Star Wars

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Fandom
Name: Star Wars
Abbreviation(s): SW, Wars
Creator: George Lucas
Date(s): Original Trilogy

Prequel Trilogy

Sequel Trilogy

Disney Era

Expanded Universe/Legends

Medium: Live-Action Film, Animated Film, Animated TV Series, Live Action TV Series, Comics, Novels
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: IMDB
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Star Wars is a space opera film series with a huge worldwide fandom and a massive impact on pop culture.

Fandom

At the Birth of the Fandom

A fan tells other fans about Star Wars, shortly before it was released:

...STAR WARS is being released May 25 In about 50 theaters nation-wide, and certain select cities will be showing it in 70mm and 6 channel stereo sound.

The book of the story is out, Marvel Comics is telling the story of it in comics form, the soundtrack will be released when the film is, and Cinefantastique is doing a big report on it in July, I think.

[...]

The basic storyline is that there is a fascist dictatorship ruling the galaxy (not ours) and has deposed an emperor to get power. There is a system of rebels who want to reinstate the monarchy through the dead emperor's daughter. She gets kidnapped by fascist Governor Muftarkin and his villainous sidekick Darth Vader in their spaceship called the Deathstar, a sphere 200 miles in diameter. He threatens to destroy her home planet unless she tells him where the rebel base is. She finally tells him, but since they were just passing her planet, he destroys it anyway, believing it to be a deterrent to the rebels.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Luke Skywalker lives on the planet Tatooine with aunt and uncle as his parents died when he was a kid. Tatooine is a very dry, arid planet, and they work on a farm, harvesting water. Luke has aspirations of someday going to the space academy and becoming a pilot. He comes home one day to find his uncle has spent his tuition to go to the academy on two robots, a three foot high cylindrical Bleep-Bleep named R2D2, and a humanoid form called C3P0. They had been captured and deactivated by thieves and sold, and they have a programmed message for the princess, so when they are reactivated, they set out into the desert to find the princess.

C3P0 speaks 14 spoken languages, 37 electronic languages, and Wookie. R2D2 is an information storage robot and only speaks electronic languages. They have a dispute in the desert and each set off in their own directions. Luke sets off and finds them but has a tangle with Tuscan raiders, is almost killed and C3P0 loses his left arm when shot. It scares the Tuscan raiders off, and Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi comes out of the hills. Before fascist takeover, Ben was the leader of the Jet Ionites, a sort of imperial elite. He tells Luke the true story of how his father die was a loyal ionite, and taught Luke about the Force. He gives Luke the handle of the light saber that belonged to his father and... I've already told you too much. I hope you enjoy the movie. [1]

With the release of the first movie in 1977, an entire new fandom grew within a matter of months of its release, although there were some who felt this was as much a result of marketing as an organic process. As explained in Who Comes With Summer a 1979 meta essay by Jeff Johnston:

SW fandom didn't just spring up ready-developed in 1977. There was a short time between the appearance of the movie and the first major fan activities and publications. [This] period between the time when the potential for a fandom exists, but has not yet been realized is known in sf fandom as Eofandom... One of the earliest criticisms of SW fandom I heard was that it never had a chance to develop on its own. SW fandom, critics claimed, was more public relations hype than it was true fandom. While this may be true, fandoms are not formed by corporations. Corporations can encourage the beginnings of a fandom, but they cannot create fandom... Twentieth Centurey could have come up with a prefab fandom for SW unless there was a potential there all along. [note 1]

Star Wars fan works continued to be published through the 1980s and 1990s, with interest in the fandom waxing and waning over the years, often timed to the release of a new movie. For example, in 1993 and again from 2004-2008, there were no Star Wars specific FanQ awards. Resurgences in the fandom coincided with the release of the Prequel Trilogy, and again with the Sequel Trilogy and the Disney Era.

More on the fandoms of the three sets of movies and the Disney productions can be found in the sub-pages below:


Fandom Meta

George Lucas' Involvement and Knowledge of Fandom

George Lucas was notoriously controlling, and frequently intolerant of fannish activity.

Adult/Slash Themes

In 1982, Maureen Garrett, president of the official Star Wars Fan Club sent a 'warning' to Star Wars fanzines that were publishing adult-themed fiction. This reflected the uneasy relationship that Star Wars fans had with Lucasfilm. Throughout the 70s and 80s, Lucasfilm remained closely tied to Star Wars fan clubs and fanzine publishers, even asking fans to submit their fanzines to the studio for 'archiving' purposes. Some fans believed that Lucasfilm was using this as a pretext to monitor their fan works to ensure compliance with Lucasfilm's vision of a franchise with "no pornography, vulgarity, or explicit gore and violence." (See Lucasfilm for more). Ironically, the warning was over a het story that even by then standards would have garnered an R rating. For some fans, this was a welcomed attempt to curb what they felt was an unacceptable proliferation of adult-themed fan fiction. In fact, some Star Trek fans, unhappy with the K/S slash fiction that was popular in their fandom, became more open to the Star Wars fandom. [2] For much more about this issue see Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers. Nonetheless, most fans, particularly female fans, did not take to the new message:

