I’ve Got a Good Feeling About This: The Importance of “The Force Awakens”

Separator

By Shannon Fox (@shannonfox)

 

Last night, I watched social media erupt with nerdtastic enthusiasm over a new The Force Awakens trailer and the release of its first screening tickets.  With all of the excitement and general hubbub around this new era of Star Wars, I can’t help but think, “Where were you guys when I needed you twenty years ago?”

 

It started when my dad took me to the theaters to see the re-release of the original trilogy back in 1997.  I was in 7th grade, had never seen the movies before, and I IMMEDIATELY FELL IN LOVE.  We went back and watched the rest of the trilogy in theaters, bought the VHS set when it came out, and my bedroom became a collage of all things Star Wars.  I loved Leia- she was strong, independent, and an all-around bad-ass, but she was also gorgeous, feminine, and had a thing for roguish men (I mean, girl had some GOOD taste, right?).  She was the epitome of what I wanted to be at that time in my life, particularly because my parents were right smack in the middle of a messy divorce.  Leia’s resilience was an inspiration and something I strived to have back then.   I even used to carry around a little figure of Leia in Bousshh armor in my backpack, kind of as a pendant of strength.

 

But it wasn’t just her that I loved.  I related to all of the characters: Luke’s struggle to overcome his dark ancestry, Han’s journey from selfish criminal to heroic ally, Vader’s seduction by the dark side, C3PO’s unrelenting fear of imminent doom, and R2D2’s simple desire to help his friends.  After all, I was fighting my own war at home and within myself.  And of course, my many re-watches supplied what most of us seek from any form of entertainment: an escape from reality.  You can’t escape much further than another galaxy!

 

Unfortunately, my extremely tiny private school didn’t offer much acceptance of my new obsession.  It’s not a unique story:  I showed my love for Star Wars and I got made fun of and bullied mercilessly for it all through middle school.  It got so bad that I ended up surrendering to peer pressure and throwing out all of my memorabilia and never daring to speak of my obsession again.  I know- I’m not proud of it.  When I graduated and started high school, I vowed to never reveal my love of Star Wars to anyone ever again; I wouldn’t make the same mistakes in my new school.

 

But I had a much better time in high school.  I made friends with people who not only accepted me for the nerd I was (and am, for that matter), but were nerdy right along with me.  But I had been burned too badly in middle school- I lied and pretended that I had never seen Star Wars before, afraid that there’d be terrible repercussions if I again let my nerd flag fly about my favorite trilogy.  It was particularly difficult when the prequels were released.  I secretly went with my dad to see them and wanted to join in with the discussions with my friends, but it was too late: I had already committed to the lie.  But finally, mere weeks before Revenge of the Sith was released, I “came out” to my best guy friend.  I remember sitting him down in his living room, taking a deep breath, and letting the truth pour out.  He teased me a bit at first, but when I found myself sitting in in the theater at the final prequel’s midnight premiere with dozens of my friends in total enthusiasm and anticipation, I knew that I had made the right decision to finally come clean.  I haven’t denied my Star Wars obsession since.

 

So yes, I do wish that this seemingly unanimous appreciation for Star Wars came about 20 years sooner, but watching it happen is a wonderful experience regardless.  After all, this will be a new generation of fans that will hopefully see themselves reflected in the new characters just as I saw myself reflected in Princess Leia all those years ago.   I can’t wait to see children playing with Finn dolls or dressed up as Rey.  Not only that, but it’s so heartwarming for me to see so many people openly express excitement over something that used to be such a transgression.  

 

And while we currently live in a period of endless reboots and remakes, that’s what makes this particular reboot so important and, if we’re being honest, different from the prequels: acceptance and representation.  With JJ Abrams including characters both old and new of multiple genders, ages, and races, he is opening up the Star Wars universe to an endless amount of people while staying respectful and attentive to the current fandom.  That’s an ENORMOUS undertaking, but from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like Abrams is doing things right.

 

And that, fellow nerds, gives me a new hope.


    One Comment

  1. skorpeoOctober 20th, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    My three year old is sooo excited to be Darth Vader for Halloween and LOVES his Star Wars toys…and he’s never even seen the movies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

THE NERD MACHINE GEAR

Read More

POPULAR POSTS

CATEGORIES

LATEST VIDEOS

Read More