‘Star Wars’ is not a “Slam Dunk” for Disney: Chuck Wendig’s sticky seats with ‘Aftermath’

On Force Friday as my family was in acquisition mode for new Star Wars merchandise, my brother sent me a picture of the new book, Aftermath by Chuck Wendig to show that he had put his hands on the long-awaited book. I politely dismissed the innuendo that the novel was a “hot item” to purchase even though in our house we have EVERY single Star Wars novel ever produced up to this point. My family loves the Expanded Universe and is on the fence as to how much of ourselves we’ll invest in this new day under Disney. I’m personally hopeful. I think millions of young people will love it. I think it’s mostly a slam dunk of positive infusion culturally. But I’ll have to see how the movie turns out and how much they wreck the continuity of the story which at this point takes place over thousands of years. So I have not yet read Aftermath. I certainly will at some point, but not until I have some basic questions answered—such as, why is Chewbacca alive in the new film—those kinds of things.

However, apparently there is a gay character in Chuck Wendig’s new book, and while a galaxy filled with crazy aliens, species that convert to female when it comes time to mate, and literally thousands of primary and secondary characters—some of which are bound to have some unique sexual habits, Star Wars is NOT about sex. Not in the least. Yet Wendig chose to respond to criticism over his character the Imperial turncoat Sinjir Rath Velus with the following diatribe on his blog, Terrible Minds. Wendig hit back at readers who accused the author on Amazon of “blatantly pushing a gay agenda” and suggested that the franchise was no longer “children friendly”.

“If you’re upset because I put gay characters and a gay protagonist in the book, I got nothing for you,” Wendig wrote. “Sorry, you squawking saurian — meteor’s coming. And it’s a fabulously gay Nyan Cat meteor with a rainbow trailing behind it and your mode of thought will be extinct.”

“You’re not the Rebel Alliance. You’re not the good guys. You’re the fucking Empire, man. You’re the shitty, oppressive, totalitarian Empire. If you can imagine a world where Luke Skywalker would be irritated that there were gay people around him, you completely missed the point of Star Wars. It’s like trying to picture Jesus kicking lepers in the throat instead of curing them. Stop being the Empire. Join the Rebel Alliance. We have love and inclusion and great music and cute droids.”

He later told a reader who attacked his confrontational approach to his critics that he would not engage in a conversation on the issue. “Because on this, I am not interested in conversation. If your problem with the book is only the inclusion of gay characters, then no conversation is possible. Because that’s homophobia, that’s bigotry, and there’s nothing to be done or said. Someone wants to talk to me about the writing style or whatever, sure, I can have that discussion. On this, no.”

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/11/star-wars-aftermath-novelist-chuck-wendig-strikes-back-at-gay-character-slurs

http://www.ew.com/article/2015/09/04/star-wars-aftermath-gay-character

If I were Disney execs and Kathleen Kennedy at Lucasfilm, I’d be very concerned. You really can’t have an author for a kids series dropping “F” bombs and proposing that gay meteors are coming with trails of rainbows to follow. Because the use of a gay character in Star Wars clearly was political, and agenda based, otherwise he wouldn’t be so quick to come unglued. Also, it is disturbing that as a Star Wars author, Wendig assumes that the definition of Star Wars resides along the lines of inclusion of gay people within the Jedi Order of Luke Skywalker. While Star Wars can mean lots of things to a lot of different people, the space opera is about good, old-fashioned story telling based on the Saturday morning serials of George Lucas’s youth. They are westerns set in space and if they become anything less than that, then the profit-making machine Disney hopes the property to be will quickly fade away.   I’ve loved Star Wars all my life, but I will be the first one off the train if that’s the direction Disney decides to go. Star Wars is not about where one parks their male sex organs at night. Any romance that does emerge from the stories has direct connections to furthering family lineage. Star Wars is not Game of Thrones. If there is sex and romance, there has always been a point to it. Star Wars is not the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and if Disney thinks they can expand their market share by 2% then they’ll lose 40% who just will drop interest. Times have not changed as much as Wendig thinks based on his comment that conservative modes of thinking will soon be extinct. Miley Cyrus recently said something similar, and I’m sure around San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and places where progressivism is rampant, it’s easy for them to think so. But in Kansas, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Dallas—people aren’t going to rush out to buy the next Star Wars product if they feel a gay agenda is being forced down their throat. They’ll drop interest before Episode 8 hits in May of 2017 and Disney will be in trouble.

