Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Podcasting Padawan

Along with the interwebs, this whole podcasting thing seems to be catching on. Indeed, my own Star Wars fandom has largely been guided and inspired by it, starting with the old Forcecast shows.  Things have since progressed with the splintering of that source of the Force into Rebel Force Radio, as well as increasingly popular shows like Full of Sith.

But if there is indeed one podcast that is remarkably in tune with my own approach to that long ago, far away galaxy, it has to be Coffee with Kenobi. It offers a friendly yet analytical approach to all the happenings when it comes to Star Wars, and is hosted by two of the nicest, most intelligent gentlemen in fandom – Dan Zehr and Corey Clubb.

They were kind enough to express interest in having me on as a guest to talk about my book, The Star Wars Heresies. Fortunately, they are far more knowledgeable than I concerning podcasting, and were able to edit together a fine show out of it. As for me, I’m just amazed I got Skype working at all. And I still haven’t listened to the whole thing, basically because I think I sound like an over-caffeinated Ewok or something. At any rate, it does offer a nice look at my work by two generous and enthusiastic professionals.

The entire episode can be found right about here

The second big bit of news I feel necessitates commentary is the decision by Disney and Lucasfilm to finally breathe fresh breath into the modern Expanded Universe, a topic of some controversy online. While it was something of a given that the new owners of the franchise would bring it into the fold of their own publishing empire, it has caused a considerable amount of angst because pretty much everything post-Return of the Jedi is going to be scrapped.  
Since you are reading a blog with Heresies in the title, I’ll be honest. This is the first move Disney has made that has endeared me to them since the cancellation of The Clone Wars. As more than a few fair have pointed out, it’s not that the EU stopped being canon this week, it’s simply that it was never canon to begin with. Personally, all I had to do was read about fifty pages of Timothy Zahn’s beloved Thrawn trilogy to figure that out. It never resonated with my own well-honed fanboy barometer. It wasn’t canon; it wasn’t even Star Wars, and had nothing to do with Star Wars.

It’s like I said at the beginning of my interview, much like Emily Dickinson’s take on separating the wheat from the chaff when it came to distinguishing what’s true poetry and what isn’t, I know it’s Star Wars when I feel as though the top of my head has been taken off. Needless to say, most of the modern EU has barely ruffled my hair. And if I’ve wanted to be particularly snarky, I simply offer my own book as a balm to all the controversy. It’s somewhat sad that I can state without a hint of arrogance that it has far more relevance to the galaxy that George Lucas actually created than half of what has gone on in the ever-expanding Expanded Universe over the past decade or so.

As noted in earlier posts, my main source of contention with the EU is the teeth-clenched dogmatism so many approached it with. It would be easier to pry open the jaws of a rancor than get them to relax their hold on the belief that what was simply started as a series of media tie-in books to be read for fun on rainy afternoons when no new films were on the horizon had become the Gospel According to Star Wars. No and no. The tail does not wag the Tauntaun.

As is my modus operandi, I simply always wheel this whole enterprise back to what it was originally intended to be. It is a mythology, not a religion. As such, whatever version of the story you’re listening to depends largely on whatever village you’re standing in at the time. So frantic arguments about canon and continuity are always somewhat out of place. As Joseph Campbell said, myth changes and evolves and that’s what Lucas has always done with the franchise. Canon debates are only necessary if this is about to evolve into a religion, as some fundamentalist fanboys would no doubt like it to do.

Not to mention it gets really boring and futile trying to fight over what “really” happened in fictitious stories set in a fictitious galaxy.

So maybe this Disney business has some potential after all. If they are really interested in something resembling quality control over this material, then more power them. For me the films were always be paramount over everything else, but I remain cautiously optimistic and willing to let the future reveal itself ...