In praise of Star Wars Rebels

I'm changing the name of this blog, and #WeWantLeia is why

I spoil it for Siri

Guest Post: How I came back to Star Wars action figures by YASWB

Beatrice and I watch Star Wars together

[Review] William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher 

Star Wars oil painting exhibit "Sandstorm" opens

Breakneck boredom: an old time Star Wars fan's thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness

They put me on the news to talk about Star Wars

More from Steve Sansweet on Star Wars and gay marriage

Carmine Infantio has died

I can die happy: I've been interviewed by Dungeons & Dragons

Star Wars Episode 7: All My Children?

What JJ Abrams needs to really succeed with Star Wars 7

Star Wars: The Old Republic is gay--on one planet at least

Tongal and Pringles bring us DYI desecration of Star Wars

Reminiscences about West End Games' Star Wars Roleplaying Game

Here's the biggest Star Wars news of 2012

Stephen Quinn interviews me about Star Wars on CBC Vancouver

Star Wars: modern myth or global franchise?

Parents turn child's 1st birthday into extended Lucasfilm/Hasbro advert

Me reading from A Long Time Ago

Highlights and lowlights of the upcoming Star Wars Celebration VI

Grown men (mostly) dressed up as Lando Calrissian

Beggar's Canyon Toys offer Star Wars toy "restoration" service

Blog's t-shirts banned by Zazzle

Will the real David Prowse please stand up?

LaserSaber: Unlicensed, dangerous and yours for only $99

Is this the future of Star Wars?

Is Star Wars link bait?

Dissent not tolerated at the Prequel Appreciation Society

TSOT discovers its nemesis

Comme des idiots: Star Wars teams up with poncy fashion house

US Christian activist attacks SWTOR for being gay

Yodaphone--the latest product pitch from Star Wars Inc.

Attention tortoise-fanciers: do you like Star Wars?

History of Star Wars as related by a bot

Is Star Wars a travesty of science fiction?

Luke Skywalker and company on the Muppet Show

Yoda now shilling instant soup in Japan

Commander who?

$6000 for a toy you can't even play with

Star Wars underwear

Retro Star Wars decor in my son's bedroom

Phantom Menace 3D: Now With Plot

Star Wars and disco: the forgotten love affair

Will Muschamp: What a guy!

Oi, fanboy: grow up! A reply to Darren Franich


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Entries in Disney (17)


I'm changing the name of this blog, and #WeWantLeia is why

Image credit: RebelScum.comFor some time now I've been increasingly uncomfortable with the original name of this blog, "This Sort of Thing: Star Wars for men old enough to know better". The subtitle was intended to emphasize my experience with men of my generation--men in the their late 30s to mid 40s who, like me, grew up as devoted Star Wars fans. My book, A Long Time Ago: Growing Up with and Out of Star Wars, was intended to speak mainly to that audience. It came of my experience with men of my age. Throughout my adulthood, I have been repeatedly struck by how easily I can talk about Star Wars with men who grew up in the late 1970s, whether I have anything else in common with them or not. As I say in the prologue to my book, 

Star Wars—the movie, the sequels, the toys, the books, the trading cards, the comics, the arcade games, the galaxy of myths and merchandise—dominated my youth. In this I am the same as so many other boys I knew then, and so many men I know today. It is a common reference point for my gender and generation. 

Not long after my book was published, however, I started getting feedback from women of the same generation. They mostly liked my book, but some were annoyed by the male focus. Star Wars wasn't just a boy thing, they said, and I knew they were right. When I first unwrapped Kenner Star Wars figures on Christmas morning, 1978, my four-year-old sister was there doing the same. I would call her my first Star Wars playmate, if the original meaning of that word had not been so totally corrupted. 

I was sensitive to these readers' criticisms from the outset. In fact I revised my book a few months after first publishing it to add more inclusive language, although I left the male focus largely in place. As the book became better known, I got more traffic to this blog. Again the (entirely fair) question arose, based on the blog's subtitle: Is this blog just for men? My answer was no, as I tried to explain in this post. But was it enough?

