Transcript of Resilience Squadron – Episode 2 – The High COVID Era

Resilience Squadron is a monthly podcast on the Skywalking Through Neverland Network where Greg Norman and Jack Vasvary share and discuss great stories related to disability, chronic illness, and mental health within the Star Wars fandom.

In this episode Jack and Greg discuss the latest announcements from Disney, observe the passings of David Prowse and Jeremy Bulloch while also exploring David’s history of disability, and talk about some of the themes of trauma in recent episodes of The Mandalorian. Then they do a deep dive into how the Star Wars franchise and its fandom has been impacted by the COVID pandemic, and how the series and community have benefited fans in this difficult year.

You can listen here. The transcript continues below.

Transcript

Greg: [Over uplifting music] Welcome to Resilience Squadron, where we share and discuss the adventures, challenges and representation of disabled and chronically ill fans across the Star Wars universe. 

Greg: Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of Resilience Squadron. I’m Greg. 

Jack: And I’m Jack.

Greg: And glad to have you with us again. We’re recording this right before the holidays. And we’ll be releasing right after in the last week of the year. So I hope everybody’s had a really good holiday season, and are looking forward to a happy new year.

Jack: And here’s to a good 2021.

Greg: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s like, here at the end of the year, I feel like we’re getting some of the best Star Wars content and news we’ve gotten in a long time. And it’s made me nothing but like just really happy where we’re at and really positive, looking forward to what’s coming in the future. Now, we talked about last month that I joked that the Night Owls showing up on Mandalorian had saved 2020. And I think Mando since then has just, you know, took that as a challenge and just multiplied it times 1000.

Jack: Favreau and Filoni heard it.

Greg: Exactly. They must be listening and they’re like, oh, yeah, we’ll wait til you see Ahsoka, Boba Fett, and then Luke. And that’s just made my year.

Jack: And guys if you’re listening – Chewbacca series. Just sayin, just sayin.

Greg: Hey, we’re manifesting it. We’re making it happen. Yeah, I mean, we’re gonna get into later in this episode, our main topic this month, we’re really gonna dive into COVID, and this year 2020. What it’s been like, in terms of the fandom in terms of the content, and what it’s meant to be part of the Star Wars fandom this year. 

But yeah, as far as how things are going right now, so Jack, what’s happened with your work situation? Mind talking about it just a little bit?

Jack: Yeah, on the 17th Governor Wolf announced that there would be a statewide shutdown, which started on Saturday, the 19th. 

Greg: Right. 

Jack: And will go up until January 4. And that includes, unfortunately, any businesses within the entertainment industry. 

Greg: Cause you work in a theater. 

Jack: Exactly. So…

Greg: Yeah, it’s a rough situation. And I know there’s a lot of news coming out about what the studios are doing with theaters and with film distribution. You and I talked before about Warner Brothers’ decision and what they were doing, where they’re releasing their movies kind of simultaneously, I guess, starting with Wonder Woman at Christmas.

Jack: Right. 

Greg: Where they’re putting them out in theaters and on streaming at the same time. 

Jack: On HBO Max. 

Greg: Yeah, on HBO Max, which I know some of the benefit you mentioned of that is at least they’re doing something in the theater. They’re not going just straight to streaming. 

Jack: Right. I mean, it’s obviously not ideal. And it’s not what any of us that work in industry wanted. 

Greg: Right. 

Jack: But I’ll take that over skipping theaters altogether, and just going straight to a streaming service. 

Greg: Yeah. 

Jack: Right now, like everybody’s kind of hurting right now. So we take what we can get.

Greg: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s basically a crappy situation all around.

Jack: Right. But I said I do at least give Warner Brothers some props for making that decision. Even I don’t know why they made that decision. It might be something else, but at least the decision they made is beneficial to theaters and to them.

Greg: Yeah. But the other big thing. I mean, we’ve recorded some pieces of this podcast already. But there’s some other big developments this week, just a few days ago with the Disney investors call. And they’ve kind of clarified a lot about what they’re doing. It sounds like they’re going, they’re doing two things. One is they’re shifting a lot towards streaming, both because of circumstances and because of how successful streaming has been for them with Mando.

Jack: Right. 

Greg: That they’re really kind of doubling down on that. And really throwing money into it with like 10 Star Wars shows, similar number of Marvel shows. But still talking about movies, they didn’t really get a lot in depth about movies. But sounded like all their movies are still intended as theatrical releases.

Jack: Exactly, right.

Greg: But they’re also like two or three years away. So hopefully, those will be able to be released in theaters, hopefully, you’ll be safe to go. We’re gonna get more into this topic a little later. But first, we want to get in our Status Report section. You know, as a monthly podcast, we’re not going to touch on every news thing that’s happened in the past month. But what we’d like to do is take a few things that we think are very relevant here to what we’re talking about. Some of these news items we’re going to touch on especially around like Mandalorian and stuff we recorded a couple weeks ago. And so what you’re going to hear is a little bit out of date. We hadn’t at the time, seen the last episodes of Mandalorian. 

So the major thing that’s happened also this month that we want to get into is the Disney investor call that at this point was a couple weeks ago. So Jack, let’s talk about our top three takeaways from that of the things we’re looking forward to. You want to go first?

Jack: Ahsoka obviously.

Greg: Yeah. 

Jack: Can’t wait for that.

Greg: That’s my number one also.

Jack: Then I would definitely say Bad Batch. I’m really looking forward to that and then Visions. Absolutely I think it sounds like it’s gonna be kind of cool in Animatrix-type vibe to it where it’s, you know, it’ll be a whole bunch of different artists and their own visions.

