This week's Star Wars phrase that pays is: "Hees torona old Jedai mind trick." (He's using an old Jedi mind trick.)
There's news at the bottom of this, I swear. BUT FIRST...
I love Star Wars and I love writing/talking about movies on the internet. Back when I was younger, I loved other people’s writing on the internet about Star Wars and other pop-culture landmarks of the time. I have a very distinct memory of wanting access to information about The X-Files, information that we’d now consider “spoilers.” Specifically, the memory involves the episode “Small Potatoes,” a fourth-season comedy episode that shows Mulder and Scully hunting down a man with a tail who can control his skin like a voluntary muscle, giving him Mystique powers (shape shifting). The week before, Fox had teased the episode by showing David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully leaning in for a...KISS!!!!!
This was like setting a nuclear bomb off in The X-Files fandom. Before I knew what “shipping” was, before I was crawling through Tumblr and discussing things at conventions with animé fans, I knew that everyone who watched The X-Files wanted Mulder and Scully to make out.
Yes, I was young enough that “making out” was all I was hoping for on Fox. Maybe a post-coital scene, but that would just put the actual sex in the realm of our fandom imagination, which is where it was in the first place: lip-locking was the goal. Big step. Big happenings. Waiting a whole week to find out if, when and why Mulder and Scully would kiss consumed my after-school hours, watching old X-Files on tapes I’d made or finding a new X-centric AOL chatroom. When Friday rolled around to my home outside of Boulder, Colorado, the torment of living in Mountain Standard Time while Eastern Standard Time got to see The X-Files a whole hour before I did became unbearable.
Luckily, the internet now existed, so I signed onto AOL, making sure no one would be touching the phone for a whole hour before we’d all sit down to watch TV together, and headed to the most popular AOL chatroom devoted to X-Files. There were, no joke, three users who were straight up live-blogging the episode. As soon as I was told the episode was about a shape-shifter, I was able to relax a bit. That was enough information for me to infer that even if “Mulder” and “Scully” kissed, one would be the shape shifter. I signed off and let my brother online before the family gathered around the TV.
I didn’t want to know the end of the episode, or once the main tension in my mind was alleviated with an answer, I didn’t NEED to know what the end of the episode was. However, because of my raging hormones and lack of perspective about what really mattered in the world, it hurt not to know what happened with that Mulder and Scully kiss and if there was any way I didn’t have to wait until it was broadcast into my living room to alleviate that discomfort, I’d find it.
That’s one of my strongest memories of internet fandom, and would pave the way I interacted with fans and niche fandoms for the next 18 years. It’s like a bouy you have to keep afloat between installments, feeding the fire of loving something until you can get more of it. That feeling can last week to week, month to month, year to year, and as we learned with Star Wars, generation to generation.
Then, I found sites like Ain’t It Cool News and the community of movie “spies” as the Star Wars prequels began development. AOL was on fire.
The emotional discomfort was lesser, maybe because it wasn’t mixed up with adolescent hormones, but it was more like a recurring ache, because I didn’t know what I did or didn’t want to know. We all knew this would be the Saga of Darth Vader and there was a young Anakin and Obi Wan Kenobi was being played by Ewan McGregor. We slowly saw R2-D2 show up on exterior sets, lightsabers were clipped to belts...basically the same stuff that we’re getting or will be getting soon from the set of Episode VII.
Overall, though, the general public knows less about this third tirlogy than they did for the prequels. We know the original cast is back, but we don’t know who the new people are playing or where we’re going or what the general feel of the galaxy is now that we’re joining the titular Wars 30 years, story world time, beyond anything we’ve seen on screen.
The Ache To Know is still around, my involvement in the fandom process has just evolved over time. I still like the Star Wars Universe (even though a bunch of it got deleted). I’m interested to see what they replace it with. Now, I’m closer to people who can tell me, so I don’t have the blue balls that sent me into AOL chatrooms decades ago, but I also don’t want to turn off the search for knowledge (that’s the sign of a lazy mind, doncha know).
And that’s why people thinking JJ Abrams is being “cheeky” with his social media presence is so disgusting. I often see spats between my colleagues about “pro-Abrams” or “anti-Abrams” bias because of our internal frustration with how the guy deals with letting people know about his movie. His “Mystery Box” TED Talk was taken far too seriously by everyone involved, himself included. We lost trust in not knowing anything after Super 8 found a way to ruin an ET homage and lost trust in him knowing what was important about his own stories when he blatantly lied to Htifix’s Drew McWeeney about Kahn, a character whose identity had no logical place in the plotting of the movie Star Trek Into Darkness.
Now, after consistent rumors since September that the Millennium Falcon will be in the new Star Wars movie, as well as the return of Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew (Han and Chewbacca, owners), AND some TMZ leaked photography, JJ wants to step in with a snarky post it note.
He confirmed literally the oldest rumor I can remember hearing about Star Wars: Episode VII and he knew it. The people that Ached to Know already knew enough. The Post-It Note isn’t a message to fans, it’s a PR spin on a TMZ leak.
And the TMZ Leak is actually pretty cool. It doesn’t tell you CRAP about the plot, it’s very similar to the stuff we saw leaking from the set of Phantom Menace. You can even match some of them to unused concept art for Return of the Jedi!
JJ Abrams is so committed to the fandom having no idea what to get excited about, he did a false reveal of well-trodden rumors that’s dripping with sarcasm about not wanting people to post photos. He’s trying to force us, the fans with the Ache to Know, into his Mystery Box. He’s being a bespectacled prankster about refocusing the conversation around a cat that’s been out of the bag for a long time and therefore making fun of fans who enjoyed seeing leaked set photos of no plot consequence. He’s trolling us. He trolled us. He’s a troll.
Ok, I got that out of my system.
Since we won’t be getting any help from JJ Abrams and the official team until stuff like TMZ photo leaks forces them into it, I think it’s safe to say that I’m 75% sure I know how Star Wars: Episode VII ends. But I’d be a fool to tell anyone that or put it in a column, because that’s something you should get to choose about when it’s revealed to you. I have no doubt we’ll start talking about it sometime, but we have a long time until next December’s release.
The Ache to Know can be prolonged in an enjoyable manner before it becomes straight up spoiling for spoiling’s sake, which I don’t like to do if I can avoid it.
So what can we talk about in terms of what we know about Star Wars: Episode VII?
Here are some fun bullet points that have solidified enough through different channels to be reportable:
- There will be a female villain. Over 50% sure she's a Sith. I'll follow up on this in later weeks.
- Despite having 30 Years after Jedi to set one up, there is NO New Republic at the start of Episode VII.
- Boba-Fett-similar armor is around. Probably not for the man himself. Mandalorians? Clone drama? Still unclear on a plot/character connection.
- John Boyega isn’t a Jedi or a Padawan at the beginning of the movie, he’s the one that has the story arc that brings him into Star Wars’ greater universe. It has echoes of Luke’s arc in A New Hope.
Have it at, speculate away! I’m just as curious about some of those developments as you are.
POST CREDITS SCENE
Josh Trank got added to a Star Wars spinoff movie. We don’t know which one yet, and we’ll talk about it in the future, but a lot of people are posting his pre-Chronicle Star Wars short "Party At Leia's", which reminded me of one of the more famous Star Wars shorts of all time, a COPS-Parody called “Troops.”
Here are both for your COPS/Star Wars spoofing pleasure.