Star Wars Anxiety
December 4, 2015 § 1 Comment
Star Wars Gal writes,
I’m writing on behalf of my girlfriend. Lately she’s become very anxious about the upcoming Star Wars sequel. Specifically, she’s worried that the new movie will turn Luke into a villain (or kill him off). The idea that Luke could be dead in the film, or turned to the Dark Side, really really upsets her — she started crying about it at one point.
We’ve discussed why Luke is important to her as a character, and why she might be feeling so strongly about this possibility. We’ve agreed that I’ll go see the movie on my own first, to check if she’ll be able to cope with the plotline. What she’d like me to ask you is, can you recommend some ways to handle her anxiety and distress about this?
I have a lot of thoughts about the Star Wars franchise. A LOT. Show me someone who doesn’t have at least a tiny bit of Star Wars butthurt and I’ll show you someone who hasn’t been paying attention for the last decade and a half.
I’m a firm believer in the resiliency of the fangirl, but I also think that it can be healthy to maintain some distance from things that make us ragey or distressed.
Your girlfriend feels like a victim to whatever out of character plot that might take place, so how can she feel more in control of the situation?
- Shake off the idea of “owning.” People might own a name or a franchise, but no one can truly own a character. Not George Lucas, not J. J. Abrams, not Mark Hamill, not your girlfriend. This is good news because that means you can do whatever you want with them. Canon is only as permanent as you give it permission to be.
- Take responsibility for distress. Remember that it’s not your responsibility to erase her anxiety. It’s kind and totally fine for you to do some recon and scope out the movie first. But also resist the urge to overfunction. Give her the room and creativity to figure out what works best for her.
- Zoom out. What is the big picture here? Often when a fangirl loves a character, she will hyperfocus. You memorize details and debate with others about the most accurate interpretation. And in doing this, sometimes you lose sight of what drew you to the character in the first place: something that spoke to your life, your struggles, and your hopes for yourself.
If Luke Skywalker is no longer alive, or brave, or selfless, or emotionally aware, then we better damn well be those things. If we look around and can’t find the kind of character we want to champion in fiction, then that’s usually our cue to step up and play that role in our own story.