Greg: Yeah, no, they talked about it being like, just in sort of anime style approach to it. I hope it’s a lot of different, like, even within anime different diverse styles, which is kinda like Animatrix was like you said. Okay, so yeah, my top three, you actually touched on two of them. Yeah, Ahsoka I’m, for just so many obvious reasons. I’m looking forward to it. But especially as I believe it’s like, I’m excited to be having a Ahsoka show. Love the episode with her. Filoni did an amazing job. And he’s writing this and running it. Um, I’m just really looking forward to more of Ahsoka’s journey. I want to know what happens where she goes from here. Where has she been? All that kind of stuff. And I hope we get to explore that stuff.

Jack: And hopefully, too. It’s gonna touch on the epilogue from Rebels.

Greg: Yeah. Yeah. 

Jack: Since they didn’t announce they have yet to announce a Rebels sequel series.

Greg: Right.

Jack: Hopefully this will be the Rebel sequel series.

Greg: Yeah, exactly. I hope it either is the series and it has all you know, it’s all the characters were hoping for – Sabine and Ezra and Thrawn, maybe. Certainly sounds like he’s gonna be part of it. But and then hopefully, if there is like, legit even full Rebels sequel, maybe still coming that this could maybe lead into that. And yeah, we talk about Rogue Squadron. That’s fascinating to me. I’m actually excited about the fact that besides you know, Patty’s history and stuff. I wish we could get the legacy classic Rogue Squadron back in the day with Wedge and Luke and all that. I think you’d have to do it like animated or something to make it work. Practically. I like the idea.

Jack: I don’t know. I mean, we did see Wedge. He did make a cameo in Rise of Skywalker.

Greg: Well, let me put it this way. I mean, in order to put it during the classic time period of the Rogue, the old Rogue Squadron…

Jack: I gotcha. Right. Right.

Greg: It would have to be very expensively de-aging people.

Jack: Right. 

Greg: But I think the fact that she’s doing it into the more post sequel era sounds like that’s my impression is it’s going to be, you know, after Rise of Skywalker. She talked about it being a new era, she’s talking about taking the themes and the energy and all that stuff, the things we love about Rogue Squadron, and taking it forward into something new we haven’t seen yet. Which is, that’s cool. To me. That’s what I want to see. And I think there’s a chance of Wedge showing up, let’s see if they can get Denis to commit and play the senior, you know, commander or leadership role in it or something. That’d be great.

Greg: Right. And I do want to say one thing, too, is like, although the Force stuff that we’ve seen in Mandalorian I’m really hoping that we do get, we truly do get a movie or series that has nothing to do with it.

Greg: Yeah, nothing to do with the Force, nothing to do with Skywalkers. I mean, a lot of these spin off type shows that sound more sort of gritty and real… it evokes Rogue One for me, which I think nailed all that, you know, touch a little bit of Force stuff, but it’s like, that wasn’t what it was about. You can’t do Star Wars without acknowledging the existence of those things. But…

Jack: right, but you don’t have to go full blown into it. With… 

Greg: Exactly 

Jack: showing you Force users and lightsabers, and 

Greg: Yeah. 

Jack: Mentioning Skywalkers. 

Greg: Yep. 

Jack: You can definitely avoid all that and make it its own thing within the universe. And still have it be Star Wars.

Greg: Yeah, exactly. Then yeah, the final thing I’m really looking forward to wasn’t an announcement time. It’s because we’ve known about it, but it was sort of, I guess the official thing and logo was for Taika Waititi’s movie. I just can’t wait. I can’t imagine what he’s going to come up with, I hope. I really hope the idea of bringing him on is going to give him just free rein to do something amazing and different. His episode of Mandalorian surprised me on the standpoint of like, I know he’s a great filmmaker, and he can do a lot of heart and a lot of seriousness. I know we can fit certain formats. His episode was not what I expected from him. I thought it was gonna be more of a really wild Ragnarok style, adventure thing and comedy, but it wasn’t… it was another Mandalorian episode. But it had a lot of great little moments in it and a lot of cool, fun, different styles of action and stuff, but there’s still fit within the show. I actually hope that movies. I think he could do the same thing with a movie that still looks like a Star Wars movie and feels like it has the same kind of humor and additional stuff. But I would actually love to see him do even more of a crazy Star Wars movie.

Jack: Well, do you want to hear my pitch? 

Greg: Yeah. 

Jack: Now bear with me four Sith padawans, and they’re the worst Sith ever. They have a documentary crew, following them.

Greg: Heh, What We Do in the Dark Side.

Jack: What We Do in the Dark Side.

Greg: I would love that that’s exactly what they should be doing. 

But we had some unfortunate news this month as well, we had the passing of a couple of legends. First David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the first three movies. And we also lost Jeremy Bulloch, who played Boba Fett in the original trilogy. And they’re both a big loss for the fan community, because they were both really active, you know, in the conventions, and the fan circuits. And they also just had really great interaction with fans. There have been so many great stories from both of them. We do want to dive a little bit more into David Prowse’s history. Because, you know, as we learn more about him, there’s a lot that he went through and a lot that was really it’s really relevant to the topics we talked about here. So besides obviously playing Darth Vader and some other known rules he had, I don’t know if you knew that I guess he went for the role of Superman at the time that he didn’t get, but he actually ended up doing personal training for Christopher Reeve to prepare for Superman.

Jack: Yeah, I didn’t know that at all.

Greg: That’s that was really cool, I thought. And also he was really well known as the Green Cross Code man, which was a big thing in the UK, where he would do public service announcements regularly to promote safety, crossing streets and stuff. And we know that he battled arthritis. But I didn’t realize that he dealt with arthritis from a very young age. He was misdiagnosed and he spent 18 months in a hospital as he tried to figure out what was going on with his legs. But they apparently thought for years that he or for a year or more that he had tuberculosis, but turned out that he actually had early onset osteoarthritis, which started significantly impairing him. And what he got interested in was weightlifting. And that led him into bodybuilding. And he excelled at that, it helped alleviate a lot of symptoms and problems, and obviously then led him into movie roles. And eventually Vader. So it was cool that, you know, we don’t always say that we overcome conditions. It’s more like we alleviate them or deal with them. But it sounds like he was able to take what he had experienced and turn it into, obviously a great career. 

