Hammie answered a few questions via email for this interview.
What is your first memory of Star Wars and when did you feel like you were a Star Wars fan?
My first Star Wars memory was three years ago on December 27, 2017 when I binge watched all of the movies in a week and walked straight in to see The Last Jedi in theaters. My friend kept telling me that she thought I was going to like the sequel trilogy and like friends usually are, she was right. I texted her my thoughts as I watched, poking fun at the movies at first, but by the time I got to Return of the Jedi I was hooked.
The first time I felt like an actual Star Wars fan was about two months later when I made my Twitter account. As soon as the credits started rolling on The Last Jedi, I turned to my friend and said, “that was my favorite Star Wars movie”. I soon wanted to talk about it every day so that’s exactly what I did online.
Why do you think Star Wars has been so popular for so many years?
To me, Star Wars has remained popular because it is at its core mythic. Like any good myth, it’s passed down from generation to generation and gets added to with each new installment, but the themes are what hold it together and speak to us on a humanistic level. The concepts we see on screen of right and wrong, friendship, love, family, redemption, and spirituality through the Force mirrors the internal struggle we all have. So when we are on our journey as Star Wars fans, whether that started in the theater in 1977, shown to us by our parents, or forced on us by a friend, we know we’re connecting to a shared understanding bigger than ourselves.
Who are some of your favorite Star Wars characters and why are they your favorites?
I love all of the sequel trilogy characters. Maybe because they were my doorway into Star Wars, but something about the new generation wrestling with the past and working to make the future better spoke to me right away. I was quickly rooting for all of them to win the war and find happiness. I also appreciated how diverse the cast was. Even though I had only watched the original trilogy and prequel trilogy a few days before, I hoped right away that the sequel trilogy was heading somewhere new and exciting based on the characters alone. They were all so earnest and unique, but also flawed, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened to them.
Why did The Last Jedi speak to you so much? If you have a second favorite film (or piece of Star Wars content – comic, books, etc.) can you share that?
To put it simply, The Last Jedi speaks to me because Rian Johnson knew what he wanted to say. I don’t watch very many action adventure movies, but I do watch a lot of independent movies so I had seen Rian’s work, and The Last Jedi felt like an indie movie. Even though the budget and scale were massive, Rian was able to create intimate moments with each character that I just don’t see in many franchise movies. He gave them time to process and reflect on their emotions while always connecting to larger themes. Then, as an added layer to all of it, Rian was speaking to the audience themselves on a meta level about Star Wars, myth, and what it means to be a hero. It felt like he was showing everyone what Star Wars could be in the future if it was allowed to grow beyond.
I’m going to cheat and say my second favorite piece of Star Wars content is the prequel trilogy because like Rian, from start to finish, George Lucas knew what he wanted to say. He successfully showed the downfall of democracy into authoritarianism paralleled with the internal downfall of our hero, Anakin. I had no idea about any of the fandom discourse so it was easy for me to love the prequels simply for the story they were telling.
Some fans only watch the films or favor the books or animation. How would you describe the Star Wars content you consume?
I consumed it all. After I finished watching the movies for the first time, I realized that there was an entire connected universe out there for me to dive into. I quickly watched The Clone Wars and Rebels, and even helped form a Star Wars book club where we read a canon book every couple of months. This was all in my first year as a Star Wars fan.
More recently, however, I’ll be honest, I haven’t been consuming content after The Rise of Skywalker. I check in and still enjoy discussing Star Wars, but as a new fan, I don’t have the nostalgic connection other fans do, so I’m waiting for something brand new to spark my interest again.
Star Wars online discussions can be … tense. To say the least. I’m curious what you think about the current state of Star Wars fan discussions online. Would you recommend Star Wars fans join the fray on Twitter or try and find smaller and more private groups?
Joining Star Wars fandom after The Last Jedi was intense. Twitter wasn’t just a place where fans were discussing theories or interpretations. Instead, the fandom had become weaponized, politicized, and monetized in an effort to change the types of stories being told. I think it’s important to acknowledge that’s happening across many fandoms, and I see it as separate from genuine fan engagement.
To that end, I was so lucky to find other sequel trilogy fans. They were a safe place filled with hope for the future where I could enjoy Star Wars. They were able to introduce me to older Star Wars fans who I’ve loved learning from. Maybe because I’m a newer fan, but each time I meet a new person in fandom, I’m excited to see how they interpret the myth. I wholeheartedly think it’s worth it and important for fans to engage and create. Each of us brings our own perspective to the fandom making it a more diverse place.
Have you been to a Star Wars Celebration? If so, what were some highlights. If not, would you like to in the future and what kinds of panels would you be interested in seeing there?
I haven’t been to Celebration, but I have tickets for 2022. I’m most excited to attend panels discussing the sequel trilogy now that it’s all over and meeting all of the friends I’ve made online.
I really loved your article about the Dyad relationship between Rey and Ben. What inspired you to write that article and how do you think we’ll see the Dyad concept play out in future Star Wars stories?
The reason I wanted to write my article was because Rey and Ben’s relationship is a point of contention for some Star Wars fans, even though from my point of view as a new fan, it was always the Force plot of the sequel trilogy just like Luke and Vader in the original trilogy and Anakin and Palpatine in the prequel trilogy. The creators were trying to do something unique and new with Rey and Ben’s relationship, and I thought it was an important thing to analyze not just for the sequel trilogy, but also for future storytelling.
I hope we’ll see Rey and Ben connected in some form in the future or we could even see another dyad story that parallels Rey and Ben. It will probably be a while before they touch the concept again, but I hope it’s unique and something we’ve never seen before!
Some of your other articles on WTF have centered around The Child, how Karma has worked in Star Wars, and connections between Star Wars and other pop culture creations (I’m thinking of Taylor Swift). Were these ideas you had been thinking about for some time? What kind of reactions have you received from your articles so far and can you share other article ideas we can look forward to?
The What the Force Podcast was one of the first that I engaged with as a new fan and I quickly became friends with Marie-Claire. After The Rise of Skywalker, she wanted to expand her website to include articles from fans who enjoy interpreting Star Wars through a mythic lens. I’ve learned so much from the other writers and editors, and they helped inspire many of the articles I’ve written. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on all of the articles, and I hope we can continue to be a space for a unique perspective on Star Wars. Next year, we have a few things planned for High Republic, and we’re also excited to be expanding to other fandoms.
What character would you be the most excited about if they got a Disney+ series?
A brand new character in a brand new part of the galaxy unconnected to anyone else we’ve seen before 😉
If you could sit down and chat with Kathleen Kennedy for an hour or two what would you want to talk with her about?
I would want to tell her about the many, many sequel trilogy fans that she and the rest of the creators have helped bring into the franchise. We’re young, diverse, and we’re thirsting for brand new storytelling.