Readers, there is a dilemma in casa de la Pahle. Or, no, dilemma is too strong a word. I am in full-on existential crisis mode, and it’s all because of Star Wars.
See, I’m a Star Wars nerd. I know—everyone is completely shocked. I watched the original trilogy endlessly after the pre-Special Edition VHSes (meeemmmorriiieeeesss) were brought into my home when I was ten or so. I looked up character biographies online and copied them out in longhand for some reason that I’m still not sure of. I read the EU (until they dropped a moon on Chewbacca—a giant “HHNNNARRRRRRGGGHHHHLL” to everyone involved with that). There was a special family trip up to DC when the Smithsonian had a Star Wars exhibit. George Lucas was “Uncle George,” and Rogue Squadron was my #1 love. Did I read fanfic? I maybe read fanfic. I definitely read fanfic.
When the new teaser came out, I refused to watch it on my computer. It’s Star Wars—big screen or bust. So I bundled up with some nerd friends for a second screening of Big Hero 6, grimaced my way through the Paddington trailer (sexy taxidermist Nicole Kidman, WTF), and proceeded to lose my everloving mind when the probably-Tatooine sandscape showed up. My mind could not handle John “Moses” Boyega. My mind could not handle the Stormtroopers, or the soccer ball droid, or that sweet-ass broadsword lightsaber. (Haters, step aside—it’s a broadsword lightsaber. How do you hate joy?!). My mind definitely could not handle the Millennium Falcon or X-Wing pilot Oscar Isaac. After the movie, I abandoned my friends so I could go home and watch it five more times. My enthusiasm, the love of Star Wars that fueled my early adolescence and maybe coincided with a time of less-than-awesome hygiene, was back in full Force.
And that concerns me.
Some context here: I discovered Star Wars not too long before the prequels were announced. The anticipation of more movies is a large part of what catapulted li’l me from “Hey, these movies are pretty awesome! X-Wings!” into full HOLY SHIT mode. Knowing that the prequels were coming, and that they would be awesome—that I was getting in on the ground floor of something, that I could follow its progress in Star Wars Insider magazine and go to midnight screenings, that they were mine—were a huge part, not just of my love of Star Wars, but of my childhood. And then the prequels came out, and… well, you know.
It’s a common tale: “The prequels ruined my love of Star Wars. ” And there may be some pissy fan entitlement there, but it’s also true, at least for me. In between The Phantom Menace in 1999 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005, I stopped reading the EU. I stopped wearing Star Wars t-shirts. I, in the back of my mind, acknowledged that the original trilogy wasn’t as unimpeachable as I had earlier thought. The dialogue wasn’t all that good. The acting was just OK. And a good chunk of that was me going through this little thing called “being a teenager” and coming out on the other side of quasi-adulthood (disclaimer: I’m not saying that Star Wars is a kid’s thing, just that this is the way it went down for me). But some of it was midichlorians, trade regulation subplots, and Jar Jar. The magic was lost.
Which brings me to the problem I’m having with the sequel trilogy, or rather with myself in relation to it. I can feel myself slipping back into my pre-prequels enthusiasm—the wanting to sop up every bit of information, the bone-deep knowledge that this will be the best thing ever, even though I know that’s not true. It’s conditioned.. But the prequels, in the form of a glowy ghost Hayden Christensen, are hanging over my head, taunting me.
Star Wars fans—are we setting ourselves up for disappointment? Are we dooming ourselves to repeat history? There’s no way in Mustafar (see, because the phrase is “no way in hell,” and Mustafar is a lava planet… shutting up now) that the sequel trilogy could ever be as bad as the prequels, because no one’s listening to Lucas with blind obedience this time around. Disney has this shit on lockdown—we know from Marvel that they know what they’re doing, and between the sequel trilogy and the standalone spinoffs, they’re all chips in for the Galaxy Far Far Away. They know that, moreso than with most movies, the new Star Wars absolutely cannot suck. So it’ll be good. It’ll be fine! It’ll be filmmaking by committee. It will not be the best thing ever, but neither will we have racist caricatures of Chinese, Jewish, and Jamaican people all in one movie, so, y’know. That’s a plus.
It will be good product, of the sort that will launch a thousand toy lines. I’ll enjoy it. I’ll probably more than enjoy it—it’ll have lightsabers and X-Wings, and really, that’s all I want out of life. But, subconsciously, I know I’m expecting more than the new movies—than any movie—can give me. I’m expecting an earth-shattering impact along the lines of what the original trilogy had on me. And that’s not fair, but I’m having trouble reasoning with the ten-year-old in the back of my head going “OMG STAR WARS”. I’m putting too much pressure on Episode VII. Even me writing this piece on Episode VII is me putting too much pressure on Episode VII. And I still have a year to go until it actually comes out.
There’s only one way to lower my expectations: Watch this video 10 times a day for the next 12 months.
I’d throw in some Holiday Special, too, but I’m not a masochist.