But I know the problems with arthritis and other health issues came back years later, and eventually resulted in like paralysis and a number of surgeries he had to have eventually started having to use a wheelchair. And I saw a story from, and I’m sure this is common, but I saw a story from Brian young who goes by Swankmotron, from the Full of Sith podcast, he mentioned on the podcast and in the Twitter thread a story about when he hosts a panel at one of the conventions where both David and Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca. were guests featured guests on the panel and both of them were using wheelchairs. And neither of them could get up on the stage because this was completely inaccessible. And I know you’ve had experiences like that plenty of times, right?

Jack: Yeah, actually, just a few years ago, some friends and I we were all in wheelchairs. We were going to a car show. And at the particular car show, they had celebrity guests, and all the guests were on these platforms. And there is maybe like one or two steps to get onto the platforms to meet these celebrities. Of course, you know, if you’re in a wheelchair, you know that, yeah, that’s it. That’s all it takes. I mean, one step is too many steps.

Greg: Right. 

Jack: And I wanted to meet a professional wrestler, and my two other friends wanted to meet a NASCAR driver. And we both got in our respective lines. And when they came their turn to meet him, he did not come down. And you know, I don’t want to speculate as to why…

Greg: Right. 

Jack: But when it came my turn to meet this wrestler….

Greg: Yeah.

Jack: Maybe about a couple months previous to this show. She had legitimately not a storyline, but legitimately blew her knee out during a match. So when she was at the show, she was in full leg brace. 

Greg: Okay 

Jack: But not only did she come down the steps. She signed her book that she had recently published. I think she even signed an 8 by 10 glossy…

Greg: That’s so great. 

Jack: She took pictures with me. She talked to me, you know, didn’t complain once. It was a non issue. The bigger issue is that, had they not had those platforms in the first place? None of this would have happened. 

Greg: Yeah. Yeah. And it says a lot too just that these, much less for fans, especially for actual event guests, featured guests to not be able to, you know, get up on a stage or something because no one had prepared for that, or was able to accommodate it quickly, or had even just designed it that way to begin with, which should be the default. But yeah, given all that, I mean, Prowse, you know, he went through a lot, he dealt with cancer some years later, and eventually passed from COVID, unfortunately, which is just yet another tragic COVID loss. Of course, the other big thing happening right now in Star Wars is Mandalorian. And we should point out that we’re recording right now on Thursday, the 10th. Our episode won’t be released for another week and a half. So we have two episodes to go with Mandalorian with the next one airing tomorrow. So you lucky listeners, by the time you’re listening to this, you will already know how the season ends. And what’s happening. 

Jack: No spoilers, please.

Greg: Don’t spoil it for us in the comments. Because we’re a week and a half behind you. And we don’t want to know, and that’s how time works. But yeah, we do want to touch really quick on the last couple episodes and some of the themes that came up and what’s going on with the show. We’ll probably speculate a little bit and see if we’re right. And we definitely 100% will not go back and edit in the correct answers. Yeah, so I mean, the main main big thing. Okay, well, there’s two. The first big thing was the reveal of Ahsoka in live action. And be honest, Jack, did you cry when she showed up?

Jack: I came close. Definitely. 

Greg: It’s pretty emotional. 

Jack: The only thing I think kind of spoiled for me was the scoop from back in the spring. 

Greg: Yeah 

Jack: I think, I mean, had that scoop not been put all over the internet.

Greg: Yeah, that’s one of the ones where I get it, putting it out there. But man, if we had  just started this episode, you know, there would have been anticipation we would have been building up to…

Jack: Who is this Jedi,

Jack: Yeah well, but well, Bo Katan had mentioned 

Jack: Oh, yeah 

Greg: The name drop would have hit us even more…

Jack: Right 

Greg: And then go into this episode. And just in the first five seconds we see Ahsoka in live action, played by Rosario Dawson and have not known anything about that would have been just an unbelievable experience. I’m definitely bummed that that happened.

Jack: Even the day of, they still had not said Rosario is playing Ahsoka…

Greg: I mean until her names were in the credits. They didn’t say that it was her, but certainly been rumored for a while. We do want to acknowledge before getting into the topic of Ahsoka in some of the things you want to discuss with her. The fact that it’s one on there are these allegations against Rosario in terms of trans violence and transphobia. And, you know, there have been new developments in that case, but we still don’t know the whole story. So it’s something I think we want to hold off on commenting on for now, while also acknowledging that people do feel impacted by this. And I mean, it’s all it’s it’s really important. I think we kind of need to wait and see what happens with it. And it’s probably even more of a topic now with just today, and we should mention, while recording, they’ve had the Disney investor call and announced a bunch of new stuff, including an Ahsoka live action show starring Rosario. And that’s just another, you know, salt in the wound of some people who are really, really bothered by this. So we definitely acknowledge that. And we’re not necessarily in a position to talk about it. But certainly, if people would like us to talk about it more, you know, just let us know. But also we’d love to hear from listeners and fans who are impacted by this, but what they think, you know, we’re listening and we want to amplify those voices. But so I think we can focus on the character of Ahsoka and the writing and the themes. You’d said a lot about Jack and we talked about Ahoska showing up with Grogu about how there seems to be a sort of history of trauma that’s affected them both that connects them.

Jack: Absolutely. I think it’s pretty clear to say that Ahsoka is still kind of dealing with the loss of Anakin per se. 

Greg: Yeah.

Jack: and I know it was kind of a creative writing thing for her to not say his name… 

Greg: Right 

Jack: It is more impactful not to say it, but at the same time, from a character standpoint, I think it was more so the fact that maybe she even to this day cannot utter the words Anakin Skywalker, because she’s still so traumatized by it. 

