My Love For Star Wars in a Party

When I was 11, I received my first copy of Star Wars Insider from Lucasfilm after writing a letter to George Lucas (I did not get reply from him, alas).  Within the issue, they had a section where they printed letters from fans and readers.  One letter started out as:

Dear Insider,

I have been a Star Wars fan for over 20 years…

That sentence has stuck with me throughout my life.  Why?  Because family and friends thought I was going through a “fad” or “stage” in life with my Star Wars obsession.  And there is nothing that irks me more, even at that young age, than people thinking I’ll grow out of something or won’t like something as much in a while.  I saw that sentence and thought, “I want to be a Star Wars fan for over 20 years as well.”

I haven’t reached 20 years, but I’m currently at 18 years.  Actually, technically I’m over 20 years if you count when I first saw Star Wars, but I only count the age when I became obsessed as the starting point in my Star Wars journey.

Throughout this journey I have:

Yup, that Star Wars party happened this past weekend.  Why?  Because what better time to celebrate my true love than around Valentine’s Day?

I know “first annual” is an oxymoron of sorts, but I wanted to make it clear that this is something that will be continual on a yearly basis.  Due to some bad weather the day before, we only had seven people show up (12 RSVP’d as a yes) but I was more than happy with that!  This was blue_milkthe greatest party I could ever throw, in my opinion.

And, oh the discussions!  It was so wonderful to sit with friends, drink some wine and blue milk (yes, I had some blue milk and Yoda soda), watch a Star Wars movie, and discuss Star Wars for four hours.  Heaven.

What movie did we watch?  Ah, the suspense!  No one knew until they showed up and there was a prize for those who guessed correctly.  Surprisingly, there were a lot of ROTS guesses, which I thought was very strange.

But the movie I chose was The Force Awakens for two reasons: 1) In honor of my daughter, whom I hope will grow to be like Rey, and 2) It was the one movie I had not seen and discussed with a lot of my friends.

To reiterate: the discussions!  I have missed talking about Star Wars and guessing what will be coming next with good friends.  Here were my favorite discussions that happened during the party…please chime in with any thoughts you might have as well.

1. The Force Vision/Knights of Ren

When Rey touches Luke’s lightsaber on Takodona, there a bunch of scenes that go by very quickly.  One of them involves what looks like a knights-of-renmassacre by the Knights of Ren, with Kylo leading them with a lightsaber in the rain.  We don’t know where this is or what happened.  Rey sees someone coming towards her who looks like they are about to kill her, but instead gets killed by Kylo Ren.  When Kylo Ren starts stepping towards her, she gets scared and backs up, where the scene immediately shifts to a young Rey being left behind on Jakku with Unkar Plutt dragging her away.

My friend brought up this theory: what if Kylo Ren had, in fact, saved a young Rey (though we are seeing her as an adult) from another Knight of Ren?  That Knight of Ren could have been going to kill Rey as part of the massacre, but Kylo Ren steps in to save her.  He then takes her to Jakku where she is left behind, which would explain why it seems like Kylo Ren knows her.  Why would he save her? That’s the question.  Guilt?  Is he related to her?  If so – why wouldn’t Han recognize her?

When I previously thought about this scene, I thought Rey was seeing some insight into what happened when Kylo Ren turned to the dark side and those were all of Luke’s Jedi pupils.  I never thought about her actually being there, but the more I think about it, the more I like this theory and it seems to make sense.

2.The Force Vision/Artoo Shut Down

This is my theory and I have brought it up before, but it did become a discussion point again at the party.  In the Force vision, we see Luke put a hand on Artoo.  Artoo is clearly “awake” here and not in hibernation.  Is Luke shutting Artoo down and somehow using the Force to make sure the next time he awakes, it will be because of Rey?

This theory is a little far-fetched, but I keep coming back to it, because WHY are they showing Artoo in this vision?  It could be because Abrams wanted to keep Luke as hidden as possible until the end of the movie, but I also don’t think there were any throwaways in this movie.  They could have not had this scene if he wanted Luke to remain hidden.  Why show Artoo?

I believe Artoo was getting some kind of direction here and it is interesting that he is “awakened” just when Rey shows up on D’Qar.

Here’s a video of the Force vision for your reference:

3. Your favorite 15-20 minutes in Star Wars

This was a question someone asked at the end of the party.  What is your favorite 15-20 minutes out of all the Star Wars movies?

I thought that would be hard and there were scenes that flit across my brain very fast as I tried to think of something.  I thought of Amidala speaking to the senate (“I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die…”), I remembered Luke staring out at the binary sunset, I thought about Vader revealing he is Luke’s father, I thought about Rey rescuing BB-8, I remember Order 66, I remember Leia and Han’s exchange before he went into carbonite (“I love you!”  “I know.”), but then one part of the saga stood out to me the most.

My favorite scene in the Star Wars saga would be the end of Return of the Jedi.  Luke is trying to control his emotions but Vader gets to him when he realizes that Luke has a sister and says he will turn her to the dark side.  Luke loses it and goes after Vader with such hatred and bests him in their final lightsaber match.  He cuts of his hand in anger – only to hear the Emperor’s sinister laugh behind him.  The Emperor is sure of his victory; sure that Luke will take Vader’s place.  And then….Luke turns away from the dark side.  Seeing his own hand cut off, he turns to the Emperor and tells him:

You failed your highness.  I am a Jedi, like my father before me.

