Following his backlash against the Star Wars prequels and Jar Jar Binks in particular, I personally carried a grudge against Pegg. Like him, I was there from the beginning. I carried on the defense of the prequels, of George Lucas, and of Jar Jar Binks because I chose to understand what the story was doing. My grudge intensified when he continued to carry his backlash like a crusade even through his portrayal of Dengar (one of the original bounty hunters on The Empire Strikes Back) in The Clone Wars. It felt like hypocrisy that someone so incredibly and violently vocal about the prequel era should portray an OT character in a PT series. I suspected Pegg’s casting was some kind of attempt on the part of supervising director Dave Filoni to help heal the rift between the OT and PT generations, one that sadly fell on deaf ears at the time. I didn’t like the decision, but I respected it. I… tolerated it. But in the walk of The Last Jedi, I found myself on the flip side of the coin, not against any of the actors, but against Rian Johnson for many of the creative left turns that felt — and still feel — well, it’ll take a long time for that to heal. The point is, even if I don’t agree with Pegg’s outrage in those days, I get it.
On one hand, this whole thing seems like convenient timing, what with Twitter being weaponized out of context to tear down some careers. On the other, Pegg’s outspoken tirades are well-documented and cannot possibly be taken out of context. It’s there for anyone to see. It became the topic of conversation for many fans across many forms of media. He knows it. We all know it. His rage powered my rage even before he was cast for Clone Wars, when he was cast as Scotty for the Kelvin timeline Star Trek films. It’s like his very presence was poisoning two of my favorite universes, and I couldn’t see past my own nose through the cloud of the Dark Side. I couldn’t fault his performance, but given what Star Trek is all about, it felt… wrong. I couldn’t separate the actor from the character at that point.
Sometimes we’re lucky enough to learn, to understand, to overcome.
I think he’s wrong when he says in regards to the film that “none of it matters.” The power of the arts steers culture, for better or for worse. Like him, like me, many of us become attached to stories and characters that mean the world to us. They become real in a completely different way, transcending boundaries. Art speaks to us in ways that nothing else can. I think he knows that, else he wouldn’t be an actor. Even so, I do appreciate the spirit of intent behind this sentiment.
It’s not much coming from one fan who isn’t making a loud voice on social media, but I want to personally thank Simon Pegg for coming forward. It’s clear that time has brought some perspective. It’s good to hear it after so many years, especially while I make my own inner journey from anger to… anything better. In that spirit, for my part as a fan, all is forgiven. To move forward, the past must remain in the past. We cannot become wiser and more humble if we stay fixed to mindsets that continue to harm us all. Given his clout in the fan communities, I truly hope his words make some positive waves. If rifts in the world of art can be healed, maybe that brings a little hope for things in the rest of the world too. We could use some of that these days.