Thoughts On 5 Fan Theories from 2015

Fan theories run rampant online, this we know. But for every thousand random rants or way-too-forced connections, a few gems pop up that blow your mind, open your eyes or at the very least make you think for a minute.

So much happens during the creative process, decisions must be made, and often really great ideas are cut, leading to loose ends that eagle-eyed viewers might be able to detect and conclude. Other times, bread crumbs are left intentionally by a writer or filmmaker — not even for the viewer to find, necessarily, but more as a storytelling frame or tonal touchstone, so they don’t lose their way throughout production.

So with a solid understanding of the process, when fan theories come out, I like to take the time really examine them and take everything into consideration. Buzzfeed recently put out the Top Fan Theories of 2015. Here are five of them, along with my humble (but thoroughly educated!) opinion.

1.The Peddler is the Genie in Aladdin.

How do I say this? Ummm…. Duh? Sorry, it’s just I thought we already knew this. Robin Williams voiced the Peddler. He also has Robin’s/The Genie’s quick-paced delivery. Who else would know the story AND have the lamp? To see this even labeled as a “fan theory” feels a little false. Not to mention since it’s been confirmed, that it is no longer classified as a theory so much as an actual element of the story.

2. The Joker is the Real Hero.

I kinda love this theory, as posted on Reddit. While we’re emotionally and psychologically set up to root for Batman, when you look at the chain of events, and the cause and effect… it’s clear that the Joker was actually the one to clean up Gotham, albeit in his own twisted way. Yes, Batman is all about ethics, but the Joker pushed Batman so far past his own beliefs, he turned Batman against himself. The Joker was just the ultimate infiltrator. This is really more of a philosophical question – what do you consider to be the greater good? That’s deep. And I appreciate it.

3. Jar Jar Binks was a Sith Genius.

Cory brought this one to my attention and though initially, I thought it was ridiculous. But damn are these arguments convincing. Is it really possible that Jar Jar was essentially too smart for his own good? Would Lucas really wimp out and choose to ditch Jar Jar’s original path? That’s the part of this theory that bothers me most, I suppose. Wouldn’t it have been the ultimate answer to the backlash if Jar Jar turned out to be the badass Sith Lord he was supposed to be? Once the negative feedback started to rumble, Lucas should’ve been out there fighting for him. As much as I would love if this were true, more realistically, I’m still on the fence.

4. Lime Green Represents Evil in the Disney Universe.

I’m not sure why this is really a theory, so much as a detail astutely brought to our attention. But Disney isn’t the only one to do this. In live action films, this can go back as far as 1939 with The Wizard of Oz. Determined to make the most of new Technicolor technology, the production team made The Wicked Witch and the Wizard (at his scariest) both sickeningly green, indicating evil.

While I am not a verified source here, I can make an educated guess that lime green is favorable on the evil artistry palette, particularly in animation. Think about the traditional colors of evil – black and red. Black, while often used as accents for evil characters, can be tough to differentiate in animation. Red is also tricky — too deep, it’s gory. Too bright, it’s jarring and difficult to look at for long. If you need a color to drench your evil scene, lime green is it. It’s not pleasant, especially when accented with black or purple. And when used to envelop a character, it projects an uneasy feeling, making the viewers instinctively understand that character is evil.

5. Pigeon Man killed himself in front of Arnold.

This…. I can get behind. 100%. Someday, I may finally finish my thesis on the dark depths of Hey, Arnold!, from Grandma’s perpetual state of denial over the loss of her child to Helga’s brutal upbringing with an abusive father and alcoholic mother. But let’s save that for another time. The theory says that when Arnold sees Pigeon Man carried away into the sunset by pigeons, this is a replaced memory and Pigeon Man actually jumped off the roof and died in front of Arnold. It’s a spin-off of an earlier theory, where the scene was literally created where Pigeon Man jumped to his death, but Nickelodeon wouldn’t allow it to air, so it was changed. Craig Bartlett is on record denying this theory in all its forms. But I’m not convinced. I fully believe Hey, Arnold! is riddled with grim clues that things aren’t exactly as we see them, so to me, this theory is totally plausible.

What do you guys think? About the Jar Jar one, really… I need to know where everybody stands on that.

