Back at the tail end of 2015, I wrote a sniffy little entry about how I was growing steadily weary of the pop-culture-engulfing cult of “Star Wars” and how I really wasn’t expecting “The Force Awakens” to sway that opinion one way or the other. Put simply, one can only sustatin the wide-eyed wonderment of a 10 year old for so long. I drew what I considered to be a fairly sound analogy, that being that I similarly didn’t expect 2013’s mbv, the long-delayed follow-up to My Bloody Valentine’s iconic 1991 album, Loveless, to make me 24 again, as appealing as that might have been. I’d grown up and moved on.
I think “Star Wars” became easier to shake once it reached maximum saturation. What had once been an elective had swiftly become cumpulsory. In due course, there wasn’t anything distinctive or unique about being a “Star Wars” fan anymore. You were expected to get all hot and bothered about each new installment. It was everywhere and inescapable, especially when they re-booted the original three (replete with that whole revisionist bit wherein Han Solo was no longer depicted shooting Greedo in the Cantina first, thus arguably making him more virtuous a role model). Then, of course, they rolled out the prequels. I’m not even sure I lasted through the entirety of “The Phantom Menace.” All I remember of that film today is the somewhat clinical explanation of the Force as not so much a spiritual element as some amalgamation of galactic mitochondria … or something, and a cloying character named Jar-Jar Binks. It was almost a relieft that it sucked. I was free. I've never even seen the two films that followed it.
Then, of course, I had kids. In relatively short order, they, too, were indoctrinated into the “Star Wars” faith, albeit in a totally different manner. While I’d been privy to the birth of the phenomenon in real time, “Star Wars” was already well part of the establishment for them. By the same token, the inarguably broad appeal of the original films' mythology still works its magic, if you’re young enough, or at least able to suppress your inherent cynicism. As such, I re-watched all the original ones with my kids. I don’t believe we’ve ever made it onto the prequels. No rush, as far as I’m concerned. But, when “The Force Awakens” rolled out in 2015, it was a given that they wanted to see it. And, being that my wife has steadfastly avoided all of the films (her excuse being that she’s British, not that that should matter, really), it fell to me to take them.
So, yeah, before I took them, I posted here that I was reasonably certain that the Force was no longer with me, but that that was ultimately okay.
Then, I’ll be damned –- “The Force Awakens” was pretty damn great. Honestly, I only saw it with the kids that one time, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a kick out of it. Then, seemingly almost immediately afterwards, “Rogue One” came out. When I was a kid, it seemed like cruel years between episodes. Now they were dropping with the dependability of pungent dollops of crap from an incontinent cow’s posterior.
But, that was perfectly okay. Probably because George Lucas was no longer writing and directing them, these two new films seemed fresh, engaging and –- dare I suggest it -- cool again (there was assuredly nothing cool about “The Phantom Menace”). They didn’t change my life, but I was more or less back on board.
Here we are, then, at the tail end of 2017, and “The Last Jedi” has come out and touched off a raging maelstrom of bickering all over my social media feeds. Bug-eyed fanboys, cosplayers and Lucas-purists are lashing out at dilletantes, film critics and other quasi-legit zeitgeit-assessors about myraid plot points, inconsistencies and perceived betrayals. Opinions seem jaggedly divided as to whether this eighth episode (evidently “Rogue One” doesn’t count?) measures up.
But while I’m otherwise always ready to get vindictively purple in the face about ultimately inane pop culture bullshit of this variety, I can’t really seem to care too much, in this case. My son Oliver and I went to see the movie on Saturday, and all I know and care about is that my little boy got a tremendous kick out of it and came out smiling broadly. Was it too long? Probably. Were there scenes, characters and/or entire story-arcs I, personally, would have cut? Absolutely. Did that ruin anything for me? Not one bit.
I was kind of hoping “The Last Jedi” would embrace the fateful adjective in its title and finally put the series to bed, but I suppose there’s still gobs of money yet to be made.
But if you’re finding yourselves all up-in-arms about how this film went down, I’d just suggest borrowing a page from enjoyably broody Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. Maybe it’s finally time to let go of the past.