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On Watching Star Wars for the First Time at Age 30

The title of this post isn’t technically true. I can think of two ex-boyfriends who would be angry with that phrasing. Because yes, technically, I think I did watch Star Wars (at least the first one? Fourth one? Whatever you weirdos call it?) something like 13 years ago with my then-boyfriend who grew up loving it. This wasn’t a shining girlfriend moment for me – I think I spent the whole time making fun of the pew-pew special effects.

And then more recently (somewhere between 2014-2018, because it was when I lived in Portland), I saw another one in theaters – it was the activity-of-choice for a different boyfriend on his birthday. I think I did better this time, in that I didn’t ruin the movie by making fun of it (it was his birthday, after all)… but for the purpose of this post, I just did two minutes of Google searching to figure out which movie that exactly was and came up short. I’m pretty sure the little orange circle robot was in it… but otherwise, I obviously wasn’t engaged enough with the content to remember much else. How could I, when it seems like the whole franchise is built on nostalgia and inside jokes I couldn’t possibly understand?

Maybe it’s because it’s always seemed like a stereotypically male fandom, or because my memory of the first one seemed so ridiculous, but I was content for this to be the extent of my Star Wars education forever. I frankly could NOT understand the hype – how it had shaped generations of audiences, inspired theme parks, countless pop culture references, and tea-drinking baby yoda memes. The contrast between the public’s obsession with it and my own general apathy was stark.

So naturally, I did what any self-respecting hipster would do and actually leaned into my dislike of Star Wars. It was so universally adored that proclaiming that I thought it was dumb felt deliciously provocative. People would always gasp and stare, and I would puff out my chest like this somehow constituted some personal achievement.

I genuinely don’t know what my angle was here – She doesn’t like Star Wars? But everybody likes Star Wars! How complex and dimensional she must be, what discerning taste! But in any case, I actually made it part of my… err… Online Persona™ pretty often. Being that-girl-who-thinks-Star-Wars-is-overrated was a notable part of my *~*~*brand*~*~*.

But now… we’re in quarantine. And I have a Disney+ account. And I can’t help it… I’ve made my way through all the Pixar shorts. I’ve re-watched every princess movie. Outside of Disney, I’ve caught up on Ozark and Westworld and Maizel and Succession and the Kominsky Method. I binged Tiger King and Love Is Blind. Some lovely shows are over outright – like Veep and Schitt’s Creek and The Good Place. (WOOOW I watch a lot of TV.)

And so now, when I scroll through Disney+, it’s like the entire Star Wars collection has been haunting me. “Here’s something you haven’t seen,” it says. “Something everyone you’ve ever known is obsessed with. Something they’ve been trying to get you to watch for ages.”

So, I guess if there were ever a time – now is that time.

What I Know

It would be hard to be a functional member of society without stumbling upon a few spoilers in the last 30 years. So yes, I know that “Luke… I am your father.” (I also went through a brief obsession with famous movie lines that were never actually said, so I even know that the line was just “I am your father.” See also: “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “Hello, Clarise,” and “Mirror, mirror on the wall.”)

Thanks to Pitch Perfect, I also know that this Greatest Twist of Cinematic History wasn’t actually all that twisty if you speak German, since his name is pretty much Darth Father.

Unfortunately, having watched every episode of Family Guy about 47 times, I’ve also seen all their spoofs – I didn’t understand most of the jokes, but I did pick up various satirized plot points. (For example, I know that there’s a point where Leia proclaims her love to Han and he says something asshole-ish. In Family Guy, that line is “Go f**k yourself.” So, if nothing else, I know that Han and Leia end up together.)

Otherwise, though, my previous knowledge is sparse. I roughly know the names of the main characters, but I don’t know what brought them together. I know there are various species – for example know that Chewbacca is a Wookie and somewhere there is Jar Jar Binks who everyone hates – but I don’t know which species are our friends and which will shoot at us. For all intents and purposes, I’m going into this thing with a pretty blank slate.

So, I’ve got my red wine and popcorn. The lights are low, surround sound is on, and I’m prepared to immerse myself. The following is every thought I had while watching Episode IV: A New Hope for the first time at 30 years, 7 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 21 hours, and 17 minutes old.

 


 

RE: “A long, long time ago…” Is that left-aligned News Gothic font? They couldn’t come up with anything more imaginative than that? Is this the most revered cinematic experience of all time or a high school term paper?

TBH floating paragraphs seem like a lazy way to create backstory, am I supposed to memorize all this? (OMG imagine all the nerds who have probably memorized this.)

Princess Leia was the one who stole the death star plans?! She’s literally the only character named in the floating paragraphs and she’s already a badass rebel. Hell yeah girl power!

