EU fans and realcanon warriors have been disappointed and upset by remarks made at Awesomecon last weekend by Timothy Zahn. (Daily Dot interview here.)
First of all, Timothy Zahn did miss the point. I have to tell you, the way he’s behaving is exactly how pretty much all Star Wars fans would be behaving if the reboot had not demanded the decanonization of all prior Star Wars. As I addressed in last week’s open letter to Lucasfilm: reboots are common and they don’t make people mad. They don’t make people mad because they don’t threaten what people love or have invested in.
Understand this, there would be no problem whatsoever about Thrawn appearing in Rebels (for example) if Lucasfilm had not gone out of its way to declare Heir to the Empire non-canon. Declaring the EU non-canon and then cherry-picking “cool stuff” from it is as if you took your car in for an oil change, the mechanic told you the vehicle was totaled, and then you saw him cutting parts out of it to repair other vehicles. If that scenario would infuriate you, understand that’s why we’re infuriated about the EU.
Zahn, like so many other fans, simply doesn’t seem to understand that Disney canon didn’t merely restart the timeline the way Star Trek (2009) did. It seems that, like so many fans, he thinks it’s only been bypassed. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins kept Scarecrow and Batman’s parents being murdered without declaring every pre-2005 incarnation of Batman “never canon,” so it makes sense to people that Disney would restart Star Wars without having any ruling on prior material. But that’s simply not what happened. That is what we’re angry about, Mr. Zahn — we’re not angry that they might use Thrawn in Rebels; we’re angry that they said “Thrawn never counted in the first place (but let’s just rip him off for spare parts…).”
I hope you can see the difference.
Secondly, even if he does understand the level of total decanonization that took place, he’s not upset. And he doesn’t want fans to be upset. “Lucasfilm owns it,” he kept repeating. “They have total control.” And while this is something he’s been saying since the 90s — “We’re playing in George Lucas’ driveway; we can’t be mad when he backs over our toys” — how can he be so zen? So resigned?
Could it possibly be because Star Wars already executed the biggest betrayal on him they possibly could? When the EU killed off Mara Jade in Legacy of the Force’s incessant quest to murder every classic character they could think of, do you think that could possibly have caused him to stop caring what they do? “They own it, they have total control,” he could have muttered ceaselessly to himself after finding out — after publication. They didn’t even have the common decency to tell him before the book came out. Authorial collaboration seemed to go the way of the dodo after NJO. Nobody even thought to ask him, “hey, would your character do this?”
When I talked with him at a con last year, he brought up her murder himself. His politically gracious attitude really seemed to waver at that point, after half an hour of wishing fans well at The Force Awakens, thanking and acknowledging them for comments like, “That should’ve been about Thrawn!” When the conversation got to Mara Jade, it seemed to me that he was struggling with a lot of anger. They killed her. They didn’t even tell him.
And maybe in killing her, they killed his ability to care about what happens to Star Wars in the future.
And maybe, just maybe, if all those trashy books that killed her are decanonized, maybe Disney can fix it and bring her back.
I’m not defending Disney. I’m not attacking you, if you’re some giant FotJ fan. I’m just saying, what if? What if he doesn’t care about the worst they can do, because Lucasfilm before Disney already did the worst it could to him?
Don’t blame him for not being upset about something that upsets you. He doesn’t have to be.
Understand this. The authors and actors do not have to be on our side. That does not determine the legitimacy of our position. We are fans. Fanatics. By definition, we care way too much about stuff. It’s not external; it’s never been external. It’s internal. It comes from within us.
Please understand that the real reason we are angry is that Disney said “none of it ever mattered.” Zahn says they aren’t going to come into our homes and take our books; no one believes that. No one is afraid of that. What we are upset by is that by saying the EU doesn’t count, never counted, Disney/Lucasfilm is telling us that we don’t count and never counted. It’s personal.
So I want you to learn two things from this post. One, that we are upset about the EU being declared “not canon,” not about its being set aside for new material. And two, that there is some stuff Zahn said that we need to take to heart.
Calm down, relax. I appreciate your loyalty and your passion. But really, relax. It’s OK. It’ll be OK.
With as upset as everyone has been over this interview, those are some words we need to take to heart. It will be okay. Because Star Wars is never going to change. Star Wars canon is never going to change. No matter what Disney/Lucasfilm ever does or does not do, they cannot alter the heart of what Star Wars is. If you never hold Sword of the Jedi in your hand, the trEU will still exist as the only realcanon, ever.
Yes, we want Disney/Lucasfilm to grant the EU the legitimacy it deserves. Yes, it would be super smart for them to start selling new material set in “Legendsverse” as well as “Disneyverse.” But the bottom line is that Star Wars is not determined by external influence. I’m angry that Disney lies and calls their stuff “Star Wars” when it isn’t, but as long as we have the truth, we are more powerful than they are. So take his words in the spirit with which they were offered, and not the spirit with which trolls want to needle you with them.
Accept that Timothy Zahn and George Lucas are the two who gave us Star Wars, and that Star Wars 1976-2014 can never change, no matter what some random rodent emperor does.
And above all, never stop telling the rodent emperor the truth about what Star Wars is to us. Because if they never change their minds, never do what we want, at least we will always be able to say we never stopped asking.