Episode MXXIX: Attack of the EU Continuity Fans
LOL Internet War! The . . .
Oh wait, next movie, sorry.
There is unrest on the StarWars.com Message Boards. Several thousand pounds' worth of fanboy has declared their intention to stop reading the EU.
This Separatist movement, under the caloric intake of the mysterious Count Chocula, has made it difficult for the limited number of people named Leland to maintain peace and order in the galaxy.
People are giving Leland Chee a bit of grief regarding the necessary changes to the EU in light of the new Clone Wars series (which doesn't even begin to cover the live-action one coming in
2006 2007 2008
Chee has acknowledged that there will be some retcon action happening, including a compression of the existing timeline of EU Clone Wars materials to try to make everything jive with George's universe.
(Not-A-Quote-of-Leland: "Dammit! We thought this was over with! Revenge of the Sith, he said, he was gonna be leaving us alone! Messing with Red Tails and a bunch of hippie arthouse crap and ... just dammit! Curse you, George Lucas, for such extraordinary job security!")
More than one EU fan has expressed consternation, if not pure outrage, at how Lucas is purportedly going to be ignoring the existing EU coverage of the era. Not satisfied with his borrowing of characters from the comics (e.g. Ventress) or the CW producers' attempts to make the show EU-inclusive such as they can, the hardcore EU-philes are out for blood-o'a (or buy'cese of tal, if you will).
In the midst of this climate of outrage, a voice cried out from the internet ether. "Stop, ye angry bitches, and listen! For I am He of the Timeline Gold, and I speaketh to thee thus!" (Also not a quote.)
(This is a quote:)
Sounds like a lot of the same angst that I've been feeling is bubbling up again, but let's try to keep this in perspective, folks.
This is me saying this. Many of you know me, or the online SW community "me," at least. With 1500+ pages of the Star Wars Timeline Gold and nearly 11 years of the Star Wars Timeline Project under my belt, I'm about as continuity minded as they come, but I also attempt to approach things with some intellectual honesty.
If we are being intellectually honest, then we have to recognize a few things:
1. Dark Horse, Del Rey, etc. could not have known how the Clone Wars era would be tweaked by this new film and TV series when they were publishing the Clone Wars materials circa 2002 - 2005. Fans of the film and TV series should not turn their ire there.
2. By the same token, we, as fans, and the EU creators (Dark Horse, Del Rey, etc.) have always known, if being intellectually honest, that there is George Lucas' vision of SW, and there is the Expanded Universe, and those are not always in line with each other. The EU has been influenced by Lucas, and he has, at times, been influenced by the EU, but it is Lucas' sandbox. When he tweaked some ideas with TPM, they were tweaked in the EU. Then AOTC and ROTS did the same, and they were tweaked. That's how it is, and the moment we heard of new Lucas-driven projects, we knew that some retconning would be necessary. This is no surprise, and Lucas cannot be blamed for exercising his creative rights over the saga he created.
3. Leland Chee here has been perhaps the greatest boon to fans of continuity in all 30+ years of Star Wars continuity publications. He juggles things an impossible amount of information to do what is, in all honesty, an impossible task: to keep it all straight and make it all fit. He does, however, do this job with aplomb, taking the time to speak with fans, and seems to truly love the saga, as we do. As such, no one could have a 100% success rate, but he certainly gains higher marks than most others in his position would be able to garner.
But yea, verily, the complaints continued to flow, and thus spake He of the Timeline Gold to the masses again, and all was settled:
As much as I do think that he could have worked within continuity if he really wanted to, there's a few things to keep in mind that, frankly, somewhat make that point of view a bit extreme.
