I was 14 when the first Star Wars movie premiered. I read about it in Newsweek and went to my dad and said, “Hey, would you take us to see this new movie called Star Wars?” He said “Absolutely NOT!” A few weeks later I asked again, and he refused again, and this time I asked why. “Because you’re too young to see a movie called ‘Star Whores!'”
Eventually we got that sorted, and he became a fan. Got himself one of those cheap t-shirts people used to buy at shopping malls, too: A heat-transfer image of the “Star Wars: A New Hope” movie poster on the front, and “CHEWBACCA” in heat-transfer letters on the back. I remember standing in line for a Star Wars movie next to him wearing that shirt, so it apparently held up through a few washings.
Star Wars: Bringing American Families Together in Geekdom Since 1977.
It took forever to finish that first trilogy. I was in college by the time Return of the Jedi came out. Fans were generally pleased, despite the Ewoks, and hopes were high for the next trilogy.
The wait wound up lasting 16 years, although Lucasfilm raked in some cash by offering us new “editions” of the originals, with updated CGI and explosions and a chivalrous Han Solo (vomit).
And I REALLY wanted to like the three prequels. I truly did.
But life can be cruel sometimes. Not as cruel as the Evil Lord Sarnak, I suppose, but cruel doesn’t grade on a curve. Whatever alignment of the universe created the original Skywalker saga collapsed like a bad souffle with the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999.
It was like really looking forward to seeing your high school crush at your 20th reunion, because you’ve seen photos and she looks GREAT. But when you finally get her alone she breaks out some pamphlets and tries to sell you life insurance.
And yes, we trudged back to each new installment, and bought the kids picture books with all sorts of detailed photos and schematics of Naboo Fighters and Darth Maul’s light saber. I didn’t want to admit just how bad those movies were, so I focused on the bright spots. But my only real pleasure from watching Episodes I-III came through our kids’ eyes.
By that bar, the J.J. Abrams Star Wars Era has been pleasant, so long as you keep it in context. It’s like you grew up on Aldaraan, and then the Empire blew it up, so you spent two decades living on the Hoth ice planet in a shitty refugee camp with a bunch of scruffy nerf herders.
Not so nice.
Then Abrams shows up and gives you all a free ride to a nice, clean, new planet, where you’ve been granted a nice, clean new home in the suburbs, with free access to unlimited new Star Wars stuff. As planned communities go, it’s thoughtfully designed, with clever allusions to the area’s history and streets with names like Tatooine Court.
And you think, that’s nice. Oh, and look, there’s that nice Luke Skywalker kid, all grown up and disillusioned.
Just like we are.
Your hopes rise for a good ending. And everything feels safe and tidy and substantial and generally competent, too — so long as you don’t wander too far from the cul de sac. Because then you realize that this isn’t some new planet. It’s the Greater Orlando Metro Area, and everything belongs to Disney and all your neighbors are retirees.
Anyway, we’re less than a week away from the release of the ninth and “final” Star Wars movie.
Of course, none of that is exactly true. In addition to Episodes Seven and Eight, Abrams has already given us “Rogue One” (which I dearly loved), and “Solo,” which had Danny Glover and the Millennium Falcon and some stuff happened. Plus there are already plans for “Untitled Star Wars Movies” extending out to 2026, along with a never-ending stream of Star Wars television programs featuring Baby Yoda.
It’s entirely likely that long after the fall of human civilization, Disney’s heirs will be casting hand-shadow puppets on some ruined wall, illuminated by a camp fire, as they tell some story about Boba Fett’s sister’s droid. For food credits.
But George Lucas set out to make nine films that told the story of the Skywalkers, and by gawd, closing that loop feels significant. The first one came out when I was 14. I’m 56 now — which makes me 19 years old than my Dad was when he forbid me from going to some theater to watch some movie called Star Whores.
Which, of course, is the title of an actual porno released in 2000. Sadly, it appears to have nothing to do with the actual Star Wars characters. Which is why you’ll be happy to know that there’s something called “Star Wars XXX: A Porn Parody,” that got released about seven years ago.
There’s a trailer for it on YouTube. I swear to gawd.