Friday, May 27

Lego Star Wars Is Exactly What I Needed After Years Of Toxic Star Wars Fandom

Luke, Leia and the droids look out through a window at a large group of Lego Star Wars characters.

Image: Lucasfilm / Disney / Kotaku

I’m a long-suffering Star Wars fan. A fan of the movies almost since birth, I have fond memories of the original games, too. But lately, the ongoing discourse around the series has caused my love of it to dim. I even grew a bit bitter about it all. So thank the Maker that Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga recently came out, because this incredible game single-handedly let me have fun with Star Wars again.

I was very young—and barely remember—the first time I saw anything Star Wars-related. I was hardly six, I think, or maybe younger, when the original trilogy came back to theaters in the late ‘90s. This initial exposure to the classic films turned me into a fan. Over the years, I’d see all the movies in theaters, dress up as characters, play with all the toys, and even write fan fiction.

But around 2016 or so, the internet became obsessed with yelling about and just endlessly analyzing Star Wars, and social conservatives and the anti-woke brigade idiots turned the discourse into a frustrating minefield of racism and misogyny. It reached a point around 2018 where simply liking or disliking The Last Jedi could lead to harassment, even if your reasons were as mundane as “It was boring” or “I liked the big fight at the end.” And for a long time, all of this noise chipped away at my love of the series. I even stopped buying new Lego sets, and keeping up with the books and comics. The neverending discourse and hot-takes poisoned the franchise for me in a way I don’t think I truly realized until very recently.

But earlier this month, my long-standing love for that galaxy far, far away finally returned, and all it took was a few hours with Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, a funny, goofy, colorful, and sometimes weird game that reminded me why I love this damn franchise so much. Star Wars is a stupid, epic universe filled with some of the most ridiculous aliens and exciting space battles. And at its core is a story about people fighting evil (or falling to it) and needing friends and loved ones to help them survive, or at least find redemption

As much as I love to flex my silly knowledge of Star Wars, I’ve never been too concerned about canon or small details. This is a franchise in which giant worms live in space and wizards duel with laser swords. Yet debates over if something is “truly” Star Wars constantly appear in my timeline. Every piece of Star Wars media is immediately run through the discourse machine, breaking it down into disconnected scenes and ammunition to fight online wars between fandoms and political affinity groups. Even I would find myself sometimes falling into this digital mess of yelling and nitpicking. It was hard to avoid. And all of this turned Star Wars into a thing I started to avoid. I was tired of hearing grown men complain about women in the movies, or how scooter gangs were out of place on Tatooine, or whatever else was the hot topic that day.

And then I played Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and I was able to just…enjoy Star Wars. The game helped me reconnect to the goofy, childlike nature of the series. (And yes, this is a series for kids. Its inclusion of violence, death, and war doesn’t change that, as children’s stories have long included such elements.)

Read More: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga’s 15 Most Obscure Playable Characters

Every planet and mission is filled with jokes about the series, but none of them are mean or toxic. It reminds me of a family-friendly version of the Robot Chicken Star Wars episodes. There’s a sense of love and care behind every joke that hits so differently than the vast majority of Star Wars discourse I see online. Skywalker Saga instead is a celebration of just how dumb Star Wars is and how that’s okay. It’s fine and even great for something to be silly and mainly designed for children, even if adults like it too. You just have to also accept that not all of Star Wars will be created for you, and that some of it will be weird or illogical.

Also nice: Skywalker Saga doesn’t try to create conspiracy theories out of deleted scenes or scrutinize single out-of-context lines. Instead it laughs with you and the characters about plot holes or weird scenes or bad bits of dialogue. (It especially loves to make fun of Anakin’s infamously awful sand line from Attack of the Clones.) But it never treats these issues as the end of the world, or things to actually get mad about.

It’s so refreshing.

Now, I don’t want you to think I’m against any critical discussion around Star Wars. The franchise is owned by Disney, which alone makes it worth some critical scrutiny. It also has issues with racism, toxic fandoms, and more. Hell, this very game was developed by folks undergoing some awful-sounding crunch. That too is a fair thing to be critical of. But there is a difference between critically writing about Star Wars and going online to endlessly complain about the tiniest of tiny details or how distressingly “woke” you think Star Wars is nowadays.

The Skywalker Saga allowed me to re-engage with Star Wars in a comedic way that also felt authentically Star Wars. As a result, I feel like my Star Wars fandom has been fully recharged. I recently resubscribed to Marvel Unlimited so I can catch up with the Star Wars comics I missed, and I’m playing old Star Wars games again, too. I even find myself wanting to re-watch the films again, something I’ve not done in a few years.

Sure, the shitty online discourse and endless debates about Star Wars aren’t going anywhere. The online toxicity around Star Wars will never go away at this point. The damn thing is too big, too ingrained in pop culture. But what Skywalker Saga did was remind me that there’s still a place for goofy fun and not-so-serious adventures within the bounds of George Lucas’ landmark sci-fi creation.

   

Reference-kotaku.com

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