Great essay, Pakka. Glad I could be of some help to verbalize some of your thoughts.
Yes, the WEG source-books, though delightfully geeky and partially responsible for keeping the franchise alive for a few years, really did transform it into something quite different from what it originally was. I personally don’t mind there being some connectivity, especially when it’s narrative based, so the “I am your father” element works well for me because it has such a mythic vibe to it. And it’s interesting how you pointed out the possibilities of the 77-80 years, and I agree that the comics did a great job to tell new stories without shackling it down with lore, because I’ve heard people make a similar argument that they feel that SW was always meant to be the mythological tale of the Skywalkers and they therefore ignore the side stories. As a franchise it’s a real tough nut to crack, and although Lucas definitely intended for it to be a fairy-tale without having to make logical sense of it all, I don’t think even he fully knew what the core of the franchise was. But then again stories do evolve over time, though the WEG interpretation definitely took a more Star Trek-type of approach to it. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the EU and all the sourcebooks coincided with the second Star Trek boom in the late 80’s and 90’s, not to mention the internet which has made it far easier for fans to share ideas and over analyse things.
There was a section of my essay that I ended up removing (it got a little bit off topic) where I talked about how loose canon was treated back in the 30’s and 40’s, using the Universal monster films as an example, arguing that it related not only to how pop culture was just starting to become a thing, but also how the lack of home media made it kind of pointless. Back then you saw a film once, maybe a few more times if you really liked it, and when it was no longer in the theater you simply couldn’t see it anymore. So if the sequel broke continuity you had no way to go back and check and as long as it felt right (by sticking to the core plot and themes of the previous story) no one really cared. It is completely possible that this modern fascination with lore and continuity is simply a natural development of how we consume media these days, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does put SW in this really weird place. My essay was an attempt to at least acknowledge this, but also to point out that even if a franchise evolves and starts to include a more rigid narrative, I would at least encourage creators to treat the setting with an appropriately surreal approach (and quite a few do this reasonably well IMO).
More great points there, especially how the Star Trek resurgence might have influenced the 1990s EU, and the historical treatment of canon over time due to the difficulty of repeat viewing. I agree that stories naturally evolve over time, and once one movie becomes three, then six, it’s hard not to start filling in more of the lore (but I do wish that “filling in” had been done better, or in a way that didn’t feel as at odds with where things started). I completely agree that Lucas never really understood exactly what it was that people responded to so strongly in the original (not that it was ever just one thing, of course).
I agree that “I am your father” fits the mythological nature of the saga, and Lucas certainly doesn’t owe us a universe that works for anything beyond the story he decided to tell. I do wonder, though, how Star Wars would be seen today had he left us with a universe that had more room for stories beyond the Skywalker Family Drama. It would also help if he didn’t act like so many things came down to him on stone tablets, rather than just being choices he made along the way.
Thanks again for your essay, and for reading mine!