When I was little, I wasn’t that into Star Wars. I would watch it but I never got into it, didn’t get it. One of my parents’ closest friends’ son would also watch it with me, this is when we were six or seven years old, and he would flip every time Yoda came out, or the moment Darth Vader tells Luke he’s actually his father, I mean, he would literally jump on the bed because of how excited he was with what was happening.. and I couldn’t relate. Later in life I realized that his father was SUPER into Star Wars, and I think his father passed the film fandom from one generation to the other, when in my case, well.. my father is still not a fanatic, he liked the movies, just like I do, but not like his friend and his son. When the newer films came out, around 1999 I was still 8 years old, and I still couldn’t understand why was Star Wars so sensationalized, I remember I even got one of those LEGO starships to build and play around, which I still keep in my room somewhere. It wasn’t until I first started studying the first film trilogy (When I first started taking media studies courses) in terms of universe, characters and Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey (which is without any exaggeration EVERYWHERE) around 4 years ago that I broke the film into pieces and I understood how to appreciate the story in detail and man… it is Good. I should say that I do carry around a Stormtrooper keychain my father gave me (I’ll post a picture of him at the capitol), and he has a Darth Vader keychain on his keys at this very moment. It might be a subtle detail, but we both do like the film. It did take me a while to understand why, maybe because everyone liked it I didn’t? I just really never gave it a chance, until I did, because I knew it was something worth watching and analysing.
Okay, so I found three printed sources that I believe will help me contextualize and analyze the history of Star Wars Fandom ever since the first film Star Wars was massively released worldwide.
1. The first one is a book by Michael Kamisnki called “The Secret History of Star Wars.” Here, the author presents the true history of how Star Wars was written, from its beginnings as a science fiction fairy tale to its chronological development since it was first exposed to audiences into the epic story we now know, and of course, its fans. This book also functions as a good source of the saga’s origins and with it’s development and production, the growing in amount of fans who not only watched the movies, but could play SW video games, watch animated TV shows, read comics, read novels, write blogs, a community which has since then only been expanding more and more. Understanding the history of SW and what was going on at the time is key to understanding the fan.
2. The second printed source is called “Star Wars: A Myth of our Time” by Andrew Gordon. I believe this is another good source because it entails what SW is in the modern world, and it gives reason to think that Star Wars is serious business and not only “childish like a cartoon.” He talks about who the movie is targeted to and why the plot might be that appealing to them. He gives a reason to justify the story at that time. He states that Lucas created the story for a country who was still suffered loss and hit a bull’s-eye with the first film’s release. The author argues Lucas became a sort of hero to many, and gave them a “force” to relate to. He also describes how Lucas used Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” to tell his story constructed out of the past, bits of American culture to satisfy emotional needs of both children and adults.
3. The third printed source I have found is “Finding the Force of the Star Wars Franchise: Fans, Merchandise, & Critics” a book by Mathew Willhelm Kapell and John Shelton Lawrence. This book is helpful because it touches in detail the spectacle made after the first SW release and its influence. He also talks about the commercial achievement George Lucas had and its current buzz in different cultural aspects surrounding the Expanded Universe.
While still searching for other printed articles written closer to the time the film was released, I think those last three sources are going to be very helpful and all but, I have also found several movie reviews written in 1977, plus one written by the same movie reviewer 20 years later. I think these reviews will be helpful to understand the film’s reception at the time and its transformation of the genre itself to many. Roger Ebert’s review argues that the movie’s strength relies on its narrative and that’s the main reason why it’s such a great film, therefore pretty popular. He says the movie is in its people and their hearts. That is why I think Ebert makes an interesting argument, he takes Campbell’s definition of the Hero’s Journey and compares it to the finalized tale an entire generation has grown up with which is why I think movie reviews form the time are a very important source. Plus, he did another review 20 years after first watching the first film, so I think the evolution of his thinking is also pretty interesting to understanding the franchise´s evolution throughout the years.
Gordon, A. (1978, August). Star Wars: A Myth for Our Time . Literature/Film Quarterly, 6.4, 314-26.
Kaminski, M. (2008). The secret history of Star Wars: the art of storytelling and the making of a modern epic. Kingston, Ont.: Legacy Books Press.
Kapell, M., & Lawrence, J. S. (2006). Finding the force of the Star wars franchise: fans, merchandise, & critics. New York: P. Lang.