Lucasfilm is saying "you must enjoy the characters of the Star Wars universe for male reasons. Your sexuality must be correct and proper by my (male) definition, I am not male. I do not want to be. I refuse to be a poor imitation, or worse, someone's idiotic ideal of femininity. Lucasfilm has said in essence, "this is what we see in the Star Wars films and we are telling you this is what you will see." [3]

In 1991, Barbara T perhaps put the fan response most succinctly: "Fans mental play is no business of producers and nether are their private communications, however lengthy." [4] In spite of Lucasfilm's attempt to maintain control over fan creations, fans continued to produce fanzines. Adult het and slash zines were, however, fewer in number, but that type of fan fiction continued to circulate privately as part of an informal circuit. See the Han/Luke page for more about the informal circuit. In fact, one such story involved an S/M encounter between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, was xeroxed and passed around in fandom at only slightly less than internet speed.[5] The notable exceptions were (1) the Organia fanzine published in 1982 which contained adult het fan fic well as original science fiction and feminist articles and poetry and (2) Imperial Entanglements published in 1982 with both gen and slash stories involving minor or original characters. By the late 1990s, both explicit het and slash zines were being publicly published and when Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, adult themes became widespread. However, the battle over websites, fan vids and fan films continues to the present. One website, The Force.net, only removed its same sex fic restrictions in May of 2015. [6] [note 2]

See Lucasfilm for more.

Women In Star Wars Fandom

Star Wars has traditionally been seen as a primarily male-dominated fandom. As a result, the role that women have played in the development of the fandom has been often overlooked. In 1982, Pat Nussman published an article in Comlink #9, a Star Wars letterzine entitled: "Where the Boys Are." In the article she explored the gender make-up of media fandom at the time and argued that it was skewed towards greater female participation, specifically in Star Wars fandom. The existence of such an article suggests that Star Wars fandom, like other areas of life, is not so much dominated by one gender or another as it is (or was) sex-segregated. See also Where are the women bloggers? at the Geek Feminism Wiki. In 1995, the AOL Star Wars fan club began hosting Tuesday "Ladies Night" online chats. "Star Wars Ladies Night in private room 'Star Ladies'. The Star Wars Ladies Night is a free form discussion group that provides an opportunity for SW fans to discuss issues of interest to women. Join us as we discuss the Star Wars trilogy and its legacy from a woman's point of view. E-mail Ghislaine or LdyTempus for more info." [7] There was also The Women of Star Wars Home Page, a resource site active from 1997 to 2000, and the Leia-centric archive Organa-Zation. Both of these were on Geocities. For further reading, see Leia Organa, Leia: Meta/Further Reading, and Leia: Early Fan Reaction

Star Wars and Star Trek

From The Sehlat's Roar #5, Gordon Carleton, "What do you mean you're all standing in line to see 'Star Wars'?! That's mutiny, mister!" "Yes, sir -- I guess it is."

The first Star Wars movie came out just as the new Star Trek movie was in early production at Paramount. The success of the Star Wars movie helped persuade Hollywood to move ahead with a Star Trek feature film rather than a revised television series. However, Star Wars was not entirely welcomed by all Star Trek fans. "Not all of Star Trek fandom reacted favorably to Star Wars, however. Two extremes have already formed, one saying that 'Trek is doomed' (a new slogan) citing Star Wars as its killer, and the other faction maintaining a grin-and-bear-it attitude, assuming that the enthusiasm will wane eventually leaving ST fandom intact and Star Wars as 'just another...movie.'" [8] For more on the effect of Star Wars on Star Trek fandom and the differences and similarities between the two, see Star Trek and Star Wars.

The Luke and Han Wars

cartoon from Jundland Wastes #3 by an unknown artist that shows some fan's dissatisfaction with Han "getting the girl" in the end

There was much tension among some fans regarding who was the "real hero" of Star Wars, a subject that became more complicated with each movie installment.

Star Wars Was Constantly Jossed

Cartoon by Gordon Carleton, dated 1983, printed in the 1997 MediaWest*Con program book -- "Luke's been dressing like this ever since he found out we're twins..."

Because of the long lapses between the first three films (to say nothing of the three after that), fans and their creative works were constantly jossed. The revelation that Darth Vader was Luke's father in the second film threw fans for a loop, as did the second reveal in the third movie, that Luke and Leia were sister and brother.


