Let me start off by saying I am unashamedly obsessed with Star Wars. A framed Star Wars soundtrack is on my bedroom wall. A Star Wars clock in my living room. A painting of Leia in her slave outfit my brother made me for Christmas. A full sleeve of Star Wars tattoos. I’ve dabbled in the universe a time or two.
When the new teaser for Episode VII dropped, just like you and millions of other folks, I watched it. Then I watched it again. Then I made my friend watch it and watched it with him. Then I sent the link to everyone I know. Then I called my Mom and told her to watch it so when I went to see her later we could talk about it. Then I watched it again.
I was really trying to keep from getting excited about the new Star Wars movie. I’m not a fan of JJ Abrams’ work, and after the prequels I knew getting excited, then being let down was the quickest way to get my nerdy feelings hurt. But the new teaser hooked me. It FELT like Star Wars. The universe looked lived in. I didn’t feel like Han and Chewie showing up at the end were only there to pander to a wary fanbase. They were back and they’re older and they can still kick ass. The bastards got me excited for Star Wars again.
But enough about the trailer. Countless others can go through it with a fine toothed comb and dissect it. I’m just going to tell you why I love Star Wars and have for the past twenty seven years. It’s something I can watch at any time. I can discuss it with all of my siblings and my parents. I have friendships based almost entirely on Star Wars, and it hasn’t gotten old yet.
One of my earliest memories (not my earliest memory, that prize goes to trying to flush a Rambo toy down the toilet with one of my older brothers) is getting the three Star Wars movies on VHS for Christmas in 1987. Those tapes changed my life. Each one had ads at the beginning for all three movies, starting with an X-Wing flying onto the screen and a narrator saying things like “AND THE EEEVIL DARTH VADER”. I sat on my grandparent’s floor and was glued to their TV.
When I was four, my family moved to Gore, Virginia. This may be hard to believe, but Gore is not a bustling metropolis. We lived in a trailer on a nice piece of farmland, and there were a lot of places for five kids to run around and fall off of things and get dirty. Since this was the late 80’s, we didn’t have cable and only a few channels, but we had a great movie collection. So when we weren’t running around being filthy dirt children, we watched a lot of movies. I watched Star Wars a lot. Shocking.
The first toys I remember buying were an imperial guard, because they looked so badass in the movies, and Lando in his disguise from Jabba’s palace. On that trip my sister got Leia in her Endor camouflage, equally as cool even if she was a girl.
I watched them all whenever I could, but I probably watched Return Of The Jedi the most. Right away you get Jabba’s palace with all of these insane monsters walking around, then the Sarlacc, which was terrifying, and later you got the speeder bikes and the ewoks. Say what you will about the ewoks but I was four, and they were awesome. They were teddy bears who helped beat the bad guys, what child doesn’t want that in their life? It didn’t dawn on me until I was a teenager that they were going to burn Han and Luke alive and possibly eat them.
As I grew up, Star Wars was obviously this huge thing, but it was still considered pretty nerdy. It was a big deal to me if there was a Star Wars reference in something like The Simpsons or Full House. It validated the movies to me. It made them not seem like “kid movies”, which I still get to this day. When Dante and Randall talk about the Death Star in Clerks, I was blown away. I was watching adults nerd out over Star Wars, which I didn’t know was possible. Other than my parents, who were both big into sci-fi and fantasy, I didn’t know any grown-ups who were nerds. And my parents wouldn’t have such a heated discussion about contractors dying when the Rebels blew up the Death Star.
My Mom is a voracious reader. She has probably every Star Trek and Star Wars book up until the early 2000s. When the movies were re-released in theaters in 1997, my obsession grew even more, and I began to read the expanded universe stuff. The books were great, they would take a character seen on screen for one second, and get a whole book worth of material. I was definitely that annoying kid that would interrupt with “ACTUALLY, Boba Fett didn’t die in the Sarlacc. He blew himself out of it with a thermal detonator, and Dengar saved him, then, hey come back!”
Speaking of the rereleases, they haven’t held up to the test of time, but I was twelve when they came out, so I loved them. I was finally getting to see my favorite movies on the big screen, so cgi X-Wings, Jabba in A New Hope, and a musical number in his palace were A-OK in my eyes. I was twelve! I didn’t know any better! You’re the one crying, not me!
When I was fifteen, Episode I came out. I was ready. I was going to see how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. I read anything I could find about Darth Maul. I bought his toy and had his computer chip thing on my keys for years until I lost them in a blizzard. I broke my ankle two days before the premiere and crutched into the packed midnight screening with my Mom and sister. The crowd cheered when the Lucasfilm logo came on. This was going to be the greatest night of my life.
Turns out it wasn’t. Anakin was the most annoying kid in the entire universe. Darth Maul got cut in half. The theater was so packed I couldn’t sit near Mom and Sarah so I had nobody to look to for help or compassion. This was the first time I had ever seen a movie I didn’t enjoy at all in the theater, and it was Star Wars. I was crushed. I almost cried and I was miserable on the ride home. And worst of all Mom liked it? What the hell, Mom!!
The next two prequels were ok. Nothing special. Count Dooku is cool. I don’t really enjoy them but I stopped being angry about it years ago. I just don’t watch them. They don’t feel like Star Wars to me. I literally haven’t watched Episode I since opening night though. That one still hurts.
So now I’m thirty. Thirty one in a few weeks. I still love Star Wars as much as I did when I was a kid, but I probably fall asleep on the living room floor while watching them a little less. That teaser for Episode VII has me worked into full fanboy mode again, mainly because it made me feel like I was sitting on the floor at my Granddaddy’s house again. I want to see Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie again, and watch them go on some new adventures. But I also want to see who these new characters are. I want to know who the guy with the fancy new lightsaber is. I want to know who the girl on the boxy speeder bike thing is. I want to know if that stormtrooper is ever going to catch his breath, see if he ever puts his helmet back on. I’ll be in that theater on Christmas day with my family. I’m hoping it’s going to be good, and make me feel like I’m three years old again. I honestly might cry. And really, if it’s not? I’ll still have my movies. They’ll always be there.