I have a confession to make. Until last week, I had never seen Star Wars.
I’ll give you a moment to get over this shocking bit of news.
How it is, you ask, that I have managed to get this far in life in complete ignorance of such a massive cultural symbol? It is a mystery, to be sure. All I can say in my defense (and it’s not much) is that I always thought the movies looked rather silly and I didn’t have the science-fiction kind of mentality (or literary background) to understand what all the fuss was about. Add to this the fact that I was only two years old when the first one came out, and eight when the trilogy was completed—maybe I was just too young and too imaginatively deficient to participate authentically in the Star Wars phenomenon.
I have, over the years, grown accustomed to the blank stares and mute incomprehension that followed whenever I announced that I had not seen any of the Star Wars movies. This dumbfounded expression usually turned to pity and outrage when I added that I had not seen any of the Star Trek series or E.T. either. Apparently, my lack of interest in all things extra-terrestrial placed me in an awkward and ignominious category—a hopelessly ignorant, illegitimate child of the late twentieth century, sailing through life blissfully unaware of and unconcerned by these epochal events in the lives of many people roughly my age.
Well, last week someone finally had enough. The grisly details of my inadequate movie-viewing history leaked out in the course of a conversation over dinner and I braced myself for the scorn and disbelief that was inevitably coming. Instead, my friend promptly marched me downstairs, placed the Star Wars trilogy in my hands (VHS version!) and instructed me to go home and watch them. Finally, at the age of 31, weary of a lifetime of cultural alienation and a profound sense of personal inadequacy, I relented and promised that I would watch all three.
And so I did. And they were OK (don’t throw anything at the computer—I didn’t say they were terrible…). The story was reasonably engaging—it’s always interesting to observe various people’s conceptions of great themes of good versus evil. Of course it’s hard to watch a VHS copy of films that are pushing thirty years old now—the battle scenes are obviously comical by today’s cinematic standards, and some of the dialogue is pretty cheesy. I’m sure that if I were so inclined I could draw out all kinds of interesting theological themes, but I’m sure that’s been done elsewhere (I am, after all, almost thirty years late to the party here…).
So am I glad to have finally seen Star Wars? I guess. There were a couple of moments where I almost fell asleep in each episode, but that could have more to do with the fact that it was later in the evening and I’ve been getting up ridiculously early these days. Or it could just be more evidence that I do not possess the imaginative capacity to embrace these sorts of things and give them proper attention. Naomi had to explain a few things regarding plot development from time to time, but this isn’t really anything new—she’s always lamenting my utter inability to follow the story in a movie. At the very least it’s nice to finally understand the origins of a few quotes that I heard growing up (“May the force be with you!”) and to put a few faces to characters’ names that I recall hearing a lot about in the dark, culturally deprived pre-Star Wars phase of my life.
Even more importantly, I now can more fully appreciate Dwight Schrute’s costume choice in a hilarious scene from season two of “The Office.” I can almost feel myself becoming more culturally relevant.