Here’s how it works, Disney considers the Avengers: Age of Ultron to be a box office failure even though it made $1.4 billion dollars world-wide. While I enjoyed the movie, I walked out disappointed—I knew how Disney would view the profits from the movie. It wasn’t as good as the first film and it had noticeable progressive influences in the movie that just don’t play well with traditional audiences. Feminism and gay pride may be topics now because of the progressive influence of studio projects, but those are not enduring traits that will still be beloved many years from now. Star Wars is a mythology that should have the same resonance 100 years from now as it does in this decade. And I’ll bet money that 500 years from now, we will be laughed at as a culture for even entertaining all this gay pride stuff. For instance, the two best Star Wars movies are A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Without those two movies, there wouldn’t be a franchise. Obviously the romance in those two stories was the one between Han Solo and Princess Leia. Leia in A New Hope was a raging feminist who was slowly conquered by a strong male archetype typical in most westerns, Han Solo. Over two films he melted her into submission and made a real woman out of her. That is a story point that will endure with human development for hundreds of years and will sustain the growth of billions of dollars in action figures. But if Princess Leia were to stave off Han Solo and start a sexual relationship with Mon Mothma, the whole mythology would have been rejected by the movie going public in seconds. If Disney turns Star Wars into Broke Back Mountain, then there will be hell to pay. They may gain 2% approval from the gay community and the rainbow weirdos who cheered when Obama colored the White House in pretty colors after a Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. But straight people—who will always be in the majority based on biological function, will reject things that they are uncomfortable with. Disney will not be happy when they learn that Star Wars movies won’t make them $2 billion each and the book market dies from a lack of demand for the product. People go to Star Wars to get away from progressive politics, not to relish in it. For me it’s a traditional storyline that is similar to a western—so I love it. Take that traditional element away and I’m not interested. And there are millions who think just like I do.

http://www.therealstanlee.com/disney-considered-avengers-age-of-ultron-a-box-office-failure/

Just a word of warning to Disney—I love the company and its products. Part of that love comes from the traditional family values that it represents. If traditional value is removed from the product, I’m not inclined to spend money on it. There have been many times where obvious gay people perform at Disney World, and I put up with it to be inclusive, but when they are flamboyant about being males pretending to be women with high-pitched tones to their sentence structures, it just gives me a headache. If some hot chick dressed up as Sleeping Beauty wants to stand next to me for a picture, I’m fine with it. But if a dude dressed up as Sleeping Beauty wants to cuddle up next to me to satisfy their own sexuality—that’s not OK. I don’t want to explain that kind of thing to the young people around me, and I don’t want to be put in that position if I’m spending a $1000 dollars a day at an amusement park. And I’m not going to rush out at midnight to buy a book about gay protagonists. Star Wars is not a sure thing. It can be screwed up, and based on the comments from Chuck Wendig, that apprehension is well justified.

I’m completely alright with expanding the role of women in Star Wars. Jaina Solo is bigger than God in our household. I’m also alright with heroes of different skin colors. But when it comes to sex, I don’t want to know about it. Heterosexual activity can be gross at times, but gay sex is just unappealing and I don’t want to be reminded of it when I look at an action figure. If Disney wants to kill Star Wars, then let these “artistic” types have their way with the traditions of Star Wars by turning it into the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Fans of the series will be turned off, but the real terror will come to Disney execs who measure box office receipts—when they find out that their cash cow just laid an egg—and that’s not something that’s supposed to happen in a galaxy far, far away.  Star Wars is not about gay pride, or inclusion. Sex is a “collective experience” something that is shared. Star Wars is about following the bliss of the individual and in saving yourself you save the galaxy. When many people follow their “bliss” evil is conquered and good resumes its work in the world. That has nothing to do with sex. But it has everything to do with what goes on in the human soul. Based on Wendig’s comments, he needs to go back to Star Wars school and Disney needs to re-think who they let drive the car of the franchise—because artists like Chuck are bringing that car back with lots of new dents, scratches, and sticky seats. And that’s just gross.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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