Again, that wasn’t even THAT much information. Seems like it could’ve been established with a scene or two, not sure why the floating paragraphs were necessary other than to require more movies later…

LMAO these special effects I can’t.

But wooooooooow surround sound was a good idea.

Wait there’s more than one C3PO?

You can tell stormtroopers are bad guys because their robot armor was manufactured with frowny faces.

Oh, Leia didn’t actually steal the plans – they were sent to her by rebels? Lame.

Mufasaaaaaaaaa

How is it possible for a robot and its little robot noises to be cute? He doesn’t even have any facial expressions. What spell am I under?

Okay I’m no expert, but it seems like if two robot buddies are jettisoned on a remote desert planet they should probably stick together? idk

Is that a dinosaur skeleton? Is this Earth?

Oh, no this isn’t Earth. Other planets must’ve had dinosaurs.

WTF?! If the little hooded cave babies are supposed to be evil then don’t make them cute little hooded cave babies.

Okay that fat lizard with the storm trooper on its back is the most advanced special effect I’ve seen yet and it’s like… 8 seconds of film.

Oh hey there’s Luke!

Seems like the trope of “talks to non-human character, it understands me and I understand it but audience doesn’t understand it” has to exist in every movie ever made.

R2D2 is such a little stinker!!

Luke just said “a whole nother year” I’m turning this off.

Is Obi-Wan like in karate when you say Susie-San?

Why is it R2 and 3PO, if you’re gonna use nicknames at least make them consistent – beginning of the name or the end, okay?

WTF are the clone wars, those are different than the civil war we’re in now? We’re just supposed to take that line of dialogue and pocket it? Wait for another movie?

Obi Wan just said Vader killed Luke’s father so he’s either uninformed or a liar. Ooooh I wonder which one it issss…

Oh daaaaamn, homie makes fun of the force and gets AIR-CHOKED, call it “an old religion” one more time I dare ya.

Oh nooooo Luke’s faaamily – UGH why do bad guys always have to destroy stuff? Why couldn’t it have been a conversation?? Do you know where R2D2 is? No? Okay, we’ll keep looking.

Then again I guess now he has a reason to leave. hashtag call to adventure, hashtag hero’s journey, hashtag joseph campbell.

It’s funny that Leia is supposed to be this major sex symbol when throughout this whole movie she’s dressed like a nun. Actually I take it back, I love that and it’s extremely cool. More movies of women being badasses without wearing lingerie, please!

So Walls Eisley is like Tortuga in Pirates of the Caribbean, got it.

Why aren’t droids allowed in the bar? Seems arbitrarily rude.

Scary guy at the bar has a Scottish accent. Soooo…. Scotland still exists? Or wait, this was supposed to be a long time ago? So already exists? Where are accents coming from?

Okay yeah, Han could get it.

Hi, I’m an intergalactic humanoid barkeep. Want to chop off someone’s arm on my watch? No problem. Straight-up murder? Just toss me a coin and apologize for the mess. But DROIDS?! I WON’T HAVE THEIR KIND IN HERE!

Side-note, I have subtitles on and I find it annoying that they refer to every non-human as an “alien.” EVERYBODY’S AN ALIEN HERE, SUBTITLES, stop being prejudiced.

Again with the language thing – we’re just meant to assume everybody speaks 50 languages? And somehow every other creature UNDERSTANDS English but can’t respond in it?

R2D2 and C3PO just hid behind a door and the stormtrooper goes “Door’s locked? Let’s move on to the next one.” Lucky bad guys are always so dumb.

What the heck, Han’s making fun of the force too? Who wouldn’t think the force is cool?! Air choke him, Obi Wan! No wait that’s the dark side.

THAT’S NO MOON

Wait are storm troopers not robots? Are they wearing robot skin right now?

Obi Wan just said “The force will be with you always” not “May the force be with you” – is this another misquoted thing? Did Catholics just make that up or what?

What does a pew pew actually do? Seems like most people are just kinda knocked off their feet for a minute.

How dumb do you have to be to be a stormtrooper, seriously?

I’m just gonna say it, some of these helmets look like penises.

“Boring conversation anyway” ahahahah

OMG do Leia and Han start off hating each other?? I LOVE it when love stories start off hating each other!

“Somebody has to save our skins” YYAAAAASSSSSSSS QUEEEEN SLAY

But also what happened to her British accent? Minutes ago she told the bad guy, “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingaaaahhhssss” but now she seems solidly American.

“Either I’m gonna kill her or I’m beginning to like her” YES GIMME GIMME THAT LOVE STORY

“One thing’s for sure, we’re all gonna be a lot thinner” OMG these mid-action one-liners, I can’t.

