A few months back former Lucasfilm employee, blogger and all-round Star Wars evangelist Bonnie Burton (@bonniegrrl) was dismissed, causing quite a reaction amongst a certain segment of especially devoted, online Star Wars fans. I did not cover the story at the time because I was not very familiar with Bonnie or her work. (Many others are--she has over 38,000 followers on Twittter.)
But yesterday something happened that really ought not go unnoticed. The Star Wars web site was redesigned and--whoops!--all traces of Bonnie Burton's work on its blog were erased. As Whitney Drake (@whitneyd) explains in her indignant but measured blog post,
The official Star Wars site went under a redesign, including their blog. And mysteriously, all of the past bylines (including all of Bonnie’s) vanished. All attributed to “Star Wars Blog” while those currently working on it get bylines. (On these posts, the photographers still get credit)
Which isn’t cool. At all. It’s disrespectful to her as a writer (as well as everyone else who wrote content for them in the past). You don’t see the New York Times erasing the bylines of every person who stopped writing for them. Why? Because that’s who did the work.
Star Wars is the cultural mainstay it is because of the fans. Beyond that, it’s what it is because of all the people who’ve worked for Lucasfilm and contributed to it. Removing bylines is like trying to erase the past- and that’s wrong. You don’t see journalist’s names removed from pieces simply because they left a paper or were let go. You don’t see sports teams pretend that players they’ve traded or who retired weren’t part of their franchise. Why? Because it’s part of the collective history.
Bonnie Burton’s work is just that. By seeing a byline, nobody will assume that she still works for Lucasfilm. Most people are savvy enough to see that the date of the post was from months ago or a year ago, and that she hasn’t written anything recently and figure it out. All they’ll know is that she’s one of the hundreds (if not thousand or so) people who’ve worked for Lucasfilm, helping to make Star Wars what it is. Bonnie isn’t likely the only person who was affected by this- but she’s the one who pointed it out. Credit should be given where credit is due.
It's hard to disagree with that.