Last year I was invited to be a guest on Inside The Box: The TV History Podcast to revisit the Star Wars Holiday Special. Aside for my love of Star Wars, my greatest qualification for being a guest was nine-year-old me had witnessed the airing of the special in November 1978. For those not in the know, the show was a two-hour variety special that focused on the Wookiee Christmas-like holiday, “Life Day.” And it was bad—like epically bad.
After prepping for the podcast by giving the special a close viewing, I began to see that it contained many important moments relating to the galaxy far, far away. I was surprised that there was not a more cohesive fan-edit of the special like had famously been done on the prequel trilogy and Star Wars Special Edition. I decided to take inspiration from Henry Jenkins’s “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Grassroots Creativity Meets the Media Industry” and make a fan edit of the special as a type of methodology. With the democratization of design through easy-to-use video software like iMovie and Movie Maker the experiment had a low barrier of entry.
The easiest way to acquire the Star Wars Holiday Special is to torrent a digital version of a VHS recording from the original airing. I first edited out all of the singing, dancing, and “comedy” segments, which cut the 98-minute running time in half. The remaining material gave an interesting view of Wookiee home life with a focus on how Chewbacca’s adolescent son, Lumpy, negotiated this space. Through his ingenuity Lumpy is able to divert an Imperial patrol that are lying in wait for Han to return Chewie home in time for Life Day. With this now coherent plot as the focus I was able to edit out the superfluous material bringing the final run time to 38 minutes, and what I believe to be a cohesive and worthwhile viewing: Lumpy Saves Life Day.
The value to impart from this endeavor is, though critique of media has its place, the manipulation of media through fan edits can not only provide new found entertainment but can also illuminate meaning from a text.