I have always considered myself a big fan of George Lucas’ Star Wars. Having watched all but the first release theatrically, and then having seen the re-releases and then prequels on the big screen, I feel that Star Wars holds a big place in my entertained idea of self. From birthday cakes, to Halloween costumes, common quotes amongst friends, to lists of greatest screen villains, the stories from a galaxy far, far away strike a chord with me. However, it was recently that I found out there exists another level of fan – the likes of which I do not even approach.
While browsing the web, I came across a forum of Star Wars fans that cannot be rivaled. I sat and I read for literally hours the messages of a group of people who study every piece of minutia in Lucas’ alien galaxy. Their love is recreating these worlds and people, right here on earth, in the form of costume and prop. They study screen captures of each scene from the films to get every detail right. Forum threads (each containing double-digit pages of posts) record the back and forth of analysis and approximation to correct recreation. Hundred of hours are spent laboring and then broadcasting the achievements attained in recreating the Star Wars universe. Obsession is the name of the game.
Each forum is comprised of many threads of messages. Each thread is devoted to a certain aspect of the Film (character, weapon, make-up, piece of clothing.) Those that claim to be a part of the Vader community do nothing but study this character and his four film incarnations. They devote themselves to recreating his costume as the bounds of each films dictates. (In each Star Wars film in which Darth Vader appears, his costume has subtle variations due to budgeting and taste of Lucas and fellow creators.) So page after page of this thread is dedicated to a member’s recreation of Darth Vader as he appeared in The Empire Strikes Back. Other members weigh in on the photos that are uploaded by the re-creator. Accuracy is debated and checked. High definition screen captures are studied. This goes on until completion and then perhaps the work is shared as it is sold to other admirers in the form of casts of the newly created molds of chest boxes and helmet tusks.
I sat in amusement reading about those who put my once lofty levels of fandom to shame. I also laughed at the absurdity of it all. The literally hundreds of man-hours spent recreating the paltry few hours of film that actually portrayed this intergalactic escapism leads one to laugh at the silliness of it all.
Should one laugh? What gives me the right to heckle one man’s use of spare time over my own pursuits? Should that which society deems a more productive use of free time be held up against those of our aforementioned super-fans? Does working on one’s lawn, following a baseball team, or reading all of Hemingway’s prose amount to something of more worth than festooning your Vader helmet with correctly colored (film accurate) lenses?
Well, if we are to be moderate in all things, then yes, obsessively studying the fit of movie character’s armor should be criticized. However, in doing so, one should also realize the frivolity of one’s own desires and immoderate pastimes. A virtue reality check, if you will. Han shot first!