Star Wars Apocrypha: The Expanded Universe Canon and Religious Mythology

Star Wars Apocrypha: The Expanded Universe Canon and Religious Mythology

If you're upset that Star Wars nixed its expanded universe, what Disney did is nothing new in religious mythology.

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How much of a storm are we going to see brew over this article? *Grabs Popcorn*

Based on Robert Rath's column comparing Master Chief, King Arthur and Jesus, I'd say at least a Category 3.

Eugh; not really a fan of this article. I can't tell if they really wanted to say anything meaningful about Star Wars (if so, what?) or if they just read the Da Vinci Code and saw the opportunity to write an entire article on a fairly shallow analogy.

Look, I understand not everyone is religious, and I don't think people need to walk on eggshells to avoid offending those who are; but this whole piece just felt like an excuse to say negative things about religion, with little connection to the theoretical subject of this website.

Retsam19:
Eugh; not really a fan of this article. I can't tell if they really wanted to say anything meaningful about Star Wars (if so, what?) or if they just read the Da Vinci Code and saw the opportunity to write an entire article on a fairly shallow analogy.

Look, I understand not everyone is religious, and I don't think people need to walk on eggshells to avoid offending those who are; but this whole piece just felt like an excuse to say negative things about religion, with little connection to the theoretical subject of this website.

Was something bad said about religion in the article? I must have missed it, because all I read could be boiled down to "people decided some stuff."

Scars Unseen:

Retsam19:
Eugh; not really a fan of this article. I can't tell if they really wanted to say anything meaningful about Star Wars (if so, what?) or if they just read the Da Vinci Code and saw the opportunity to write an entire article on a fairly shallow analogy.

Look, I understand not everyone is religious, and I don't think people need to walk on eggshells to avoid offending those who are; but this whole piece just felt like an excuse to say negative things about religion, with little connection to the theoretical subject of this website.

Was something bad said about religion in the article? I must have missed it, because all I read could be boiled down to "people decided some stuff."

Yeah, I didn't see anything bashing religion here. The closest it came, perhaps, was saying that some of the gnostic texts weren't as blasphemous as they were made out to be. That said, it was my own research into the history of Christianity and gnostic texts that led to the Agnostic stance I take today over my fundamental, evangelical Christian upbringing. And why as a longtime fan of the Star Wars EU, I can take the news about Disney's decision with a grain of salt. It's just another alternate timeline situation. I suppose Abrams figured that if he could do it with Star Trek, he could do it with Star Wars.

What was the point of adding the references to early Christian history? They didn't really seem to help a point get made, and they mostly just took up space that could have been used to go into a bit more detail on the history of the Star Wars EU, which seemed to be what the article wanted to actually be about. I don't understand what was gained by adding the parallel to religion besides giving the forumites something to argue over instead of the actual content of the article.

The best take on the whole EU implosion was done by Nash on Channel Awesome.

Very interesting article! Thank you.

Articles like these make me believe I dodged a hailstorm of bullets by never giving a fuck about the "expanded universe".

Retsam19:
Eugh; not really a fan of this article. I can't tell if they really wanted to say anything meaningful about Star Wars (if so, what?) or if they just read the Da Vinci Code and saw the opportunity to write an entire article on a fairly shallow analogy.

Look, I understand not everyone is religious, and I don't think people need to walk on eggshells to avoid offending those who are; but this whole piece just felt like an excuse to say negative things about religion, with little connection to the theoretical subject of this website.

Not really, I'm a Christian (albeit not a very spiritual one) and I wasn't especially offended. One of the things to understand is that when your dealing with a religion where it's generally accepted by many that god no longer intervenes in any spectacular way for reasons of free will (long story), or at least not very often, it becomes a tricky situation when anyone can claim to be a prophet and/or write down their teachings and such, since god isn't exactly going to smite them with a thunderbolt. His occasional interventions that do occur however always make such things a possibility. Some of the more major Christian groups like The Catholic Church put a lot of time and effort into investigating alleged miracles and so on, especially nowadays. A lot of what had been thrown out by one group or another got there because it couldn't be proven, not that it was especially controversial or didn't fit with the rest of the religion, hence why it's "surprising" that some of these sources don't appear to be particularly radical. What's in The Bible is stuff that could more or less be verified, despite it's many contridictions which can be attributed to different records and authors being spliced together over a long period of time. Things like so-and-so disciple being able to be confirmed in a specific area at a specific time. It's to the point where the exact routes travelled by Jesus and his key followers, as well as those of certain accepted saints (for those who believe in them) have been calculated and more or less confirmed, and today a lot of the faithful even trace those routes.