1. Lucas has said for YEARS that there's "his world" and the EU's "world," and Lucasfilm has said the same. Whether it was the years where it was called "canon" and "quasi-canon" or "Canon" and "Official" or "G, T, C, S, N-Canons," or as simple as his references to "three pillars" or a Holy Trinity analogy, they have made it abundantly clear for a very long time that Lucas views the saga as separate and distinct from the EU materials. In a sense, he views them as different realities, timelines, universes, or whatever other term you prefer. In his mind, creating new stories for his "pillar" of the saga is *not* trampling over fans' beloved EU continuity. It is, instead, adding another chapter in "his" story, while the EU continues to provide new chapters in "their" story. As such, I wouldn't think he would necessary expect the EU to be shuffled around to accomodate his new chapters in the story, so much as he considers it a separate issue. It is Lucasfilm who decides to build upon that vision and integrate it with what has already been published, and Lucasfilm takes some liberties with how to fit it all together, such as how they dealt with the ever-changing background and eventual fate of Boba Fett.
2. From a business perspective, EU fans do matter, but, frankly, EU fans are not the target audience. The mainstream public is the target audience. As much as there is a huge SW fan base out there that takes continuity very seriously, there is a much, Much, MUCH larger SW fan base out there that has very little knowledge of the EU and simply enjoys new SW tales on the big screen, television, etc. The goal is to reach out to broader audiences, as any business must. The same could be said for, as an example, the Legend of Zelda video game series. That continuity is truly insane and basically impossible to figure out because of retellings, revisionist history, etc. that makes the saga, if you try to include all of the games, virtually incomprehensible, but while that irks some hardcore Zelda fans, the target audience is the mainstream video gaming public, who just want an awesome new Zelda game. Thus, we get more Zeldas, and that continuity gets more convoluted. We have, frankly, been spoiled in that Lucasfilm *has* tried to make things work together in *almost* every case, when most Sci-Fi series (with a few exceptions like Babylon 5) don't even remotely consider their published spin-off materials to be in-continuity *at all*.
3. As someone who has written fiction works before, including some that I have expanded upon with other stories, I have been in the position myself of having people ask me if they can create works that tie into those stories I've crafted. While I might someday say, yeah, sure, go ahead, I am fully aware that I have a sense of ownership over what I have created, and if I want to create something new to go along with it, it is my perogative. I might consider what someone else has created for that world, but I certainly would not be bound by it, as I hold the creative rights to what I created in the first place. That isn't throwing one's weight around or being haughty about it. That is a creative individual deciding to expand upon his own creations in a way that goes along with his creative vision for that story.
The moment one starts to chastise or get upset at someone exercising their creative rights to their own "creative worlds," we take several dozen steps backward in the realm of creator's rights that so many have fought for over the years. For decades, for example, comic book writers could create a character that might become extremely successful, but the characters were owned by the *company*, rather than the actual creator. The companies got rich. The creators were paid what amounts in the film industry to "scale," standard pay. It took the tenacity of independent publishers and the industry-shaking formation of Image Comics to break that stranglehold on that particular industry and make creative rights an issue in the limelight. In the era of the internet, intellectual property rights are becoming even more important, so much so that copyright laws around the world are being amended and updated rather frequently to make sure that those who create original works have those works protected and their creative rights to expand upon those works retained.
I am just as frustrated by how The Clone Wars is going to shuffle continuity around as anyone, just as I wanted to pull my hair out over Jedi vs. Sith being overwritten by Path of Destruction or the clash between Labyrinth of Evil and the original Clone Wars cartoons. Heck, it was my vehemence when Dark Horse was having issues (no pun intended) with SW comic copy editing, missed release dates, and so forth that somehow (in a comedic sort of way) led to me writing for Tales. For a while there, I was vocal, vehement, and people *really* disliked me.
But, y'know, you have to pick your battles, and those battles need to be on solid ground. Any "battle" within fandom that begins with "How DARE Lucas do such and such with his own creation?" is not an intellectually honest foundation upon which to build.
So it was that overzealous EU Completist wankery received blows rained upon it, and its smiting was complete.
(For like an hour, anyway . . . it'll come back again soon enough I'm sure. Bad ideas don't die abruptly . . . they die slowly, over time, even if the supporting arguments (and even raison d’être) are soundly and publicly vanquished.)
Special thanks to the above-quoted Nathan Butler, who discovered around the same time I did that the correct answer to 'the canon question' was dual continuities, and who most infuriatingly always seems to state the concept better than I could ever hope to. I mean really . . . the nerve! ;)