30 Years

In 1977, I was 12 years old. My mother and stepfather had just split up, and he was taking me for an evening visitation. I was not interested in visiting him in the slightest - my 4 year-old sister, his biological child, was of much more interest to him - but he was taking me to the movies, so I consented.

Try to understand, young ones; there was no cable. There were no VCRs, no Blockbuster, no Netflix, no internet downloads, and even second run houses ("cheap seats") were hard to come by. If a movie came out and you missed it in the theatre, your only hope was to wait 3 to 4 years for it to come to television. When something came out, you went to the theatre, or you accepted your position among the losers and the culturally backward.

I was still mad at him for the last visitation, which turned out to be him dumping me in the backyard of his new girlfriend's house with her son, a cigarette-smoking thug several years older than me. Although the thug's collection of pilfered Playboys was impressive, I spent most of the afternoon trying to avoid being punched in the shoulder for flinching.

In an attempt to atone, he was taking me to see some kind of SciFi thing that I had never heard of, but some of my friends at school had seen it and said it was awesome. Lots of explosions, gun fights, sword fights, a bipedal talking dog thing, and a pretty girl. Rather than throwing a tantrum about not wanting to go, I decided to give the movie a chance and extract my vengeance from my stepfather's wallet at the concession stand by ordering a large everything.

That movie was Star Wars. It was the end of my relationship with my stepfather; that 7:00pm showing was the last visitation I ever had with him. He had realized that visitations with me would give him no leverage with mom where custody of my sister was concerned, so there was no need to continue the charade. But it was the beginning of my relationship with SciFi... well, with SciFi that wasn't Star Trek.

Star Trek had been a part of my life almost since birth and it was a comfortable old friend, but this was different. Star Trek had been puppy love - Star Wars was the real thing. I had the very first set of action figures - the ones you had to send in a coupon for and then wait six weeks. I had lightsabers and ships and models and tee-shirts and the soundtrack and jigsaw puzzles and posters and Halloween costumes and lunch boxes and novels and comic books and boardgames and...



Today is the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars. It was on the cusp of my teen years, and just like the Arthurian novels that had been my obsession before Lucas colonized my mind, it shaped my perceptions of right and wrong, good and evil, and the grey area between them. For those of you who never lived in a world without Star Wars, it is hard to imagine how much it has changed the mental landscape of my generation.

I suggest you all break out that boxed set and give it a watch tonight... and may the Force be with you.

9 comments:

Modig_Bjorn said...

We are talking "original trilogy" in terms of which box set to break out, correct? ;)

I have been a Star Wars fanboy as long as I can remember. At nearly the age of 25, I still proudly display Star Wars memorabilia in my home. My love for "good" Star Wars is symbolic of my desire to never lose my inner child. In my opinion, once someone loses touch with that, it's difficult to enjoy much else in life...except for food...sex...and beer.

Geez, I can't even buy my "manly" act. Here's to geekiness!

Big Gay Jim said...

It changed the film industry forever! I remember that had been young enough I didn't get to watch the first movie. Not until it aired on HBO years later. My mom drove my sister and I from the ranch into Wright to watch it at a friend's house. We had a sleepover and stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, too excited to sleep thanks to the amazing flick we'd just seen. Happy birthday, Star Wars!

Squid said...

And also with you! I think it is about time to re-watch the good ol' trilogy.

And Brendon, seriously there is only one St Wars trilogy, the second sest doesn't even deserve to be apart of the phenomona that is Star Wars.

Karmalennon said...

I love Star Wars! My goal as a child was to grow up and be Princess Leia. ;) And I loved the action figures and was hardcore into the books for awhile.

becca said...

If anyone has a picture of me and Ben on Halloween as Leia and Luke. . .please send it to me. Yes, that's right, I made me own Leia dress and my hair was actually long enough to do the buns thing. It was hawt (I'd prove it but I don't have any pictures!)

Mayren said...

This is definately the weekend for trilogys and long sagas... I know we were all suggested Star Wars but let me also add : Dune, Shogun, and Firefly/Serenity

Let Memorial Day weekend begin

His Sinfulness said...

Modig_Bjorn said...
"We are talking "original trilogy" in terms of which box set to break out, correct?"

There were Star Wars movies other than the original three? I must have blotted that from my memory...

Big Gay Jim said...

It's just your psyche, repressing things to keep itself in one piece. Show us on the doll where the bad scripts touched you.

Modig_Bjorn said...

Behold me in my geeky glory! (scroll down to second post.)

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