Greg: Yeah, I think it could have come about either way, I think being either a conscious decision creatively for her character, but also, I’m sure there’s a number of decisions made in terms of her and Grogu and others about the focus of the show, it just not being necessarily relevant and also being for an audience, a general audience that may not know that background…

Jack: Right. And also too even the fact that she said, no…

Greg: Yeah

Jack: she won’t train him. And one of the big reasons, obviously, if she wasn’t gonna train him, is because it would have been irresponsible of her. 

Greg: Right 

Jack: with his abandonment and anger issues, but also to it 100% came back to Anakin. And the fact that she was still dealing with it, and probably also too, didn’t want to be responsible.

Greg: Yeah. Right. 

Jack: For anything that may happen if Grogu did down a dark path under her mentorship.

Greg: Yeah, exactly, which has been just kind of informed by her experience and trauma. I think it’s interesting timing. And I’m sure it was not unintentional that, you know, we saw season seven of the Clone Wars air earlier this year, which also ended on a note of spoilers for Clone Wars. If you didn’t know that it ends with order 66 you can imagine the effect and trauma that would have on Ahsoka, anyway. And we see her walk away, she’s clearly very, very heavily impacted by that, which then carries over to Rebels and the faceoff with Anakin. And now we’re looking at several years later, she’s got that lingering trauma…

Jack: And now he’s dead. 

Greg: Yeah. 

Jack: And they never got to, as far as we know, they never got to resolve their friendship, mend their relationship.

Greg: Yep. Although I’m gonna throw out the speculation now, we just got the news that Hayden’s coming back for the Kenobi series, in whatever form is going to be in that I imagine that’s going to be some kind of vision, memory Force thing or something… It says as Vader, I’m not sure what that means, but…

Jack: Well isn’t Kenobi going to take place between three and four?

Greg: Yes, the fact that Hayden’s back, I’m wondering if he might now show up as like a Force ghost for Ahsoka, in her own series post Return the Jedi. 

Jack: I would absolutely love that.

Greg: That’d be amazing. And I could see it happening. You know, Force ghosts tend to show up for people who they’re connecting deeply with.

Jack: So uh, Jon, Dave, you guys listening?

Greg: We know they listen to the podcast, so… Yeah, and also she touched on. It’s kind of connected with that…. I think part of what she recognizes is that the attachment issues that Grogu had, she acknowledged and talked about a lot of the trauma that she picked up from him from being hidden away after the fall of the Jedi Temple. Specifically mentioning some dark times that he doesn’t clearly remember or doesn’t want to acknowledge. But that’s clear, you know…

Jack: Plus that’s almost 30 years of history. 

Greg: Yeah,

Jack: We don’t know what happened. I mean to say we know obviously, he survived Order 66 and he was smuggled out of the Jedi Temple and of course by somebody… 

Greg: We don’t know what happened to them…

Jack: Between that and what’s going on right now. We have no clue. So yeah, I think what happened to him?

Greg: Yeah, so it’s gonna be interesting to explore that more. And even in the last episode for us, the tragedy, the separation of Grogu and Din, I think is a really emotional point. Now again, another major event for him and you could even see him lashing out which I think he’s gonna do you know, in that situation anyway, but there may be that underlying element of you know, he’s found family, found a home, some stability, actually was listening to another podcast that I definitely highly recommend called Pink Milk, which is hosted by a gay couple who are really fun to listen to. One’s a diehard fan one’s a more casual fan following along. The main host Bryan, in the last episode talking about this episode, you know, the tragedy talk, they talked about how the show in general they really connected to the show as a story of fathers and adoption and children with trauma and their own experiences with both personally and with multiple kids that they’ve adopted. And I think maybe they said they might have fostered and there’s a lot of overlap there. In those situations where they talked about experiences they’ve had that they’ve seen with kids being taken away from different circumstances, good or bad being put in foster environments being taken out of those foster environments. And how traumatizing and difficult that is. And Bryan, the host, really got quite emotional and the episode is really impactful to listen to, he really had a strong emotional response to Grogu being taken. And also, like we’re talking about the Razor Crest getting destroyed. Because that was a home that they had found together and developed together, this little family unit, the first real stable home that either of them have ever had, even being on the run. And going and traveling going place to place they’ve got this home now that’s destroyed and taken away.

Jack: Of course, with that episode, there was also a huge, huge character moment focused on Boba Fett.

Greg: Oh, yeah. Whether it’s intentional or not, there’s that more connotation there about fathers and sons and losses. And I’m sure he, he felt that, you know, that loss of Grogu being taken in that, and then their ship being lost, you know, he’s been through losing his father.

Jack: So he knows what Grogu is going through.

Greg: Yeah, exactly. And as we learned afterwards, he probably didn’t realize this at the time, but it’ll be interesting to explore that. This is another foundling, you know, and this is a character who hates Jedi, 

Jack: Right.

Greg: But also now it’s gonna really possibly relate to Grogu as another foundling. Or at least his father was…

Jack: We found out that Jango 

Greg: Yeah

Jack: if you haven’t watched it, yet. We found out Jango was a foundling. 

Greg: Yeah, exactly. 

Jack: And I also want to point out something too, that you mentioned to me, like last week, is that much like Din and Grogu were a clan of two. 

Greg: Yeah, 

Jack: For 10 years, Jango and Boba were a clan of two. 

Greg: Yeah.

Jack: So there’s even that to kind of…

Greg: Yeah, so many cool connotations and repetitions. Yeah. For our first big topic, on one of these monthly podcasts, we want to sort of summarize the impact of the COVID pandemic, on the Star Wars fandom, and its creative endeavors and the releases, and how the fandom has benefited from Star Wars being there and the community being there for each other.

