Friday, December 18, 2015

Why We Need Star Wars

Use the Force.

I haven't seen the new Star Wars movie yet, so there won't be any spoilers here (not that there would be anyhow).  I have tickets for a Monday matinee, but I'm not sure I can wait until then.

I'm inspired by last night's episode of The Big Bang Theory.  I enjoyed their coverage of the new release, but one line gave me pause.  While three of the geeks await the show (Sheldon's in bed with his girlfriend finding another use for the force), they're joined by Will Wheaton, dressed in Star Trek grab and appropriately booed and hissed by the crowd.  Will tells our inept heroes something like, "Whether or not the movie is good won't make a difference when you wake up in the morning."  They nod and sigh in dejected acceptance.

I disagree.  We need Star Wars, and we need it to be good.  We need it to be the best fucking movie ever made.  It makes no difference whether or not you're a fan.  This is bigger than what George Lucas started in the 70s.  This is not just a cultural phenomenon.  This is how art shines.  How creativity and imagination take us to another level.  We're fed up.  We're frustrated.  We need hope.  We're desperate for light.  Star Wars gives us both.

I liken this to the arrival of The Beatles in 1964.  Kennedy's assassination, civil unrest, the brink of war in Vietnam; America torn apart at the seams.  The Fab Four descended like Gods (dare I say Jedi Knights?) from their jet airliner and swept us away.  I wasn't even born yet, and I'm hypnotized by the footage.  It doesn't matter whether or not you like their music.  (If you don't, you're fucked in the head.)  Look, I'm an Elvis fan, first and foremost, but this isn't about competition and rivalry.  Elvis opened the door for The Beatles.  That's not at question.  This is about basic human needs.  Love and belonging.  Self-transcendence.  About looking at the person sitting next to you in the theatre and knowing (without saying), we're here.  We've made it.  We're sharing this together.  It's fucking special.  It's important.  It's what makes life beautiful.  No matter what the hell is going on in the world, we have this.  Nobody can take this moment away.

Here's another example of my thesis.  I love the movie A Bronx Tale, but I question the part on the school bus when an angry Robert DeNiro asks his misguided son, "What did Mickey Mantle ever do for you?"  Mickey Mantle did so much.  He did everything!  He made so many people happy (even if you hate the Yankees!).  We care about our athletes and our sports teams for the same reason we love the movies.  They give us something to cheer for.

I saw Star Wars in 1977 with my older brother and one of his friends.  There was commotion in the parking lot.  A fender-bender, someone got cut off, not enough spaces.  I can't remember anymore.  It was New York City, though.  There's always somebody screaming at something there.  All I remember is being with my big brother.  I miss those days.  I wish I could see the new release with him (and my little brother).  We're a country apart now, but the Force is still strong in us.  I'll picture their smiles and hear their shouts when I see the Millennium Falcon and miss their grumbles at this generation's Darth Vader (while secretly loving him).  I'll wish for matching light sabers under the Christmas tree like we got when we were small.

But before that, I'll cry when I see those famous words light up the movie screen.  "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."  I'll bawl like a fucking baby.  I need to.  We all do.

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