Ewan McGregor's Stupid Beautiful Face: A History of Han/Luke and Star Wars Slash

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Title: Ewan McGregor's Stupid Beautiful Face: A History of Han/Luke and Star Wars Slash
Creator: litomnivore
Date(s): April 6, 2016
Medium: online
Fandom: Star Wars, The Phantom Menace
Topic:
External Links: ladybusiness, Archived version
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Ewan McGregor's Stupid Beautiful Face: A History of Han/Luke and Star Wars Slash is an essay by litomnivore posted at Lady Business.

The article has a lot of links to Fanlore articles.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpts

Where, a new Star Wars fan might well ask, is all the Han/Luke fic?

Han Solo and Luke Skywalker have all the hallmarks of a successful slash ship: namely, they are two white dudes who stand next to each other in a mainstream media property. Pointed, bitter joking aside, they’re initially thrown together by happenstance and grow to become friends after a rocky start over the course of A New Hope. They then embark on, with Leia, one of the greatest love triangles of the twentieth century. (It must be deeply stressed that nobody knew that Luke and Leia were siblings for six years. Including George Lucas.) Han and Luke clearly enjoy each other’s company and value each other greatly. On top of all that, Ford and Hamill have good chemistry and banter well together, the hallmark of any true Star Wars romance (prequels? What prequels?).

And yet, other and newer Star Wars ships seem to take precedence. Like Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi or Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the latter a pairing whose canon interaction is now limited to a single film. (Whose living canon interaction is now limited to a single film. I am perfectly aware that Qui-Gon sometimes appears as a Force ghost to Obi-Wan, presumably to continue the endless torment of having such a terrible Jedi as your master. Qui-Gon Jinn: the original Bad Idea Jedi.) It seems impossible that Star Wars fandom somehow just politely ignored the slash potential of Han and Luke from 1977 (when Star Wars debuted) to 1996 (when the first Han/Luke fanzine, Elusive Lover, was published), and yet that’s what the fossil record seems to indicate. And why didn’t it have more of a presence in the last two decades?

Well, friends and fen, to answer that question, we have to go back to the late seventies.
The next five years—between the announcement of what would become The Phantom Menace in 1993 and the crushing disappointment of the film itself in 1999 — was a magical time for Star Wars fandom. To promote the upcoming new films, the original trilogy was rereleased in theaters in 1997 (albeit in their infamous Special Edition cuts), attracting new fans. Chris Taylor, in How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, describes this as a golden age for all Star Wars fans, no matter to what degree they participated in fandom. Director Kyle Newman explicitly made the film Fanboys, which is about a group of Star Wars fans desperately trying to get their hands on a copy of The Phantom Menace for a dying friend, as a throwback to this beautiful time in Star Wars fandom.

It was during this time that the first dedicated Han/Luke zine, Elusive Lover, debuted in 1996. Publisher Cara J. Loup accepted and published stories of all ratings, often contributing stories of her own, which were very well-received. (You can see for yourself — the first two issues are archived online!) Fans were receptive and Lucasfilm looked the other way.

Perhaps now it was the right time for Star Wars fandom to reclaim its slash bonafides, with public attitudes towards queerness improving in general in the nineties. As Star Wars and other fandoms slowly lurched online, the barriers for both participating in fandom and distributing fanfiction were lowering. After so long underground, could Han/Luke finally have its day in the sun?

There was only one thing standing in their way of becoming the slash ship du jour of the franchise.

That thing? Ewan McGregor’s stupid beautiful face.

The Force Awakens has, obviously, revitalized the fandom as a whole, leading many fans, old and new, to revisit the films and rediscover Han/Luke. While Han/Luke will never be Finn/Poe, it’s gotten more attention as of late. “Skysolo,” as the ship name goes (I use Han/Luke because I’m a thousand years old, apparently), has a presence on the Archive of Our Own and tumblr. Most telling, there are over 80,000 notes on a tumblr post of a deleted scene from Return of the Jedi, with new fans asking whatever happened to Han/Luke as a ship and tumblr user meeedeee schooling them in the ways of Star Wars fandom.

Which brings us full circle. Looking back on the history of Star Wars fandom, it’s heartening to see a new generation of Star Wars fans that doesn’t have to worry about corporate or fan backlash when it comes to adult works in general or queering the text in specific. In fact, the Star Wars universe now even has canonically queer characters. In Paul S. Kemp’s Lords of the Sith, Imperial officer Moff Delian Mors loses her wife. In Star Wars: Aftermath, the gay Sinjir Rath Velus plays a major part, while a young Temmin “Snap” Wexley ends up living with his married aunts for a time. And with everybody, their mom, and their local media outlet vocally shipping Finn/Poe, I wouldn’t be surprised to meet a supporting queer character in Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Reactions/Reviews

"This is awesome! I remember hearing about the C&Ds from Lucasfilm, though all my Star Wars fic at the time was parodic (I starting writing Princess Playa Piano stories when I was 12, so ca.1980).

Also, in terms of slash fanfic post-Phantom Menace, I adored The Sith Academy. Yes, it was parodic, but it was still slashy as heck. :)"[1]
"This was a really satisfying read. I was vaguely aware of this bit of Star Wars history (through fannish osmosis, mostly) but I had never gotten the dirty details, so. Thanks for this write up! (Also the Obi/Qui bit is particularly amusing to me since that's how I got into the fandom!)""[2]
"OMG CLARE -- this bit of fandom history is delightful! Thanks so much for putting it together. *runs off to AO3 to reread all of Cara_Loup's Luke/Han fics*[3]

[brownbetty]:Beautiful Face: And in 1995, Z.P. Florian produced The Rest of the Garbage, an adult-themed zine that featured slash."

Wait, wait wait. Fans have been calling themselves/their fic 'garbage' since 1995? I thought this was a modern, tumblr innovation!

[morgandawn]: "Star Wars reference -
"Then we just float away."
"With the rest of the garbage."
[brownbetty]: "I kind of guessed it was a garbagechute reference, and I now realize that our heroes have used the garbage gambit twice, v. creative guys. But it's still an interesting self-identification."
[litomnivore]: "Yeah, it is interesting to see the same general language usage—albeit from a different source—used. It's my understanding that "trash" evolved out of "Hydra Trash Party" from the Captain America fandom circa Winter Soldier, but I have no hard evidence for that."
[muccamukk]: "No hard evidence either, but I feel like the trash use was as far back as hockey fandom, and HTP just picked it up and ran with it. Great essay! Thanks for posting it."[4]
[tumblr reblog by kanirou-crosshack]: #the Obiqui Era was a MAGICAL TIME #star wars #sw fandom# fandom history #hanluke #fandom #obiqui #obiani #ewan mcgregor#slash#shipping#fanfiction#censorship"[5]

References

  1. comment at ladybusiness, Archived version
  2. comment at ladybusiness, Archived version
  3. comment at ladybusiness, Archived version
  4. comments at ladybusiness, Archived version
  5. Ladybusiness, Archived version