Did you enjoy your weekend in this absolutely gorgeous weather? Because I spent the entire thing inside watching the Star Wars Celebration live stream on YouTube.
I’m sure a lot of you were aware of the Star Wars Celebration stream, where the Force Awakens panel was broadcast live and the newest trailer premiered. But if you’re a sane person with things to do, you probably tuned out as soon as the trailer ended and went about your life.
Four days and 25+ hours of streaming later, I was still watching. It was at times interesting and informative, and just as often a complete train wreck reminiscent of public access broadcasting. Here are some of the highlights from my viewing experience:
1. The chat was obsessed with this kid named Hayden for some reason
On Day 2, the Ray Park panel was getting ready to start, and like on a 24 hour news channel, time desperately needed to be filled. As everyone was waiting for Park to arrive, there was some weird Star Wars Angry Bird audience game where they had audience members tossing bird plushies on stage to try to knock down objects. The host picked out this kid named Hayden from the crowd to participate, and for whatever reason the live stream chat became obsessed with him. For the entire rest of the weekend, at least 1 in every 7 messages in the chat was Hayden related, with YouTube users writing “WE WANT HAYDEN” or “HAYDEN CONFIRMED FOR BATTLEFRONT” or claiming to see Hayden in the background in random shots.
2. Everyone at Star Wars Celebration is a big fan of Star Wars, apparently
You would think it’d go without saying that everyone at a Star Wars celebration is a big fan of Star Wars, right? Well that didn’t go without saying this weekend, as basically every single person interviewed had to preempt their comments with noting that they do, in fact, like Star Wars. We must have heard something to the effect of “I remember seeing Star Wars as a kid, my dad took me to see it…” about 75 times. Part of this is just because of how terrible and boring a lot of the questions asked throughout the weekend were, especially during the audience Q&A segments. “Did you like working on Star Wars? Was it really fun?” What do you expect them to say? No?
3. There were quite a few technical issues and people were pissed
There are always glitches during live broadcasts of things, but dear God were there so many problems during this stream. I am actually impressed that it was pretty great video quality throughout the weekend and never really stuttered for me. But audio was constantly cutting out, videos weren’t ready in time, and at one point the stream showed the cosplay competition for a solid 40 minutes before suddenly cutting away from it and never going back until the next day. During the Rebels panel, the trailer was missing the audio, and at some point they spent a solid 20 minutes trying to get this one clip from a Lego Star Wars game going. Weird questions, awkward silences, and bizarre technical directing became a staple of the viewing experience by the end.
4. There were like 20 people dressed as Willrow Hood running across the screen
At one point in the stream, a whole clan of people dressed as Willrow Hood ran across the screen out of nowhere, and there was so much comedy condensed into a few minutes here. If you’re not aware, Willrow Hood is the name of a guy in The Empire Strikes Back who flees Cloud City while holding an ice cream maker. He has, oddly, become an extremely popular character to cosplay as. First of all, this one woman apparently got mixed up in the Hood group and was just very confused and quickly ran off, as you can see in the above image. Then one of the Hoods fell down Kevin James style, because of course that had to happen.
5. All the kids were so adorable
The highlight of watching everything on the stream for me was seeing these kids who are now growing up on this new franchise the way many of us grew up on the original movies. There were so many adorable moments with the kids and often with them asking questions at the panels, like a girl in the Rebels panel asking who does the voice of R2D2, or this kid at the Lego panel addressing Anthony Daniels as C3PO.
6. Billy Dee Williams interviews were awkward as hell
Billy Dee Williams seems really cool as a person, and maybe he’s just not a great interviewee, but he really seemed like he didn’t want to be there. On the third day there was this interview with Billy Dee Williams and his son, and the interviewer was just trying so hard to get anything out of him. During his official panel, he hadn’t even seen the Force Awakens trailer yet, and a whole lot of cringy audience questions didn’t help. One guy asked Billy to talk about how since he auditioned for Han Solo originally, would he rather be Han Solo or Lando. Billy simply responded with “well I didn’t audition for Han Solo.” Shut down immediately. Then some girl used the last audience question of the panel to ask if she could take an Instagram picture with Billy. These have got to be some of the worst audience questions I’ve seen.
7. At least 60% of the stream was people watching and crowds waving at the camera
The stream was on for about 8-9 hours straight every day and without any commercials, except for the occasional break to show a Star Wars clip, so giant portions of it were dedicated to just looking at the show floor as people walked around. What started as super boring filler quickly turned oddly fascinating as I sat there mesmerized just watching, looking around for people waving at the camera, weird costumes, and dancing stormtroopers. For 10-15 minute stretches at a time, I was sitting there watching people walk around accompanied by a chat of people typing in all caps. What a weird time to be alive.
More than anything though, what I learned from this weekend was how fun, dedicated, crazy but pretty endearing the Star Wars fan community is, and how much I’m looking forward to following it in the years ahead.