In Star Wars fandom, age matters not

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Image courtesy
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Image courtesy /

I’ve been a Star Wars fan for most of my life. But I haven’t been a Star Wars fan since Star Wars began — I didn’t exist in the 1970s, not by choice but solely by chance. No matter how cool it would have been to be able to see Star Wars at its earliest point of existence, I’m not a time traveler. None of us are.

So it’s wild to me that I’m considered by many as “less of a fan” of Star Wars because of the year I was born. Do we really walk around this Earth judging whether or not other people are worthy of liking something as much as we do based on their age?

We do. I know. And it’s getting old.

I interact with people all the time who are new to Star Wars and are asking for book and similar recommendations. I don’t ask how old they are; I don’t care. If they’re excited about Star Wars and want to dive deeper into the lore, they’re a fan to me, and I’m going to celebrate their newfound love with them.

I know we can’t all be that way, but most of us could stand to be a little kinder to people who want to share our space. Star Wars is very big. There is enough room for everyone. It’s not limited to the people who were there when it all started.

Having been a Star Wars fan “since 1977” doesn’t make you a better fan. Having seen the Original Trilogy in theaters on release day doesn’t earn you more value. There are no imaginary points in fandom that determine your hierarchy. The only prerequisite for being a Star Wars fan is that you like Star Wars.

A person who just discovers Star Wars for the first time today and decides they love it is automatically a fan.

Despite the existence of “fan clubs,” fandom is not an exclusive club with rules that determine whether or not you can participate.

There are many more made-up “rules” people feel the need to assign to Star Wars fandom and fandom in general; it’s not just age. But it’s all silly, isn’t it? The idea that you have to be a certain age or look a certain way or have checked off a specific set of boxes in order to say you like Star Wars?

What is it all for?

I like Star Wars because it means something personal to me. I have connected with the larger story in a way that’s specific to who I am as a person. That is the true definition of fandom — loving something because it is a small part of who you are.

That does not mean it defines everything about you. And it certainly does not mean you have the right to determine whether or not anyone else can be a fan of the same thing you’re a fan of.

In fact, ask five people all of different ages what Star Wars means to them and you may find the variation in answers fascinating.

Try that as a conversation starter, instead of telling someone they don’t deserve to love Star Wars because of something they have zero control over and never will.

Next. I had mixed feelings about Return of the Jedi – then I watched it on the big screen. dark

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