The Clone Wars, Simon Pegg, and a Missed Opportunity

March 2, 2012 at 10:10 am | Posted in Miscellaneous, The Clone Wars | 3 Comments
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I wish this controversy was over the fact he was in a Trek film.

For those who haven’t been near the Internet in the last few days, you might have been wondering what caused the latest tremor in the Force. On Wednesday, it was announced that actor Simon Pegg would be voicing the bounty hunter Dengar in The Clone Wars. Yes, Simon Pegg. Notable not just for being in that other Star* franchise, but for being vocal in his criticism about the Prequel Trilogy and changes to  Original Trilogy.

*No. Not Gate. Or Search. Or Dancing With.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last thirteen years I’ve been in this fandom, it’s that controversy will erupt at the drop of a hat. Within seconds of the announcement, my Twitter feed began blowing up with rage-fueled messages. Utter dismay over Pegg’s hiring. Anger at Lucasfilm for giving him the role of a popular minor character. Anger at Pegg for having the gall to audition and accept the part for a character in this era. Accusations of “hypocrisy” on the part of LFL. And that was just from a twenty minute sample of tweets. It’s even more vitriolic if you venture over to Dave Filoni’s Facebook page.

Anger at a creative head. Anger at Lucasfilm. Anger at actors. We’ve been here before, haven’t we?

Fandom, you and I are going to sit down and have an uncomfortable chat. I fully understand what’s fueling the anger right now. Simon Pegg has said some mean things about movies you hold near and dear and it’s never a pleasant feeling to run into someone that slags something which resonates with you. I’ve been plenty upset over things people have said to me regarding my love of Star Wars. So please, before we proceed any further, understand that I empathize with where you’re coming from. That said, there’s really no excuse for the behavior this fandom has exhibited over the last several days.

I can’t help but look at this fiasco and feel that we’re cycling through history again. Lucasfilm Licensing and Dave Filoni throw out an announcement they’re pretty proud of, an announcement that the majority of the fanbase is happy with. Then there’s the vocal minority, so offended by one thing that they take to the Internet to launch a series of ad-hominem attacks against Filoni, LFL, Pegg, and anyone else that might have the misfortune of being caught in the crossfire.

It’s the same behavior that Prequel Trilogy and Lucas bashers put on display.

Filoni didn’t betray the franchise by bringing in Pegg, much like Lucas didn’t betray the franchise for Jar Jar or Midichlorians or whatever is the latest trivial matter marking the wholesale destruction of our childhoods. Just as claims of the latter stunk of hyperbole, so do the former. Do you have to like this move? Of course not. Force knows I haven’t been lock-step with everything Lucasfilm has done over the last fifteen years. Does that grant you the moral high ground to launch into the tirades directed at Filoni since Wednesday? Absolutely not.

As the Prequel Bashers have begun to fade into the background, another overly vocal minority has sprung up to seemingly take its place. Overly militant defenders of the films and Lucas himself, those bent on shouting down anyone who disagrees with their views. Like the bashers, these defenders take extraordinary exception when Lucasfilm does something they don’t agree with. Or when other fans say something contrary to their beliefs. It’s the same behavior, different cast. A continuation of the spiral of hatred and anger that has plagued this fandom since 1999. To see a more of this destructive behavior despite all of the lessons we’ve learned is nothing short of disappointing.

But what is truly awful? It’s not that we as a fandom are making the same mistakes that have plagued us for so long. It’s that we’ve missed a golden opportunity to mend fences with one another. Lucasfilm and Pegg are getting along. Both are excited to be working with each other despite the differences in Star Wars philosophy. Both parties are getting along despite Pegg saying some less-than-nice things about products that Lucasfilm put a lot of work into. Whether intentional or not, there was a message to take away from this:

You don’t have to see eye-to-eye with another fan in order to respect them.

In an ideal world, we as a fandom would have looked at this and realized that Lucasfilm is far more pragmatic about “haters” and “bashers” than we as fans are. We’d realize that we really don’t need to rush to their defense every time someone says something mean or critical of the films. We don’t need to shout down those who dissent, those who are mean and hurtful. The best thing we, as fans, can do for Star Wars is to grow the fanbase. The best way to do that? Take a page out of Simon Pegg and Lucasfilm’s book. Even with all the differences in thoughts and opinions, their love of Star Wars is all it takes to foster respect between each other. They recognize that promoting what they love is going to draw far more people in than tearing down the things and people they don’t agree with.

As fans, we don’t have to agree about everything to get along, to have a working relationship with one another. I’m certainly not the first person to make an appeal for civility, but I feel it’s important to repeat that call. We can be better than what has been demonstrated over the last few days. We can look at what Pegg and Lucasfilm have come together to do and say that this is a good thing. Even though Lucasfilm could choose anyone to play any role on The Clone Wars, they went with someone who has been critical of their work because that person is a uniquely gifted entertainer. Even though Pegg doesn’t like the Prequel Trilogy and the changes to the Original Trilogy, he still loves Star Wars and will do his part to add to something that so many others enjoy and cherish.

So we’re at a crossroad, fandom. Do we follow Lucasfilm’s lead and embrace those who have differing views than our own, or do we continue the spiral of hatred that has consumed us for far too long?

Posted by Lane for Roqoo Depot

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3 Comments »

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  1. I saw the best way to combat the bashing is to post something positive. Let the creators know that there are fans out there that are happy with the decisions.

  2. Great post! And I think you make a good point that needs to be highlighted: much of this negativity comes from a vocal minority. Social media and the Internet in general makes it very easy to hide behind a screen name and be negative. But I’d have to say, based on the in-person, real-world fan interactions (501st, movie premieres, Celebrations, etc.), the vast majority of Star Wars fans are generally a positive, happy, grateful bunch. And as @skuldren said, maybe it’s less about telling the trolls to be quiet and more about telling us positive folks to start speaking out as well. Thanks, Lane!

  3. [...] latest controversy in the Star Wars fandom, Simon Pegg’s guest role as Dengar. Suffice to say, he’s disappointed with the way fans reacted to the news. Nanci is also feeling fiery over the cancellation of the Nomi Sunrider novel and the underuse of [...]


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