The Bittersweet Abundance of Our New Star Wars Era

I was reading news about the casting of the new Han Solo movie and it struck me. As of December last year, we’ve fully entered an era of Star Wars abundance. An original Star Wars movies every year. Star Wars on television. Books and comics advancing the canon.

That’s good. Wonderful. We’re not just staring down the firehose new Star Wars, but what we’re getting is good. Lucas is out of the picture and the franchise is in the hands of people who grew up with it, love it, and — here’s where Lucas stumbled — understand why we all love it.

But I’ve got three kids, of ages where they’re just dipping their toes into what I hope will be a lifelong love affair with the franchise, and something about this abundance — irrationally perhaps — makes me a little sad. Because abundance means their relationship with Star Wars, assuming they get hooked, will be in important ways different from my own. Part of the magic of those movies, especially before the still-birthed prequels, was their scarcity. You got three films. That was it, really. (Because I’m not counting the inconsistent, high-gloss fan fiction of the Expanded Universe.)

It’s similar to how unlimited streaming changes the relationship to music. I grew up saving my allowance or tiny, part-time paychecks for an album, then buying it, and then listening to it over and over and over, because it’s what I had. This created a relationship to the music, a permanence of memory maybe, that won’t happen when you can listen to anything any time at zero marginal cost, and so wander more.

Part of my Star Wars experience is long term and frequent immersion in the original trilogy. Learning it inside and out. Memorizing it, basically. With a new movie every year, one or more TV shows, etc., that won’t happen. Which, even though the abundance is wonderful, also makes me a little sad. Will they have every line of every movie memorized? Of course not. Why would they?

Now is the best time ever to be a Star Wars fan. No doubt. But it’s a different kind of fandom, too. Abundance is awesome. But it’s not without effects. In the case of Star Wars, look with bittersweet anticipation on a future where my kids have so much of it that no single movie is a special and central as those original three were for me.