I'm going to paint a picture.
I want you to imagine a world where only the original Star Wars films exist.
Okay, obviously they’re not the only thing that exists in the entire universe. That would be insane. I mean, imagine they only ever made the original Star Wars movies.
And I mean just the originals. No prequels. No recuts. No reboots. Only the original theatrical releases. Hope. Empire. Jedi. No exceptions.
Isn’t that a really, really nice fantasy? It makes me feel a deep, warm comfort right in my chest. Like a shot of whiskey mixed with Nyquil. Imagine if George Lucas just walked away from his finished trilogy and simply kept them on the shelf for us to enjoy, over and over again.
After all, it’s not like he needed to make more films to make more money. He could have just kept selling the original films on VHS, on Laser Disc, on DVD, on Blu Ray, on iTunes—hell, he could have even re-released the original films in theatres every 10 years as an anniversary screening. That would be a great way to introduce Star Wars to a new generation.
Which is to say nothing of the endless toys, books, video games and cartoons to keep the cash cow fed.
We’d have no Jar-Jar. No midichlorians. No backflipping Yoda. No Anakin. Or Padme. No “Noooo!”
Rogue One would probably just be a fan film on YouTube that we could all talk about as “that really great fan film” instead of, “wait, oh THAT movie”
Sure, we wouldn’t have The Force Awakens. But we also wouldn’t be getting that sure-to-be-horseshit Han Solo standalone film. And was a ‘better-than-okay’ soft-reboot that was only truly effective upon the first viewing really worth ruining Han Solo forever?
So why do we have to live in a world where one of the greatest achievements in cinematic history is orbited by complete trash and one passable reboot?
The fans demanded there be more movies. And demand can be a powerful thing, because like lightning before thunder, it begs for supply.
The problem with fans is that they are not necessarily students of character, or story, or taste. The problem with fans is that they are only students of what they’re fans of.
The problem with fandom is that they are only fans of what they’ve already seen.
They don’t want new. They don’t want different. They don’t even necessarily want better. They only want more.
And a simple request for “more” is why we got prequels, The Force Awakens, Rogue One and whatever the fuck that stupid ass shit Han Solo movie is going to be called. Not to mention endless listicle videos on YouTube, which exist only to explain plot holes in films through asinine theories and EU nonsense.
None of it had to be good. It only needed to be the same. That’s what the fans wanted. They wanted more of the thing they liked.
This is happening with many franchises besides Star Wars.
Indiana Jones. Star Trek. Jurassic Park. The Fast and the Furious. Marvel. DC. The Walking Dead. Alien. Most video game franchises (god damn it, Halo). Even Japan's doing it right now with Dragon Ball.
All have succumbed to fan service at one time or another (to varying degrees, of course) —just trying to give the fans more of the last thing they liked, whether they’ll like it or not.
In a way, fans almost deserve what they get. But they’re ruining it for the rest of us -- and more importantly, the storytellers.
It’s important to let storytellers tell the stories they feel need to be told, and nothing more. Fandom is responsible for the "design by committee" approach, and anyone who has ever had to create something according to a committee will tell you that’s never a good idea.
Because a timeless story, even one you’ve heard before, is so much better than one that’s just familiar.
Which is to say, if you love something, isn’t that enough? Must you have more of it to love?
I certainly don’t love The Empire Strikes Back more now that The Force Awakens exists. It doesn’t feel more unique or special or rare or precious.
That’s a sad thing. Because abundance is the enemy of something feeling special.
And fandom only wants more.
Chris D'Alessandro is a screenwriter from Toronto, Canada who likes movies and arguing with people. He also has more cover-up tattoos than he'd care to admit.