Taking the Zero Punctuation review as an instance of, shall we call it, the review genre, I link Belated Media’s What If Star Wars Episode 1 Was Good? They are related instances of video review, interlinked by their parallel presence in the primordial soup of the internet as struck by the lightning of something interesting but flawed to pursue thus birthing fast paced and opinionated dissections of various media examples, American McGee’s Alice and Star Wars Episode 1 respectively. Now, taking Portal: No Escape as an example of fan work in the context of narrative re-imagining in video format, I propose the two have met on the spiritual/digital/astral plane and that What If Star Wars Episode 1 Was Good was wrought from that meeting.
Fan creation as parody is nothing new. The entire basis of fan works amounts to “what if”. What if this happened? What if that didn’t? What if character a and character b had never met? What if the bomb exploded five minutes earlier? What if the writers didn’t trip and drop their script in the latrine? Fan works are viable method of exploration and criticism. They are a celebration of the (metaphorical) death of the author, they do not accept authorial Word of God, and seek to challenge storytelling decisions.
What If is a prime example of this aspect of fan work, making no attempts to obfuscate its intent as it rips into the narrative fabric as provided by Lucasfilm and theorizes on a telling of that story at once completely different and wholly recognizable. It strips fan work down to its core component of “what if” and sharpens it to a point.