May the Force Be With You

1280px-Star_Wars_Logo.svgA long time ago in a town not that far away…

…a little boy discovered a vast new universe. He learned about Jedis, the Force, the Empire, wookies, ewoks, Stormtroopers, the dark side, and the rebellion. He was completely enthralled by it and wished more than anything that this universe and all its inhabitants were real. He would pretend to be Luke Skywalker fighting Darth Vader or the Millenium Falcon taking down enemy TIE fighters. He would spend hours playing with the action figure versions of his favorite characters and would build Lego renditions of his favorite scenes. If this universe didn’t exist in reality it certainly existed in that little boy’s imagination.

Fast forward twenty years and that little boy (now a 25 year old man) still geeks out about those same things. While he no longer acts out battle scenes or lightsaber duels he instead spends hours watching Youtube videos breaking down the trailers for the latest movie. He doesn’t still play with those action figures but he’ll buy tickets to the movie premieres.

In case you didn’t piece it all together, I LOVE Star Wars. I’ve loved it ever since I was five years old and my fondness of it has only grown over the years. My expression of that love has obviously changed over time, as it would be a little strange if I still ran around the house pretending to be in a battle waving around a plastic lightsaber. But I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ll spend hours watching videos of internet personalities as they break down every little detail of the newest movie trailer. Even a couple decades later I still have the ability to delve into this fictional universe and envision everything.

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So why is Star Wars so important to me? Why do I still have that same passion for it? It’s obviously not uncommon for little kids to be obsessed with Star Wars. It’s filled with action, adventure, and tons of cool characters. It’s a dream come true for little kids with wild imaginations. However, I grew up with plenty of other fantasy worlds and fictional heroes. I loved TMNT, superheroes, and Lord of the Rings just as much as any other kid. I spent plenty of time as a kid reenacting my favorite scenes from those worlds and had my fair share of those action figures. But today I don’t feel that same passion for those fantasies as I did when I was younger. I haven’t seen the new TMNT movies, I don’t binge watch all the new superhero TV shows, and I’ll get bored with the Lord of the Rings movies about half way through (which, to be fair, is probably a solid two hours). So what is it about Star Wars that has held up for me after all these years?

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“Dad, can you make me a cheese quesadilla? I’m getting ready to watch Star Wars!” As a little kid I had a tradition. Every time I watched a Star Wars movie I HAD to have a quesadilla. I’m not entirely sure how it started but I associated one with the other. If I was going to watch Star Wars I would crave a quesadilla, and if I was eating a quesadilla I wanted to do nothing but watch Star Wars. It was more than a tradition, it was a ritual. But what I also remember most about watching those movies as a kid was watching them with my dad. It was a bonding experience for us. These were the same movies he grew up watching and now they were the movies I was growing up with. I remember him taking me to the toy store to pick out new action figures. He’d get down on the floor with me and we’d play with those action figures together. Those are some of my most cherished memories from my childhood.

The fact that the next three movies came out right in the middle of my childhood played a huge role in my fandom. I think it would have been different if they wouldn’t have been released until my adulthood. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the shine would have worn off by then. Thankfully, that’s not how it played out. The release of each new movie only strengthened my love for the universe. They introduced me to new characters, new plots, and new planets. They gave me more galaxy that I could envision and play with. There were more action sequences to devour and more action figures that I desperately needed.

As I got into my teens I grew away from playing with action figures and acting out my favorite scenes. That’s when the video games came in. To be honest, I’ve never been a huge video game player other than sports games. The one true exception was Star Wars Battlefront on PlayStation. I played that game NONSTOP. It was a new way for me to experience this universe and you better believe I was going to take advantage of that.

Even as I got older, I was always ecstatic when I received some sort of Star Wars gift. When I got my wisdom teeth out I had two separate people get me a Yoda doll and a Chewbacca doll. A few years later one friend got me a Yoda hot chocolate mug for Christmas and another friend, for a secret Santa gift, got me a Chewbacca mug. I can’t make this stuff up. A couple years ago my sister and brother-in-law got me a Chewbacca sweatshirt that I wear any chance I get. Just last year I got a pair of Christmas pajama pants for Christmas. I decorate my walls with a New Hope clock and a poster with literally every single Star Wars character in the universe (which I bought for myself just a couple months ago). If you follow me on social media you may have noticed my username is Drewbacca (Chewbacca is my absolute favorite character).

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My love for Star Wars has clearly taken many different shapes and forms over the years. As a kid I latched onto the action scenes and was eager to reenact them. Now, as an adult, I can appreciate more of the story and character development. Now when I rewatch the movies I pick up on subtle details and plot points that I didn’t understand as a kid, giving me an even greater appreciation for them. One of my favorite things over the last few years has been what I like to call “trailer watching season.” It’s the months leading up to the newest movie where I anxiously await the latest teaser or trailer so I can immediately begin dissecting it. When these trailers and subsequent movies come out I feel like a kid again. It’s just like when the second trilogy came out when I was a kid – I have a new set of characters to get to know and even more planets to learn about and admire. Even as an adult I’m still able to escape into this universe, if only for a couple hours at a time.

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I’m sure people have witnessed me nerd out about Star Wars and wonder how and why someone would care so much about a fantasy world that doesn’t exist. And I think that’s fair. I’m fully aware that my Star Wars obsession is a tad bit weird. Are there better, more productive things to channel that energy into? Sure. But you know what? It makes me happy. Even to this day Star Wars is something that I genuinely enjoy and I’m not ashamed of that. Now, I do feel like it’s necessary to point out that I’ve never been one to dress up in full costume for the premieres or read every single Star Wars book that has been written. I’m the one watching the movie breakdown videos, not the one making them. So my fandom isn’t quite that extreme. But I have a ton of admiration for those people because, like me, Star Wars is something special for them and they’re not afraid to embrace it. I love watching those videos because I get to see how Star Wars has impacted other people and I get to witness their passion on full display. In a way, I live vicariously through those people because Star Wars is quite literally their life and it makes me jealous.

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I love Star Wars for a wide number of reasons. I love the story. I love the characters. I love the excitement it brings still today. More than anything, I love what it’s represented in my life. It’s responsible for some of my best childhood memories, including some of the best memories I’ve shared with my dad. I love it for how it sparked my imagination as a little boy and how it helped me connect with people. I love that it’s been an escape for me over the years, a universe I can dive into to temporarily get away from the stress of life. As cheesy (and maybe pathetic) as it sounds, Star Wars has quite literally changed my life.

I can promise that this won’t be my only post about Star Wars. In fact, I’m in the process of planning a Star Wars movie marathon. If you were curious, it takes 22.5 hours to watch all of the movies in a row. Now that’s a challenge I’m ready to accept. I already have a plan to eventually rank the movies. But before that, I’ll first have to rewatch every movie. And I’m going to love every second of it.

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

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