Since they announced they were making a new Star Wars film, every single thing I have said about it has come with a disclaimer. Every time a trailer drops or a new image appears the conversation starts the same way. “I’m trying not to get my hopes up but…” I say before I begin to gush excitedly about something that I have quite obviously got a lot of hopes for. I like to pretend I don’t because twenty years of fandom have turned my enthusiastic fangirl heart into a cynical mess and that sucks. Here’s the thing, the higher my expectations are, the more likely I am to be disappointed. That’s true, but it’s also not really fair or fun to just assume that something is going to fail before you even give it a chance.
I was at a wedding over the weekend and the Star Wars discussion started up again and I began the way I always do, but about halfway through my well-worn speech about low expectations, I suddenly wondered why? Why am I trying to avoid getting my hopes up? I mean the reality is that my expectations are not actually going to alter the quality of the content. If it sucks, it’s still going to suck whether or not I expected it to. I am not going to like a bad movie more because I was expecting it to be bad. At best I will feel a little validation that my prediction was right, but at the same time I will have wasted weeks that I could have been happy and excited.
Seriously it doesn’t matter how many times I say it my expectations are not going to get any lower and they shouldn’t because I REALLY REALLY REALLY love Star Wars. It’s something that is hugely important to me and I WANT it to be amazing. It should be amazing. If it is not amazing then my level of disappointment will be appropriate. Trying to temper my expectations at this point is not going to have any impact on the film. All it does is make me miserable about something that I have no control over. There are two options: I can spend the next few weeks in excited anticipation for The Force Awakens, or I can try to convince myself that I don’t care because it might make me feel better if the movie sucks.
I used to hide my fannish enthusiasm but I thought I had reached a point where I could be unapologetic about it, but with the wave of revivals of all my favorite things, I have found myself trying to damper my expectations more and more. It’s actually kind of sad because it’s not unreasonable to want the thing you love to be good. There’s nothing wrong with having expectations especially when they’re achievable, and when it comes down to it, all I want from The Force Awakens is a decent narrative and for it to be not totally offensive. That is not an excessive list, and I don’t think it’s unacceptable for me to be annoyed if the movie doesn’t fulfill that small list of requirements.
Somewhere throughout my journey from hiding my fannish behavior to being aggressively public about it, I have absorbed the idea that having expectations is akin to being unreasonably demanding. I am terrified of being that fan. The one that thinks they’re entitled to everything they want; the one with no respect for TPTB. I’m constantly reminding myself that the people that make the things I love don’t owe me anything. The thing is though. They kind of do. Whether it’s directly or indirectly I am paying for a product, and while I don’t have any right to demand they take things in a particularly direction, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect they will make something coherent, entertaining, and inoffensive.
This connection between expectations and entitlement made me reconsider the way that I look at my fellow fans. While I would never deny the existence of those entitled assholes that ruin the fun for the rest of us, I really don’t think they’re as prevalent as they appear to be. I’ve met and interacted with a lot of fans. Some of them have ideas that are a little strange, and they can be very intense about them, but for the most part they’re not demanding. Once you get past the hyperbole, they all just want the same thing – they want the thing they love to be the best it can be. Sure fandom’s idea about what’s “best” can be very different from TPTB, which can cause a little upset, but really it all comes down to one idea: “I want this thing to be worthy of my love.”
There is an argument to be made that there’s no way anything can live up to every individual’s expectations. And the more specific your desires are, the more likely you will be disappointed by the final product. This is probably most apparent in shipping. My heart has been broken by so many sunken ships that should get some kind of discount but I keep coming back for more. I keep shipping things. I keep getting my hopes up. Even though more often than not those hopes end up getting thrown out with the trash. Do you know why I keep coming back for more? Because it’s worth it. A LOT of my OTPs over the last twenty years were not endgame, but I don’t regret shipping them just because it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. The journey was worth the disappointment.
This is why I am no longer going to stifle my expectations. I am going to let them soar and I am going to enjoy the hell out of them until they the very last moment. No more disclaimer. I am super hyped for The Force Awakens and I REALLY REALLY REALLY think it’s going to be good. It looks good! It looks better than good! I don’t care if you know for a fact that I am wrong. I’m SO excited, just let me have this one okay?
Author: Undie Girl
Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.
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