A Brief History of Making Fun of 'Star Wars' Fans
'Star Wars' created nerds as we know them, and there is a rich lineage of protesting their rich culture.
It’s been broadly pointed out that the Stars — Trek and of course, our boy Wars — invented nerds as we know them and not vice versa. Fan fiction and extended universes as we know them were not a prominent reality for the sci-fi universes of years past — those which came to bear on Star Wars. There were no scores of Flash Gordon or Fantastic Planet novels or annual conventions; these were blockbuster movies like any other, with fans and maybe fan clubs, not religious subscribers.
Zealotry is usually problematic, and everyone has their own ideas about where the devotion and obsessive practice should reasonably end. And those who operate at the most extreme end of the spectrum make themselves easy targets for criticism. To some extent, the most vitriolic and defensive among them probably deserve some censure, at least if their biggest concern is whether or not it makes sense with Han’s character if he shoots at Greedo first, or if Jar Jar Binks’ existence is a source of actual ire.
If you’re a Star Wars fan seriously offended by getting mocked for it, consider the important role you are playing historically. In fact, you and your Trekkie brethren (yes, they are your brethren, sorry) should be honored, as the earliest and purest nerds, to be playfully rebuked as such. It’s a very crucial part of the world operating smoothly — of a rich tradition. But because the internet (as they say), bullying has grown increasingly dark, though it is just as often by Wars fans biting back as much as the other way around.
Below are the major cultural landmarks of public Star Wars fan taunting, for your consideration.
First of all, we should remember that there is an entire movie making fun of Star Wars and taking it too seriously. OG Star Wars fanize Southern Enclave ran an anonymous “Open Letter to Star Wars Fans” asking them to boycott Mel Brooks’ 1987 film on the grounds of its rampant “bad taste.” It also reads, boldly: “I was outraged to see how the movie had the gall to ridicule and laugh at all the things in SW that the fans take very seriously.” The idea that Spaceballs or something like it wasn’t an inevitability after the original trilogy’s level of popularity is ludicrous, and I hope this fan — if they are still among our ranks — feels a lot of shame.
Star Wars Kid
Crucial piece of the history both of Star Wars nerd-dom and Internet humor. 15-year-old Ghyslain Raza’s tribute to Darth Maul’s double-edged saber moves was a mid-00s sensation, and today, the last 2006 upload of the video (below) has views in excess of $30 million. Though the video is beloved by many, and has been the source of endless fun-loving parodies, it — like so many Rebecca Black “Friday”-like videos before and after it — garnered Raza death threats. Unfortunately, the petition for him to get a cameo in Episode III didn’t get the required signatures, but still, it’s hard to think about Star Wars fandom without recalling Raza’s strangely graceful motion back and forth from the camera.
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Conan staple and comedian Robert Smigel’s brainchild Triumph the Insult Comic Dog laid an unrelenting smackdown on Wars fan standing outside opening day of Attack of the Clones, in one of the most high-profile and vicious takedowns of loud and proud, line-around-the-block nerdom. Triumph points out the core principles of these would-be Jedis (“To eat a lot of Peanut M&Ms”), the benefits of being a female Star Wars fan (to be able to “choose from all kinds of guys who have no idea how to please you”) and moderates a fight between a white-robed Jedi and an errant “Lord of the Rings nerd” who refers to him as a “hound” in a fake accent.
Trekkies Mock Warries
You know what it is — the most classic nerd rivalry of all time. This year, just as the Force Awakens hype was building to a fever pitch, UCB dropped a Tim and Eric-style faux-informational video in which a Star Trek: Voyager cast member explains Star Wars in terms of “May the 4th” being with you. This little bit of Theater of the Absurd basically distills the concept into the simplistic shit it actually is. If you’re mad about this one, I’m embarrassed to be among your number as a dude with opening night tickets.
Fox News Debacle
It’s less pleasant — in fact, it’s ugly. A Fox News broadcast sending up nerds crying about the trailer and tweeting emotionally about the trailer led to Fox anchor Tom Shillue taking on a serious shock-jock persona and taunting them like a high school bully (and making reference to getting noogies). The Fox panel says “nerd” dozens of time in this broadcast, and fills up the rest of the time with pseudo-homophobic and sexist comments (see talk of “poking” with “nerd sticks”). Typical Fox News — but it wasn’t the best idea to hit Katherine Timpf with death threats, guys, just for talking about “you Star Wars people being crazy” on Twitter and on this show. Shame on you. Everything about this clash of cultures was fucked up.