Jack: And our goal here is really not to look for pity or any type of sympathy. And we’re also not really here to blame anybody. But we just are trying to gather a better understanding of what’s actually going on.

Greg: Yeah, I think we have a particular insight from our experiences, and also just being involved in communities that we’re in to see what’s what’s happened. And look to appreciate some of what’s been there and also, to be able to really look at what’s happened, and how it’s affected everyone, and especially this community, in particular. Yeah, so talking about some of the major impacts, I’d say probably the biggest impacts for the Star Wars fan community at large is the changes and the cancellations of a lot of big events, especially Star Wars Celebration this year. That was like, you know, those only happen every few years. Right. So that was a big change. I think they’ve pushed back now to 2022. And also, every other, you know, pretty much every other convention

Jack: I was supposed to do a show back in May, and it got postponed to May of 2021. Hopefully, that still happens. I think there’s still hope.  

Greg: Yeah. 

Jack: And then Steel City Con, which happens three times a year here in Pittsburgh. It was supposed to take place last weekend. So they’re shooting for April. But again, you know, it’s kind of up in the air. So…

Greg: Yeah, those like timeframes in like the spring, early summer, they seem kind of like, tentatively okay, at this point… 

Jack: There’s still hope.

Greg: Yeah, there’s hope. Yeah, like, I’ll mention really quick, like we’ve talked about a future topic, we want to have some specific guests on to talk about conventions and events and planning that around accessibility and accommodations. And I think you’re going to be seeing really on top of that, that topic expanding to incorporate overall health concerns and safety. And that’s kind of interesting. And one theme throughout this topic, in general of COVID that we’re gonna hit on a number of times is the fact that a lot of changes are happening that they have already needed. 

Jack: Right now. I mean, we’re all in the same boat, 

Greg: Right.

Jack: So it’s taken a global pandemic, 

Greg: Right 

Jack: To open people’s eyes, but hey, at least you know, people’s eyes are being open and there are changes and hopefully now some of these changes when the world gets back to normal will stay intact.

Greg: Yeah. Exactly right. But there’s also been a big impact even like on small local events, any kind of fan meetups, besides just conventions and even smaller, you know shows,

Jack: even the lightsaber meetups and the droid meetups, those have all been virtual.

Greg: Yeah, those have all gone virtual. Also, like, for example, the 501st and the other large costuming groups do troops.

Jack: And we’ve actually had the 501st come to the theater for almost all of our premieres of the Star Wars movies.

Greg: Yeah, so it’s like when they go to any kind of scheduled event, they get invited, or they do volunteer work, they go to hospitals, parades, openings, yeah, conventions, all that kind of stuff. Now I follow them on social media, I’ve seen a lot of posts from different groups where they are slowly going back out, you know, visiting kids in hospitals, maybe going to some small events, fully masked, keeping distance, all that kind of stuff.

Jack: I’m currently working on my own Sith, cosplay. 

Greg: Yeah. 

Jack: And it will incorporate a mask just in just for look, but I am going to incorporate some material inside so that it will function 

Jack: Right 

Jack: as a COVID mask as well.

Greg: So one of the other big big effects of this has been obviously, on the parks Galaxy’s Edge at both Disney World and Disneyland and Disneyland as of right now still not open as far as Galaxy’s Edge.

Jack: Right now at Disneyland, only Downtown Disney is open.

Greg: Yep. And you know, so the droids you buy, you can buy them prebuilt, but you can also go and you build your own droid. And it’s like you’re taking part in that experience. You go build your lightsaber, and go through this whole great ritual type thing with the lightsabers. It’s an amazing experience. And they really want to, they want you to have that but COVID, and the impact all this has had, has really forced them to break that 

Jack: Right

Greg: I would say illusion or that intended immersion, which is unfortunate, but has also meant it’s opened up all those products to people outside. 

Jack: And when we went again, we spent an absurd amount of money. So neither one of us actually got to build a droid.

Greg: Yeah. 

Jack: But now that Disney started selling them on their website, back this past spring, I was able to acquire an R2 unit. 

Greg: Hmm. 

Jack: And then for my birthday, you bought me a BB unit. 

Greg: Yep. 

Jack: So now I actually have both styles of droids that are available there. 

Greg: Yeah

Jack: I’ll say. I didn’t get I didn’t get to build them.

Greg: Yeah, right, exactly.

Jack: But through my art, my artwork, I was able to sort of do that, because I’ve customized them completely to be 100% my own original droids. So in a sense, I did kind of build them,

Greg: you got to build them in your way. Yeah. And yeah, let’s, let’s come back to that a little bit later about the droids because that’s a cool thing about what’s going on right now, too. Um, but yeah, it’s really true that, you know, it’s the one is like, they’re kind of just having to sacrifice a lot of immersion, you can buy the droids, you really get a hold of them, because they’re great little toys, and devices, and interactive and everything. But basically they have R2D2, and they have BB-8 you’re not building your own custom version, and you’re not putting it together, you’re not activating and doing all that fun stuff. But on the other hand, people who can’t go there and do that, or haven’t been able to or probably won’t be able to for a while, are getting access to some of that stuff.

Jack: And I do want to mention, too, I want to give a shout out to the, quote unquote smugglers out there, and all the different communities. Basically the smugglers are people who live near the parks, and are willing to go pick up these products for anybody that can’t get em.

Greg: Exactly these are fans they want to share these things with fans who aren’t able to get them and they’ve been really active on some of the Facebook groups we’re in. More so later since like, especially since only Walt Disney worlds galaxies edge is open. Now, the other big impact, I would say that has happened we really kind of already touched on earlier has to do with release schedules.

Jack: To give a little insight. What is holding up theatrical releases right now is that their two biggest markets, which are Manhattan, and California,

Greg: right.

Jack: they read their governors of those of New York State and California have not reopened. So these studios are kind of holding back and waiting until those two states are reopened before 

Greg: Yeah, 

Jack: they start putting major releases back into theaters. 

