I missed Star Wars Day on the blog, you guys. I have failed you and I apologize. Guess I just didn’t notice the date. Which tends to happen when one does not have a grownup job. I’m so excited that Star Wars Day exists. And I love a clever holiday. May 4th? May the fourth be with you? Get it? (The Catholic response of course is “And also with you,” which makes me giggle but probably not many other people.) And if you really nerded it up and threw a Star Wars party, your hangover would be revenge of the fifth. Hyuck hyuck.
What can I say about Star Wars that hasn’t been said? It’s been over thirty years since the first movie, and the franchise has probably the most rabid fan base in the history of fan bases (rivaled only by Trekkers). The Star Wars conversation goes on all day every day. What can I contribute? Meh, not much. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan. I’m not being blasé about my dedication to the cult of Lucas, just about my ability to bring something interesting to the table here. So I’ll fall back on my old reliable position of telling you everything about my experience with a thing instead of my deep thoughts on a thing. Cue the wigglyfuzzy flashback indicator segue things.
The inter-trilogy period was a really exciting time to be a fan. When the remaster of Star Wars (I refuse to call it Episode IV, just deal with it) came out, we were still in late-90’s awe of CG so the new effects were mind blowing. That concept seems so quaint now. And with each re-release, the hype for the prequels just built and built and built. Nerds were frothing at the mouth. We counted down the days on a big wall calendar at the comic book shop. May 19, 1999. It was a Wednesday, which is weird. I don’t think I’ve ever been to another opening-night showing on a Wednesday. My best friend and I hit up the midnight showing and the next day we cut school and went again with his mom (who had called out sick from work to take us – best nerdmom ever). The owner of the movie theater in the next town was a tremendous fan and had spent his life’s savings to renovate the theater just for this movie. He had the George Lucas sound system put in (500-gallon tank of water behind the screen to catch the low bass? Fuck yeah). He came out before every single showing to introduce the movie dressed as a Jedi, light saber in hand. That’s dedication to fandom, folks. Awesome guy. Everybody was in costume, we cheered when the crawl started, people were crying, it was fangirl heaven. One of my all-time favorite moviegoing moments.
And then something happened, a weird trick of my fandom. I can’t really put my finger on it, but at some point between Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, and then even more noticeably between that one and Revenge of the Sith (you get that hangover joke now, don’t you?), the series lost its appeal. There was no more tortured waiting, no more giddy anticipation. Make no mistake, I saw them all. I enjoyed them all. But there was just something missing. I may very well be a nostalgia junkie here, looking at the first trilogy more fondly because I so loved them in my childhood. (It happens. I’m a sap, really, despite this crusty exterior of cynicism.) I can rationalize it that way. I guess maybe I felt like this thing I loved had been stepped on a little. Getting used to computer animation and special effects probably had a lot to do with it, as well. Once the novelty wears off, all the flash and bang, the tendency of fans is always going to be to analyze the movie not on its own merits, but by comparing it to the originals. Any sequel or reboot is subject to that kind of geeky scrutiny, and Star Wars fans are some of the most obsessive people I’ve ever met.
So I won’t say I don’t like the new ones, but I’ve only seen them a few times each. I’ve seen the first trilogy a million billion times. It never gets old. I never get tired of it. They’re witty and fun, exciting but without melodrama, and surprisingly not cheesy (although a case could be made that they are cheesy and I just ignore it). There’s a bit of a generation gap amongst fans because of this. Younger folks, at least in my experience, tend to like the newer movies more. Older fans appreciate the new ones but have a stronger, more established love for the originals. And of course there are those freaks who love all six equally. Weirdos.
This is a horrible way to wrap this up, but if you’re a Star Wars fan, you absolutely have to watch the movie Fanboys. It’s a love song to exactly this period of time that I’m talking about. Super funny, tons of cameos. A silly, irreverent homage to the movies and the fans. Check it out. And go watch Star Wars again. It’s always going to be good.