An A+ Report
EDITORS NOTE: When Brennan shared this with me last month, I knew I wanted to present it on the site. Thankfully, he left me publish it and it's a great story for anyone interested. Brennan was kind enough to provide backstory about the paper he wrote in school as well. Enjoy!
INTRODUCTION: Some of you may know me, and some of you may not. My name is Brennan Renwick, though I may also be known by my online alias, Quinlan Vos. I am on the younger end of the EU spectrum, having discovered the EU in 2018, when I was 12 years old. I have been exclusively a Star Wars EU fan, since discovering it, and I always jump at any oppurtunity where I have a chance to discuss the EU, as it is really a pillar of my life. In my 11th Grade English class, I was asked to write an essay, evaluating the differences between having positive strong beliefs and convictions, versus being negative and judgmental due to your beliefs. The following essay, is what I wrote as my essay submission. For those curious, I received a 100% A, on the essay. In the hindsight, this message is more about my personal experiances being an EU fan in the online community, and is a message about how we could act as EU fans, versus how maybe we should. It is a message about how we can grow in our actions, as a collective fanbase, and continue to be the best online fanbase in the world. Here is the essay:
The idea of a fine balance between sticking to your personal beliefs and convictions, and being too judgmental is a blurry and interesting topic. This topic is specifically quite pertinent to me for several reasons. I am going to outline and give some background to some drama that has split a fanbase of a popular franchise, that has some relevance to this topic. This battle has been going on for 8 years via multiple platforms on social media. One of these factions is larger than the other, and I happen to be a outspoken member of the smaller group.
The year is 1976, predating the first Star Wars movie. Something that few people know, is that a novel based on what is now known as “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”, was published before the movie. Marvel published comic books set in the Star Wars universe too, weeks before the actual movie came out, there were comic books in print with new stories about the same characters introduced in the movie.
These multimedia medium became collectively known as The Star Wars Expanded Universe. The Expanded Universe was a multimedia crossover spectacular never before seen, and not yet replicated again. From 1976-2014, every piece of media made up one timeline. Lucasfilm managed this effort to make sure the various works did not contradict each other, and stayed within continuity. Each project expanded the Star Wars movies, by telling stories about events mentioned or stories about obscure background characters. The projects told one timeline’s story in a super in-depth narrative, going from 25,973 years before the movies, to 140 years after. Over 6,000 individual pieces of media made up the story, including novels, young readers novels, comic books, novellas, video games, short stories, RPG’s, webcomics, picture books, and even in-universe documents and guide books.
The result was an intertwined and connected masterpiece that took decades to build. It
grew an incredibly dedicated fanbase, who tracked the plot threads building on each other, how this comic from the 70’s connects to this book, or this video game has a character mentioned in this picture book, etc.
George Lucas himself, when asked what his sequel trilogy would have been if he did not sell Disney to Star Wars, said that he would have made a movie about the grandchildren of Anakin. He went on to say, it would have been like what the books did. George was quoted multiple times saying that he believed the Expanded Universe, or EU as it became known, was part of the overall canon of his franchise. Hundreds of authors contributed ideas, and built off of one another, making a sprawling and interconnected saga, destined to outdo the movies in the complexity of storythreads. The EU even resolved and explained contradictions within the movies themselves, making sure to smoothe out wrinkles here and there.
In 2014, when George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney, Disney threw 38 years of stories back in the fans’ faces, by discontinuing the entire timeline. With the snap of the finger, Disney-run Lucasfilm halted all production on further stories, and now us fans are left with dozens of unresolved plots that will likely never be explored. Sadly, in addition to cancellation, they also rebranded the timeline as Legends, essentially a non-canon universe. They have since denied its existence in interviews. They also claimed it was never considered part of the Star Wars Canon, an argument that does not stand when you look at multiple pieces of evidence that point towards the great care that was taken in the building of that universe.
Now, after I have read almost everything, we EU fans are starving for new content in the timeline we loved and spent thousands of hours reading, that we will most likely never get. There are now many fans who are only exposed to the new timeline, which copies the EU’s idea
of being an interconnected multimedia timeline. Though there are already many contradictions in the new “Canon Timeline”, in its short 7 years of existing. However, for some reason, Disney’s Lucasfilm pass off Legends like it never mattered. Which is why online, the new canon fans, make fun of the old timeline. There is a made up lie that it was canned because it was riddled with contradictions, which is spread and accepted as fact in online circles by the people on that side of the fanbase.
We are left with a fractured split, the several hundred thousand “Disney Canon” fans, and the several thousand Expanded Universe (EU)/Legends fans. Us Legends fans are ridiculed for liking our timeline. In my opinion, due to their timeline being less high quality content than ours. The books don’t sell as well, in fact reprints of old timeline books have consistently been seen outselling their new releases. Due to them feeling insecure about the current timeline being sub-par, they act like school bullies making fun of us for liking our timeline. Telling us we are living in the past. I was once told that this timeline I love to read, collect, and discuss, that is an integral and fun hobby for me, was “Nothing but a relic, that will be fogotten and unloved.” It is comments like this that greatly anger fans in EU circles. Being told the stories we love don’t matter. We are shunned and seen as pariahs for liking a timeline that was incredibly well-received and continues to sell well. We are called “gate-keepers”, “toxic”, and even “sexists”, because we don’t like a new timeline that has a female character as the face. Though, there are hundreds of female characters in the old timeline beloved by all of us, we are still given labels and made fun of. Very few people are fans of both timelines, as they get ridiculed by both sides.