Greg: I don’t think people appreciate or recognize enough that there are significant number of fans who are unable to attend things in person, whether it’s events, or parks or conventions, or even movies in the theater, whether it’s challenging due to accessibility needs, or if people are just in such a debilitated state due to illness or disability that they aren’t mobile enough to go to a theater 

Jack: or lack of transportation. 

Greg: Yeah, 

Jack: again, though here in Pittsburgh, we have a company called access, they’re a door to door service that has wheelchair lifts. But I know not every single city has something like that.

Greg: For sure. Yeah, we don’t, I don’t believe we have anything like that around here, sort of a combination of due to medical reasons and accommodation needs. And also, potentially all of the financial impact that that has on that population, which, which is something we’ll be hitting on periodically, here on this podcast is that, again, not enough people, I think, realize that, along with medical conditions and disabilities, often comes limited incomes, massive medical bills, and a lot of financial problems that can limit your options…

Jack: Right. 

Greg: and your ability to do things on top of the physical limitations and challenges. And so it’s actually appealing to me. In a large way, I go to the movies, I go to the theater, but I have a number of friends in the patient community and even close friends of mine, who are not able to go to the theater. And these are serious fans. Like there’s a lifelong hardcore fans who even in some cases, even for mental health reasons for for trauma or something, are unable to go to the theater, to see these films on the big screen even as much as they would like to. And so to see some things coming to streaming, not necessarily the movies, but to some extent movies, too. But just to see high quality content put out on streaming and available from home. You know, for people who even can afford that is kind of groundbreaking in a way. I think it’d be cool if people recognize that. I mean, just look at Mandalorian. And the fact that we’re getting live action Star Wars at home. And in a way that everyone can experience and appreciate it at the same time, for the most part, with some differences. But in this accessible content, it’s really my understanding, I’m speaking from my, from what I’ve heard, and what I’ve understood, but definitely we always welcome input on this. But it’s a very accessible show, you know, they have between captions, and I believe most shows like that on Disney have descriptive audio, which is great. When you go to a theater, I’ve heard so many horror stories from people who’ve dealt with those physically, and you want to know more about it than I do. But just the stories I’ve seen of people who’ve gone and the descriptive audio doesn’t work, the captions don’t work, right. Or they struggled to get that access or the seats they needed.

Jack: We both have the headsets. You want to wear those who can hear the audio better. And then we also have the closed captioning devices. Which are just a device you can put it in the cup water. And you can read closed captioning.

Greg: But I mean, yeah, we talked about the fact that even when your theater was open, y’all  took extreme safety in mind. 

Jack: We do. Actually. I am there every single shift for usually four hours a day, cleaning top and bottom. And, you know, my co-workers are doing the same thing. And, you know, safety and cleanliness is our main priority. It always has been 

Greg: Now even more 

Jack: Now even more so. 

Greg: Yeah. 

Jack: Because of COVID. We’ve taken even further measures.

Greg: Yeah, like another case where there’s another good example where things are benefiting a lot of chronically ill folks, where even the fact that we’re wearing masks all the time, like I’ve known a lot of people who already wore masks all the time because of immunocompromised… 

Jack: Yep. 

Greg: … systems. I saw a lot of people when masks first started becoming a thing with COVID…  coronavirus that they’re like: Well, here, I’ve been wearing a mask for years. Here’s how I do it. Here’s where I get mine. 

Jack: Right. 

Greg: And that is a lot of frustration from a lot of the disabled community and chronically ill folks and people with immune system issues when people are arguing against masks and things like that, because not only are those people putting compromised folks and people at risk, at even more risk, but also there are going against something that is the norm for a lot of people already anyway. There are people I know who don’t step out of the house without a mask on and now people are saying I can’t put one on for a few minutes to walk into a store, or I can’t breathe, you know. And it’s aggravating and also, to some extent insulting, especially compounded by the fact that you’re risking people even more. 

Jack: Exactly. 

Greg: But to say that you can’t maybe have a respiratory issue, and there are very many legitimate issues with wearing masks for some people. And that’s a difficult topic and a challenge for those people to consider whether or not they should be going anywhere in that case.

Jack: And one thing along the same lines, I want to bring up social media, but the people that were creating these ADA get out of jail free cards for masks, and that they’re actually hurting the cause.

Greg: They absolutely are.

Jack: Yeah, and it’s just

Greg: The ADA and accommodations in general, are difficult for people to already get now. You know, the ADA in the United States was passed 30 years ago and just had a 30th anniversary. And it’s still oftentimes an afterthought, or just not, it’s something people aren’t always aware of, they might be ignorant to it when they are opening facilities, or setting things up in venues or for events without thinking about the needs of disabled folks. We talked earlier about a convention story with David Prowse and Peter Mayhew, not being able to get up on stage like to me at this point that shouldn’t even enter anybody’s mind that you wouldn’t set things up in a way that would allow anybody, 

Jack: right, 

Greg: that kind of access. But that’s also coming from me with my experience, my exposure and knowing you knowing others, who’ve gone through that and who deal with that,

Jack: right? Like I said. It’s really is opening people’s eyes,

Greg: which is a big part we’re trying to do here, 

Jack: right. 

Greg: But then you have people who come along and want to essentially abuse the ADA and take advantage of it and use it as an excuse to further endanger themselves and others, under or under pretenses that the ADA and principles of accommodation don’t apply to. You know, it’s pretty clear most of those people do not have any significant problems that require accommodation. But I also think it’s important to focus on a lot of the benefits of Star Wars right now, for fans in general, including disabled fans, chronically ill fans, healthy fans, everyone has essentially been affected by this pandemic.

