Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May the Fourth Be With You! - In which Sami rambles about her relationship with Star Wars


Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was my very first movie. I was 11 days old, and when the wompa jumped out at Luke, it was almost Baby's First Headwound, but I think the existence of the film that early in my life left more impression on me than my mom almost dropping me. I grew up in a scifi-friendly household*, playing Star Wars with my brother and sister. I was Sami Skywalker, because I wanted to be a Jedi and Leia didn't have a sword. My brother was usually Han, which I also wouldn't have minded being, because he was cool, but you couldn't fight with my brother once he made a stand when we were kids. My sister, who was probably four or so at this point, was an Ewok because Ewoks don't talk.**

If I blame David Bowie in Labyrinth for my love of bad guys in eyeliner, I blame Han Solo for my love of smugglers that has taken me all the way to Captain Mal in Firefly and beyond, with detours into various pirates movies and any number of space-rebellion stories in between. I think Han and Leia were one of my very first favorite love stories, but there was never a time when they weren't together (until recently), so I don't call them a ship--more like Ship Goals, because they were so great together.

I grew up in a world where Star Wars was always on TV somewhere. My aunt had the Endor movie that people like to not talk about. We had toys. It was this wonderful thing that had always been there, and as I got older, I started to feel lucky that I had lived in a time when Star Wars existed, you know? It introduced me to the Hero's Journey***. It's a huge world and everyone in it has a story and a name. There's spaceships and lasers! I love a spaceship. And best of all, it's got this idea that even people who grow up in the middle of nowhere can be awesome heroes, even tiny angry girls can be fantastic rebel leaders. 

When I was in high school and into college, the prequels started. It was SO GREAT that we were getting new Star Wars! I loved that they existed. I loved that someone was actually making them. I did not love that they weren't super-great, and lacked most of the humor and heart that the original trilogy had--probably because the CGI sucked the life out of it, and they somehow took Natalie Portman, who had been so good in Leon and made her stiff and strange and never really let her be as cool as I wanted he to be. There was a time when I actively hated them, but I've since been softened by decades of "what if they were good" fan edits and rewrites, and none of those awesome stories would exist if the prequels hadn't been made. And also, the new ones probably wouldn't exist, because they proved there was still a market for these stories.

But the prequels came with the original trilogy being re-released into the theatres, and even though I think almost all the special-edition changes were unnecessary, it was so good to see them all shined up and big-screen again. And, of course, the anti-special-edition-ness--which I think, for me, was eventually more because they refused to let us own both editions and were therefore trying to edit my past and what it meant to me--meant I got to go to a con and get my grubby paws on the originals like a rebel smuggler myself!

I wasn't thrilled when Disney bought Star Wars. It also bought Marvel at that time, and that just sort of felt like they were greedily gobbling up everything geeks love, making a geek monopoly we wouldn't have any alternative to if it sucked. 

It didn't suck.

Now we live in a world where we're going to be down-right SPOILED with Star Wars. A movie a year until it stops making money. Episode VII was exactly what I wanted it to be--aware of the originals, but it's own story with awesome new people and wonderful practical effects, and a whole new chapter that doesn't need to fill gaps or condense the past--my biggest issue with the prequels is that they make the rise of the empire and the fall, like, twenty years apart, which makes it seem like Luke is less of a big deal. Before they existed, it sounded like he was bringing down an unstoppable thing that had been around so long there were only a few people fighting it; but if it rose around the time he was born, that's only one generation, and there should have been SO MANY people who remembered what it was like before and fought back. They stole Luke's thunder.

And even better, now, we get to have new Star Wars stories! Flashbacks. Flashes sideways to tell about other stories happening around the edges of the stories we have. A whole new, wide-open future without the need to read seven hundred books that filled all the gaps already. 

I'm so happy that Star Wars can be part of this current Golden Age of Geekiness! It would have been lacking without the galaxy far far away.

What are your memories of Star Wars?

 *My dad's idea, seeing Star Wars in the theatre. Also my dad's idea, watching Star Trek when I was five. I don't see why there's such a divide in the fanbase, like you can't possibly like both at once. They're different things!
**As in "Shut up, Ewoks don't talk!" We were not lovey-dovey siblings.
***Which I have sort of decided needs to be made more...equal, because the proposed Heroine's Journey is boring and why should be boys get all the fun?


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