NEXT week-long series be about?

Perhaps you want a week devoted to Droids?  Or just R2 and 3PO? the Clone Troopers? Gungans? should we go small again and focus on Jawas? or get larger and think about the Hutts? Or maybe a week on the Empire?

These are all just ideas I have kicked around, but it’s time for you decide. Do you want one of these or do you have something else in mind?

Send me an email, tell me in a comment below, send me a Tweet @ImperialTalker, or leave a comment on Facebook with what you want the next week-long event to be!! And, once I tally everything together, I will let y’all know where we are heading!

Also, feel free to send me your feedback on Ewok Week, and other suggestions to include in the next week-long series. I am always open to hearing from the fans and trying new things, so don’t shy away.

From me and all the Ewoks, thanks for making Ewok Week so fun and so great!!! Yub Yub!!!

Jeff – The Imperial Talker

Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Fan Feelings on Ewoks

When it comes to the Ewoks and their role in Return of the Jedi, one thing is certain: their inclusion in the film is hotly debated among Star Wars fans. There are fans who absolutely love and adore the Ewoks, and there are also fans who despise them and believe the Ewoks are ridiculous part of the Star Wars galaxy. Why do people have these particular feelings about Ewoks? Well, according to Barney Stinson (from the show How I Met Your Mother), if you were born after May 25, 1973, you like Ewoks because they remind you of your teddy bear. Here, go see what I mean: Barney on Ewoks and Age.

While there is, perhaps, a nugget of truth in what Barney says, it is also much more complicated. People have preferences on different topics for a whole slew of reasons, Ewoks included. So, in this post, I decided to collect thoughts on Ewoks from people who were willing to share. Whether they were for or against Ewoks, or just felt neutral about them, I wanted to honor all sides of the “Great Ewok Debate” and provide a space for anyone who wanted to participate. I hope you enjoy these Fan Feelings on Ewoks and, just like with the Ewok Haikus, if you want to add to the page, feel free to send me your thoughts on Ewoks. Or just leave a comment! Either way, lets keep the conversation(s) going!!!


From Mark Lockard (Blogger at the Disembodied Beard; follow him on Twitter @LockardMk)

Ewok-bashing. It’s real, and it’s in your community. Did you know?

Ewoks are an easy target, and not just for stormtroopers driving chicken-walkers. They’re easy to make fun of because they’re an especially childish character in what’s already a kinda childish movie. I get why people don’t really like them playing a role in a high-stakes movie like Return of the Jedi. I don’t agree, but I get it.

I don’t agree because childish doesn’t have to mean that you as an adult can’t love it, or that its somehow less meaningful than something labeled for adults. Some of the best stories we’ll ever have are kids’ stories. And some of the best characters we’ll ever have are waddling, singing, teddy bears from outer space. Ewoks do for the Star Wars viewer what the annihilation of Alderaan cannot: it gives us a community, full of living beings whose very home is as stake.

So much of the original Star Wars trilogy takes place on desolate planets or isolated ships. From Tatooine to Hoth to Dagobah, we don’t get to see much of how the menace that is the galactic empire impacts groups of beings just living their lives together. Ewoks give us that. They put a face (a cuddly one, yes) on the cause of the rebellion. They are representative of the cultures and beings we’re all hoping Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2, and 3P0 will save.

And in the midst of that hope, they remind us that sometimes our love ones die and don’t come back. Not everyone gets to see the happy end of the story. It reminds us that war isn’t a space opera; it’s death in our midst. Which is why it’s fitting that the Ewoks are also the voices of joy after the Death Star is destroyed. They’re the first to celebrate peace because they know how valuable it is.

In that way, Ewoks are us: the non-heroes; the non-Jedi; the everyday human. Cheering them on is only natural.

From Star Wars Guy (Follow him on Twitter @StarWarsNerdMN)

As someone who first watched ROTJ when he was 7 years old, I have never been a fan of the Ewoks. As a child, I didn’t think they were cool because they were basically teddy bears. What’s cool about that to a 7 year old boy? Nothing, that’s what. As I grew older, and my fandom increased, I of course wondered how a band of primitive teddy bears could take on an Imperial Garrison. Then as I got even older, it felt like the Ewoks were just a money grab to sell toys. Now, in my late 30’s, I resent the Ewoks because they took the place of Wookiees. I mean, how cool would it have been to have the end of ROTJ take place on Kashyyyk?!

From Trey Loomis

Ewoks are very interesting creatures. They look like soft fluffy teddy bears, but they also have a feisty fighting spirit. The moment they are introduced in Star Wars I instantly fell in love with them. As they fell on the battlefield my heart wept for them. When they were kicking the storm troopers asses I cheered out-loud. No other sci-fi universe has creatures as amazing as the Ewoks.

From Cameron Clark (Blogger over at the Four Letter Nerd)

I know Ewoks get a bit of a bad rap from a majority of people. Personally I have a bit of a soft spot for these tiny, inquisitive, homicidal creatures. In fact, my wife (who likes Ewoks almost more than anything else in Star Wars) and I even named our first Shih-Tzu Wicket after the Ewok portrayed by Warwick Davis in Return of the Jedi. They seem get a lot of flak for being too cute and cuddly, and it often gets point out how ridiculous it is that these tiny, big-eyed teddy bears were able to help the Rebel Alliance defeat the Empire on the forest moon of Endor, but it appears that the Ewoks are the apex predators of that moon. I mean, they easily captured pretty much all of the heroes and would have eaten their corpses after a nice roasting had it not been for them mistaking C-3PO for a god. These creatures are smart, calculating, have a pretty complex societal structure, and are the top of the Endorian food chain. Their guerrilla style tactics would be unfamiliar to the Stormtroopers and the surprising amount of violence wrapped up in such an unassuming package is liable to catch anyone off guard.