Jack: And even I’ll say even the studios…

Greg: Sure, yeah, right. Creative teams. Everyone involved throughout the franchise on all sides of it have been massively impacted by all this, but also have benefited from the Star Wars franchise and the universe and the fandom and this community at the same time. So for example, like Jack, you’ve told me that based on the fact that we like when we went to Galaxy’s Edge last year, we came back, and we’re both pretty enthused and really interested in diving more into the Star Wars creative world and doing something in the community, which is kind of what what brought about this project, both, you know, initially on social media, the fact that  we talked a lot at the time around that time about disabilities in Star Wars, and the representation and the community, what the franchise meant to fans and how it affected their fandom. And it seems like the pandemic then took that and really, almost motivated us in a way to really dive into that stuff even further. Which is one of the things that led to this podcast, for example. But I know that you’d said like, Hey, tell us a little bit about how it affected your creativity and your artwork.

Jack: Yeah, well, as I’ve mentioned before, I know I’m battling depression. And I know in the past few years, that depression has definitely affected my art, where I just don’t really have the motivation to draw or do anything. I’m mostly an Illustrator. And I just, you know, my love something I did every day, and it was amazing. Just like, yeah, it was felt like work, 

Greg: right

Jack: But then with Galaxy’s Edge, really, that’s where it started. And I turned my focus into creating, modifying and customizing different things. For example, where it all started with our data pads. 

Greg: Hmm. 

Jack: I thought there was something that you know I really wanted to do. Since we were planning on bounding and really immersing ourselves very going into Galaxy’s Edge and really doing this. We’re gonna go all out.

Greg: Right, exactly. We were going all in on the in universe, feel, right.

Jack: And so then I started making her data pads. I learned a lot from them. And then later on this past spring, when Disney started selling their droids online. I bought mine, and then you bought me one. And that just opened the doors. And then also to shout out to Dan Flores, and all the people at Mubo’s droid builders, and Dan-O, and Dan is awesome. He, they all have inspired me more than they will ever realize, to focusing my art in a different way. And that also ultimately led to the creation of our mascot, RE-                                                                    SQ or “Rescue”…

Greg: Exactly.

Jack: You came across the Hasbro remote control version of D-O. And the really cool thing about that one. And what really just drew us to it is it had these little for lack of a better word, training wheels,

Greg: right 

Jack: on the front and rear. 

Greg: Because it’s such a challenge to get that one wheel to balance and stay up and move. 

Jack: Exactly. They were like, you know what? Don’t be absolutely perfect. Because then we won’t have to hide them. 

Greg: Yeah, 

Jack: got to utilize them. 

Greg: Right. 

Jack: And I think we came up with an idea basically, that his balance motivator was damaged when he was constructed in the factory. 

Greg: Yeah. 

Jack: So we played with that. And I incorporated the wheels. And again, with customizing. I took that D-O and I built a physical RE-SQ. 

Greg: You did all this work, for the most part with my kind of input and feedback.

Jack: We bounced ideas back and forth.

Greg: Yeah, I think it’s like a collaborative creative effort. And you just did a lot of physical work and at the same time, we concurrently did the physical D-O that you were designing and building based on D-O but also a graphical version that we’ve used for our logo, which you can see right here on the podcast. We added headphones for the podcast purposes. But basically that’s our mascot RE-SQ. And we know, we won’t have a mascot we wanted to, we decided at one point wanted to be a droid. And we try to figure out like, what makes sense. Like, how can we represent disabilities in a droid? And that’s where we kind of thought through the idea of whether it makes sense, you know, canonically, or not to have another D-O base droid? Because I know that he was like one of a kind in the movie, supposedly. But you know, we figured maybe another droid might be built based on him or a line of droids. But we wanted to convey some of the themes and ideas we had around what the shows about and we came across at some point, there was a lot of discussion about the character of the droid D-O after the Rise of Skywalker came out in the fact that he clearly had some trauma and history of trauma that he was dealing with. And that Rey helped him with and probably BB-8 helped him with that, to get him to open up and accept them and communicate more. And… 

Jack: Well that’s the thing too, you got to think especially in Star Wars, you care about the droids just as much, if not even more than the biological characters…

Greg: A lot of times Yeah. But yeah, since Resilience Squadron came about, I think it’s been just like, for me, like a great creative outlet, and a great motivator to feel like I’m doing something right now. I think even when we first talked about doing this, and starting up the social media channels, I had an initial reluctance. Once COVID became a big problem a little internal debate about like, should we be doing something like this, like should we is right now the right time to be launching something new. But I think we really struck on the idea that this was really the right time for it. Because not only was it a good outlet for us, but also because COVID was affecting everyone, and was something we could also then talk about on top everything else, 

Jack: Right. 

Greg: Because in a sense, COVID has sort of brought everyone to the same shared experience that a lot of us with disabilities and chronic illness have already felt and have already experienced in our daily lives. So people who are now quarantined, isolated at home, feeling locked in, can’t leave your house without risking your health. Not having access to places to go, things like that. That’s the experience a lot of us have had for years. And it’s sort of now a bigger shared experience. And insight I think that I hope people do take away from that from this whole experience that this is the norm for many. And that as much as the community and the creative community and Lucasfilm and other official events, and organizers can continue to use these like distribution channels and approaches to involve the community that are more inclusive of everyone, the better for everyone it’s going to be.

Jack: Right. 

Greg: Like as we mentioned last month, this podcast really came up because the force fest which was organized, I think mostly by Richard and Sarah Woloski from Skywalking Network that we’re part of now. And that was a great example of a case where they created this virtual fan event that was created as sort of a fan run alternative to Celebration. And they had a number of great panels and great discussions and interviews, some fun events at night, you know, trivia and all that kind of stuff. And that was really cool. Because a lot of fans, like we talked about earlier, who can’t go to those events have never been able to have those. There’s been lots of virtual stuff before, but not to this extent, and not to the extent that a lot of big official conventions have shifted online this year. And I hope that as the pandemic presumably winds down eventually, that some of these virtual aspects of events continue so that more fans can get to take part in them. 

