Special Guest Column: ‘The Phantom Menace’ Misfit Manifesto

Candy Wilder was kind enough to let me repost her heartfelt ” ‘The Phantom Menace’ Misfit Manifesto” below—please read it, and thanks, Candy!

                               ‘The Phantom Menace’ Misfit Manifesto

                                               by Candy Wilder

This week we have all been blessed with a double-shot of Star Wars (The Phantom Menace 3D release and The Clone Wars tonight at 8pm, baby!). However, we have also been cursed with more hatred and more controversy spewing from the pie-holes of self-important “fan”boys and so-called ‘reporters’ who can’t find anything better to do than poop in the punch bowl of everyone who happens to (gasp!) actually ENJOY The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars. I’m not talking about legitimate criticism of the film and/or the show, which is nigh impossible to find. I’m talking about anyone who uses these shows as an excuse for character assassination directed at George Lucas *and* those with the courage to be fans of his works. The same people who gripe about how Lucas is only retooling the films to pull in more money (despite his investing that money in technologies that make EVERYONE’s films better, as well as educational programs that make everyone’s KIDS better) are the same people who gladly shell out hundreds of dollars for an annual passport to *DISNEY*land (HELLO? Can we say “self-aggrandizement” in its most extreme form?), and jet over to Best Buy to pick up box sets of all SIX Star Trek TV series (including the (barely) animated series) and TEN, count ‘em, TEN movies, with nary a PEEP about how either Disney™ or Paramount™ are only in it for the money. Nothing against Star Trek. Nothing against Disney films, TV, etc. EVERYTHING against hypocritical, disingenuous BULLYING.

 For example, I hate horror films. But I do NOT go around calling everyone who loves horror films “sheeple.” The vitriol directed at anyone who DARES to recognize merit in The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars is astounding, and disheartening for anyone trying to have faith in humanity. It’s darn near religious fervor. And any of these nutjobs who say they speak for “all the fans” (I’m looking at YOU, Simon Pegg and Patton Oswalt) ain’t worthy of my respect. You’ve NEVER spoken for me. You know why I like TPM? You know why I like Jar-Jar and See-Threepio and boys who say “Wizard!” and Ben Quadrinaros? Because I *am* Jar-Jar. I *am* Ben Quadrinaros. I *am* See-Threepio. I *am* that odd kid that says goofy things like “Wizard!” and “Okey-Day!” In 1977, I was an eleven-year-old Star Wars fan who had the audacity to be born a girl. I was a misfit even among misfits. All the boys had other boys to share their fandom with. I had *no one.* I am a product of my generation’s pop culture, which included Disney films, The Monkees, Laugh-In, Hee-Haw, and secret nights when we’d turn on our black-and-white TV in our bedroom and turn the sound down really low to watch “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” I gained an appreciation for the silly and the absurd, the jovial and the sarcastic. I identified with anyone who was the misfit, the character constantly getting shoved in the background and ignored, because that’s who *I* was. So when ‘Star Wars’ came out, I fell in love with Artoo and Threepio. ‘Empire’ was never my favorite because they took the promise of Threepio’s character and chucked that out the window, and Han was never more than just a big bully. ‘Jedi’ came out and of course I rooted for the Ewoks (especially when they put Han on the spit).  ;) In the Original Trilogy, I recognized George’s appreciation of silliness. That’s what made me love Star Wars from age 11 - in the midst of all the manly-man hardware and esoteric philosophizing, there was still something in it that spoke to ME.

 Cut to 35 years later. I’m still silly. I’m still a misfit among misfits. I will confess to liking Han Solo a tiny bit now. But I still root for the outcasts, the ones that all the “fan”boys wish would disappear so they could fill the screen with yet more faceless dudes in identical armor. I recognize myself in Jar Jar, in Ben Quadrinaros and his faulty power coupling, in Threepio, in little Ani preferring to fix his pod engines (AWESOME) rather than play ball with all the ‘cool’ kids. (BOOORR-IIINNNG!) Anakin is also a misfit. Anyone who doesn’t empathize with him shooting daggers at Mace Windu in the Jedi Council Chamber doesn’t know what it means to be so on the outside even other outsiders don’t accept you.

 So in short, to all these raving sociopaths who love to tear down this sweet saga of good and evil, disgrace and redemption, as well as anyone who enjoys it, and then turn around and yell “It’s just a movie!” if we voice our displeasure at their affronts, I say, “No, what you’re doing is not just attacking the film. You’re attacking me, and anyone like me, who watches these stories and feels something deep and precious and alive resonate within our being. Why you have such a hatred of people on the quirky end of the personality spectrum, I don’t know, but I suggest you get some therapy for that ego trip you’re taking. If you’re that hungry for power, GO SUCK ON A BATTERY and leave us alone!”

                                        ©2012 Candy Wilder


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