Younger Fandom Interviews: Mára

For some, Star Wars is a hobby. For others, it is their life. This goes for people of all ages from all backgrounds, regardless of gender, race, or age. Something truly beautiful about the saga is how it can bond people—from friends to family to complete strangers.

My latest interviewee is a friend found through our mutual love of Star Wars, thanks to a network on Tumblr. Her jokes about Darth Wheezy were what initially made me think she was Too Damn Cool (and really, her jokes are hilarious).

A twenty-year-old who speaks her mind, Mára Kuryt:nîk grew up in various locations in Canada. Her native tongue is French-Canadian and her second language is English. Her mama is of Ukrainian descent and her papa is of Mohawk and Māori descent.

Until she was eight-years-old she thought Star Wars was real and had happened in the past, and had to see someone for about two years before finally accepting the truth. Life just hasn’t been as fun since. You can find her on Tumblr, and hear her A+ mixes on 8tracks.

What got you into Star Wars?

My dad. When I was born he thrust me into the world of StarWars as soon as he could. My favourite movie as a child was Empire Strikes Back because I loved Lando, Hoth, and Cloud City. My first words were “Mon Mothma” and I’d like to say I’m lying, but I’m not.

How has Star Wars helped to strengthen your bond with your dad?

The relationship between my papa and I has always been pretty great but the main thing that keeps us close is Star Wars. It almost sounds sad, but it’s just how we are. Star Wars created a special bond between us that really affected my life positively. It also reminds him sometimes that I’m not like my older siblings? I’m the only child of his that he actually had the chance to raise and it gives him that sense of relief, you know? Him and I get so excited when we talk about Star Wars and even though over the years my interest in Star Wars has way surpassed his, it still strengthens that bond.

Being introduced through someone from an older generation of fans, do you think your feelings re: Originals vs Prequels and the fandom divide sometimes caused differ from other younger fans?

That’s kind of tough to say, on one hand I want to say no, I really don’t think so but at the same time I think yeah, maybe, it’s possible. I poke fun and say things about the OT purists, I get a little upset when I see people kind of agreeing with everything they say but I also feel really indifferent? I got teased about liking the Prequels in elementary and high school, I still get teased sometimes, but as a whole I feel like if I spend too much time putting active energy into caring about any of it, I’m just always going to be exhausted. At the end of the day, does it affect who I am as a person? No, it really doesn’t.

My papa feels the same way as I do so that’s possibly why I’m not totally sure if my feelings differ from the others. Like, I owe Star Wars everything. It’s shaped me into who I am and gave me that sense of belonging, that feeling that I wasn’t alone in all of this. It’s the reason I try so hard to remain indifferent but it does bother me sometimes. These people act like Star Wars owes them something, like George Lucas had some kind of debt to pay. It’s all bullshit and that’s the only thing that makes me mad.

People act like they’re entitled to receive some kind of payment like Star Wars hasn’t done anything for them already. And these people using the term “real fan” when there’s no such thing, there’s just “fans.” There are just people who love this series to death with all of their being but get shit on because they like Jar Jar or they liked Attack of the Clones better than the others movies. It’s all crap, all of it. Why can’t people just be happy that this incredible thing we all love is touching others positively like it did us? I just don’t understand.

Have you ever felt unwelcome in certain areas of the fandom because of your gender, age, or simply just from your opinions on the canon?

Absolutely! Always! Being a young(er) female in the Star Wars fandom can be tough shit at times because everyone likes stroking their egos instead of their dicks (pardon the language). People constantly expect you to prove yourself worthy of their time because they believe that as a female, the only reason you have to like Star Wars is to impress them, which is mad as all hell. If I’m speaking about/explaining something to do with Star Wars some Six-Piece Chicken McNobody will insert themselves into the conversation to see if I actually know what I’m talking about.

I’ve been in discussions where the only reason this person is talking to me is to see if I will screw up my knowledge or not know as much when, I hate to say it but, I usually know more than them? I don’t mean it as an ego thing, but often times I know a lot more about it than people but I don’t think it makes me better? I like sharing the knowledge, it’s fun and I enjoy it.

On tumblr people are constantly asking me if I’m “really a fan” and if I can recite one thing in one of the languages from Star Wars. I try to ignore them as much as possible. There are also people that think I’m too young to know what I’m talking about, that I’m trying to play big for the adults in the room like I have something to prove. It makes me feel like I shouldn’t be open about my love for it all.

What are you feelings with regards to how The Force Awakens is being advertised, such as the emphasis on “practical effects”?

I’m honestly so glad that the big Mouse took hold of the Star Wars franchise. It’s been so nice seeing all of this stuff! Everything has been incredible! It’s better than anything I could have asked for because they’re doing right by Star Wars, in my opinion. I mean, come on! We’re getting our own section of the park instead of sharing it with Tomorrowland like we used to! it’s going to be so great! It all still feels like Star Wars too, you know? It just all still feels like home. 

I remember when Disney first got their hands on it all and I was so nervous! I wasn’t sure what was going to happen and when but as the years went on, I started to cry out of joy because more people could experience this thing that kept me going all these years! I love introducing people to Star Wars and I feel like Disney is trying to do that as well, it makes me so happy.

The whole thing with the “practical effects” I’m still not totally savvy on? I loved the practical effects! But I loved the CGI too. I just don’t see what that has to do with liking the movies? I mean, the OT had CGI in it, it just wasn’t as advanced. And when CGI became more developed it was this thing that people were so amazed by and wanted to see more of. Most, if not all, movies these days are stuffed to the brim with CGI so I honestly don’t see why people are still so salty about it. Aren’t there more important things we should be upset about in the movie industry?

As a fan of the EU, how did the recent “de-canonization” of the Legends make you feel, and what did you think of others’ reactions to it?

