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Maybe We're Overthinking 'The Force Awakens'

By Dan Whitley | Star Wars | December 17, 2015 | Comments ()

By Dan Whitley | Star Wars | December 17, 2015 |


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Recently I said some words about how I’m not looking forward to The Force Awakens and tried not to make it about the truth of the matter, which is that I’m a curmudgeon who is dead inside. If I’m being honest, I will probably be dragged to Awakens sometime between now and Valentine’s Day. But Star Wars was done in my book. I was told the tale of the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker and his redemption at the hands of his son Luke. And I was happy with that, rocky as certain parts may have been (I’m looking at you, Ewoks and/or The Phantom Menace). I didn’t need more, and if I have one arch-gripe with my fellow geeks, it is their insufferable need for more, regardless of how finished something may have been.

However, I’ve since remembered that I don’t have kids. And Star Wars is for kids, has always been for kids, no matter how much you might want it otherwise, or how hard Disney is trying to market Awakens toward people who were kids for A New Hope. Y’know, back when it was just called Star Wars.

See, everything is somebody’s first something. Someone out there is a Star Wars fan because, against all odds, pod-racing was just the absolute coolest shit ever to them. And it’s not just Star Wars. Ender’s Game still gets kids into sci-fi despite being as bad as Atlas Shrugged in terms of both themes and writing competency. Pop-punk leads kids to actual punk. I knew a girl in undergrad who got into our English program because She’s The Man was her favorite movie, which led her to Shakespeare.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to defend garbage. I would never give a kid a copy of Ender’s Game. Even I don’t hate other people’s children that much.

My point is that a lot of us, myself included, are overthinking The Force Awakens. All this stuff about who is who and why certain people are where and how it all fits together, it’s all bunk. And without sounding accusatory, it’s downright baffling to me that whole hordes of people who are passionate for this movie because they, unlike Yours Truly, have inner children aren’t approaching this movie like children.

Why are we trying to make sense of this movie’s plot? Why do we care so much about continuity and canon? Why are our definitions of “getting it right” so detailed? Why are we shoving sticks up our own asses about possible spoilers? This whole thing, it isn’t for us. It’s for the ten-year-olds for whom this is their first Star Wars. This doesn’t need to be anything but cool as all hell to them.

If Abrams and company can achieve that, then they’ve won. Nothing else matters. The goal shouldn’t be satisfying us grown nerds. There is no pleasing us and we are insane. The goal should be getting kids to lightsaber fight in theater lobbies for the first time. The goal should be to get kids to talk about characters like Captain Phasma the way we grown nerds talked about Boba Fett, a character I used to fear the way the Israelites feared God. The goal is spectacle over substance, fun over fulfillment. Sometimes that’s alright, and this is one of those times.

So, go and enjoy The Force Awakens, you crazy diamonds. Just call me when the trailer for Rogue One drops.



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