Monday, October 17, 2011

I’ve written many times about my fascination with Star Wars. I assure you that I while I do love this movie, I can also speak intelligently about other non-related geek subjects. Historically, I have chalked it up to being one of my guilty little pleasures. Lately, I’ve come to believe it may have some deeper roots than pure escapism.
      Star Wars was the launching post that got me into being obsessed with pop culture. As a result of being fascinated by the characters, I began to look at other work they had done which led me to look at other good movies and so on. As a kid, I’d glean magazines in the super market to find anything new or interesting that I didn’t already know about Star Wars. I was just interested in the story. How they made it appealed to my nine year old mind. This would lead me to being amazed with the art of special effects.

There was a magazine that I have never really given any real credit to. If Star Wars was the father to my love of movies then Starlog is the quiet stepfather in the background. To this day, I clearly remember picking up issue number 8 in the Big Star magazine rack while my mom was shopping for groceries. The back of it had an ad for Don Post Horror mask--now with Star Wars. The Vader mask excited me and I began to fantasize about ruling the galaxy with my dark evil overlord might (or as much evil might as a nine year old can conjure up. Suck that, Obi-Wan) this caught my eye and I began to flip through the pages. There was a small story about Star Wars but so much more that I enjoyed including an interview with the guys who made the dinosaurs on Land of the Lost. Sold!

            Because of that magazine, I discovered all these classic sci-fi movies like The Time Machine, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Forbidden Planet. Starlog was probably required reading up until my freshman year at YHC when it got to be too difficult to track down issues and I couldn’t afford the subscription. All of these amazing new facts began to pop into my young mind and slowly I was realizing that I was fascinated not just by movies but also how they were made. At dinner, I’d share about how Lucas came up with the idea to name Indiana Jones after his dog, how stop motion would lead into the development of Go-motion, and how new civilizations terrain could be illustrated by merely painting on to a pane of glass and projecting the movie around it., To this day, part of the fun of movie watching is figuring out what techniques were used as well as the acting and story development.

         The real treat would be when I could glean some new item about the Star Wars universe. I’d memorize this new nugget of knowledge for later use and go along my merry way. All of this always prompted the same response from my father:
“What can you possibly use this information for in your future? What good is that going to do?”
            My dad was generally supportive in most of my creative endeavors but he honestly did not understand my growing obsession for Star Wars and other movies. Looking back I realize he just wanted to help form a well-rounded kid but this always bugged me. We had shared a love of Bugs Bunny cartoons when I was younger and spent much time laughing and discussing the finer points of the Road-Runner-will-he-ever-get-caught-by-the-Coyote-argument. It made no sense to me that we couldn’t do the same about Star Wars.

I have the C3PO & R2 as a poster hanging in my bathroom

         It wasn’t just a movie as much as a pop culture phenomena. It was one of the first items that I can remember that the merchandising was inundated into our lives. I begged for us to dine at Burger King to get the glasses and even the posters. (Most of which are still on display in my house as I type). All of the books and comics slowly grew into my collection. And the toys…
            God oh mighty, those were the most amazing toys made. The landspeeder had these hidden wheels to give the illusion of gliding over the ground. The detail on the characters must have been straight from the costume design sheets, even the faces never really looked like them. The included weapons were pretty impressive though way too small to keep up with. The light sabers would even extend from a switch hidden in the arms. I still have these little treasures of youth and plan to share them with Jude and Ronnie one day. Can’t wait for them to see my Death Star playset.  
Best. Toy. Ever.

           With all of this stuff hovering around me as a kid, it’s no wonder that I still a bit obsessed with this movie. My old buddy, Jeff Doke and I were talking about this and he shared a term with me that might literally change the way I see things.
            Jeff explained that his dad looked at Star Wars much like mine and even went so far as to call it a “load of bunk.” As disheartening as that was for Jeff, he still wanted the same thing I wanted from my Dad which was a buddy to share all this with. The more I talk to fans; I find this to be the case for them too. Looking back, nobody realized the social impact that Lucas’s space opera trilogy had on us.
            Doke went on to say that it’s his belief that these movies had such an impact that we shouldn’t be considered a part of Generation X. In truth, we are Generation Lucas because the social impact. Frankly, I kind of like this more than being a Gen Xer.
            A few weeks back, I received a text from Kim that was marked important. As I read it, I realized that Jude was asking some questions. To say Jude likes Star Wars is a bit of an understatement and he hangs out and talks the SW talk with his 2nd grade buddies. His buddy Oswald, is a self proclaimed expert but frankly, I have no idea what sort of expert because so far he has tried to convince Jude that Yoda has a twin brother named Yogurt and an older brother named Yacht. Its one thing to be wrong but quite another in my book to continue to be wrong and try pass yourself off as an expert. I am not a fan of Oswald and his fucked up school of  Star-Warsology.

The text question from Jude was, “Who taught Qui-Gonn Jinn to be a Jedi?” I quickly texted back that Qui-Gonn was taught by Dooku and became one of the greatest Jedi lightsaber duelist of all time which made his death at the hands of Darth Maul even more tragic.  As I looked at all this info that I had shared, I began to shake my head in embarrassment. I am a 43 year old man acting like a nerdy kid. This bit of information took up space that should have gone to Algebra or something useful. Why do I know these things?
            This morning Ronnie, Jude and I were playing my X-box with the Lego SW saga and having a blast. While we played they assaulted me with technical questions. How did they make the taun-tauns work? What’s a bantha? Kim even asked how they made the noises for the lightsabers. And I am rattling out answers left and right. Furthermore, I love it because I can see the kids getting that same faraway look in their eyes that I had at that age. I may be little but if I use my mind, I can create anything with what I have around me.
            Have I spent too much of my life obsessing like a 43 year old man child on a badly acted sci-fi movie that is nearly 30 years old? Probably. Do I waste my money on silly items based on that movie because I trying relive my youth? Probably.
            I wish my Dad was still alive for so many reasons but now I have another one now. I now honestly believe that I learned all this stuff not so much for my own enjoyment but that someday a seven year old boy would want to understand just what exactly does that Corrrellian Blood Stripe mean that is on Han Solo’s pants and why Dooku was trained by Yoda. He has those answers because a nerdy little boy took the time to learn this, grew up, ands loves bonding with his new partner in crime and in the process looks like the coolest guy in the world to that seven year old. That’s why.

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