Perhaps no other story has captivated the minds and hearts of our modern culture the way Star Wars has. For many of us, the creation of George Lucas ushered in a mythology that allowed us to experience a fantastical reality where the possibilities are endless. Star Wars spoke to a generation about the significance in defeating one’s demons, as well as fighting against a force of evil for the greater good. 41 years since the release of the original film, the saga as a whole shows no signs of stopping, with new content being constantly released through various media platforms such as films, television series, comic books, games, and novels.

The success of the Star Wars saga transformed the entire movie industry in an unprecedented way. Following the tremendous success of the original film, the industry shifted their focus on producing huge, effects-laden blockbusters. Much more focus was given to develop potential film franchises, rather than standalone movies. As a result, more sequels and franchises were being produced, alongside related spin-offs, extensions into other media such as comic books and TV series, as well as merchandising.

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Star Wars opening engagement at Mann’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California, 1977

The relatively tame science-fiction genre was then reinvigorated and would eventually pave the way for comic-book films (a genre that will later dominate the silver screen). Star Wars’ immense critical success opened the door for future films to take the next step in visual effects technology, including would-be classics such as Alien, The Matrix, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy – all the way to the recent Ready Player One adaptation.

However, that’s not to say that the success of the Saga isn’t without its fair share of downsides. Countless studios and production companies began to freak out and wonder how exactly could they duplicate the monumental success of Lucas’ little dream project. Following the release of the original trilogy, the industry changed for the better, but it also changed for the worse. In turn, the success of the saga led to countless numbers of rip-offs.

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From low-budget B-movie disaster to an impressively terrible film full of stolen footage and Soviet newsreels, the quality of said rip-offs will make you question the old saying that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Many were desperate to replicate the success of Star Wars and as a result lost sight on what truly sets the series apart from the rest. Great storytelling, compelling characters, and originality. In addition, the continuous success of Star Wars has also ignited the spark of something even more daunting: The ever growing toxicity and hatred in the fandom.

The Star Wars fandom is a passionate bunch. Ever since the release of the prequels, the Star Wars fandom is split into two and can never seem to agree on anything. Are the prequels great films? No. However, Hypercritical fanatics would spend hours tearing down and denouncing movies that plenty love, and worse even, send hate comments to those who made it. There’s probably no greater example of this than the fandom’s notorious behavior against Jake Lloyd, the child actor who portrayed the young Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace.

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Then and Now: In an interview Lloyd claimed that fame has made his life a “living hell”. Lloyd felt so much anger towards the George Lucas directed film that he destroyed all of his Star Wars memorabilia. In 2016, Lloyd is diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Regardless of one’s view on The Phantom Menace and its creative merits, nobody deserves to be ridiculed, humiliated and trashed by fans the way Lloyd was. While Lloyd’s take on the character might not have lived up to the expectations of many, (Let’s face it, no child actor could ever live up to the expectations of playing the young Darth Vader), he was still just a kid. Yes, there were a lot of expectation riding on Lloyd’s shoulders, but Lloyd’s take on the character is hardly the film’s main issue.

The situation seemed to be worsen with the release of last year’s The Last Jedi. Despite garnering widespread critical and financial success, some fans are calling it the worst Star Wars movie yet, with some even going as far as harassing director Rian Johnson through Twitter. Just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong in voicing one’s opinion, but to what end? It seems that in the age of internet, we live in a world where one’s opinion on any film set in the galaxy far, far away (or just about any film) can only be measured by extremes, but isn’t it the Sith who deals in absolutes?

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With Solo: A Star Wars Story just around the corner, it is important for us to remember what connects us to the Star Wars saga in the first place. For over four decades, Lucasfilm alongside Star Wars has created and delivered brilliant storytelling to the world, and has inspired some of the greatest filmmakers of today, and would continue to inspire the filmmakers of tomorrow. Whether it’s from the stories of the prequels, or the sequels that are being developed today, or the originals that started it all, it is important that we as fans celebrate the saga by embracing what we love, not condemning what we dislike. After all as Yoda once said, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.

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