A while back, I sent my son a link to a cover of Somebody That I Used To Know. Recently, he sent me a link to The Star Wars That I Used To Know. I watched it with and without the sound, and listened without watching, and enjoyed both. Because of it, I found the original video Somebody That I Used To Know and absorbed it the same way: sound and graphics and expressions, separately and combined. It made the Star Wars parody even more enjoyable.
But then I looked up the lyrics. When I went back to the Star Wars video after that, one quote caught my attention: Star Wars will be done my way!
Why was that a villainous statement? Why did it lead to an accusation of having sold out?
"Star Wars will be done my way!" is a heroic statement. The video plays it for hubris, but stand back and think. Lucas invented Star Wars. He begat it and he gestated it and he birthed it and he raised it. Do I think he made mistakes? Sure I do. His work sometimes left me all too aware of the hardness of my theater seat and the stickiness of the floor. But those mistakes were his to make.
Even if he crossed the line to hubris, that's his fate he's affecting. Not mine. Not that of any other aficionado of his work. His.
The word fan probably derives from the verb fantasien, to fantasize about, or from fanatic, in its meaning of someone who takes enthusiasm to excessive levels. Fans make themselves a part of the reality they "ship." In context, the word ship probably comes from the overlapping part of "relationship" and "worship," with an implication that the person who ships is also taking up championship of certain aspects of that reality.
Every creator who puts work out for public consumption loves having fans. Fans give the creator the emotional and financial means to keep creating, and as such they deserve respect. Creators who last (and many who can't last) cultivate a vibrant two-way relationship with their fans. However, most creators take a warier view of shipping. Why? Because sometimes a fan or group of fans will effectively declare ownership.
And that's wrong.
Parody is fun. Emulation is fine. But theft is a crushing blow.