Who are the “true fans” of Star Wars?


Who is Star Wars really meant for—the “true fans”? Jon Favreau recently had a few words on the topic from George Lucas himself.

Star Wars, to a degree that few other franchises attain, is truly a multi-generational epic. From the group who saw A New Hope in theaters (when it was just called Star Wars, sans subtitle) to the rising generation (whose first journey to the galaxy far, far away is alongside Finn, Poe, and Rey), the fanbase is as varied as the patrons of the Mos Eisley cantina.

And with fans as passionate and wide-ranging as these, it’s only natural for the debate to occasionally spring up about which generation Star Wars is really for—who gets to be the “true fans.”

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It’s a silly argument when you think about it—as though one demographic could ever somehow the sole guardian of what something as expansive as Star Wars truly is—but it’s natural for everyone to lay claim on something they hold dear.

It’s natural, for instance, for some older fans to feel betrayed or alienated when they hear that Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge is set in the sequel era, or to believe that as lifelong fans, they’re custodians of the “real” Star Wars. It’s also natural for younger fans to prefer the prequels, the movies they grew up on, over of the originals.

Turns out—spoiler alert—we’re all right. And maybe all wrong, too.

Jon Favreau, the man behind the upcoming series The Mandalorian, recently discussed a conversation he had with Star Wars godfather George Lucas on the topic:

"We had a long talk with each other, and the one thing [Lucas] said to me was, “Remember, Jon, the real audience for all stories and all myths”—because he’s a Joseph Campbell adherent—”is the kids that are coming of age.”"

For those who need a refresher (no, not that kind), Joseph Campbell is the author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, famous for the idea of the “monomyth”—that heroic journeys from stories around the world, both modern and ancient, share common characteristics that resonate across time and geography.

Favreau went on, quoting Lucas:

"We enjoy the stories as adults, but really, storytelling is about imparting the wisdom of the previous generations on to the children who are becoming adults, and giving them a context for how to behave and how to learn the lessons of the past without making the mistakes on their own. That’s the hope, that you can teach them how to avoid all the hardship but garner all the wisdom."

So there you have it: Silly rabbit, Star Wars is for kids.

But of course, it’s not that simple. More accurately, Star Wars is for the kid in all of us. It’s for those coming of age, but it stays with us long after we’ve grown.

As Lucas and Favreau suggest, Star Wars is a myth in the most mythic sense: a titanic story of good and evil embedded into our cultural psyche, not unlike the tales of the Greek gods of old. That assures that it transcends any single generation. And like Campbell’s thousand-faced hero, it’s an ancient story that speaks to us each in our own way.

It doesn’t matter who the “true fans” are. The only “true fans”—if such a thing exists—are the ones who recognize that Star Wars can be a thousand things to a thousand people.

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Do you agree with Favreau? Let us know in the comments.