So today’s the day.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ‘officially’ releases tonight, the ninth film of the series and the culmination of a trilogy of trilogies. It’s also the end of a 42-year span of a setting that I have been unabashedly a fan of.
No matter how the movie is, good or bad, I’m going to enjoy it. Why? Because it is the end of a saga that I have known since I was 5 years old. I’ve grown up with this saga, from movies to TV shows to books to comics to games to action figures… It’s been a big definer of my life and my creative passion.
It’s also a touchstone I use to connect with friends and, of late, coworkers.
I’ve continued to believe that Star Wars is our modern society’s evolution of the myth. I often imagined that ancient Greeks would sit around their gathering places for hours talking about the latest story presented on stage, often telling (or retelling) the triumphs and tragedies of Zeus, Hercules, or Odysseus. And how those characters and their stories lasted centuries even through today, where they’re now standard part of secondary or undergraduate curriculum.
After the initial shock of how poorly written The Phantom Menace was, I realized I had approached it all wrong. By the time Episode 1 came out, I was a blossoming writer and established creative – and like a lot of (any) franchise fans, I had my expectations. Faced with the fact that my expectations and “what I believe the story should say” thoughts were demolished to smithereens, I came to an understanding that fundamentally changed how I approach my creativity.
It’s the artist’s vision, not mine. My disappointment came from thinking that the artist owed me MY vision – and that’s just not right. How could I expect others to respect my creativity and work if I refused to reciprocate that to other artists and creatives?
From then on, I’ve loved the franchise all the more. Because I care about the love and care these creatives put into their creation. Do I disagree with some choices? Sure. Do I have my own thoughts on how things should’ve gone? Absolutely. And it’s not wrong to do so. BUT. Taking the steps to denigrate, to insult, to eviscerate a creative because you disagree?
It’s just not cool.
Do I have issues with each of the last 8 films? Sure. We all do. But just because they have flaws doesn’t mean they’re junk and worthless. Their value, to me, lies in the place they hold in my personal connective tissue of life. A lot – and I mean, a LOT – of my favorite memories growing up revolve around the original trilogy. When the prequels came out, I was in the midst of the worst stretch of depression and anxiety of my life, and yet I found modest comfort in the ridiculousness of those movies. And now? This final trilogy comes at a time when it’s the best common ground I have with some family and friends, giving us a different platform to use to passionately argue while not hating each other for being ardent believers picking a side (and then choosing to die on ridiculous hills).
This weekend, as I go to see the movie twice (continuing a personal tradition that started in 1977), that’s what I’ll be thinking about. How Star Wars has been a beloved touchpoint in my life, a cornerstone of what makes me, me.
Star Wars is in part of who I am.
Tonight, I’m celebrating me. Who’s with me?