I was born in 1986, just a few years after Return of the Jedi rounded out the original Star Wars trilogy. I recall using a broomstick and a rubber bike handle to make a light saber, with which I maintained Galactic law and order for the weeds, trees, and flowers of my parents’ farm. As I grew older, the obsession did not wane. During the odd snowstorm in central Ohio where we’d get more than a foot, I would dutifully don goggles, my fur-lined bomber cap (I wish I still had that thing), and a water gun that resembled a blaster to go refight the Battle of Hoth. Could never outrun those damn AT-ATs on my tiny eight-year old legs.
As I entered my eleventh year, my fandom reached new heights: there was to be a new Star Wars! The optimism and euphoria of the 1990’s coalesced into the one moment; the Soviet Union was gone; the economy was booming; this thing called “the internet” was changing the world; and The Phantom Menace would bring me the joy of Star Wars in my own lifetime. Marketing exploded, and I, a pre-teen boy, bowed my little American capitalist head to the market, and started collecting everything and anything Star Wars related. Legos, Micro Machines, posters, and Mountain Dew cans. Yeah, you heard me – do you remember them? Pictures of the characters on them and everything. I spent hours debating the trilogy with my friends. And then, in 1999, I finally got to see the penultimate film (my first movie in a theater, by the way) in human history.
I still maintain that George Lucas needs to make reparations for the disappointment he wrought on that poor thirteen-year old boy who emerged from the theater that day.
The film killed my spirit. Yes, I smiled at the end, joined my friends in saying that I loved it, and tried to ignore that feeling clawing at my soul – that the movie was a trainwreck. No, a shipwreck. Like the Titanic.
As my faith in the series waned, so did my interest. I barely made it all the way through what ever Episode Two was. And for Episode Three? Never heard of it. Seriously. I have yet to watch all but snippets of it that left me shouting at the television. Yes, Star Wars was well and truly over for this guy. Into the closets, storage bins, and recesses of my emotions went all Star Wars-related items. And there it lay; crushed, broken, bowed, but still alive.
And then came the announcement in 2012 of a new Star Wars. I scoffed. But that small ray of hope worked its way through the caverns and tank traps of my jaded soul and lit a tiny fire. Two years later, as I watched the first teaser, I gently allowed my older, mature (ish) Army officer self to believe that this might not be a travesty. As the trailers followed the teasers, the hope renewed inside me. And when I walked out of the theater following seeing The Force Awakens for the first time, a gigantic smile wreathing my face, I knew that hope had been restored. And the lid that had been holding down the thirteen-year old Star Wars fanatic was blown off with a water impulse charge. He was back.
And with him came the Star Wars Legos, action figures, conversations, theories, and obsessive ranting on the internet that is the sign of a great and fierce obsession. My poor wife has looked on in fascination at this re-emergence, as our house slowly collects Star Wars memorabilia and my conversations become dominated by the Force.
It has been said that America loves Star Wars so much because we lack a great epic, like the Iliad or Beowulf. If this is so, then J.J. Abrams and his crew have given us a new boost, like the Odyssey or the Aeneid. Thank you, J.J., for giving my love of the saga new life. The Force may have awakened, but for me, it was truly a new hope.
Pun most definitely intended.
Enjoy what you just read? Please like or share, using the buttons below.