When I search Google for news about Star Wars that was published on August 15th, I get 12,800 results, an increase of 140% from the previous Friday. This is because a whole bunch of spoilery things were published by a variety of blogs and film outlets last Friday. Now, I’m going to link to them, but I have to say, DON’T CLICK on them if you (like me) don’t care to know anything about the plot of the movie. First was a picture of the new Storm Trooper helmet. Next was art of Han Solo’s costumes for the film. Next was a drawing and description of the film’s supposed main villains. All of these were accompanied by seemingly important plot details.
Scoops like these are, I guess, what drive the great engine of the blogosphere. Everyone wants to know little details about movies, songs, video games, our politician’s foibles, and flavors of Doritos tacos at Taco Bell before anyone else in the world does. This is all fine to a point, and I think that Star Wars VII is in danger of shooting past that point faster than Han ever completed the Kessel Run. This point of no return will be the point when we, Juan Q. Public, know more about the plot and characters of the movie than we should, making the movie far less wondrous and fun than it would be otherwise.
I know, I sound about as much fun as a wet sock. Trust me, I succumbed excitedly to the click-bait stories about Episode VII but almost immediately afterwards, as I started to think about the story implications, I regretted doing so. I’m probably a 7/10 on the Star Wars nerd scale. I’ve seen all of the movies multiple times, I’ve play all of the Star Wars: Battleground and Knights of the Old Republic Games, and I nearly bought a Taun-Taun sleeping bag once. I might not be the foremost expert, but I’m decent in a SW Trivia Night pinch. So I know how it is to want to voraciously consume all of this information into my belly and let it slowly digest over the course of a thousand years. I also am wary of JJ Abrams after what he did to Star Trek in his last, horrific iteration.
Even so, I’m genuinely excited about a new Star Wars movie in the same way that I’ll be excited about a new Star Trek movie or a new Legacy of Kain game. The universes that these franchises have built are creations of limitless imagination. They’re places where the potential for a transcendent and entertaining story is astronomically big. Fail (looking at you Star Wars prequels, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Final Frontier, Insurrection, Nemesis, and Into Darkness) and people will ridicule you for years to come, but if you succeed your movie gets talked about ad nauseum, you have a made career, and someone eventually remakes your classic.
All of this aside, if everyone who see’s the movie already knows the plot beforehand and everyone is already griping or extolling the movie before it’s released, well… doesn’t that just defeat the point of making and seeing these things? If the minutiae of production–the costumes, minor plot details, etc.–control how the public is going to react to the movie, then everything would end up being Snakes on A Plane and, as much fun as it was, I don’t think we want that.
Maybe, for some people, hunting down the information years before the release is fun for them but, for everyone else, doesn’t it make a movie better to see it for the first time, unfettered by ceaseless chatter about how someone might have ruined a beloved character or used the wrong design for a ship? The internet is a wonderful thing. It’s a meeting place for millions of people around the world, it’s a store that carries every item you could ever want to buy, it’s a depository of the world’s history and information. But there are other things that are wonderful too, and movies are one of them.
There are 486 days left (from the day of posting) until Episode VII is released and, as hard as it is going to be, I’m going to make the movie–good or bad–all the more wonderful by not clicking on any more links to stories discussing the plot or any other piece of production. When I see the movie in the theater for the first time I want there to be an element of surprise and wonder left for me. But I know if I keep reading articles about it for the next year I’ll be more drained than a battery at a Mynock party, and that would be the worst thing of all.