I wonder if there’s a maximum IQ to apply to be a stormtrooper. Maximum score in shooting practice.

That’d be funny if Leia kissed Luke “for luck” and then they ended up falling.

“If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine” will be my new line the next time a boy rejects me.

Wait I’m sorry, did Obi-Wan just straight up DIE?! With a zillion movies to go?! I was so not prepared for that!

No, he couldn’t have – when he chopped off the guy’s arm the lightsaber acted like a sword. But this time he just disappeared. Also it seemed like, intentional? So he’s definitely still alive somewhere, for sure.

SEE?! Luke just heard his voice. He’s taken a different form or something. Because of the FORCE.

This whole “it’s prepared for a large attack, not a small attack” thing feels very Titanic-esque. When will boys learn that size doesn’t matter? hashtag helmets.

Why does everybody pronounce stuff differently than I’ve always heard it? I thought it was the Millenium Falcon but he pronounces it “fulcan” – and it sounds like everybody is saying “Lee-uh.”

Oh Biggs is totally gonna die.

I keep having to remind myself which ones are the good guys, the Xs or the Hs.

I’m still not sure of Darth Vader’s official role. I would’ve thought he was the leader of the empire, but it seems like he’s also more answering to the other guy. PLUS he has his own fighter jet. Which, I realize he’s evil but you gotta respect a leader being out there fighting with the troops himself. Leia isn’t doing that.

I just realized we’re like 30 minutes from the end and I still haven’t met Yoda. Am I about to go the entire first movie without meeting Yoda?!

Of COURSE the other guy missed the target, we need Luke to get it!

Noooooooooooooo R2!!!!

USE THE FORCE, LUKE!

Oh hells yeah victory music. We just killed a small moon’s worth of people but I guess they killed a whole Alderaan’s worth of people so same-same.

Vader had to be in a fighter jet so he could come BACK.

Aww C3PO is a jerk to R2D2 but he lurrrrrves him, he’s gonna donate organs for him.

Not gonna lie, I like this look better on Leia.

Look at those little smirks to the boys, Leia you flirt.

Aww R2D2’s okay and everybody’s looking shinier than ever!

FIN.

 


 

Overall, holy guacamole, I liked it SOOOO much more than I thought I would. I even neglected to tell my most Star Wars-happy friends about this endeavor because I was so worried I would hate it again and have to report that back to them. You can even see in the early parts of the movie, I was still in “poking fun” mode – prepared to tear it apart again, especially against my modern-day backdrop.

But halfway through I sorta… forgot that objective? In fact, I found it challenging to remember to document my thoughts at all because I was so darn ENTERTAINED. Parts of it were silly, sure – I still can’t get past those cheesy one-liners, and the special effects are like a time capsule. I can see why I made fun of it before. But also, I can see a lot that I missed – the adventure! The fantastical creatures and settings! THE MOTHER FLIPPING FORCE! (If that were a real religion, you could sign me up right now. Sorry, Jesus.) The rich backstory that will surely take another 12,000 movies to fill in! Leia’s badassery! Han’s deep V-cut with no visible chest hair! R2D2 with his inexplicably adorable beep boops!

If I had seen this movie before age 15, there is no doubt in my mind that I would’ve named my car the Millenium Falcon. My first thought when this movie was over was that I must immediately find an 8-year-old so I have an excuse to play with a toy version of it. (That may be the first time anyone’s ever said “I must immediately find an 8-year-old” in a way that wasn’t creepy. Actually maybe it was still a little creepy.) It makes me want to go back to Disneyland and Hollywood Studios and ride all the rides I didn’t appreciate before. It really makes me want to re-watch the Family Guy spoofs.

I would like to extend an apology to George Lucas, who I’m sure has been losing sleep for years about the fact that this one particular fan remained unconvinced. Rest easy tonight, friend.

And, I would like to apologize retroactively to those two ex-boyfriends and the countless friends, family members, coworkers, acquaintances, clients, and strangers who listened to me gripe about how Star Wars was pew pew pew nonsense. I was wrong!

Most importantly, I would like to apologize to everyone I ever meet from now on who says they don’t like Star Wars. Because you’re wrong, too.

Now excuse me, I have one billion more movies to watch.

One thought on “On Watching Star Wars for the First Time at Age 30

  1. Susie you continue to absolutely astound me. And saying that you are openminded is an understatement – that you could change your mind and evolve!
    When I think or hear or see anything Star Wars, I just think back to how I owned the entire original cast of characters (10?) and the stand (sold separately) that I sold to our custodian for a mere $20. Right after that I saw a Stormtrooper at the swap meet for $450. WITH MY OWN EYES!!!!! Oh the dang regrets………

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