Does it get anymore adorable than this? Thanks to Cameron and Paige Clark for sharing this picture!!!

Does it get anymore adorable than this? Thanks to Cameron and Paige Clark for sharing this picture!!!

From Paige Clark (Check out this post she wrote for the Four Letter Nerd)

Ewoks. What do Ewoks mean to me? Would “everything” be a little dramatic? Ok, so maybe not everything, but there is a special place in my soul for the little furry guys. I’ve always been on the nerdy side, but didn’t watch Star Wars until I was in High School and didn’t fully appreciate it until I started dating my now husband and he opened my eyes to the Force. When I first watched Return of the Jedi and Wicket took Princess Leia “hostage,” he took my heart hostage as well. I don’t know what it is about them that make them so appealing. Maybe their baby bear like qualities or the fact that they kicked some serious Empire ass during the battle. If you think about it, it truly is amazing how clever they are to maintain the society they do. They have their own government, social order, and apparently religion as well. That is truly remarkable. The love they have for one another is evident when one Ewok is killed and the other is obviously heartbroken trying to wake him up. I tear up every time. When my husband and I got our first dog he looked just like the little baby Ewok from the movie and he was chocolate brown just like Wicket. When we found out I was pregnant the first time around our son came home from the hospital as Yoda, and our second son came home as Wicket –to say we are fans would be an understatement.

From Carter Daniel (Follow him on Twitter @hRXQN5J3VNfer5Q)

It is a known fact that Ewok’s are iconic creatures, love them or hate them. However, I find it difficult to discuss how I think they should be seen. I believe that the Ewok’s were creatures that were created mainly to help the Rebels in ROTJ. But I also believe this lead to the merchandise which then lead to the criticism they have received. The Ewok’s are little, cute, fuzzy creatures but they did try to eat our heroes and then they helped them murder the foot soldiers that opposed them. They aren’t awful, just misunderstood in a strange way. I almost feel that the Ewok’s are a bit underrated and that they don’t receive enough love. And I also feel like their full story, their origin story, has yet to be truly told (*cough….. Marvel). Some may disagree with this but I think it could be a cool story and could even change fan perceptions of them.

From Alicia Hickman

Looks like a few of Alicia Hickman's Ewoks snagged a Stormtrooper...

Looks like a few of Alicia Hickman’s Ewoks snagged a Stormtrooper…

So here I am in my living room, reeling from the stats quiz I just totally bombed. I can start reading this article about information theory and metadata or I can set up my favorite LEGO Star Wars set, the Ewok Village. Which will I choose? Search your feelings.

This isn’t my favorite set just because it comes with a plethora of unique and rare minfigs (Luke in his black Jedi get-up with cybernetic hand, Leia with her hair down, and a smiling instead of smirking Han). It’s my favorite because of the Ewoks. It’s my favorite because of the minute detail LEGO designers put into the design of the treetop village.

But enough about my super awesome collection of LEGO Star Wars sets. Why do I like Ewoks? When I was younger, I liked them because they were cute, fuzzy comic relief in a movie with much too long of a speeder chase scene. As a kid, I missed the Ewok using Stormtrooper helmets as bongos or what that signified. I missed the fact that Ewoks were clearly capable of catching much larger, sentient prey, subduing them, and subsequently having them for dinner in a highly inhospitable way. To young me, they were fun and funny to watch.

...and now they are cooking him.

…and now they are cooking him.

As an adult, I still love the diminutive fuzzballs. My attachment has not lessened because I’m old, cynical, and jaded now. But I do see them as more than just cute and fuzzy comic relief, or as others like to claim, a Lucasfilm merchandising cash grab. They are predators – hunters who stalk their prey and come up with schemes to entice and trap them. They live in a community, have a history and a language. After one evening and one flamboyant retelling of the Star Wars saga by C-3PO, they pledge their allegiance to Han, Leia, and Luke, sacrificing their lives for a cause that doesn’t really affect them. But mostly, Ewoks show us that small, overlooked, seemingly unimportant people can make a difference. As Han says, “Short help is better than no help at all.” Really, the only failing of the Ewoks is their misguided love and admiration for C-3PO, because that droid totally blows.

From Michael Miller (Check out his Guest Talker post entitled The Nature of a Hero)

There are a lot of reasons to love Ewoks.  That’s why the Imperial Talker is giving us a whole Ewok Week!!!  But for me personally, the reason I most love Ewoks is because of how the celebrate.  The second Death Star is destroyed.  Vader has been redeemed.  The Rebelliion rejoices.  It can’t get any better right?  Wrong!  Just add a little Ewok music, singing, and dancing for the ultimate party.  I defy you to listen to the Ewok celebration from the ending of the original Return Of The Jedi and not smile.  You can’t!  It’s one of the most fun pieces of music in the whole series and is an excellent way to capture the jubilation of the moment.  I can’t get enough of it.  Go Ewoks!


Leave a comment and check out other Ewok Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Ewok Week

The Music of the Ewoks

Ewok Jerky

Ewok Haikus

Cute, Funny, and Very Deadly

Ewoks Battling for Endor

The Scout