“I know it’s a film, but actually it means much more than that…” – Gwendoline Christie
That is my favorite quote from The Force Awakens bonus features because it basically sums up exactly how I feel about Star Wars in a simple statement. Yes, everyone, I know it’s not real; even if I believe really hard, the Force is never going to exist. But what does exist is an amazing story that gripped me as a child and held fast, leaving an impression that has shaped who I am as much as my parents, where I grew up, and the obstacles I’ve overcome. I think that certainly qualifies as meaning “much more than that.”
A Film vs. Star Wars
I love Donnie Darko. Definitely one of my all-time favorite movies. But when my mind goes blank, I don’t think about Donnie Darko. In fact, I had to search my mental databank while writing this to come up with a film to use an example (though, granted, it didn’t take but a second or two). That said, I’ll very often zone out only to have my mind naturally drift to something to do with Star Wars. That’s why I started writing a Star Wars blog in the first place. I never really expected anyone to read it or care, I just wanted a place to expel the various Star Wars-related thoughts I had taking up precious space in my grey matter. You know, so I could refill it with more Star Wars-related thoughts…anyway, there’s something intangible, I’d say unknowable, about the way Star Wars embeds itself into my, and I wager many other fans’, conscious and subconscious thoughts. When I drive, I often pretend I’m a fighter pilot or on a smuggling run; when I walk up to automatic sliding doors, I “use the Force” to open them; any time there’s cause to bring fake weapons to arms, I don’t make my hand into a pistol, I grab for my invisible lightsaber and utter an audible snap-hiss to bring it to life. (Did I mention I’m a huge dork? Oh, you’re right, no need…) As much as I love Donnie Darko, I’ve never once pretended to talk to a humanoid bunny named Frank.
Star Wars Island
If you’ve seen Inside Out (shame on you if you haven’t, it’s really quite good), I think you’ll have no trouble agreeing that I have a rather large Star Wars Island, and a lot of workers that send up Star Wars memories (and local commercial jingles, much to my chagrin)…but, unlike most of my other islands, I don’t actually know how my Star Wars Island came to be. I’ve heard and read a lot of cool stories over the years about how people first came to love Star Wars, but, frankly, I don’t really have one: Star Wars was just always there. I can remember going to my first Penguins game as a kid and being overwhelmed by how exciting it was, and thus a huge hockey fan was born; I can remember watching some random rock band play at a local festival and thinking to myself, “hey, I could do that,” so I decided to learn to play guitar and start a band; I can remember a professor in college noticing my interest in poetry and suggesting I read some Ted Berrigan, which lead me to a poem titled “Frank O’Hara,” which lead me to my favorite poet. But I’ll be damned if I can remember the first time I watched A New Hope or how I felt when I realized Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father…nope, nothing…even when I think as far back as I can, Star Wars is still always there. Maybe that says a lot as far as my affinity for it goes, but I think it also says a lot about how accessible and magical and wonderful it is, even at a very young age.
Every Day is Star Wars Day
I know May the 4th gets a lot pomp and circumstance for being the “offical” Star Wars Day, but, when you live in my head, every day is Star Wars Day. I tend to think of it like a few other “holidays”: you don’t have to wait for February 14th to do something romantic for someone you love, they sell flowers and candy all year ’round; when you have terrific parents like I do, only showing them your appreciation for everything they did in raising you is down right despicable; veterans deserve honor and respect every day of the year, even if you don’t stand for whatever their duty was, stand behind them for their service; and there’s no reason you can’t invite a few friends over on any random Saturday, ice down some beers, cook up some food, and binge watch some Clone Wars or the first two seasons of Rebels. Now, that’s not to say that you should ignore those holidays because you act appropriately throughout the year (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t do something for all of them), but just keep in mind that, in my opinion, these are special days set aside for things you should already be doing often, not things you should celebrate but once a year. And I get it, not everyone is an “Every Day is Star Wars Day” kind of person like me, but if you bump up your Star Wars Day festivities from once to three or four times a year, you will be…you will be…
Now I’m curious, how many days a year are Star Wars Day for you? Just the one? Two or three? Every day? (As it should be.) I’m also always curious to know how people fell in love with Star Wars, especially since I lack any such story. So, feel free to comment and let me know, or keep your answers to yourself and make me have to pry them out of you like Kylo Ren…either way, I’ll figure it out…okay, not really, I know, I already admitted the Force isn’t real, dang…tough crowd…anyway, I’ll be back next week, and until then, May the 4th be with you, always…