An exploration of the serial.
Whether you waited in line for hours to see The Last Jedi or wish the franchise would just die out already, the Star Wars Anthology phenomenon is fan culture at its peak. And it isn’t going away anytime soon. In his video essay, Nerdwriter explains the emergence of the serial novel and its future impact on cinema, and of course television. Charles Dicken’s The Pickwick Papers, first published in 1836, cemented the serialized format. The serial novel allowed for the creation of sub-plots and the expansion of characters. Dickens could react to fan feedback and adjust a character’s trajectory accordingly.
When an anthology is expanded over many decades, such as Star Wars, we often see diversity playing a huge role, so as to better reflect the politics not of the story’s universe, but of our current time. Of course, this embrace of diversity is also a financial tactic. Star Wars is a global brand. It needs to reflect the people consuming, not just the ones creating.
But the key difference between The Pickwick Papers and Star Wars is that Dickens was the sole author of his work. Although it wasn’t a success from the get-go, it was nevertheless consistent in its authorial voice and. Although there are some films in the anthology we all wish we could forget, the franchise’s change of hands mostly allows for a fresh perspective. Serialization allows for fans to become authors. Now, filmmakers and fans alike can write the rules for what they do and don’t want to see. Over a 180 years later, serialization has come far.