With a viewing of Episode VIII fresh in my mind, I want to pen some poignant thoughts regarding the latest installment. For the official record, I loved the movie, as did my children. There are no specific spoilers found within, so please keep reading, if you’re still waiting to see the film.
Fair warning: you’re going to hate the next few paragraphs, and I guarantee that a percentage of you will wholeheartedly disagree.
While Star Wars: The Force Awakens nor Rogue One: A Star Wars Story may not have really clocked your tea kettle at an aggressive rolling boil, perhaps Star Wars: The Last Jedi has you blowing a fuse, losing sleep, waving your fists in anger, boycotting all-things-Disney, unknotting your panties, and demanding a retraction from the official canon of all-things-Skywalker?
Hash tag this, hash tag that, metaphorically spitting on the shoes of those who disagree, scrawling passive aggressive slurs on social media channels, commenting on posts of posts of friends of friends: your voice must be heard—oh yes, I nearly forgot, you may be a bonafide, self-appointed expert on all things Force-related. And you may also be wrong, regarding the creative direction of Star Wars.
Perhaps, more importantly in your own Universe, you’ve been brooding, for at least two years now? How can THEY do THAT to my character, that plot is not canon, my favorite character died, or I would have done it differently…yatta, yatta, yatta…ad nauseam.
This is not a pointed response to one individual, or another, but to a generation of people who believe that the Star Wars universe belongs to them, and them alone.
Truth bomb, and the content of today’s narrative: in a galaxy far, far, away, who really cares? It’s just a movie—pure entertainment with no bearing on the logistics of life—and, furthermore, the last two or three cinematic installments in the Star Wars franchise are not actually intended for you, sorry.
Catch your breath, more to come, below.
There’s no reason to think Disney is going to stop wanting to make ‘Star Wars’ movies if there’s quality and there’s interest. It has unlimited potential. It has a huge number of characters, worlds… It’s a massive playground. ~ John Knoll
You’ve grown up—over a span of two, three, or even four decades—spoon-fed and creatively nourished on the fictional backstory of Luke Skywalker and his dramatic space-bound family.
Honestly, I get it. I am one of those people too; same demographic as you; cut from the same cinematic-Sci-Fi-appreciating-cloth, if such a thing exists.
I, personally, have watched every single of the nine movies, in a theater, on a big silver screen—buttered popcorn optional, from year to year. That’s a feat that only the most dedicated of exceedingly ancient fans can chronologically claim. Each movie has demarcated a finite point in my own timeline: from childhood to adulthood, from marriage to fatherhood, from one failed business or blossoming career to the next.
I am fully qualified to have my opinion—as you may be too—however, what I’m about to say comes from a place of complete understanding, compassion for the franchise, and an appropriate adult perspective.
The story being told in ‘Star Wars’ is a classic one. Every few hundred years, the story is retold because we have a tendency to do the same things over and over again. Power corrupts, and when you’re in charge, you start doing things that you think are right, but they’re actually not. ~ George Lucas
In reality, Star Wars belongs to the youth of today: not the 40-somethings, and not the 60-somethings.
As a die-hard fan, you’ve had your chance and moment of glory: episodes four through six, and possibly (based on your individual tolerance) episodes one through three. That timeframe was your time. The Force has moved on to a new generation of Science Fiction aficionados, and so have you, or at least you should have.
You’ve heard me correctly: episodes seven through (eventually) nine, including all supplementary cinematic instances and side stories, do not belong to your generation, but to the youth of today. As a forty-something, that may mean that the franchise belongs to your children; as a sixty-something, the target audience may be your grandchildren.
The art of storytelling has changed. Sure, the plot may be based on a revenue-proven formula, however the way stories are told now is different than forty years ago. I know that you may be annoyed by This or by That, but so what?
- a cute little orange droid as the improbable hero;
- furry guinea pig-like creatures co-piloting the Millennium Falcon;
- a girl who never knew her dead-beat gambling, alcoholic parents;
- a once-great Jedi master, now brooding in grumpiness and cynicism, content with isolation on an remote island in the last remaining corner of the galaxy (that also reminds me of Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine and Master Yoda on Dagobah—coincidence?);
- a deep-space, Force-inspired, Mary Poppins self-resuscitation moment;
- an anti-climatic, double setting sun denouement;
- or seemingly misplaced comedic relief moments?
Yes and yes and yes and yes and yes and yes and yes, that’s the way it is from now on—build a bridge and get over it.
If you struggle with any of the above reflections, you may be too close to the epicenter of the Star Wars universe. Perhaps it’s a good time to take three steps backward, and ask yourself the following question: “why does this matter to me so much?” Maybe the answer to the question will be a revelation in your own life.
The stories that are being told now cater to a new generation, both in context and presentation. Episodes VII, VIII, and IX will be as meaningful to your kids, as the original installments are to you now, in your own life-story. This bracket of films will be the fodder for future sleep-overs, birthday parties, and Christmas gifts over the next decade.
Another difficult reality is that your favorite characters, simply stated, must die. Even fictional characters must age, heroes must waiver, villains must destroy and conquer. Overarching plots and storylines cannot move forward, while poised at a stand-still, for the sake of nostalgia.
The Empire, your parents, the Resistance, the Sith, the Jedi… let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be. ~ Kylo Ren, The Last Jedi
Movies are magical, and can have a positive or negative effect on our lives, fueling imagination or creativity or resentment, but only if you allow them such power over you. Studios can afford to take a new perspective on an age-old tale, and perhaps you should as well. Films should offer opportunities for surprise and wonder—did you notice the I’ve Washed the Gray Right Out of My Hair moment, or did you miss it because you were fixated on plot holes?—but that is a pleasure that you, as the viewer, must grant to the storyteller.
You have to permit new people to tell their perspective, emerging directors to produce their imaginings (or re-imaginings) of a classic story, and, as the viewer, you must succumb to the fact that Episode VIII cannot possibly be told in the same manner as Episode IV.
If you refuse this reality, and deny yourself the opportunity to experience tales in a novel light, that are sparked by a new creative vision for the franchise, you are no different than a once-great Jedi master, living on a remote island, yelling at all of the kids in the neighborhood:
“Who are you? Why are you here? Get off my lawn, you pesky kids.”
I mean the preceding words in the most non-offensive sense, and you may inevitably misread my intentions; sorry, this is not your Star Wars.