By Owen Ferguson
People tend to think of Star Wars fans as a clique of socially maladjusted, basement residing technophiles.
If the collection of freaks that crawled out of the woodwork for this weekend’s Star Wars convention are any indication, those people are right.
Welcome to “Star Wars: The Men Behind the Masks” – where kitsch and marketing hype collide.
Apparently, it takes three things to be a real Star Wars fan. First, an utter lack of physical attractiveness. Eight hours of searching every corner of the conference failed to turn up a single attractive person.
The men had strange haircuts, terminal acne and bad posture. The women were fat and ugly, and more than a few of them had adopted that god-awful Princess Leia bun hairdo. Toronto had never hosted a convention with such a lack of good-looking people.
The second requirement is a vast array of useless Star Wars knowledge, what might have been known in the 50’s as “cocktail knowledge”; thousands of small anecdotes and facts that mean nothing to anyone outside of the Star Wars clique. Here’s a sampling:
“Dash Rendar’s ship had a warp rating of .5, but the Millennium Falcon has one of .25” Or: “Gonk is the true source of the force, he is the god of the Star Wars Universe.”
For those of you outside the clique, a lower warp rating indicates a faster ship, and Gonk is the dark blue box-like droid that appears in all three movies.
The final requirement for a true Star Wars fanhood is deep pockets. This conference was expensive. Advance admission was $20,or $30 for advance seating.
Add five dollars if you paid at the door.
An autograph from Jeremy Bulloch, who played Boba Fett was $10. David Prowse, who played Darth Vader, cost $15. (There was a two-hour line up just to get to the autograph tables).
And the money-grubbing didn’t stop there: A C3PO-shaped action figure case and a copy of the first issue of the Star Wars comics, signed by the artist, went for $110 each and an original Return of the Jedi press kit sold for $75.
But spending money was only one of two diversions at the conference. The other was the rather limited collection of guest speaker(there were three).
The first and worst was Sharon Lowachee, who, with an utter lack of any public speaking prowess and a slideshow of randomly selected images from Star Wars, presented the crowd with her predictions regarding the upcoming Star Wars Prequels.
Next came the biggest surprise of the whole convention-Jeremy Bulloch.
Most people at the convention had no idea what Bulloch would be like. “I bet he’ll be cool,” said one young member of the audience. He sure was.
Bulloch perfectly fits the stereotype of the eccentric, soft-spoken, slightly condescending British Shakespearean actor. He has amazing skill at working the crowd, and remained subtly humorous throughout the whole event.
The first part of his act consisted of inviting a member of the audience up on stage to try walking and talking like Boba Fett – of course, much hilarity ensued.
This was followed by a question and answer period that was, if anything, too short.
Last up was David Prowse. His act consisted of rather lengthy autobiographical monologue followed by another Q and A period. Prowse is another classically—trained British actor, but he actually started out as a body builder who played strong man roles.
Although the main speakers were great, I’d recommend saving your money for some cool Star Wars action figures.