First Anniversary of My Watching Star Wars – Emily Schorr Lesnick

 

On the Occasion of the First Anniversary
of My Watching Star Wars
Or, The Week I Changed From Droid to Human

 
One year ago, I gained a new consciousness. One year ago, my adult friends Lindsey and Damian lugged a television from their basement into their living room in Minneapolis, we drank warm home-brewed beer, and began Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  I had seen Space Balls, I had watched Family Guy parody the saga in countless episodes, I knew Darth Vader was Luke’s father (SPOILER ALERT!) and I even knew that Leia wore a sexy metal bikini, but I had never watched any of the series before September 2010.  I was living an empty pastiche existence, full of cultural references that led back to the same nexus.  Sure, I was an educated young woman, but in the words of Yoda, human I was not. 

Damian pressed play and the music and scrolling prologue began.  As Theo the cat sat in my lap, I bothered my friends throughout the film, reacting with audible and genuine excitement and asking naive questions. I’m pretty insufferable when I watch movies. I ask a lot of “why” questions and I wonder about things that get answered within the scene. “Who are those old people standing next to Luke?” Turns out, surprisingly enough, they are his aunt and uncle. “Is Han Solo good or bad?” Good, but edgy! “Are there any Black people in Sci Fi?” Yes, Lando Calrissian, but not until Episode V! Each answer brought new questions, new excitement, and new understanding of the Rebel Alliance. 

After the movie ended and I had filled up on popcorn and John Williams, I alternated between silence and bursts of questions and connections. Three days later, I had completed the entire series. Star Wars became a frame of reference for the way I approached all pop culture. It became a way for me to make sense of stories and make connections with the past and the future. 

Even though it feels like the future but takes place in the past (I didn’t figure that little twist out until the second movie), there is no question that Star Wars is the origin of all myths. Until one year ago, seemingly unrelated stories, fables, legends, and myths existed as separate entities. In Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell wrote that all myths are the same myth told a thousand different ways.  Each centers around a hero and a companion (or many companions) that embark on an epic quest for an object and/or a concept- Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Harry Potter, Britney Spears’ Crossroads.  Along the way, these heroes learn lessons about love, charity, generosity, etc.  I would argue that all myths are Star Wars, told a thousand different ways.  What makes Star Wars so awesome is that it has dual protagonists (like 30Rock’s Liz and Jack), and, if you count Leia, three heroes, instead of just one.  They are each on parallel and intersecting quests through Tatooine and the Degobah, ultimately all seeking liberty for the Rebel Alliance- or in Han’s case, money.  And for the record, I believe Leia is multidimensional feminist character. And damn is she sexy! 

Now I see Star Wars references everywhere, from my cousin calling the huge cloud looming over us “The Death Star” to people impersonating Luke and Darth Vader’s epic battle to that touching Volkswagon commercial where the kid Vader starts the car. I even own my own Star Wars shirt (whose anniversary will be celebrated next May).  For someone who grew up watching George Lucas’s epic space opera, this might not be an exciting reflection.  Maybe you always knew that most stories follow a similar but trusted trajectory. But if you haven’t seen the films yet, this could be the exciting motivator you need to watch the quest of all quests.  And maybe, some of you geeks are like me, and celebrate each year (or each month?) by watching the Star Wars with popcorn and friends. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to return to my Clone Wars Lego set, just to feel again…

Emily Schorr Lesnick is a recent graduate of Macalester College, where she studied gender, identity, and comedy.  Her writing has been featured on Splitsider, The Mary Sue and Lilveggiepatch.  You can follow her on Twitter @ESchorrLesnick.

 

Comments

  1. Happy Anniversary! I am going on record as stating that I’ve only seen the first two Star Wars movies. The first two made, so that’s 4 and 5? I really should remedy that. If someone would invite me over and crack open the home brew, I’d be there. The reason I never saw much Star Wars is actually very geeky and embarrassing: I was a huge (original) Star Trek dork, and when Star Wars came out, it stole Star Trek’s thunder. I was pissed and jealous, so I boycotted. Kind of cut off my own nose with a light saber to spite my face, I did.

  2. I am old and saw the movies IN THE THEATERS. I know. Can your mind grasp that? My sister also had a light saber which WAS AWESOME and x-times more deadly than the safety-plated ones they have now.

    But I’m glad you had that experience and that it opened your eyes. The force is strong in you.

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