For what are we made fun of? No reason at all. To make them feel better about their sorry timeline. All that to say, us EU fans are not entirely blameless. There are also movements loosely
connected with some of us that are extremely hateful. Groups called “The Fandom Menace”, and others that have been known to stir up trouble online and even in person, at comic-cons, casting a negative light on our side of things as a side effect.
All of us get into arguments on various platforms online. When you take a stepback a silly thing, indeed. Yes, it is just a franchise, why can’t we love it all? An answer to that is because we were cheated out of our timeline in exchange for one we disdain and deem to be inferior; even after I read some of it, in an attempt to enjoy it, I found it to be the very definition of mediocre. The point of all of this background information?
I personally have been attacked, and have also attacked others. I, too am guilty of angrily insulting their timeline, as I have been attacked. My personal convictions are that people who support the new timeline are nothing but shills and Disney suck-ups, who embrace mediocre content, whilst also shoving me and the content I love into a garbage can. I see them as foolish and misguided and arrogant. Silly, yes, but I see that fanbase as representative of so many things I stand against. I see them as a target to yell at, because I feel wronged. None of that is good. I have fought with words in long chess matches, debating the terminology of this and that, in defense for a timeline I enjoy. You may say “why can’t you all get along?” There are simply too many stubborn people on either side, and in my biased opinion, obnoxious fans on the other side.
As you can see this perfectly illustrates how my judgment of every single fan of the new timeline, is judgmental. My personal convictions are so strong, as I care so much about this topic, that my personal feelings turn to anger. I would argue a “just” anger, but again, that is my bias. It is a really unfortunate circumstance, and neither side is willing to make compromises, as it would compromsie their side’s beliefs. Like if our side would let our guard down, and accept
the new timeline with a thumbs up, it truly would become a relic of the past, with no one there to support, cherish, and guard that treasure trove of stories.
This is such a great example on reflection, of my personal feelings and incredibly strong beliefs, getting way too judgmental. I would like to change, but it would be a very diffuclt thing to do. Yes, I can attempt to avoid fights and not engage their side, which is the easy option. But at the same time I can’t change my personal beliefs, it would be a compromise of what I believed, to let them walk all over us. It looks weak to avoid arguments, such as the argument over the EU ever being canon, that we have vast amounts of evidence to win. I can try to avoid as many as I can, but at the same time it is incredibly hard to not judge all of the fans.
Not all of them are actively trying to attack our timeline on social media, many of them, like me, would prefer to simply read, enjoy, and discuss events from the material peaceably. But due to my perceived beliefs based on personal encounters, my judgment culminates in a belief that all of them are like that. Like all of them are out to get me.
I need to change up my thinking, but my Star Wars beliefs are steadfast, and can not be swayed. At the same time, avoiding “fights”, will make the side I believe in and love, look weak. At the same time, I need to reel myself in way more, and seek less arguments and confrontations.
Two years ago, every other day, I would be in an argument over something in the battle of Canon VS Legends on FANDOM. I became almost notorious in their circles, and hailed as a hero in our side, due to my outspokeness and willingness to debate anything in the battle of our sides of the fanbase. However, on reflection, I was younger and made mistakes, in how far lengths I would go to prove points. Playing Devil’s Advocate, their side would also take great lengths, and use personal attacks in their arguments, like I did. After lots of unnecessary drama, I reevaluated how I wanted to come across. Sure, I will still comment a strong statement for our side, here and there. But after, reevaluating, I cut being so forceful of my opinion. Of course opinion is subjective, something younger me, seemed not to think of. I will still make a strong case for my side, because that is my beliefs, when directly engaged, but I stopped taking the bait they would dangle for me, to drag me into arguments. I stopped jumping on comments purposely made, to anger me and our side.
On reflection this change was very much for the best. I still advocate our side, and will debate respectfully if that’s what is needed, but cutting hateful sentences being sent from our side to theirs, is definitely for the best. Lines up very obviously with Biblical principals, to be more respectful. Am I still disrespected and belittled? Yes. Their side is still hateful towards ours for whatever reason. But I stopped being hateful back, that action there, is an example of having personal beliefs, but being able to overcome hateful judgment being used in response.
It helps that I have surrounded myself, in the last year and a half with fellow EU fans of strong character, where we can have a safe zone, to enjoy discussing and debating in fun the timeline we love, without drama between our fans and the other fanbase.
It is all silly, I acknowledge this whole heartedly. I wish circumstances were very different, but they will be like this for the forseeable future, unless something major occurs, and the EU timeline is continued alongside Canon. But now, instead of letting my personal beliefs pass judgment on their side, I simply ignore their hateful comments. Much better to continue to have my strong beliefs, but without being judgemental of the people on their side.
I believe it is more than okay to have your strong opinions. Your strong convictions,
ideas, or ideals you believe in with all of your heart. Those define you as a person. But being judgmental of those who oppose your way of thinking, is not the answer to expressing your beliefs. Kindness should outweigh your judgement. Yes, you should be allowed to have free-speech, and express your opinion and belief no matter what that opinion is, but you should eliminate hate, judgment, and anger over those opinions from your repertoire. You should have your strong opinions, but you should attempt to elimate judgment from being a side product of those beliefs.