1006: Far, Far Away

It may be shocking to some to hear this given how much of a massive nerd I am in almost every other respect, but I’ll just come out and say it: I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve never really cared for Star Wars.

I’m sorry. I just don’t. I’ve seen all of them several times — including the original trilogy in their original, un-messed-around-with incarnations — and I just struggle to get excited about it. I never wanted to be Luke Skywalker, I don’t give a shit whether Han shot first or not and I always preferred Wing Commander over X-Wing.

Of course, these days it’s not uncommon to not give a shit about Star Wars due to the massive oversaturation of the market perpetuated by the Lucas empire, but I’m pretty sure I’ve felt this way even since before the prequels came out. I’m not sure what it is — whether it’s just the fact that it’s so pervasive in geek culture that I’m just sick of it, or if I actively dislike it. For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s the latter; I think it’s more a sense of indifference and not really feeling like it’s worth all the fuss.

Oh, I get why it was a big deal on its original release, of course. I can appreciate that the original trilogy are good films — they’re well-structured, reasonably well-paced (they are quite long, though) and stuffed with memorable characters — and I can see what an impact it’s had on modern sci-fi. I just can’t get excited about the prospect of anything Star Wars-related these days.

It doesn’t help, of course, that aspects of the franchise get continually co-opted for completely inappropriate purposes. I knew that I was completely over Star Wars when Yoda started advertising for Vodafone, though I had my suspicions when he appeared in one of the Soul Calibur games. The moment that the marketing people get hold of something that enjoys mainstream (or even niche) popularity, it dies a death. Whatever soul it once had is gone, replaced by that cold-hearted capitalist desire to make cash.

In fact, my only really fond memories of Star Wars include the amateur video production called Yoda’s Bar my school friends made with a bunch of Star Wars figures, and the drunken evening I spent after one of our school leaving days sleeping on the floor next to my friend Woody, who was doing what he called “Emperor Farts”, which consisted of him doing an impression of Emperor Palpatine and then letting rip with some of the most thunderous flatulence I’d ever heard. (He managed to keep this up for well over an hour; I am still surprised to this day that he didn’t shit himself.)

I digress.

I think it’s largely the oversaturation issue that gets to me in situations like this, because it’s not just Star Wars that I feel this way about. I find myself instinctively starting to dislike anything which I’m constantly bombarded with. It’s an automatic response now — I start to see so much of something that I just feel utterly sick of the sight of it, and thus want to take myself as far away as possible from it. Recent things I have felt this way about include Call Me Maybe, Gangnam Style, anything to do with Batman, and the video game Dishonored. The more I see of a thing, the less I want to see of it. Marketing through constant “brand visibility” evidently doesn’t work on me.

This instinctive behaviour that I have picked up from somewhere probably accounts for my changing tastes in media consumption — my present fascination with anime, Japanese games and related media falls firmly into the “niche interests” category and consequently is not prone to the “JUST SHUT UP ABOUT IT FOR FIVE MINUTES!” problem that I’m describing here. Ironically, of course, I’m happy to talk about all of the above things with like-minded people for hours on end and never get sick of them.

I don’t particularly think that feeling this way is a problem per se — everyone should be free to pursue their own tastes and interests — but as I posted the other day, it can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation. I occasionally think I should make more of an effort to try and engage with things that are otherwise popular, but then I just think to myself “no, why should I? I have plenty of things that I’m interested in to keep me busy and entertained; I don’t need the stuff that everyone else is talking about.”

I just end up with fewer people to talk about my interests with. But eh. ‘Twas ever thus for those mysterious creatures known as geeks, nerds, whatever you want to call us. And the fortunate side-effect of the smaller numbers of people who are into more “niche” things is that the people who are into those things are, more often than not, infinitely more passionate about their interests than those who are following the herd. I’ll take passion and enthusiasm over conformity any day.

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