The 30th anniversary of the most overrated franchise in movie history, Star Wars, is soon upon us. Millions of fans will take the day off of working at the comic book store or temporarily halting their two cents a word career writing for the Robot and Dragon Digest to pay good hard-earned money to watch a movie they have watched every single day of their known lives.
I’ve never quite fallen in love with Star Wars, and I have never really grasped it immense appeal. No particular reason, I guess; I was into sci fi when I was a child, and I still enjoy a good ole fashioned space opera just as much as the next mouthbreather. Probably because I was born just a touch too late; Star Wars was released on the year of my birth, and I was nary old enough to understand what would have been happening during the last of the original trifecta, The Return of the Jedi. Though I suppose this isn’t a valid excuse, since most of my friends were into Star Wars and they were just as old as me. I must be repressing some Wookie-related memory or something.
I would blame this on the old Star Wars/Star Trek debate, but, truth be told, I wasn’t really into Star Trek, either. At least the original series. I mean, yeah, it was kind of cool when I was a kid, but even back then I was unimpressed with William Shatner’s acting, and this was from someone who honestly believed that Inspector Gadget deserved some sort of Emmy. (Not the voice actor or the series, mind you, but Inspector Gadget himself.) And even I could tell that most episodes were derivative of each other, their ham-fisted plots about vaguely-veiled racism or the Vietnam War, and always ended up with Shatner throwing pink Styrofoam rocks around or getting it on with his own bad self with some green-skinned honey with big 60’s knockers and a skirt short enough all the way up to the Y. It wasn’t bad, mind you, and I kind of got a kick out of realizing that it was at least different, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was better than Indiana Jones and the Millennium Falcon.
(Though I will admit that that episode with those scary looking flat transparent-skin-diseased things flew around the place and sucked on your epidermis really, really, really creeped me out. I mean, seriously. I can’t eat pancakes or date Goth girls to this day thanks to those nasty-looking things. Ick.)
But the overwhelming success of Star Wars eludes me. I don’t get the action-figure characters, the stale plot points, or the artificially induced dialogue. Aliens are fun and all, but when one of them is just a rug with googly eyes on it and whose range of emotion goes from “EEEOOORGH” to “EEEOOORGH” and another one is just a fat, punch-drunk, dyslexic Kermit the Frog, one has to wonder at what kindergarten they held the focus groups in. Not that that’s a bad idea, since kindergarteners are the ones most likely to have clueless relatives to buy all kinds of plastic Kenner dolls for their nieces and nephews (well, nephews, anyway) to lose without realizing that they would be worth something around three million dollars on the eBay just if they hadn’t spilled mango Capri-Sun all through the bendable joints and left it in the yard for your father to hit it with his weed eater.
And, seriously, Star Wars was nothing more than The Thorn Birds only with big white ships, cranky-looking machines that shoot CGI out of their eyes, and background shots made with black construction paper with pinholes poked in it held up against a 60 watt. Fans can dress it up and pretend that it’s all a rich tapestry of David vs. Goliath patriotism, good versus evil, and the innate righteousness of fighting for a just cause, but everyone just kind of wanted to know if Han and Leia were gonna knock boots once Luke got his skinny ass out of the way. (“Hey, Luke, boy, can’t you go away for like forty five minutes or so and Force up some pita bread or something?”)
I think I may have some ideas, though, as to why I’m just not impressed. First off, I didn’t really see any of the movies until I was nearly in college, not so much due to a lack of opportunity but more to not really caring all that much about it. I was too busy forging my apparent future career as a snare drum player in high school marching bands. But I sat down and watched them all at once one rainy Saturday, being mildly entertained but hardly blown away. At this point in my life, of course, I was already wowed by the special effects of Universal Soldier and the intricate plot development of Second Sight, so Star Wars was old hat.
More importantly, though, I think it’s just that I don’t appreciate what Star Wars did for the epic movie because I saw it after its impact was felt in the movie industry. Star Wars basically told audiences: There are no more pink Styrofoam rocks. There are no more aliens with pasty makeup or played by washout cameos from To Tell The Truth. The plots aren’t lifted from some boilerplate morality tome dictated from the suits from Standards and Practices or Mr. Ed only with aliens instead of that other horse down the road. But we can still get a good story and set it in a science fiction setting without it just being a kid’s show. Star Wars lifted science fiction out of the pulp and camp genres and make them into philosophical allegories about the I SAID HAN SHOT FIRST. NO, JACKASS, I SAID HAN SHOT FIRST. NOT GREEDO, YOU MORON. DID YOU NOT WATCH THE MOVIE? I SAID DID YOU NOT WATCH THE MOVIE? You HAVE? If you HAVEN’T, which I think is the CASE since only an IDIOT would say that GREEDO SHOT FIRST, then you just need to SHUT UP since you DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. Seriously.
Anyway, Star Wars made a lot more money than I ever will, so I guess I am wrong about it. Star Wars rocks, not just because of its cultural importance, but mostly because I don’t want to get a thousand emails about how rotten Deep Space Nine is and how George Lucas needs one of those Jewish holidays named after him. Or something, I don’t know. Right now, I’m going to go look for that Jabba the Hutt action figure in my attic to see how much of my college debt I can pay off.