This gets into things like "The Mandylion" which is a picture of Jesus that was confirmed to have been painted by someone who actually met him. The basic story being that a king sent a messenger to request Jesus do some healings, Jesus couldn't as he was busy, but sent one of his disciples to do it (and it worked). The messenger painted a picture of Jesus due to being excited by the encounter, and while not a professional even by the standards of the time the picture remained. It's the source behind the popular image of Jesus even if it's been stylized by different painters, and is why Jesus is portrayed the way he is with light skin, long brown hair, and not in possession of the facial hair one would consider typical of Hebrew men at the time. It's also why people who paint Jesus as being black, or as a very dark skinned arab, or whatever get such strong reactions. This is actually not a case where Jesus was "whitewashed", and his skin tone is in keeping with his alleged ethnicity. The Mandylion itself inspired many other pictures, and as a general rule if you wanted to have another image of Jesus accepted you'd have to find an older painting, that can also be tied to ancient records (basically it can be confirmed that there was a king, who actually did sent a Messenger to meet with Jesus). If you say were to produce a story of a meeting with Jesus that took place at the same time, and couldn't be reinforced, that would be considered heretical even if it was positive for the religion. Likewise if you were to find a picture of Jesus and say "he looked like this" if it was signifigantly difference unless you could disprove the Mandylion along with providing supporting evidence (as much as anything that old can be supported) reinforcing how someone met Jesus and created a specific image. Plenty of images of Jesus exist mind you, and some do contradict each other, the key element is for the producer to have a confirmed face to face meeting beforehand.

This lengthy ramble aside, the point is that while I can see the comparison, I don't see this as being a particularly good analogy. As a general rule the thing with Star Wars is entirely business driven, dealing with what is functionally a product. To let the EU stand it would greatly limit what could be done with the property at a time when Disney wants to build it into a massive franchise. Simply doing someone else's work isn't going to attract the creators and attention that doing things that are entirely new will. It also creates problems when you consider that EU writers in many cases did not themselves understand key elements of the mythology and why things happen the way they do.

The most interesting element of this entire mess is that this isn't the first time this has happened, George Lucas pretty much sold the rights to Star Wars at least twice before. Once to "Dark Horse Comics", and once to a young adult publisher who created their own sequel series different from the one that started with Zahn (with titles like "The Glove Of Darth Vader"). In both cases Lucas managed to get the rights back, and it was kind of controversial, as the whole value of the license was to the right to product canon material. Famously Dark Horse negotiated to have "Shadows Of The Empire" officially inserted into the continuity which was agreed on, but then pretty much ignored since Dark Horse didn't really have a leg to stand on once they lost the rights.

What's more the EU is a contradictory mess (just listen to people go on about Karen Traviss and her take on Mandalorians, I think that was her name at any rate), and furthermore using any of it raises a lot of questions about ownership and previous contracts. One has to ask whether a new company that wants to fully exploit the rights wants to give say Timothy Zahn a cut of the profits in order to use Mara Jade and/or Thrawn. Of course then there is the baggage as a lot of Thrawn's success came from the exploitation of force-negating animals, which is a concept I always thought was kind of messed up and am not sure if I'd want to see maintained in Star Wars myself especially seeing as it makes no sense conceptually given how the universe is supposed to work.

The big question of course is going to be whether the current rights holders get themselves sued down the road, as some of the existing EU contracts might very well specify that the writers were producing canon. An important point when you consider the value of their work is at stake. We probably won't know what's going to happen here until the first movie makes a truckload of money, as there has to be some profit for people to demand.

Trek is in a bad shape as well, because now we have "The Prime Universe" which is made up of the TV shows and most movies, up to Voyager ("Enterprise" and the movie "First Contact" could arguably be considered it's own universe, but is debatable. As a general rule this contradicts the history established by Roddenberry, as well as how specific races were presented), this is for most fans the "real" Star Trek. Then we have the "JJ Verse" which while entertaining is not accepted as canon by real fans, as entertaining as it might be, and despite the warped time travel premise, then of course we have the oftentimes contradictory mess of novels.

