I don’t really get the whole Star Wars thing.
Oh, I’ve seen all the movies. They were perfectly fine movies. I enjoyed them, actually. When the New Revised Standard versions came out in the 1990s I even went back and saw them again with Kim. She and I made it through all of the prequels, which were not the towering powerballs of suckage that they are often made out to be but neither were they, well, much to write home about. Yes, indeed, Jar-Jar was a disaster and no amount of ret-conning can change that. But the 1977 original was great fun, the middle one managed to keep the story going without damage, and the third one wrapped it all up fairly nicely.
The originals even have relatively happy memories for me beyond the films.
I didn’t see the first one before it became a sensation, and back in those pre-internet days finding a time and theater that was playing it and where tickets were available was not easy. My dad ended up taking me and my brother to a theater way out in some part of town, and we had a great time.
My parents took us both to see The Empire Strikes Back as part of my eighth-grade graduation – at a time when the lines for evening shows were hours long, we went on a weekday afternoon and practically had the place to ourselves. I did ruin it for my mom, however. When Yoda came on screen, spouting timeless wisdom, I leaned over and whispered, “Listen! It's Grover!”
I saw Return of the Jedi twice in high school, once with my girlfriend at the time and once with my family, both times within a week of each other.
So I suppose I’m a fan.
But everywhere I go these days I am surrounded by Star Wars. There are products with Star Wars logos on them that honestly should not have Star Wars logos on them, up to and including produce. There are endless discussions of Star Wars everywhere I turn. My social media feeds are in fact inundated with Star Wars, with any number of posts promising dire retribution to anyone who spills any of the plot ahead of time.
Honestly, the local newspaper even had – dead center on the front page – a photo of people lined up to see the new Star Wars installment, because in a week where Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) secretly signed legislation to make Wisconsin elections less transparent and less accountable, where the leading candidate for the GOP nomination openly advocated war crimes and saw his popularity rise because of it, where 30% of the GOP base went on record favoring the bombing of the fictional country of Agrabah (home of Disney’s Aladdin, and no I’m not making that up), where the US economy reached a point of recovery where the Fed now has to consider putting brakes on it, and where both Iran and the Taliban have openly called for the destruction of ISIS (making them, in effect, our allies, and what a strange world that is), what counts as news in Our Little Town is people standing in line to see a movie. Because STAR WARS, duh.
I just don’t get it.
I am clearly Out Of It. Pathetic and Uncultured. Destined for the Dustbin of History. And I’m okay with that, I suppose. I’m certainly used to it, anyway.
I’ll see the new Star Wars movie eventually. Of course I will. I’ve liked the others, so I’ll no doubt like this one too. And I am a fan of science fiction (and fantasy) in general – it’s what I read when I’m not reading things with footnotes, it’s basically the only show I watch regularly on television that doesn’t involve a scorekeeper, and I appreciate that it is a genre that remains unafraid to ask its patrons to think rather than just passively absorb.
But the capital-P Phenomenon that is Star Wars?
I don’t get it.