I’m… I’m still a little sad about how that happened but I guess it just needed to happen at some point, right? They wanted to make more movies and they probably didn’t see how they could even begin to try to fit all these storylines into their films. I don’t blame them for it, but I’m still kinda sad. Some people’s reactions to it were so extreme though!

I’d been reading the books since forever, the Star Wars books were what taught me how to read in English. I’m very confident when I say we own pretty much every Star Wars novel save for a few rares that we never were able to get our hands on. There was the Star Wars Junior series and the DK readers that really held a special place in my heart, but the ones that I actively kept up with were the ones like Jedi Quest, Young Jedi Knights, Jedi Prince, Junior Jedi Knights and Jedi Apprentice. Those were the ones that I absolutely adored. Especially Young Jedi Knights because Jaina was my absolute favourite.

How do you show your love for Star Wars?

In my every day life, Star Wars comes up at least ten times a day when I’m talking to someone. It’s either through references, jokes or me blatantly talking about Star Wars. I’m really animated when I’m talking to someone about it. Exactly half of my wardrobe is Star Wars and my entire room and living room is filled with Star Wars stuff. It’s everywhere in my life.

What do you think of the recent push for fangirl positivity, and of Ashley Eckstein/Her Universe’s part in it?

I think it’s really great and I’m glad to see how dedicated Ashley Eckstein is to it all. There’s not much I can really say about it though because I still feel like we’re struggling to make it work out for everyone.

I’m happy to have the positivity but there’s still girls in this fandom that bully the fangirls that aren’t as attractive as them, essentially giving them a “bad image” and it just makes me so sad. There’s never going to be a time where everyone is 100% happy but I feel like… I don’t know, that as fans we should be a family, right? We should treat each other like we’re all family, especially the “fangirls.”

As someone who was raised with Star Wars, what advice would you give to parents wanting to raise their children with the same love of the saga?

God, that’s such a hard question to answer! I feel like there isn’t a right answer to that! I mean, Star Wars has been everything to me since before I could walk to now. Star Wars was what babysat me when my parents were cleaning/cooking/doing anything. Everything was Star Wars to me, my first words, my first book, my first movie, my first anything. But I think the thing that made it better was that my papa would sit down with me and have discussions with me about it all.

We would sit in the backyard or the kitchen, sometimes the living room and we’d just… talk about it all. There wasn’t much to talk about with me when I was really little but he still did it and as I got older I felt like I was equal to him in these discussions. It’s kind of dorky to say but I enjoyed being treated like I knew what I was saying for once.

I guess that’s my advice, talk about it with your kids, see what they like about it and explore it with them. When we’re little we can’t get enough of our parents so use that to your advantage, that’s all it takes.

If you could change any part of the fandom for the younger generations to come, such as those brought in by The Clone Wars and Rebels, what would it be?

I would change how aggressive we all are! Oh my God! I’m even guilty of this on occasion, we all are! I want to sometimes take them in my arms and whisper reassurance that not everyone is like that but we are about different things! I want them to know that even if they never saw the movies, or had no interest because TCW/Rebels was good enough for them, that they are still Star Wars fans! You are still a Star Wars fan!

These shows are set within the Star Wars Universe and don’t let anyone fuck with you over that! Don’t let them tell you that you have to see the movies to be a fan, it’s shite and it’s not true at all! You don’t have to do shit, especially to impress these people. Don’t feel guilty for that! Ever! You’re still part of my Star Wars family and I won’t let you get treated like crap over something as small and insignificant as that.

What do you most want to see from the New Canon?

More Sith! I’m a slut for the Sith! I love them all! Well, most of them. I also want to see some LGBTQ+ representation! I want Finn or Kylo to be Bi or Rey to be Ace. I just don’t want them to try to go for another relationship like Han/Leia. We’ve done that we need to move on.

I want to see new things! New planets! NEW SPECIES! I don’t want them to feel like they have to stick to what they did in the past because that’s what worked. I WANT SPACE OPERA NOT SPACE REPEATS.

Finally, the obvious: What is it about Star Wars that you love so much?

Honestly? I love pretty much everything about it. I keep saying this but, Star Wars is so special to me. It’s everything that I am. I was a really lonely kid, making friends was hard for me and it still is, I just don’t know what to do or say, how to act, that stuff. I’ve been diagnosed with MDD [Manic Depressive Disorder], Severe Anxiety and I have some learning disabilities, as you probably know people aren’t the most accepting of these.

It’s always been so agonizing to deal with, it’s exhausting and sometimes being around people just sucks the energy out of me. But when I’m at my lowest point, I watch Star Wars and I’m in it. I’m there with Luke, Leia and Han. I’m a part of their trio and I’m at my happiest, I feel like I can do anything without these things holding me back. This Universe means so much to me, no one fully understands. It has saved me from so much that I honestly can’t even begin to explain or express my gratitude.

I’ve been having such a shitty time this year especially, I don’t have a professional to speak to at the moment and everything has been stressing me out so much. I’ve been kind of falling into the sinking pit and the only thing that keeps bringing me back to the surface is Star Wars. I owe the Star Wars Universe my life. Whenever I’m crying or feel like I’m going no where, I can read one of the books, watch one of the movies or even lay on my bed with my Star Wars planetarium and just look at the stars.

The Phantom Menace was the very first movie I ever saw in theaters and it makes me so emotional to think about because I actually remember it. I remember being four-going-on-five-years-old and looking up at this big huge screen with such fascination, with this feeling that I was part of it, I was important to it. I’m actually tearing up thinking about it because I just remember being happy, so happy in that moment. I was accepted as a Jedi Apprentice with Anakin, but I also lost Qui-Gon with Obi-Wan. I’ve always been so invested in these films. It’s something that I can’t replace, that I can’t lose.

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