On 19 May, this happened:

Disney's answer was surprising and disappointing to Natalie, a mum and PhD student at King's College, London. She wasn't the only one who felt that way. The hashtag #WeWantLeia quickly became the latest Twitter phenomenon. The Daily Dot explains: 

Star Wars fans come in all shapes and sizes, in every gender and race, and are found in all corners of the world. The diversity of the fanbase is one of the most exciting aspects of being a part of the Star Wars fandom. Unfortunately the Star Wars films have never really reflected that diversity and while hopes were high that things may change with new movies and TV show being released under Disney, signs keep leading fans to believe they’ll be disappointed.

Female fans in particular have been consistently let down by recent news—especially the lack of women in the new Star Wars: Episode VII cast. That disappointment continued this week when it was revealed the Disney Store has no plans to create products inspired by Princess Leia. The revelation came last Tuesday when King’s College London graduate student Natalie Wreyford asked the Disney Store why there weren’t any Princess Leia products in the store. The store responded on Twitter with a cheery signoff that has done little to pacify fans.

Jezebel adds: 

This comes on the heels of a disappointing initial casting announcement—six new male characters, and just one woman. When the Internet raised hue and cry, J.J. Abrams rushed to say that the casting wasn't over, and he's totally adding one more "substantial" female role. Oh, well, in THAT case. As our pals at io9 put it: "Are we seriously still pretending that the universe is comprised almost entirely of men (and mostly white men at that)?"

Reading all this on Twitter and the web, I found myself strongly on the pro-Leia side. She is one of the leading (and best) characters in Star Wars.

But this isn't just about toys. As has so often happened in the course of the Star Wars franchise, a story about space heroes has again become a story about what we want to be. George Lucas first encountered this (likely very surprising) phenomenon in the aftermath of the first film, when he faced criticism for not featuring blacks and other minorities in his film. He responded with Lando Calrissian--another great Star Wars character who often does not get the attention he deserves. (In fact it seems to me that very few of the human-played characters of the original Star Wars trilogy are featured in the prequel and post-prequel era of Star Wars content and merchandise. Lucasfilm seems to prefer to let the faces of its franchise be the easily CGI'd characters: Vader, Yoda, Artoo, Threepio, Boba Fett, etc.) 

As I retweeted supportive and insightful #WeWantLeia tweets and blog posts (like this one from Natacha Guyot), the old embarrassment about this blog's subtitle hit me again. Yes, my experience of Star Wars in the 1970s and '80s was boy-focussed. But it wasn't boy-only even then, and it certainly is not now. Like so many Twitter users and Star Wars fans, I want Leia. To be clear, it's not more Disney toys I want--I stopped collecting toys at about 13. What I want is a world that isn't subjected to outmoded notions of what boys and girls are supposed to be. 

All of which is to say that I've changed the name of this blog--for the better.


Is Frozen really the new Star Wars?

The Guardian has an excellent long piece by Dorian Lynskey on the phenomenon that is Frozen. If you have young children, especially but not necessarily daughters, you'll recognize instantly the obsession that Lynskey is describing:

Frozen-mania bypasses logic. It's a compulsion. Friends have told me about their daughters playing the soundtrack on a loop, reliving the movie as they go; watching the DVD at least once a day; turning each bedtime into a climb up "the north mountain"; renaming their old toys Anna, Elsa and Olaf; loving it so much that they'll even watch a dodgy download in Cantonese because they know the words anyway. One mother said there should be a support group, Frozen Anonymous.

Watching all this unfold in my household over the last few months, I have had a distinct sense of deja vu: Frozen seems to be to Beatrice what Star Wars (the original 1977 movie and its two sequels) was to me. Lysnkey makes the same comparison in passing, and perhaps it's too soon to be emphatic about it, but the parallels are certainly there. It has been widely reported, for instance, that Disney did not anticipate Frozen being such a phenomenon and, as a result, has so far failed fully to capitalize on the market for Frozen-related merchandise. Perhaps they should offer an Early Bird Certificate Package.