Our Pop Culture Wedding

Life has been crazy recently for… a lot of reasons. One of the bigger (and much, much better) events was our wedding.

“Oh, great. That’s totally why we subscribed to your blog, Sarah. So we could read #humblebragging about your wedding. Swell.”

Hear me out. As a pop culture enthusiast, it was really important to me to figure out subtle, yet fun ways to incorporate certain pop culture elements into our day. Not just to do it, but because there was a reason behind it.

The Invitation:

Of all of the things, this invitation might be what I’m most proud of. After scouring the likes of online stationary sites, I decided we should go to a physical store. I chose, for whatever reason (I didn’t spend hours looking at reviews or pouring over  wedding magazines. I just went with what I found.) Anyway, this process lead me to Seaside Papery at Seaport Village, here in San Diego.

Quick aside — I scheduled the original appointment, but accidentally made it at an alternate location. We ended up canceling due to our Austin trip. It wasn’t until then that I realized the location error, and made a new appointment at the correct location for later. Thank god. Because….

We went. A few times. Dug through binders and binders of samples. And I didn’t like any of them. They were too flowery, too structured, or just too much. It was also tough because the few we did like had minimum ordering requirements of 50 or more. We just needed 30.

After Katie, the wonderful stationary specialist, showed us the last binder, I was defeated. Cory looked at me, then looked at Katie and said, “You know, we were kind of thinking about something like this…” and he described to her what we had talked about a few nights before. It was a completely original design. Katie listened, slowly nodded, then started sketching. As she sketched, she made a few suggestions, then a few more, her voice getting louder and more excited by the word.

“Exactly!” Cory said. “Is there anything like that?”
“I’ll do it,” Katie said with a shrug that said, “of course.”
And she did:

The TV Invitation

This didn’t mean our whole wedding was necessarily themed after TV, as much fun as that would have been. It was a small event, so ardently sticking to a theme didn’t seem worth it. Instead of consciously “theme-ing,” we simply found things that spoke to us.

The Little Things:

Star Wars Han & Leia Champagne Glasses:

Champagne Glasses
Saw these on Pinterest. Immediately knew they were perfect.  (Etsy)

Meaningful Disney Pins instead of boutonnieres:

Cory:Grape Soda Mark:FrozoneScreen shot 2015-11-19 at 1.28.42 PM
Because I really don’t like flower boutonnieres. And while this was NOT supposed to lead to Disney Pin collecting… it kinda did…. Good job, Disney.

A Wall-E and Eve cake topper:

Cake Topper

I couldn’t stand the thought of a typical Bride & Groom thing. Hearts/flowers, too gushy. Pinterest (of course) lead me to adorable toppers using Wall-E and Eve toys, dressed up in little top hats and veils. Over the next few months, I ordered countless toys online, trying to find the right sizes, but none of them seemed to be in proportion to each other. I was getting frustrated, until I fell upon these gorgeous acrylic cut toppers.  (also Etsy)

The Music:

Boarding music consisting of the themes from The Love Boat and Gilligan’s Island. I was absolutely insistent on this one. It helped that Bose has a Bluetooth speaker that matched our wedding colors.

The themes from The Office and Friends in our playlist. Because they’re our favorites. Our playlist also had songs from Sweeney Todd, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Into the Woods, and Jurassic Park.

It was great.

Oh and then instead of a honeymoon, we took our wedding party, friends, and family to Disneyland.
IMG_0076

It’s also worth noting that Cory & I didn’t do anything because we were “supposed to” or because it was “tradition.” Everything we did was because it’s what we wanted. Married on a boat. A wedding party that consisted of a Best Man, a Man of Honor, and a Best Person Ever. No dances. No cake-smushing. I didn’t have a shower. We didn’t register.

We just had an incredible wedding, surrounded by our favorite people, in a beautiful place. And then went to Disneyland.

Pop culture doesn’t get more personal than that.

Why I Didn’t Care About No New Footage and Other Comic-Con Thoughts

This was my 5th year at San Diego Comic-Con. And as each year comes, I think to myself, “Maybe this will be the year that I’ll get cynical. Maybe this time, I’ll see what others complain about.” But…

I am still head-over-heels in love with Comic-Con. And it just keeps getting better.

