The Force Will Be With Me, Always
I double checked just to be sure but, other than movie reviews, I haven’t written about anything as often as I have written about “Star Wars.” I may not have all the collectables or know the names of all the aliens, bounty hunters, and other bit characters that inhabit the “Star Wars” films, but I can say that I wore out my original VHS copies of the films and currently own three different copies of the original trilogy on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray. I have watched the first six films hundreds of times. I can quote dialogue, and often speak right along with the script. I even defend the prequel movies because I still feel there is merit in them. I love “Star Wars.” It has been a driving force in making me who I am.
“Star Wars” isn’t just my first fandom; it is the very first movie memory I have. I saw the film in 1981 at a drive-in; I remember the crawling text of the movie that I couldn’t yet read, the probe droid landing on Hoth, and a lot of snow. Then I likely passed out because I was 3 years old, and it was way past my bedtime. Two years later, though, when I saw “Return of the Jedi,” I was solidly hooked on the franchise. I may not have understood everything that was happening, but I understood the good versus evil fight that was happening. I loved the Ewoks, not because they were cute and cuddly, but because they were small but still could help in the fight against evil. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker, the selfless hero who saved his father from evil, because my father was very sick, and I wanted to be able to save him. I was a forever fan after that movie.
It is always easy for me to talk about “Star Wars”; I can literally talk for hours about it with another fan. If the subject is the original trilogy, I can spend hours talking about the lore, how Vader was never the pure evil thing that people think he was, and point out the fact that the Sith never lie but that seems to be all that Yoda and Obi-Wan do to Luke until the very end. I will defend the prequel movies based on the messages they impart—political corruption and misrepresentation, that the reasons to go to war are the most important part of that decision (because once you are going down that road war can become an unstoppable force), and even the toxic masculinity and need for control that corrupts Anakin Skywalker.
What I have been enjoying most recently, though, is watching the “Star Wars” fandom get revitalized with the newest movie. I’m enjoying that “Star Wars” is gaining new, young fans, especially young girls who are excited to have a role model like Rey and a cast that is the most diverse in the franchise’s history. The film itself was received so well (by a fandom that had lost hope that the magic of the original trilogy could be recaptured) that it broke box office records. “The Force Awakens” has sparked great conversations between fans such as speculating on what will be coming in the next installment, people shipping Finn and Poe, a rebranding of Leia as a general, and spirited debates as to whether or not Rey should come from some kind of Jedi lineage or just be her own hero.
It is exciting to see this energy coming back into the fandom along with new movies, new fans, new collectables, and new stories from those fans about what “Star Wars” will mean to them. “Star Wars” is truly a generation-spanning franchise not just because of the longevity but because of the stories, the passion people have for it, and how many people it influences. For me, wanting to be a Jedi (one of the good guys), had a stronger an effect on my moral upbringing than all the Sunday school lessons. While I may no longer use wrapping-paper tubes as a lightsaber, I still dream of being the hero, saving the galaxy, and being a good example for people to follow. I still open automatic doors by waving my hand at them, I still wave my hand at people in arguments from time to time to see if I can get a Jedi mind trick to actually work, and I still try to pull the remote to my hand with the Force when it is just out of reach. I do all of these things because I am a fan, because I want to believe, and because the stories from “Star Wars” can make us all better people if we listen to the messages in them.
May the Force be with you.