The Thief of Joy
Stories should delight their storyteller. And you should enjoy your one life.
It’s Dave Filoni’s world. We’re just living in it.
Filoni isn’t here to please everyone. He’s here to tell stories and follow his muse. We can learn from that. I’ll explain.
With the new Star Wars: Ahsoka series, Writer and executive producer, Dave Filoni demonstrates a deep appreciation for “lore”. And when I think of lore in the Star Wars franchise, I think of the Expanded Universe. Specifically, the stories that create a lived-in galaxy that feels real and expansive like Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy. This is where Star Wars drifted toward the storytelling style of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. But as the Disney+ era of Star Wars expands, two questions linger:
Is delving deep into lore alienating mainstream audiences? [YES!]
And should we care? [NO!]
Echoes of the Past
Much like the genre-defining KOTOR, Filoni is deep into the details and unknown backstories of Star Wars. He pulls on threads from the stuff outside the realm of the major films: Mortis, The Siege of Mandalore, The World Between Worlds, Dathomir, Purgills, Darth Bane…. It’s an approach that offers a much more expansive world, bigger than the “Skywalker Saga” Disney haphazardly tried to fit a new trilogy into. And he’s clearly having fun with it.
George R.R. Martin meticulously constructed the histories of the Targaryens, the Baratheons, and every house in Westeros. Tolkien took readers far beyond the Shire, crafting whole languages and concocting the family lineage of generations of heroes. Only some fans learned Elvish instead of paying attention in school. Only some fans know the map of Middle Earth like the back of their hand.
Their extraordinary knowledge doesn’t make Lord of the Rings any less approachable to audiences who don’t care to go that deep.
Filoni is doing this kind of thing but for Star Wars.
He’s emphasizing obscure lore, the history of the galaxy, and the stories “between the lines” of Star Wars dialogue.
The Lore Awakens
For many, Dave Filoni’s deep dive into the Star Wars universe has brought elements that are a delight for us die-hards but glide over the heads of casual viewers. Take, for example, the concept of the World Between Worlds or the enigmatic rituals of Nightsister “Magick”.
For superfans, these are not just ornate backdrops to the story…they're vital pieces of the puzzle.
To the average fan, the Mortis statues seen in the Ahsoka finale might seem like mere symbolic intrigue, but to those who grew up on The Clone Wars animated series on Cartoon Network, they represent an entirely different view of the Force itself. These fans have their own language they can speak to one another, like Elvish.
But here lies the challenge. While Filoni’s storytelling seeks to bring depth, it creates a gap. Superfans revel in the deep mythology, connecting dots across the old TV series and Expanded Universe. Meanwhile, the uninitiated begin to feel detached, alienated, and like they’re missing the gravity due to a lack of context.
A creator can either be fearful of this, or they can boldly tell the story that makes their heart beat faster.
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Don’t Chase “The Next Big Thing”
In the vast Star Wars universe, not every tale needs to be as colossal as the fall of the Empire or the rise of the Sith. As the saga drifts away from the mainstream, it offers an opportunity to explore the stories that might not shape the fate of the galaxy but shape the destinies of single characters that fans know and love.
Not every story has to be like Avengers: Endgame. Hyper-consequential.
Not every story has to be the "next big thing."
In our private lives, we often place immense pressure on ourselves to notch monumental achievements and reach new milestones. The next promotion, another degree, or the next step in a relationship.
I remember craving for The Force Awakens to be a Box Office-busting phenomenon. It was big. I wanted to see Star Wars recapture the culture as it did with A New Hope or The Phantom Menace. I wanted Star Wars nerds to be the cool kids again.
To what end? We don’t need to cheer for our favorite film franchise like it’s a sports team. I’m already seeing headlines about how “Ahsoka’s premiere wasn’t as big as Loki Season 2.” And?!
“Comparison is the thief of joy”
Star Wars doesn't have to redefine pop culture with every release.
Neither you nor I have to reinvent ourselves with every new endeavor. Sometimes, the most profound growth comes from small, quiet moments.
It’s kind of like when people put more attention on taking a selfie with a beautiful sunset instead of just being in awe at the sunset.
Don’t miss the journey of life thinking about the chapter headings of your future biography. Live for today. Enjoy.
This is the way.
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