But this post isn't entirely about Star Wars or any fandom in particular. This post is an observation about society in general and how it seems like everybody - and I do mean everybody - is always spoiling for a fight over the most idiotic stuff. Not only looking to fight, but to make these fights personal. Like, if you don't agree with someone on a particular topic, you are somehow morally obligated to insult them, their mother, their dog, their car, their ancestors all the way back to Adam, and the single-celled organisms from which their lineage spawned.
Really, people? Really?
I'm sure you've seen the posts about "How to Handle Your Crazy Uncle Who Voted For [Insert Political Candidate Here] At Thanksgiving." I mean, we're letting politics dictate how we associate with family members. Politics. Something run by people that are complete strangers, but for their presence in the daily news, and that demand our unswerving loyalty because... voting or something. Hell, I don't know. But politics makes people lose their freaking minds and I'm sick of it (I include myself in that assessment. I'm really trying my best to stay out of it these days).
Here's a newsflash - whether you love the person in charge or hate his stinking guts (and it doesn't matter which "he" I'm referring to - there have been 45 of them. Pick one. The ones from my lifetime have been kind of crappy, truth be told), the president is not God. No politician is. No politician has have the power to completely ruin your life or give you the most perfect existence in this mortal coil. I would appreciate it if people on both sides would stop acting like it.
I know, I know. I'm asking for waaaaaaay too much. I'd have a better chance of Santa Claus bringing me a sparkly purple unicorn that farts $20 bills and vomits ice cream.
Somehow, all of these online political fistfights have taken over pop culture as well. Somewhere along the line, it became virtuous for celebrities to voice their political opinions and make their fans feel like crap if they disagreed. Same with directors, writers, etc. Then there were the big-name fans who like to rub it in because it inflates their egos and they're getting paid to props these other egos up as well. And some fans took it to heart. Maybe they boycotted the movies. Maybe they went into the movie expecting it to be horrible and then they'd be justified in their hatred of it. Maybe they went on to create stories that similarly shoved overly-preachy message fic in our faces, just in the other direction.
Personally, I hate that pop culture has to be saturated with politics. I go to movies and read books to get away from that insanity. Call me a wimp - but maybe I just don't have the mental fortitude for 24/7 outrage (probably why I lost my COTR job - I just couldn't fake being angry at everything in the whole freaking world like my co-workers always seemed to be). I do like to take a break once in a while (or permanently). Turning my brain off to watch two-and-a-half hours of space battles and lightsaber fights is infinitely more preferable to watch two pompous blowhards yell at each other on TV and pretend they're debating anything of value.
This is what I say to that (and anyone else telling me to pick one side or the other) -
I have come to hate the phrase "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Like paying attention to every little stupid thing that happens is what I should aspire to. Guess what? I don't want to pay attention. I want to ignore the news. Being "informed" has become a hindrance, rather than something useful. For all of Facebook's insistence on constantly changing their interface because they have nothing better to do, I wish they'd give us the option to turn off that idiotic "Trending News" box. I don't give a crap what news is "trendy." I never cared about trendy stuff when I was a kid, what makes you think I want to know about the trendy news now that I'm an adult?
Sigh... anyway... where was I with this? Oh yes - Star Wars.
Look, I know it's become cool to pick apart things that people like. Even "fans" of Star Wars pick it apart. First, it was that the prequel were bad - the original trilogy was the only thing worth watching. Well... except Return of the Jedi had those goofy Ewoks. And in A New Hope, Luke's super-whiny. But Empire - now THAT is Star Wars. That movie is PERFECT.
Wait... doesn't Leia kiss Luke in that one? They're siblings! HOW COULD THAT BE???
See? Picky, picky, picky. "Fans" seem to be more about picking things apart and hating on everything, rather than enjoying what you love.
It's fine to acknowledge flaws and missteps. It's even good to recognize that there's room to improve. But when you do that at that expense of also recognizing the good things they did, then you're just beating the dead horse alive (yes, that's what I meant). It's why I like this Nostalgia Critic video -
And the YouTube channel CinemaWins is a great one for this as well. Finding the mistakes in anything is easy. Finding things to praise and be complimentary about has become a lost art.
Which brings me around to that pesky political topic. Leave aside any political parties or even politicians (they're all scum anyway) - think about your friends and family. Are you going to throw away valuable relationships over a political disagreement? Unless your relationship is purely based on political views (and that is a pathetic thing to base any sort of personal relationship on at all), it's not worth alienating people you care about just because they voted for X and you voted for Y and someone else voted for Z.
For the record - I don't consider that I won or lost in the last election. I knew it was a losing prospect for me to try either way, so I took a third option. Both the main choices sucked and I was doing the best I could with what I was given. In my former day job, I wrote to represent my employers, since speaking my honest opinion wasn't something they seemed to be interested in (to put it mildly). Dishonest? Probably. I didn't enjoy it. The pay was good. There is good money to be made in feeding people's outrage. But clearly, my tactics didn't work. Judge me as you will - everyone else already has. I learned my lesson. I'm staying out of it. I'm just praying it sticks.
I'm not saying you have to give up your viewpoints if you don't want to. Just because I'm washing my hands of the whole mess doesn't mean you have to. But realize there are other things in life than politics. Same goes for pop culture. Not everything has to be dripping with political campaign messages. Luke Skywalker is not a stand-in for [Insert Favored Politician Here]. He wouldn't even know what Earth politics are like - he's never been to Earth! He's got bigger problems to worry about than who is running Washington DC, anyway (it's rough being the last Jedi in existence, I'm sure).
This plea is probably falling on deaf ears. Being angry and yelling on Twitter at people that you don't even know can be a lot of fun in the moment. It's even cathartic to vent on social media. You've probably heard some variation of the phrase "Anger is the devil's cocaine." It's addictive and it's easy to be mad all the time, even though it doesn't feel all that great. Being happy and positive feels better, but it's more work. A prominent leader in my church once gave a talk called "The Canker of Contention." I would highly recommend reading his talk, whether you're religious or not.
What I'm getting at is that I'm sick of all the fighting. Whether it's over politics or Star Wars or anything else. There's enough trouble in the world without going to look for it where there is functionally none. And honestly, whoever you're mad at probably didn't even mean to be insulting. What happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt? I worry that I give that benefit out too much, and when it comes time for me to be granted the same, I'll have to deal with somebody who refuses to cut me any sort of slack. Doesn't mean I won't stop.
There is contention in this world, true. But we don't have to participate in it. Instead of looking to famous people to be our role models, why not be the role model you'd want to see? That's so much easier to control.
And now it's late and I have things to do in the morning (and a baby that will probably be awake in a few hours). Sure wish my brain would stop having ideas so late at night...