Jedi Junkies (2010)
Certain groups just lend themselves to ridicule from the media and in popular culture in general, irrespective of whether they deserve it or not. Star Wars fans are a prime example of this. Their love of the lore, predilection for cosplay and hunger for collectables at first glance makes them an easy target. Film maker Mark Edlitz, takes a decidedly different approach in his documentary Jedi Junkies. Instead of finger-pointing and making cheap jokes, Jedi Junkies puts a very human face on a group of enthusiasts, showing their passion to be in essence, no different to that of sports fans or other more mainstream hobbies and pastimes.
The documentary follows a varied group of individuals as they indulge in their particular branch of fandom. We get to meet compulsive memorabilia collectors, the New York Jedis and their lightsabre displays, the tribute band Aerosith (that really made me chuckle) then the guy who decided to build a life-size replica of the Millennium Falcon in his yard. By and large, most of these fans come across very well, often showing a thoughtful and philosophical nature. However not all do though, with Mr Millennium Falcon being a little too self-satisfied. It isn't a particularly good replica anyway. But overall Jedi Junkies simply shows us people socialising among their peer groups, having fun through common interests. What could be more normal and healthy?
Another thing that Mark Edlitz does in this film, is intersperse the footage of fans, with sound-bites from academics commenting on the nature of fandom, collecting and their respective social dynamics. What these professional opinions do is punctuate the documentary, allowing the viewer to make a considered opinion, rather than simply label the fans themselves. It’s a very important distinction. The section on cosplay, specifically the Leia Slave outfit is sensitively handled and certainly avoids condescension, objectification or simply being rude. These ladies surely get enough flak already.
The wheel is slowly turning with regard to fandom. Niche market past times which previously were the prerogative of a few, are now high-profile moneymaking interests. It is curious how financial viability seems to eradicate traditional prejudice or scorn. However, fans have yet to reach the promised land and although Jedi Junkies is a measured look at their world, there are still people who will shake their heads at their choice of activities. It's a curious paradox that the fundamentals of collecting stamps are really no different to collecting Star Wars memorabilia and that the respective social acceptance of either group is arbitrary and subjective. Overall, I whole heartedly recommend Jedi Junkies. It is an excellent counterpoint to The People vs. George Lucas