I love Comic-Con. I love the people. I love the cos-play. I love the long lines and crammed ballrooms. Some people find that surprising, like when they find out I actually love public speaking or theatre and improv. And I get it; I’m an open introvert with social and generalized anxiety. You would think large crowds, tight spaces, and lots of noise would be the last place I would be, since I can’t even make a phone call without breaking into a cold sweat. But the truth is, I’ve always found comfort in crowds. It’s because I can assess and respond in a situation quickly based on others around me. Is that like, a superpower? It should be.

This year, Cory and I actually didn’t know if we would make it until literally 2 days before. But thanks to some inside knowledge and a little luck, we were good to go. But because of the uncertainty, and the whole wedding thing, we did not put in for the hotel lottery. No, instead we decided to rough it and walk from our apartment, which is a little over 1 mile straight up from the convention center. “Up” being the key term there. While a mile walk isn’t bad, at a typical con, we’re each lugging 15-20 lbs worth of stuff. Still, not too bad, right? Except that the way back is uphill. Not steep, but a long, grueling incline that catches up with you. We had to do it, though.

Since we really didn’t know if we were going until the last minute, we didn’t take a lot of time to plan. The one thing we knew we wanted: The Star Wars panel.

Thursday afternoon, after an okay panel on pitching, we decided to check out the line, around 1 pm. And it was massive. For those unfamiliar with the convention center and Hall H, the line weaves in and out of tents alongside the building, then crosses the street and lines the sidewalk all the way around to the back of convention center, where it then goes up the sidewalk along the marina to the Hilton, then back down the gate to the Embarcadero, where it loops up and down the lawn and basketball courts before starting again back on the sidewalk of the marina down toward Seaport Village. It can be literally miles long. When we got in line, it was behind Joe’s Crab Shack on “the island,” or the Embarcardero. All things considered, it was a good spot – soft lawn, shade from the trees, breeze from the bay. Cory and I were kind of at a loss — we weren’t expecting to be in line so early. Luckily, the girl ahead of us and the man behind us offered to watch our things if we left for food or panels. Then, we made friends with the brother and sister nearby. Before we knew it, we were a hearty little group of six, sharing blankets and stories from cons past. We stuck together, taking turns going into the Con, seeing panels, grabbing food, etc. We got our wristbands (the guarantee of entry to a certain point) around 11 pm. One super generous member of our new gang offered to hold our spots for the night. He’s a good guy.

The next morning, after a missed alarm and a mile jog downtown, we found our friends, bought breakfast, and waited. We eventually got into the cavernous Hall H before any panels started, and there, the six of us settled in for a long day to get to ….

The Star Wars Panel —

Yes, it’s true. They didn’t really reveal anything new. They showed some (amazing) behind the scenes footage, and I know it was picked apart on the Internet minutes after its release.

So there seems to be 2 schools of thought here: the panel was either a big fake-out or the greatest experience ever.

As someone who lived it, I’m here to tell you – It was the Greatest. Experience. Ever.

It’s easy to get excited about being the first to see new stuff. And hey, I’ve been there, too. It is great – you feel special. For like, 3 minutes. But it doesn’t take long for the whole world to catch up to where you are. Even this year – they premiered the latest Batman Vs. Superman trailer. I was not there. I WAS, however, on the convention floor, near the DC booth when the stars came over right from Hall H to sign autographs. And they showed the trailer. On a loop.

Now listen, if you’re going to do a panel in one of the big rooms, you gotta bring something. The Game of Thrones panel earlier on Friday was pretty lame-o for several reasons, but mainly because there was literally nothing new to show. Nothing new to talk about. There are no more books. They maybe *just* started filming. They’re still figuring it out. And it was boring.

JJ and Co tantalized us by bringing out a real puppet who walked across the stage. They staggered bringing out the new stars, giving the crowd a chance to ask questions to each group.

They carefully kept Harrison Ford until the very end.

Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford

And I’ll admit, at this point, I was starting to feel a little disappointed. I had desperately hoped for a truly mind-blowing experience and I just didn’t have it. Even with Harrison. I knew the panel was coming to an end and I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. Until JJ made the big reveal.

A surprise concert, behind the convention center — right where this whole journey began.