We're always being told of course, that [Movie Title Here] is the new Star Wars. But maybe for once that claim is justified.

The Guardian: Frozen-mania: how Else, Anna, and Olaf conquered the world


In case you think Disney paid too much for Star Wars...

Check out this photo of my son's preschool class. Three of the sixteen children (and three of the eight boys) wore Star Wars t-shirts for the photo.  

My son, Zach, is in the front row middle, obviously. I've obscured the other faces out of respect for privacy.


I continue to have no sense of humour about this

I really must quit regarding such things as desecration--but I can't.


Disney to release a new Star Wars every summer from 2015 on

BBC News, LA Times and others are reporting that Disney has announced it will release a new Star Wars film every summer starting 2015. From Yahoo! Movies:

In a presentation Wednesday at CinemaCon, the annual meeting of the National Theater Owners Association, Disney representatives unveiled some big plans for the "Star Wars" franchise after purchasing Lucasfilm for $4 billion. While it's well known that "Star Wars: Episode VII" is in the works and poised for release in the summer of 2015, Disney is saying after that, fans can expect a new "Star Wars" movie every summer for at least five years, with installments in the official series alternating with stand-alone films that will focus on well-loved characters in the "Star Wars" universe. 

That means six "Star Wars" movies between 2015 and 2020. That's a lot of lightsabers.

Indeed. I've already asked you kids to get off my lawn once before (at least), so I'll not repeat myself.


Warwick Davis to play Jedi knight in new Star Wars?

Well why not? asks Sean O'Neal in this AV Club post that is not only funny in its own right, but links to another funny post by the same Mr. O'Neal. The latter piece is about pointless Star Wars 7 speculation by an ex-employee by the name of George Lucas. The former is about how Warwick Davis (and dozens of other Star Wars alumni, most of whom have enjoyed far less success that Mr. Davis) would really really like to be in the new Star Wars movie.

If even a quarter of these faint-hopers end up in the new film, it will be worse than Attack of the Clones.

AV Club: Warwick Davis would like to be in more Star Wars and get a lightsaber this time, please


Disney and Lucasfilm just murdered billions of people

Or so says Abraham Riesman in an ever-so-slightly overstated piece on Motherboard entitled (you guessed it), "Disney and Lucasfilm Just Murdered Billions of People". He is reacting to the cancellation of the Clone Wars television series and other signs that Disney is abandoning the Expanded Universe in favour of its own efforts. 

Somewhat disappointingly, Riesman's article is not quite as insanely hysterical as the title he gave it. But it's still pretty excitable, and Riesman doesn't shy away from his genocide theme: 

Here we are, where no serious Star Wars fan ever thought we’d be. But at what cost? The metatextual mass murder of fictional billions? Is that a price we’re prepared to pay? 

Last week, George Lucas implied that the Holy Trinity of Ford, Fisher, and Hamill are this close to signing on for the J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Wars: Episode VII. Let’s assume for a moment that it’s all true, that the ink dries, and that the wardrobe department starts getting their measurements. What are the implications? 

For the workaday filmgoer and the average Star Wars viewer, there are barely any, other than chuckles about a sexagenarian Skywalker and a self-proclaimed crazy Leia. For Disney and Lucasfilm, recognizable faces mean money in the bank, though their casting probably means little to the youngest generation of Star Wars fans, the ones who grew up actually enjoying Episode I and are now in the 18-25 demographic. 

But what about us? What about that small fraction of the world’s population who kept watch over the Star Wars universe’s post-Return of the Jedi development? What about the people who, decades ago, gave up any hope that there would ever be filmed sequels? How are we supposed to feel? 

To put it bluntly, we’ve been abandoned. Our purpose has been served, and we’re being unceremoniously downsized without so much as a “Thanks for Two Decades on the Job” plaque. 

