Something X-tra

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Title: Something X-tra
Creator: Sara Campbell
Date(s): December 1981
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Wars
External Links:
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Something X-tra is a 1981 essay by Sara Campbell.

It was printed in the first issue of The Whills, a Star Wars zine.

The essay's topic was explicit fanworks in the Star Wars universe (and others). It was a direct response to a series of letters sent by Maureen Garrett on behalf of George Lucas to editors of zines a few months earlier.

It is interesting to note that the editors of "The Whills" thank Maureen Garrett personally for procuring an interview subject for their own fanwork, so there was a little more quid pro quo, as well as a general understanding that these fans needed to "behave" and encourage others to do the same.

"The Whills" was also a zine that was created by, and included, children and young adults, something that also had a bearing on the decision to write and include this essay.

Some Topics Discussed

From the Essay

Imagine you're at the movies. The feature is Robin Hood. The lights go down and you're in Sherwood Forest with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.


ROBIN: Darling! (Embraces her happily. Errol and Olivia make a cute couple.) Could you bring yourself to marry me and live here, despite the hardship? (Earnestly) It may be rough, but it's a decent life, darling, fighting oppression and evil...

MARIAN: Oh, Robin, let's just hop in the sack! ROBIN: Darling!?

MARIAN: I've waited so long, Robin. Every time I see you I...I want another look at your Golden Arrow! I'm horny! (Begins to moan ecstatically.)

(Errol and Olivia shuck their costumes and commence Technicolor foreplay.


This scene may be interesting from certain angles, but it stinks. It's totally incongruous, like some sketch out of Monty Python. If you love your characters, don't make people laugh at them at the moment of truth.)

Star Wars porn has gotten out of hand — should never have existed in the first place — and Lucasfilm has wisely stepped in and asked us, the editors, to improve our product. X-rated stuff — or any kind of excess — doesn't help George Lucas in his artistic efforts. It embarrasses him and the actors we all like so much. And it doesn't help us to get the kind of Star Wars films we want. What's more, it may invite outside forces such as the PTA or the Enquirer to stick their paws in our business and favorite hobby—writing good Star Wars stories. (Believe me, one headline like "Cult Magazines Encourage Immorality — Lucas Blasted!" is more frightening than a thousand Wampas.)

We're not suggesting that sex does not exist in the Star Wars universe, and we're not saying it has no place in your stories. We simply feel that the level of fantasy in many stories has gotten spastic, uncontrolled. Many writers have gotten carried away and are asking others to enjoy the spectacle. It's a matter of style rather than content; you can make sexuality, love and flirtation much more powerful by suggesting it, and thus your characters will come across much more powerfully.

Let's take another example — Star Trek.


Now, we knew that Captain Kirk was the greatest lover in Starfleet. We witnessed his thrilling romances. We knew he didn't take off those boots because of athlete's foot. And Spock — he too had his moments, all the more thrilling for their rarity. BUT we never learned, uh, certain parts of Vulcan anatomy. Not just because the makeup man was feeling lazy or the censors said No. It was because the writers of that show knew their business, by and large; they knew how to stay within the fantasy genre, which is romantic rather than explicit.

And yet that show's fanzines often ran explicit stories, including Kirk-Spock homosexual material. An interesting idea, but crudely done and totally unnecessary. And the readers' reactions were predictable — mostly "Ugh! I don't want to see this, it's embarrassing." To say nothing of Leonard Nimoy's reaction. (The poor man has been such an object over the years. He has handled it with a grace it doesn't deserve.)

But in the long run, the Trek zines helped keep alive the series in people's minds, and achieved excellence and originality; all in all they're a credit to the show. More power to them.

Fanzine porn is not deliberate or manipulative — in fact it's usually a sign that the writer lacks the skill of manipulation. Fanzine writers are fascinated by certain characters, and naturally want to share their ideas and fantasies. (Which is the greatest thing about zines — the love that goes into them, the sheer creativity, the freedom to explore, together with the sense of community.) A few writers slip up now and then — by loving their characters to death.

Another problem; gore. When it's used too vividly or too often, it can be just as obscene as porn. It's okay to do a "get" story; but puh-leeease don't turn Star Wars into The Deer Hunter! The most effective torture scene I've ever seen is in Empire itself — Han's torture. I'm still unable to watch it. But how much ketchup do you see? How much detail do they really go into? And how long does the scene last? The horror is achieved through tension, not bloodletting or (excuse the phrase) overkill.

Lucasfilm has suggested a useful guideline: imagine that your story is a complete feature-length film, part of the Star Wars series. Is there anything up on that screen that embarrasses you or looks out of place? Remember, once it's printed up and distributed, your story is no longer a private dream or an idea shared among a few friends; it's out there in the light of day. Just like Lucas' movies. And believe me, that shouldn't scare you into not writing; it's a blessing.

Reactions and Reviews

The article, "Something X-Tra," is by Sara Campbell. In it, she constructs a straw dog of Fan Pornography and then defends Lucasfilm's censorship of it. This reviewer has never seen writing and depiction of sexuality such as the author decries in any American-published Star Wars fanzine. [1] More annoying than Ms. Campbell's self-righteous advocation of Lucasfilms edicts is the suggestion she puts forth in her editorial, that 'If you have questions about what is or isn't porn, ask me. I'll help.' Considering the quality of her editorship in this issue, one would tend to doubt her qualifications for the post of Moral Arbiter. Again and again in The Whills, problems that could have been alleviated by editing are left to stand. [2]

If I am correct in surmising from the editorials and from the tone of Sara Campbell's article "Something X-tra" that this fanzine is seeking a younger audience, the reader must realize that much of the material approximates what the editors feel will appeal to a young pre-teen and/or teenage audience. The jokes, games, trivia quizzes, etc. are rather like what one finds in the slick pro zine Dynamite. [3]


  1. ^ with the use of 'American,' the reviewer is probably alluding to The Dark Lord, a zine that started the whole ruckus with Lucasfilm
  2. ^ from Jundland Wastes #9; this review was taken to task in issue #10 by many fans
  3. ^ from Jundland Wastes #10