During the panel, Mark Hamill mentioned that everyone seems to have a Star Wars story. I mean, he’s right. I wrote about mine. And that, that was the point of being there. In a line with thousands of other people. Sitting on the lawn for twelve hours. Making friends. Saving spots. Bringing coffee and doughnuts. Sharing anticipation and excitement. This is what Comic-Con, at its best, is about. Yes, there’s swag and celebrities and new teasers. And yes there are comics and toys and art and memorabilia.

But this is about sharing your love of something with others who love it just as much as you do. It takes what could be a very isolated feeling and propels it into a universe of those who feel the same way, turning loneliness into acceptance and a sense of belonging. That’s freaking awesome.

So no, I don’t care there wasn’t any “new” footage or trailers. I had an amazing experience with new friends that will forever bond us together. And I can’t wait until next year.

Star Wars: My Introduction to the Force

On the heels of the new teaser trailer coming out, I just had to write about Star Wars.

First of all — that trailer, though. If I wasn’t at work, sitting at a table surrounded by co-workers, I would have freaked out. It took a whole lot of focus to contain my excitement. No controlling the goosebumps, though.

I’m not sure what I liked better — the crashed Star Destroyer in the background of the first shot or Han and Chewie in the last shot. (BTW, has someone determined a Wookiee lifespan? Is that Chewie or like, Chewie Jr.?)
(Update: Found out a Wookiee lifespan is 400 years. All good, then.)

Eventually, someone in the office asked me today, “Are you a Star Wars fan?” She barely finished asking before I answered, “Yes.” My Star Wars appreciation has really grown over the years, for sure.

But what about the first time?

I know exactly when I saw Star Wars for the first time. Okay, not exactly. Couldn’t tell you the year (1996?) or the season (winter? It was dark…) but I know this — it was AN EVENT.

An Event in my household most often meant a viewing event – a movie or TV show or special we all wanted to watch. Surprisingly, these events were few and far between. Scheduled events, anyway. Usually, if one of us made a big deal about a show, the rest would eventually gather around and watch along. Or sometimes, if I walked in while my dad was watching something he felt was incredibly important and I stopped in the living room just long enough to watch, he would say, “This is a good movie,” which was dad-speak for, “sit your ass down and watch this.”

But the Star Wars event was fully scheduled over the course of 3 weekends. Pretty certain this happened because we had just gone to Florida and rode Star Tours, got our picture taken in front of the giant AT-AT, and admitted to Dad we had never seen the movies. In fact, the most James and I knew of franchise was probably learned from clips in the Muppet Babies.
Screen shot 2015-04-16 at 10.02.15 PM

We could *identify* Star Wars, but we’d never seen it.  Obviously, this needed to change.

The first Saturday was good. I loved 3PO and Leia. I recognized elements from the ride. I was definitely looking forward to next week.

The second Saturday was when young Sarah’s mind was blown away. I loved every second of it. The Han and Leia romance made my little heart race. Han actually going into the carbonite and not being saved at the last minute? Unexpected. Yoda was great, and I was so proud I could identify Frank Oz. But when Luke was revealed to be Darth Vader’s son? I damn near lost it. How? How could this be?

It was probably the last truly innocent and genuine cinematic shock I will ever experience. I couldn’t get over it. While in my state of disbelief, I inquired to my father incredulously , “Darth Vader is Luke’s father? Really? Really?! What next, Leia’s his sister?”

Dad, always eager to spoil, even back then, looked at me with raised eyebrows and side smirk – the sign I was dead on.

“No way. No!!”

He made some “hmmm” noises, refusing to verbalize that I was exactly right. But he didn’t have to. I knew it.

So the third Saturday, I watched my prediction come true. Also, I was a huge fan of Return of the Jedi. The Ewoks get a lot of heat, but they really were adorable, so if it was a kid-ploy, it worked and helped stoke my fandom. I even loved the little song and dance scene at the end. So there.

As a side note, my mom, who sat with us all three Saturdays, hates Star Wars and sci-fi in general. She doesn’t do well with aliens, so she has particular disdain for Jabba and Admiral Ackbar. Yet, she does love E.T.

Anyway, I watched all three movies pretty regularly after that. When the prequels came out, I was beyond excited, but that’s a story for another day.

I forever love Star Wars, thanks in no small part to how I was introduced to it.

If you remember when you first saw the original trilogy, share with me!