Star Wars Fan Clubs

Star Wars Conventions

four convention flyers

While Star Wars fandom was close to as large, and certainly attracted a wide variety of fans, as Star Trek did, the traction for specific Star Wars cons never took off. One reason: George Lucas forbid any major Star Wars actors from appearing at cons where unlicensed goods, such as fanzines and other fannish goods were sold. And Lucas himself, except for one exception (Starlog Salutes Star Trek) did not appear at cons.

The fandom itself was huge and varied, and while Star Trek fans were able to harness that energy and focus it on specific cons, Star Wars fans apparently did not. Historically, there was, of course, much interest in the movies, and fan-run cons often had Star Wars programming, costuming, and other discussion, but Star Wars fandom didn't have the same convention energy that Star Trek, Starsky & Hutch, Blake's 7, The Professionals, Man from U.N.C.L.E., and other popular fandoms.

That is not to say there were no Star Wars cons at all:

Fanworks

Links listed below are for all "eras" of Star Wars. For links pertaining to specific properties/characters, see Star Wars/Prequel Trilogy, Star Wars/Original Trilogy, Star Wars/Sequel Trilogy, Star Wars/Expanded Universe and Star Wars/Disney Era.

Zines

For a history of Star Wars Zines, see Star Wars Fanzines.

Mailing Lists/Forums

Forums

Mailing Lists

  • Sith_Chicks (1999-2010) "For Star Wars Chicks with a little more "adult" conversation in mind."
  • bailnow archive link "This is a mailing list devoted to the Star Wars' series character Bail Organa, Viceroy of Alderaan and adoptive father of Princess Leia. Present only through Leia in the Original Trilogy, he's making slightly more of a dent in the prequels. But are they really doing justice to a man who, after all, managed to give his daughter more balls than her brother ever grew? Discussion and fanfic -- het, slash, or gen -- is welcome. Adults ONLY, please -- by joining this group you are stating that you are over 18 and allowed to read smut. Anyone found to be younger WILL be removed by the list owner! Sorry kids, but it'll still be here when you're older..." archive is Bail Now (Founded: Mar 10, 2001)

Archives

Other FanWorks: SongVids, Artwork, Costumes & Filking

A young fan at a 1981 convention shows off his Yoda puppet -- the photo illustrates the large range of ages that participated in fan-run masquerade contests and activities and how many costumes were hand-made while also incorporating pre-made items. [note 3]

Fanart

Fancomics:

Notable SongVids:

Filks/Filk Songbooks

Cosplay

Meta/Further Reading

Interviews

For some Star Wars interviews with fans, see Category:Star Wars Fan Interviews.

Fannish References

Sections to Add

This article or section needs expansion.

Sections to add. Anyone with any knowledge is welcome to pitch in:

  • First fan-run Star Wars convention? Fleshing out Star Wars fanzine history with more firsts. - see Star Wars/Original Trilogy
  • What about Star Wars costuming and filking?
  • Star Wars artists?
  • Star Wars vids?
  • Notable clubs?
  • Star Wars entry into the Internet? Early mailing lists/newsgroups. The move to graphical websites. Fans creating their own websites. Fan Fiction archives.
  • Impact the prequels movies had on reviving fandom. How did the movies impact the growth of the fandom and fan's output/interest.

Notes

  1. ^ from Jeff Johnston as quoted in Comlink #30; the original quotation was from Alderaan #5
  2. ^ "Hello Fanficcers! As many of you know, for years same-sex relationships have only been allowed to be written very vaguely and practically non-existent due to a decree by the owners of the site. Mod Squad has contacted the owner of the site recently with a request to resend this and I'm VERY pleased to announce that: There is no longer a restriction on same-sex relationships in fanfic. This is not a drill, I repeat, there is no longer a restriction on writing same-sex relationships. I think it probably goes without saying, but I would be remiss in my duty if I didn't say it: No other rules have changed as far as rating of fics and sexual depiction. Everything will remain family friendly. That is all. Please return to your regularly scheduled fanfic." -- MOD - With Regards to Same-sex relationships and Fanfic -- Jedi Council Forums, Archived version, May 26, 2015
  3. ^ photo is from the Forrest J. Ackerman Collection, sold on eBay in 2012 after his death, photographer and photo subject unknown. Ackerman spent a lifetime amassing the world's largest personal collection of science-fiction and fantasy memorabilia and who coined the term ‘sci-fi’ in the 1950s.

References

  1. ^ from a fan in Star Trek Nuts & Bolts #16
  2. ^ from Boldly Writing, pg. 54
  3. ^ from SLAYSU, Catherine Siebert, 1982, pg 44.
  4. ^ from Textual Poachers, pg 31-32.
  5. ^ Kathy Resch, 2002.
  6. ^ No more slash restrictions on TFN’s Jedi Council boards
  7. ^ AOL Star Wars Trivia
  8. ^ from Boldly Writing