‘Star Wars,’ Weezer share similar fates

Until recently, the only relation between Weezer and “Star Wars” I would have drawn was that I have spent most of my life as a fan of both. Indeed, what else could be compared between these beloved sources of entertainment, perhaps beyond the dark tone of each brand’s second release?

Weezer is a power pop rock band helmed by Rivers Cuomo since its formation in the early 1990s and “Star Wars” is a beloved science fiction film franchise whose influence is encountered everywhere, from toy shelves to clothes racks to my weekday lunch bag.

Beyond the décor of the adolescent bedrooms, commonality between these two subjects seems less than obvious.

However, after multiple viewings of the latest “Star Wars” film, “The Force Awakens,” and a year of listening to Weezer’s 2014 album, “Everything Will Be Alright In The End,” the similarities have been revealed.

Contentious debate among fans of either topic has become as much a part of each as the works themselves. Fans of both “Star Wars” and Weezer are among the most devoted and can be found everywhere, split into tribes of “classic” versus “contemporary.” It can be dangerous to broach either topic in public, as these tribes wear no identifiable markers and debate between members of each can engulf any area.

I recall a particularly naive moment last year when, in attempt to avoid awkward political discussion at The Brass Eye in Niles, I turned to Dave behind the bar and said “I started to rewatch the ‘Star Wars’ movies.”

The political discussion I evaded would have been peaceful compared to the debate that ensued, with every person in the bar sharing loud and unshakeable opinions on “the sins of the “Star Wars” prequels” or the “stubbornness of fans of the originals.”

For those who have somehow avoided arguments between fans of the original “Star Wars” Trilogy and fans of the late 1990s prequels, I will briefly outline the quarrel.

In the late 1970s, George Lucas released the first “Star Wars” film to much praise. The acclaim from both critics and audiences went far beyond expectations and multiple generations of fans were born.

Personal and professional difficulties encountered by Lucas leading to the 1983 release of the third film, “Return Of The Jedi,” put the prospect of future films on hold for a decade. Fandom grew as the franchise expanded into every marketable item imaginable and audiences tirelessly examined the existing canon. In 1993, Lucas finally announced he would be returning to “Star Wars” by releasing prequels to the original films.

The first prequel, “The Phantom Menace,” was one of the most anticipated movies of all time. Reaction to it and the following prequels, however, split audiences into two camps. Many of those who had grown up on the original trilogy were disappointed in the quality of the movies and the handling of their beloved characters.

A newer generation, though, came to “The Phantom Menace” with no expectations and were fascinated by the depiction of space battles and adventure.

“Star Wars” became one of the most hostile topics in movie history.

A very similar conflict has long existed among Weezer fans.

The band released two albums in quick succession in the 1990s, “The Blue Album” and “Pinkerton.” Both albums were placed in high regard by music fans, with “Pinkerton” gaining a near-mythic reputation in late-night Internet discussions. The band, due to various internal changes, would release nothing new for six years. As with “Star Wars,” the downtime was spent building an anticipation no artist would envy. In 2001, when the band released “The Green Album,” new fans rejoiced in the quirky pop hooks and unusual melodies while most old fans lamented the short songs and change in sound.

“The Force Awakens” has received well-deserved praise from nearly every person who has watched it, from the strongest of “Star Wars” fans to those without an interest in science fiction.

It is a solid, stand-alone movie full of incredible effects, entertaining adventure, and lovable characters.

Furthermore, both “classic” and “prequel” fans have found common ground in a new “Star Wars” that brings the most loved elements of each into one title, with a promising future for more.

Director JJ Abrams and those involved in the production approached it with a delicate hand, successfully honoring the franchise’s past while creating a new path every fan can walk down together.

Weezer’s “Everything Will Be Alright In The End” brought a similar approach in a musical form.

Portions of the album are a direct response to the complaints of classic fans and all of it was a deliberate effort to reconnect with the sound of the ‘90s. Tearing guitar riffs were combined with the pop sounds of the band’s more recent releases to bridge the gap, giving fans new and old something to love. The album made a number of best album lists for the year and remains one of the more solid releases of the band’s entire catalog. Where battles of Pinkerton versus “The Green Album” once occurred, shared joy of new music to come now exists.

On the “Star Wars” themed season finale of “The Breakdown With Dylan Roberts & Justin Flagel,” I stated that, thanks to “The Force Awakens,” “the ‘Star Wars’ wars are over.” We can safely assume the same for the battle of Weezer lovers.

It is a good time to be a fan.

Justin Flagel is the founder of the web magazine and podcast Anywhere the Needle Drops, where he and others showcase their interest in music, pop culture, creativity and life. Follow their work at anywheretheneedledrops.com. Feedback can be directed to contact@anywheretheneedledrops.com.

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