Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Star Wars Convention

Here's some random ramblings to read if you're bored.

I went to the Star Wars Celebration III a few weeks ago. For those of you normal humans that don't know what it is, it's four day Star Wars fan convention with approximately 50,000 in attendance. Now I am not denying that I am a fan of Star Wars, but the reason I was at this convention was to film a mockumentary with a buddy of mine (Ben Shull, the other story contributor on Blasto) for his Aegis Films production company ( Otherwise I never would have paid money to go to something like this. One of the most surreal experiences of my life. There was some amazing things such as 10-20 R2D2 droids randomnly rolling along throughout the convention center, 200+ Stormtroopers marching down the main strip of Indianapolis led by Darth Vader and the Royal Guard, prop replica lightsabre's complete with sound and light fx, that hot chick dressed as Slave Leia, and nearly stepping on Warwick Davis (Willow). Some of the terrible things included: the other 100 not so hot girls dressed as Slave Leia, the lines to get in, the better chance of seeing the new Pope than George Lucas, and the outrageous cost of EVERYTHING. Now I really like Star Wars and I'm all about fans supporting a movie/story that they love. But something just wasn't right, something deep down in my gut that just felt amazing and at the same time wrong. The entire Star Wars saga is about a small band of rebels fighting some power hungry, all consuming Empire. And what has happened is the Star Wars brand name has become some giant money hungry, all consuming corporate empire. All from a MOVIE. Now I know that Star Wars fans are usually compared to Trekkies and just passed off as harmless dorks dressing up in costume, but to actually be there feels a lot different. These people wait in line for 5+ hours just to get in the door. Once inside they will wait in another line for 8+ hours to buy a Darth Vader action figure, and ONLY because it says the words LIMITED EDITION on it. I honestly could sell a moldy cheeseburger to a Star Wars fan just by saying it's LIMITED EDITION. Is that not some form of idolatry? I have nothing against Star Wars fans. They honestly are some of the nicest, most creative and talented people you can meet. The rest of the world has them pegged as awkward, pimple faced geeks who use Star Wars to escape reality, and for some of them that is an accurate assesment. But for every one of those there are mothers, fathers, jocks, lawyers, teachers, filmmakers, costumers, etc. Why do they dress up in costume? Not because they actually believe they are that characters, it's because they LIKE making costumes. The happiest I would see these costumed fans was when some little kid would walk up to them thinking that was the actual character. To see a child back away from a Darth Maul, to run up and hug a Princess Leia, to yell at a Darth Vader is pretty neat. It's like this big old mix of people with one common interest, the story of Star Wars. That in itself, and the idea of all these people gathering because of it is a great idea.

I was watching a gathering of the 501st (, which is a group of fans from around the WORLD who dress up as stormtroopers for different events. They were the guides and security for the weekend. They would show you around, help you out, etc. The head of the 501st gave a speech asking them all to be as helpful and accomodating as possible. He told them that by them helping someone out in this very chaotic environment you could literally change a person's weekend and make it an incredible experience for them. Does that not sound like the advice we give to church leaders and greeters?

So there's good to this convention, but who's to blame for the bad? The blame lies on Lucasfilm. The very name of the event is CELEBRATION. That brings to mind the idea of a party, a reception. But instead of a thank you to fans for their support, the entire thing is a bottomless void, devouring your money and time. It's not about how they can give back, it's about how they can take more. It's about exploiting the love and support of fans under the illusion of a thank you.

If you actually read throug this whole post, thanks for hangin' in there.

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