There has been a lot of discussion about the Star Wars franchise lately, and with good reason. With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens last month, both geek culture, and the mainstream media have been focusing on the galaxy far, far away lately, and I could not be happier. There has been a mixture of reactions to the new Star Wars movie, from the fans, like myself, who loved the movie, to those that were not satisfied, and probably would never be satisfied, to those that have never seen the movie, and do not care about Star Wars at all. I know, it’s hard to believe that there are people that do not care about Star Wars, but they do indeed exist, I have met some of them. Whatever your opinion of the new movie, or the franchise in general, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Star Wars has become deeply embedded in the pop culture zeitgeist. What is the reason for the worldwide popularity of Star Wars? There are many theories for its popularity, and who knows which theory might actually be correct? I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but I can tell you why Star Wars means so much to me, and hope that others will find that they can relate.
As a matter of fact, that last statement brings me to my first point, Star Wars is about community. A community of fans that have formed around their common love for a series of movies that have had a big impact on their lives. Star Wars has brought people together of all ages, types, and cultures, and all levels of fandom. For example, there is a community of fans that share an interest in collecting Star Wars memorabilia, love to share their collections with each other, as well as stories of how they obtained their collections. Another example of Star Wars community would be the people who enjoy cosplaying as their favorite characters in the Star Wars universe that feel a strong bond with each other. One group of cosplayers, known as the 501st legion, has even taken their love of Star Wars and cosplay to an entire new level, using their fandom to inspire them to perform charitable acts around the galaxy.
On a more personal level, Star Wars has had an enormous impact on my life as well. I fell in love with Star Wars from the first moment I saw the movie as a child, and some of my favorite memories are related to Star Wars in some way or another. One of my favorite childhood memories was a Christmas morning when I woke up to find that Santa had lined up every single action figure from The Empire Strikes back in a circle around the toy for Boba Fett’s Slave One on one of the endtables in our living room. It was our mutual love of Star Wars that allowed me to meet my best friend of thirty five years, and it has been the glue that has cemented our friendship ever since.
Throughout my life, Star Wars has been there for me, like an old friend who is always there when needed. When my parents got divorced, I had Star Wars to help me get through. Whenever I would go through tough times in life, I could always rely on Star Wars to cheer me up. Whether it was the movies themselves, or the toys, books, comics, or even the collectibles, Star Wars has been a part of my life in some capacity. When I was younger, I would dream about being a smuggler like Han Solo in the Star Wars universe. Star Wars has always been more than just a series of movies to me.
When I first learned that George Lucas would be making more movies back in the late nineties, it meant more to me than just some new movies coming out. I felt like an old friend that I have not seen in years was coming back into my life. I was excited for the prequel movies because it would provide me with new stories, new characters, and a new glimpse into the Star Wars universe. What could possibly be better than that. right? That was before I watched the prequels. After watching the prequels, which are widely regarded as bad films among most fans, I felt a disappointment that cut me deeper than perhaps any other I have felt in my life. Star Wars, my friend, who had been such an integral part of my childhood, had changed into something that felt, to put it plainly, wrong.
It took me years to get over my disappointment in the prequels and let myself fully embrace Star Wars again. In fact, I have not watched any of the prequel movies in years, and I have all but completely erased those movies from my mind altogether. For years afterward, my love of Star Wars was still present in my heart, but was severely subdued.
That brings me to the fall of 2012, when it was announced that Disney had purchased the Star Wars franchise from its creator, George Lucas. Now, Mr. Lucas is one of my heroes for creating the universe that is beloved and has touched so many lives, yet I felt that his deal with Disney was best for everyone involved, including the fans. Disney had done a great job with Marvel, another beloved franchise of mine, and I had full confidence that they would handle Star Wars equally as well. Shortly after the sale was announced, Disney also announced that they would be making brand new Star Wars movies, one a year in fact.
Hearing Disney announce new Star Wars movies left me with very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was thrilled at the thought of new Star Wars movies, something I had dreamed about in the deepest reaches of my imagination. Yet, on the other hand, memories of the prequels and the disappointment I felt with those movies gnawed at the back of my mind as well.
At the writing of this article, the first new movie, The Force Awakens has been out for three weeks. I am happy to say that, not only did I thoroughly enjoy The Force Awakens, I have already seen it four time. The Force Awakens made me feel like I did when I used to watch Star Wars as a kid, and that is something the prequels were never able to accomplish. Now, The Force Awakens is breaking all kinds of box office records, and it is obvious that I am not the only fan to feel that way.
I hope I have successfully conveyed my love for Star Wars in this article. I could continue on this subject forever, but I feel that I have said enough. The final thing I do want to express is the reason why I decided to write this article. There are, in fact, two main purposes for this article. The first purpose is to express my fascination with Star Wars in the hope that others who have a similar appreciation will find read this article and find some similarities in their own fandom. The second purpose of this article is to address those who try to downplay Star Wars by saying that is, “just a movie”, or those who think that it is “cool” to hate the franchise.
Star Wars is much more than just a movie to me, and to most of the fans out there. Star Wars has meaning in our lives, and we will not be ashamed of our love of all things Star Wars. To those that don’t understand I say this, give Star Wars a fair shot, you might just be surprised. In fact, I know of at least two people that used to think Star Wars was stupid nonsense, until they actually sat down recently and watched the movies with a true fan.
With the release of The Force Awakens, I am happy to be a Star Wars fan again, and I am very excited for what is to come in the future. To all my fellow fans, and even to the naysayers out there, I have only one thing left to say…
May the Force be with you all.