It should be noted that Viacom/Paramount has itself relegated JJ's stuff to an alternate universe despite the money being made in the short term. I know this because I'm a "Star Trek Online" player and it's been a big question for a while, why you haven't seen STO doing more promotions based on the movies and such. Especially seeing as it's doing pretty well for a FTP MMO. The bottom line is that Cryptic needs permission from the rights holders whenever they do anything (new ship, using something from an episode, etc...) and has had a few ideas shot down (like playable androids). Paramount/Viacom being very protective of the license despite how it might seen, and even something as crazily non-canon as a FTP MMO sees consideration in terms of what they will allow. They themselves seem to be taking a sort of "bank it and dump it" attitude towards "The JJ verse" and don't want much of it left around. The term "Prime Universe" apparently came from them, and simply put while Cryptic would have been glad to pay them to use things like that weird time craft with the spinning front Spock had, the new Klingon appearance as an alternate wardrobe option for KDF, etc... which would have been salable, apparently Viacom has pretty much said they want to keep that stuff segregated to it's own continuity even when it comes to an "everything but the Kitchen sink" MMO where you have Federation and Klingon captains freebooting around the galaxy in Voth ships. :)

The basic point here is that while things could change, Trek represents it's own special kind of mess, especially right now. A case where there is a divided fan base, and where the rights holders are happy to have the influx of money, but also understands they are creating quick cash in garbage that isn't going to continue to hold down the decades old license.

Also one big rumor (more so than looking at/listening to discussion based on reported business dealings) is that Viacom has already started throwing around ideas for a post-voyager Trek TV show. Apparently there was some discussion of getting Chris Pine to do a TV series based on the JJverse, and it was shot down, including him being told he wouldn't have a career in Star Trek other than what JJ does, which turned towards planning a new "Prime" universe show (which is the reported term they are using) and it's been commented that "Star Trek: Prime Universe" is allegedly an operating developmental title. Alleged (and probably false) leaks implying that it will attempt to tie everything into the TV continuity via the hook left at the end of "All Good Things" and reveal Enterprise, JJ verse, and some other things to be alternate realities, while focusing heavily on threats coming from The Mirror Universe and The Tholian Collective (who are transdimensional as well as space faring), it having been mentioned in TNG and DS-9 that there had already been a successful war against The Tholians, and in DS-9 particularly references were made to getting silk garments from their ambassador (making it clear there was apparently also a dialogue with what was otherwise a xenophobic and aggressively isolationist species). That could be cool, but right now it's probably just rumor, which I only give credit to because the term "Prime Universe" has been used officially and showing that Viacom is at least splitting the Trek IPs into catagories as opposed to trying to say "JJverse" is the result of a temporal distortion which invalidated everything that happened before, coming from the TNG crew travelling back in time during "First Contact" and altering history when that First Contact was with the Vulcans as opposed to the Alpha Centurians.... which was the original "WTF" continuitythey were trying to go with to have everything play well together.

Not a bad article on the term "canon". As a person that ended up liking the EU more than the films, I am greatly dissapointed, but I am not surprised. Luckily, I ejected most of my fanboyish emotional investment in the series a while ago, so no nerd-rage from me.

One correction: The reason some of the cut texts are not that controversial is that their was a second criteria for being axed. If the text was deemed redundant then it was also cut so that is where most of these text this article refers to probably land. Not surprised you missed it that is a bit of an obscure fact.

It's worth noting that this is hardly the first time a franchise has scrapped whole sections of material in favor of a new direction or unified lore.

DC and Marvel have both dabbled in this and Hasbro recently developed a unified continuity for the Transformers franchise.

Where Star Wars appears to be unique is that this is the first time I'm aware of that these changes have been mandated under new ownership.

Burn the heretical Disneians! They worship not Star Wars, but a golden rat!

I used to love Star Wars EU novels but it was heavily weighed down by incredibly bad books ("Darksaber" I'm looking at you) so the good stuff like the X-Wing series struggled to stand out. I stopped buying them as it was just too hit and miss wether you were going to get a good book or absolute drek. Striking them from the canon and making them as an alt-universe really isn't the end of the world. They haven't stopped existing after all.

As far the article, found it an interesting take on it all. Especially regarding the fervour some people approach Star Wars.....

Conservative Christian here, not offended. It's a great analogy, actually. Let me explain:

I've read a lot of Christian apocrypha, and it varies widely in quality, just like the Star Wars EU. The Infancy Gospels are basically Darksaber, very popular but nonsensical to anyone who knows the canon well. The Epistles of Clement are basically the Star Wars Encyclopedia, completely orthodox and highly respected but cut because they were redundant. The Shepherd of Hermas is basically the Thrawn Trilogy, so popular it's treated as canon by other writers but clearly distinguishable from the original in tone and content. The Book of Revelations (Apocalypse of John) is like the Clone Wars TV series, which is technically canon but many believers would like to forget about it entirely.

... the hell did I just read?

Seriously, that was so pointless and nonsensical that I'm not sure it counts as an article at all. Maybe the editors should stop just accepting everything with the required word count without reading it?

I am upset that the star wars Europe Union was made none cannon as well. What will happen to the Plucky British star fighters and German made destroyer droids.

Sorry just couldn't not see it

Retsam19:
but this whole piece just felt like an excuse to say negative things about religion

You have a strange idea of what constitutes saying something negative.

 

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