Jack: Exactly. 

Greg: We actually asked before this podcast recording, we put out the question to our readers and listeners, what their story is, what their Star Wars fandom story has been during COVID and how the fandom has affected them and how it’s been affected by COVID. And we got some great responses. A few examples here. Like from, I want to say, Jennifer Marroquin on Twitter messaged us to share her whole story, especially having to do with her son who’s a big fan, and who she I guess she always liked Star Wars, she said, but never was a serious fan until recently. But since COVID hit he’s been homeschooling. And they now have all this time together. And he’s been teaching her Star Wars and now she’s a superfan. So she herself is on disability for a number of reasons. And she says here, “Even though I was home all the time before now he is too, we’ve been forced to slow down, not go out nearly at all and have the blessing of spending so much time together that has been great for our fandom…” Then she went to ForceFest and had a great time and she’s met so many new Star Wars friends and gotten some awesome podcasts, connected with amazing people and found a whole great community of friends and people to connect with virtually. And she says “Some days I know Star Wars and my Star Wars friends are the only thing keeping me sane,” which I think is what a lot of us can relate to. 

Jack: Exactly. 

Greg: Your friend TC wrote on Facebook responding to one of our posts talking about how Star Wars is something he’s always been able to connect to and a place to escape to a place to connect with heroes on an emotional level, and a place to take a break from the worries of the real world. And he says and I’m able to share my love of this world with other fans, all the other fans and this has just been magnified during the pandemic, which I think is cool. Well cool in the sense that having that is great. 

Jack: Right.

Greg: He goes on to say specifically like “Having something so much free time during the pandemic has largely been taken up by Star Wars related activities as well. I play multiple tabletop model games with my buddies such as Star Wars Legions, X-wing, and I recently got into Armada. I bought a few more LEGO Star Wars sets…” which took up 90% of his Lego collection as a kid. “I’ve been seriously debating getting into costuming as well. And have even gone as far as 3d printing some armor pieces…” which is really cool.

Jack: That’s the thing too his talking about Lego and you and I are both 

Greg: Yeah. 

Jack: In the pretty much the middle right now of our 2020 Star Wars LEGO advent calendars,

Greg: which is like a highlight of my year I think.

Jack: (laughing) Yep, yeah, no, I…

Greg: (Laughing) It’s amazing.

Jack: Every year they release, release it on September 1. And I always pre-order it on September 1, even though I know there’s no problem, I can go to Walmart and there’ll be tons and tons of them in stock. But every single year I pre-order it.

Greg: Yeah. And I mean, that’s something I also do with my kid, you know, my daughter’s growing into a Star Wars fan. And she has her own separate you know, advent that she opens of a line of dolls. But she’s excited about me opening mine to see what I have and what I build and helping me build them. And that’s been a really cool connection. Every year it has been but this year, every little thing like that is just more special to have…

Jack: And even going back to LEGO. I know. I haven’t bought a Lego set in a long time. But for a while, you know, I was buying them left and right. 

Greg: Mhmm. 

Jack: And I think it’s one of those things too where you’re so involved. And it really, and even my art projects and anything like that as well, especially with LEGO builds is you’re so focused on putting it together. You got to read the instructions and sort the pieces and so it really does help you focus on the build and kind of distract you from you know  bills. 

Greg: Yeah 

Jack: COVID or what have you. And it’s just really it’s a really nice distraction, 

Greg: right 

Jack: and a good distracting tool.

Greg: And man, just a couple of the ones on the advent calendar this year have been really, really tough. Take a lot of a lot of attention on those…

Jack: Yeah, LEGO, you got to do a better job with your diagrams,

Greg: Right? And they got to keep them simple on that box. But man…

Jack: This is coming from two 44 year old men.

Greg: And we got some really cool words from Jymn Scooby Meier, who said that, uh, you know, “Star Wars has been a huge help to me during the pandemic. Star Wars has always been a source of joy. But during a challenging time, like 2020, it’s been a life preserver for sure. And you mentioned this Facebook group that we’re also in called Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2022. And he talks a lot about the benefits of that group and all the things that they do. But he especially says it has been a great source of togetherness during this time. They’re super welcoming to all. The admins work to make it a friendly, safe place for all. Star Wars fans are truly like family.”

Jack: And we just want to remind everybody that these are our opinions and our thoughts on these subjects. But one of the biggest things that we want for the Resilience Squadron is to hear from you. Because we are a community. We are all together. And you know, we have differences of opinions. And we want to share those differences, because that’s how you learn. That’s how you grow.

Greg: Yeah, especially about a particular topic, we’ve talked about anything you want to share, you know, share your own story about Star Wars during COVID, then great, we’d love to hear it. But any other topics too…

Jack: I also want to add to I mean, if you guys have any topic ideas, please send them our way. And we’ll discuss them in a future show. 

Greg: Mm hmm. 

Jack: Um, even like, again, we talked about a couple of incidents and things going on with certain actors within the community. We obviously didn’t want to touch on it too much. But if you do, for example, want to have us talk about it. So just let us know and we will.

Greg: Yeah, and you can reach out to us on social media. We’re Resilience Squadron on Facebook and Instagram and at @ResilienceSquad on Twitter. Also, please leave us a rating and review on iTunes because that’ll really help us out a lot. We are part of the Skywalking Network where you can also find other great shows like Talking Apes, Classic Marvel Star Wars Comics, the Max EFX podcast, Neverland Clubhouse, and the flagship show Skywalking Through Neverland. And we hope you’ve all had a happy holidays and are gonna have a great new year. And we look forward to talking to you next month. Oh and Mark Hamill, please return our calls so we can have you as a guest on the show. We know you obviously have to get a babysitter for Grogu now, but you know, we can make it work. [Exit music]

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