We were the stewards of the Galaxy. Under 22 years of our watch, we’ve lived and breathed something called the Expanded Universe (EU), in which the Star Wars mythology grew and flourished to a size that Lucas could never have imagined. I mentioned fictional genocide because now, with the presence of Hamill/Fisher/Ford, much of the EU — and the countless characters, wars, species, and millennia of events the EU contains — will be wiped out at the stroke of a pen.

So Riesman is only referring to fantasy fictional people who don't actually exist in the real world but only in people's imaginations. Also, if you read along you'll discover that these billions of fantasy fictional murdered people haven't actually been fictionally murdered yet by anyone at all in the purely fictional fantasy world they fictionally inhabit. But still...

For more hyper-exaggerated EU fanboy angst about something that hasn't in fact happened, follow the link below. And if you too are badly in need of some perspective on the true gravity of the situation, try here or here or here.

Motherboard: Disney and Lucasfilm Just Murdered Billions of People


Terrific Businessweek article on how Disney bought Star Wars

Here's a taste but follow the link for more--including Lucas's confirmation of what we already knew about Ford, Hamill and Fisher:

Lucas released Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 1999. Combined, the three films in the second trilogy would gross $2.5 billion, but many fans thought they were a mess. They were particularly appalled by the bumbling Jar Jar Binks from the planet Naboo, a creature with an inexplicable Jamaican accent who became the butt of jokes on South Park and The Simpsons.

The criticism got to Lucas. He found it difficult to be creative when people were calling him a jerk. “It was fine before the Internet,” he says. “But now with the Internet, it’s gotten very vicious and very personal. You just say, ‘Why do I need to do this?’ ” At the same time, Lucas was reluctant to entrust his universe to anyone else. “I think he felt like he was a prisoner of Star Wars, and that only intensified over the years,” says Dale Pollock, author of Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas.

Meanwhile, Iger continued to rise at ABC. After Disney bought the network in 1996, Iger became Disney Chairman Michael Eisner’s heir apparent. For nearly a decade, Iger remained in the shadow of his overbearing mentor. But, by 2005, Disney was in trouble. Its once-powerful animation department hadn’t had a hit in years, and the combative Eisner had alienated many shareholders. Disney’s board asked Iger to take over. He was widely underestimated at the time—including by this magazine, which described him as a “bland, scripted CEO” whom no one would call “a big strategic thinker."

Bloomberg Businessweek: How Disney Bought Lucasfilm--and Its Plans for 'Star Wars'

Feb112013 petition to Disney: release the original trilogy on Blu-Ray

Thom Stark of Houston has started a petition to Disney as follows:

For the mental health and welfare of nerds and geeks everywhere.

The Walt Disney Company
Please release the original, untouched Star Wars Trilogy on Blu-Ray for the mental health and welfare of nerds and geeks everywhere. You will make lots of money if you do, and buy yourselves the respect of tens of millions of fans in the process.

[Your name]

It has 25 signatures so far. Surely we can do better than that. Follow the link to sign. Petition | The Walt Disney Company: Release the original, untouched Star Wars Trilogy on Blu-Ray.


Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm an admission of creative failure?

This very interesting piece in Bloomberg Businessweek argues that Disney bought the Star Wars franchise because it would prefer to crank out familiar additions to an established franchise than try to come up with something original:

On the analysts’ conference call following the announcement, Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger was asked, “What do Star Wars films come in lieu of, creatively?” The answer: non–Star Wars films. Iger explained: “We actually determined that we’d be better off as a company releasing a sequel to Star Wars than probably most other, I’ll call them not-yet-determined, films.”

It’s no wonder Iger hopes to remove the risk from blockbuster moviemaking. This year, Walt Disney Studios released the disastrous John Carter and, in 2011,Mars Needs Moms, reported to be the biggest money loser in film history. (The company’s Marvel, Pixar, and Disney Animation output has performed much better.)


George Lucas’s sale to Disney will give a new generation of writers and directors the opportunity to make Star Wars movies. But it diminishes their chances of creating the next Star Wars.

Follow the link to read the whole piece.

Bloomberg Businessweek: 'Star Wars': Disney's Latest Empire