I wanted to send out a link to an editorial piece that Brian of Tosche Station did about the Bring Back Legends experiences he and many other Star Wars fans at Dragon Con (and on the web) had. While I don’t agree with everything Brian says, I’d ask Star Wars fans, and specifically fans who identify with the Bring Back Legends movement, to consider some of the following thoughts. Disclaimers: I don’t represent SWR in this. Also, please be respectful and kind in the comments. I am open to considering that I’m wrong, and the following is intentionally based on impressions I have of the BBL movement, and NOT detailed research. My experience and what I’ve heard is limited, so I may very well be missing details, or have a very different experience than others have. This is intentional because I wanted this post to be from the perspective of a random Star Wars fan, not a journalist who has extensively researched it. Secondarily, in an ideal world I would love to see more Legends material along with all the new material, so I’m not here to bash on Legends. Heir to the Empire will probably be my favorite Star Wars books for a long time to come.
I went to Dragon Con 2015 as a media guest, panelist, and huge Star Wars fan. I also went to Dragon Con this year disabled, as I fractured my heel and toe at Air Force summer training. Dragon Con fans and the disability services were all so friendly and helpful that I left Dragon Con thinking: “Wow, this is once again a reminder of how friendly, awesome, and supportive the geek community can be.” In contrast, I heard (and saw) some experiences from other con-goers, some of whom are good friends of mine, some just mere acquaintances, who did not feel that their experience reflected the supportiveness and friendliness that the geek, and Star Wars, community should be known for.
Yes, a number of the Bring Back Legends people who handed out flyers were innocuous, simply trying to start a dialogue about something they’re passionate about (no harm no foul). But then there were others, people who made my friends and fellow fans feel a combination of quite uncomfortable to bordering on unsafe with the way they accosted panelists, fans, and staff at the convention. Generally though, I’d say from the first hand accounts I’ve heard, most of the BBL encounters were just a bit unpleasant or neutral, having someone talk about something you’re not interested in, or insisting on handing you flyers you may not want. (I did wind up getting one.) So yes, it may not seem that serious in the sense that it’s not some horrible crime to have someone insist on talking to you/taking a bit of your time/handing you their promotional material, but I wanted to make the following points:
- The Star Wars fan community, conventions, and geekdom in general should be a welcoming, FUN place, where people are celebrated for their differences.
- To try to ‘convert’ fans to your movement by being unpleasantly forceful in conversations, hijacking panels not at all related to Legends material, etc. is the equivalent to trying to make a kid eat a salad on their birthday….
- To go farther and make people feel truly uncomfortable or even a tad bit unsafe is simply hurting your cause, and is behavior that is harmful for all parties and the SW community
- To, as I’ve heard reported by three, separate, authors among others, flood an author with one star reviews on Amazon only an hour after his book has been released (I know I can’t speed read that fast), is cruel, as that could have had a negative affect on his actual livelihood!
BBL people reading this may say: “But that’s not me! I would never make someone uncomfortable like that. All I want to do is express my passion for these books, and bring awareness to them so that hopefully we can get more.” And that’s fine by me! Plus, I have friends who are very good, respectful, and nice people who really want to see Legends continued, and thus are in line with the movement. However, as a leader in training through AFROTC, and in my leadership classes, etc. I’m taught this: creating a good community/organizational culture is one of the hardest, and most important, things to accomplish as a leader, AND support creating as a member of a community. That said, there will always be a few members of a community who don’t represent it well. For example, a convention may be overall great, but there will be a few people who harass con-goers, or steal their stuff, simply because you can’t control thousands of people.
The fact that so many people are talking/writing about how unpleasant sectors of the BBL community is says something negative about the community, especially when actual fans of the Legends material are agreeing with it. I had a great Dragon Con experience over all, and only had a few BBL people try to talk to me or hijack panels I was on. That’s a very small portion of my overall, great convention experience. But because of it, and because of what happened with other fans there, I now associate a pretty big portion of the BBL movement with unpleasantness. Perception is reality to the people who are doing the perceiving… that is to say: if someone believes that the BBL movement is a hate filled, fan-accosting, horrible movement (which I DO NOT believe), than that IS reality for the person who believes it, even if it’s not actually true. This is why it’s so important to create a community that’s overall known for being awesome, because too many negative people can taint a movement, which will become associated with the negative.
For example: let us say that right now my experience with BBL people is more negative then positive, but after this editorial piece is published, a bunch of BBL people join in on the comments and very civilly and respectfully start a dialogue about what they want, and how they don’t want to be represented by some of the people who give them a bad reputation, and how they want to be able to enjoy both Legends and new material. My internal response will be: “Huh, these fans are all nicer than I thought! The convention experience and some of the things I’ve heard must be random off-shoots of the community, not truly representative of BBL.” But, if people claiming to be BBL come into the comments and diatribe about how stupid I am, or start flame wars, or name call and swear, then that will reinforce the negative perception I have, and I’ll think: “What was the point in writing this article; I should just stay away from all BBL people.”
I love the Heir to the Empire trilogy. I’ve read it several times, and have even recommended it to friends/family who aren’t even that into Star Wars. I’ve read around 20-30 Legends books, most of which I liked. What the BBL movement has done for me is to unfortunately lesson my enthusiasm for Legends. Some of my SW friends have been teasing me about reading the X-Wing novels for years, and I’ve been planning on it, but procrastinating. Now, I’m not really excited about the thought of reading them. I think I may not, now. Not because they’re not cannon, but because my enthusiasm for Legends has dimmed, lessened by how the movement I see as being the most passionate about it treating fans, friends, and even the AUTHORS who wrote Legends not very well (by hijacking many of the panels they were on at Dragon Con)!
While Timothy Zahn et al may be sad about the books they’ve written no longer being cannon (I would be sad!), most of them, in person at Dragon Con, have expressed that they would LOVE to write some of the new material.*** They are excited about the future of Star Wars, and if they can be excited about it, and be gracious about the fact that their books are no longer cannon, then I think as fans we can follow their example, and be gracious and respectful to each other and Del Ray/LFL/Disney. What the BBL movement needs from my perspective are more community members and leaders stepping up with guidelines on how you should promote your movement and promote the books that so many of us love. Instead, the movement, at least for me, has made me less passionate about Legends. Now, if Legends books are continued, I’m not sure if I would read them because of my association of them with unpleasant fans and recent experiences. I think I’ll go talk to my friend Mark Hurliman, a huge Legends fan and Star Wars fan in general to see if I can rediscover some of that Legends love!
Sincerely, Bethany Blanton
*** Bryan Dunn on Twitter pointed out that the Legends books never did have quite the same ‘level’ of cannon that the films did, and thus we should not have expected them to take precedence over a new film series/new LFL material. Plus, they still exist, so we are yet able to enjoy them, thus they aren’t being truly ‘replaced’ at all. As to any in depth discussion of cannon, I’d refer you to @SWFanWorks on Twitter, and start up a dialogue Nathan Butler, who has been studying the timeline and cannon of Star Wars for over a decade. For me, this doesn’t change the fact that, as of now, no Legends material will be continued (the main reason for the existence of BBL in the first place), and thus didn’t have much bearing on my blog post (since I’m writing from the perspective of a fan who is responding to the BBL movement).Powered by Sidelines