(I Haven’t Seen it Yet)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker comes out in theaters today and it’s got me in my feelings. I was not one of the thousands who stood in line in the winter’s cold outside of a theater last night. In fact, I really don’t have any plans to see it in a movie house during December at all. Yet, I am a little emotional this morning about it. I’m not the only one.
Well, it’s kind of a Gen X thing (sorry, Boomer). This is a big day, a milestone in history, the end of something that has endured for over 40 years. If you are of a certain age–whether you are a fan of the films or not–this is it, the last one. The end of an era in pop culture. A destination that no one thought we get to on a journey that no one thought would last this long.
First, understand that this is not a review, nor is it a critique. I know, from being a citizen of Twitter and the internet in general, that there will be plenty of hit jobs on the new film. I don’t care. I know that there will be much digital ink spilled over this plot line hole, or that hokey inside joke, or some bullshit about technicalities of this ship or that. Seriously, I don’t care. Let the haters hate, it’s what they do.
If it doesn’t have Jar Jar Binks in it, it’s one of the best Star Wars movies ever made, in my opinion. End of story.
There are no spoilers ahead. Again, I haven’t seen anything but the trailer for the new movie The Rise of Skywalker.
I was a little boy when the first movie came out in 1977. Back then, it was just called Star Wars. Same with Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It would be many years before they were all delineated with colons and “Episode” sub titles. It was just Star Wars. If the new one was out, you’d simply ask someone if they saw “the new Star Wars “ movie. And everyone had. It was a must.
Back to why this is a special day. Few things in pop culture last for this long. Certainly, few things are known and celebrated the world over by multiple generations. I don’t need to preach to you the indelible impact that Star Wars has had on society. Take away game and variety shows and basically the Simpsons is the closest you get with worldwide recognition and a long franchise (starting in 1987, it’s 10 years behind).
There are, of course, movie franchises that have endured over decades. Star Trek is a long lasting property, but doesn’t quite reach the Star Wars franchise levels in terms of societal importance. James Bond, Pink Panther (although anything after Peter Sellers should be rightfully shunned and discarded), the Halloween movies (meh), and a few others. But, let me say this, I don’t know of any kid that had James Bond sheets on their single bed growing up.
What’s so interesting about Star Wars is that every generation feels as if they have their own and also feel connected to what came after. Gen X claims them all with an OG air of being the first. Xennials get to claim the second trilogy and claim the early ones because they got them on SUPER DUPER Special edition VHS as kids. Millennials get to claim the last three as their own and some argue that they are the best of the bunch in terms of technology, emotional storytelling, and filmmaking.
Star Wars is all of us. Star Wars is what gives us power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.
That sounds vaguely familiar, I hope I didn’t rip it off from someone.
It’s an important day. The end of a generational run, the penultimate gift of 9 beautifully wrapped presents (some not so good.- I’m looking at you, Phantom Menace!). It’s not a sad day necessarily, maybe a little melancholic. I’m sure other Gen Xers feel the same way. In fact, I know this because many have shared this sentiment with me this morning which is why I felt compelled to write this.
So, embrace it. You should feel fortunate that you got to live in an era where something as silly as a space opera acted as a guidepost to so many moments in your life. Recognize that this kind of thing will most likely never happen again, certainly not in this way. It’s ok to mourn the loss of something so engrained in your life story, your history, because you will always be able to go back and capture those feelings by watching them all again. (Insert Disney+ sponsorship ad). But also, let yourself feel a little sad that the magic of this particular part of the story is coming to a close, that’s what makes it special. It was never supposed to last this long. The second round of three films made was far from an inevitability and were thought to never have a chance, and then they were. The fact that the last trilogy of Star Wars films were made at all is nothing short of a miracle. It took George Lucas literally selling the property to Disney (Disney! of all companies) to get them done. And yet, here they are, fantastic and engrossing, entertaining and provoking.
I, for one, will (once again) try to use the Force today, just like I did when I was a kid. I will firmly close my eyes and point my outstretched hand toward a cup and try to summon it. I will do this, as I have many times throughout the years, in hopes that someday I’ll be worthy of the Force. I hope you do the same.
It’s over. It’s finished. The journey comes to a close.
But, guess what? It’s not really over.
MOAR BABY YODA!!!!!