When I was little, everything took a forever of forevers to happen. “We’ll go to the movies on your birthday, okay?” Yeah, but that’s like three lifetimes from now. “We’ll go to the arcade next weekend.” Yeah, but how will I survive? One of the things that’s happened as I’ve aged is waiting has become … easier is the wrong word, but I can’t think of one that fits more. Patience has arrived in some form; maybe not wholly or perfectly, but has become something I can apply when necessary.
The last few months have been hard. Really hard. The first The Force Awakens teaser was extremely cool, but then I was able to file it and everything I was feeling about it back into the box and stick it once more on the shelf in my head. The full trailer came out … and that made the box’s lid stop fitting so well. Days, weeks, kept going by and the box refused to stay on the shelf. Since last week, the box has been basically sitting on the desk in my forehead; not the back of my mind, but front and center. It’s been pretty hard to get other stuff done.
Star Wars, aka A New Hope or “the original” Star Wars, or Episode IV depending on you how you prefer it, is the first movie I remember seeing in the theater. There were others, I’m sure. My mom, at least, used to like to go to the movies; and me — plus later my siblings — naturally came along with her when she went to see something. Some of these trips gave me movies I hold very dear and fondly, because I remember seeing them with her, like Staying Alive or Tootsie. But with Star Wars, I was four years old and vividly remember watching the opening text scroll away to infinity on the enormous movie screen. How the Star Destroyer went on and on and on, filling everything with mass and bulk and lasers as it chased Princess Leia’s ship.
Star Wars is special to me. As it is to a lot of other people. I love other movies, other series or projects or fictional worlds — and the out-of-touch disaster of what Lucas did with the prequels will probably never turn into something funny and treasured — but Star Wars will always have its own full sized wing in my hall of memories. It’s just that kind of thing.
And today, finally finally finally, the movie’s here. I literally have a seat in one of the first showings happening, at least in North America. When that ends, I’ll hit the restrooms and head back into an IMAX 3D showing. I’m so excited I’m not even mad about wishing it was just a regular IMAX rather than 3D. It’s Star Wars baby!
It’s been so damn hard to stay focused, especially in the past two weeks. Everything is like it was when I was a kid again. “Is it time yet?” No, not yet. “Aw dangit.” And five minutes — or thirty years later depending on your viewpoint — later I’m again asking “Is it time yet?” All the patience that time has somehow managed to patina across me like spackle has flaked off as I’ve watched the days go by and get to here. And even now, as I sit typing this, I’m over twelve hours away. But now, today, I keep consoling myself that the calendar matches my tickets. Soon. Very soon.
Even trying to simply surf has become an ordeal. I really want to experience the movie whole and intact, without spoilers. I’m not reading speculations or looking at any of the dozens of commercials and stuff that’ve been released world wide. I’m not analyzing each frame of footage that’s showed up somewhere. And even avoiding the people who are taking active delight in trying to ruin the movie for fans, there’s all these press sources that are (purposefully or thoughtlessly; it doesn’t matter which) are doing the same thing with their headlines and tweets. I’ve turned everything off. I’ve pulled my Internet use down to a bare minimum, tiptoeing around gingerly and prepared to avert my eyes in an instant.
A few days ago, on Monday, Hollywood got The Force Awakens premiere. Chris Hardwick was there. He said, as he was asked upon exiting the theater, it was “incredible.” Chris has carved a special place in popular culture for himself because he’s a fan’s fan, but he manages to always harness all that fan energy into something considerably more articulated than most fans are capable of. I’ve seen fans gush, and it’s rarely pretty. But Hardwick limited himself to the single comment because he knows he’s in the rarefied group that’s gotten to see it already. Come Monday, I’ll bet, he’ll be talking like the rest of us. But for now, he just says “it’s incredible.”
I just got done listening to a fantastic Nerdist podcast interview with Kathleen Kennedy by Hardwick. She’s who Lucas passed the mantle of Star Wars to when Disney swept in and bolstered the dreams of fans everywhere. Kennedy is moving Star Wars forward. She’s been around it for a long, long time. In the interview, she talks about how she got her start, about producing and some of many, many, many projects she’s been apart of. There’s a lot of good story in there about where she’s been and what she’s worked on.
The interview is very good. it’s not forty-five minutes about Star Wars. It’s about Kennedy. But she does talk a little about it. Just a little. The thing she mentioned that I latched on to was how everyone who’s been working on the projects (TFA as well as the other films that are in the pipeline) comes to it as fans. That their work, whatever it is they’re doing from writing or sets or costumes or effects or anything, is bolstered by that fan passion to elevate it to a level most films don’t get to enjoy. That it’s not “just a job” for them as they’ve brought TFA to the screen; that they’re genuinely excited to be a part of it and want to do everything they can to be as happy with the finished result as all of us do.
Star Wars has made a mark on generations of people. That’s what I feel so many of the “haters” don’t get about Star Wars. Like it, don’t like it; fine. No one’s saying you have to like Star Wars. Really. It’s okay. But to dump all over it, to piss and moan about it; get over yourself. We love Star Wars. Why is that a bad thing? How could that ever be a bad thing. Why do you have to make it into something threatening that you have to lash out against? I never see fans bashing on sports nuts or rock climbers or bird watchers. Fans are people who understand and get passion. We encourage it, admire it, revel in it. ‘Normal people’ are the ones who seem to like to hammer against fans. These haters see their enthusiasm for their college football team or 10K race/walk or whatever as something “okay”; but a fan loving something like Star Wars or Marvel or whatever is somehow bad. Somehow something to look down upon.
Part of Disney lore is how Nikita Khrushchev, the Premier of the Soviet union, was extremely angry at the US Government in 1959 because they said he couldn’t visit Disneyland during his visit to America due to security concerns. I’ve always, always, completely understood his reaction. He wanted to participate in something he loved, and it couldn’t happen. If you can’t be happy for us, can you at least just shut up? You don’t get it; fine. But that’s your thing, leave ours to us.
Fans will always be fans. If you’re not one, I hope you’re happy with whatever else you’re doing today and this weekend. Me, and literally tens of millions of others, we’ll be seeing Star Wars.
Today’s the day.
“Is it time yet?”