It makes me want to woop with joy every time I see that scene.  Talk about good triumphing over all!  Talk about doing the right thing even when you know it means death!  Aggggh that scene – everything about it: the lightsabers, the ominous music, the Emperor’s moment of triumph – only to have Luke come out on top and throw away his lightsaber.

The best.  That is, in my eyes, the best scene from the entire saga.

 

My party was wonderful and I had a great time.  It’s the perfect thing for me to look forward to since I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day.  This is a way to celebrate my true love in a way that honors it.

I can’t wait until next year’s party.

Social Media Bullying

I love Instagram.  I think it’s one of the greatest social media platforms out there…it took me a while to get into it but it’s now a bit addicting for me and I love scrolling through all the photos in the morning with my cup of tea.  (If I find Instagram addicting, can you imagine how I’d be with Pokemon Go?  It may be a good thing that when I’m walking I have the dog in one hand and the stroller in the other – no room for a phone.)

I rarely read comments on large social media accounts but I was caught by surprise when the Star Wars account posted a photo of some female fans cosplaying recently and I happened to read one of the comments.  The comment was not friendly so I decided to go into the comments and read more.  Maybe I’m naïve but I was surprised at how much bullying was going on in the comments.

I want to copy and paste the comments here, but then everyone will know what picture it was referring to and I’d rather not go there.

Instead, what I did was begin to scout the internet for photos of people labeled “geeks” or “nerds” and read comments where it was allowed to see what people were saying.

In one of my more popular posts, I discussed bullying and how there has been talk about how geeks/nerds are now “cool” or that since Star Wars is popular once more, being labeled as a geek or nerd is not as derogatory as it once was.

I’ve now come to realize that though there may be less bullying (if that’s even true; I’m skeptical on what the media says) IRL, the bullying has transferred to online – specifically through social media.

And why not?

cyber bully phoneIt’s so easy to bully someone via the internet.  Bullying in person means you are owning up to what you are doing and it takes a certain amount of guts.  It means that you might get caught and chastised in person.  Online allows all the people who may not bully in person, bully behind a screen and think they will never get caught.  Sure, some people may be caught, but it also allows people thousands of miles away to comment on someone they do not know or never plan on meeting.

What I’ve found from reading comments on photos online is that passionate fans are still labeled a geek or nerd but that seems to be the least of the bullying. I wanted to break it down more concisely.  (PLEASE keep in mind this just from my experience, not any kind of scientific analysis.  Also – Mr. R. says I’m overgeneralizing but based on the comments I’ve looked at over the past few weeks, I don’t think I am.)

First, let’s start with the term “geek” or “nerd”.  It can be used affectionately and I often use it proudly, but it connotes something different and is usually in reference to someone who is passionate about something that is not mainstream.

When a social media bullies uses that term, I feel like that is the first level of bullying and often the least egregious.  I’ve then noticed that it’s broken up very differently between men and women.

If there was a man cosplaying or photos of him at a convention, there were very few comments on his appearance unless the internet trolls thought he was overweight.  And what constituted overweight seemed vastly different between men and women.  If the man in the photo was overweight, then he got labeled “fat” and sometimes there were comments on how he probably lived alone in his mother’s basement playing video games.  (That image has got to go. Seriously. Plenty of men play videogames and do not live in a basement but have high paying jobs and their own place.)

But when you compare it to photos of women, the women have three levels of labels underneath the umbrella term of geek or nerd.

It seems like women cannot be only labeled as a geek or nerd.  The trolls have to go one step further and give them another label.  I found that either a woman is a “hot” geek, an “ugly” geek, or a “fat” geek/nerd.  Sometimes fat and ugly are used at the same time.

All three of those labels are an indication of their looks, as opposed to the men who only had one reference to their looks and one for their lifestyle.

Social Media Bullying

I can’t speak for men obviously since I am not a man, but I will say that as a woman, our society puts a lot of pressure on us to obtain this Western notion of “beauty” – i.e. thin, large breasts, no wrinkles, etc.  We cosplay in what we hope is a judgement-free zone and when people take photos of us, we hope that if it ends up online, the comments are on our outfits, not our looks.  (I do want to point out that there are definitely comments out there on the outfits, but unfortunately, a lot center around looks as well.)

We can’t control what other people say about us online…especially on open social media platforms like facebook, twitter, or Instagram.  What we CAN control is teaching our children about cyber bullying.  I feel like as a society, we are still playing catch-up, in some ways, to the Internet.  Only in the past 5 or 6 years has cyber bullying begun to be brought to the forefront of our attention as social media has become more of a norm in our society.

You might think that this is extra sensitive to me all of a sudden because I just had a child.  Not so.  When I was at Mount Holyoke, located in the sleepy town of South Hadley, a girl at the local high school committed suicide due to cyber bullying.  It brought back my years in middle school and how I was tormented for loving Star Wars and I wondered what it would have been like if social media was as rampant as it is today.  I think it would have been worse.  Much worse.

I’m frustrated at what I’m seeing online, especially as more and more attention has been brought to bullying in schools and how there has been a decrease of it.  However, cyber bullying still seems to happen more to females than males.  The last place I want it to happen is on a Star Wars social media account.  (In all fairness – starwars.com has been doing an amazing job with showcasing all kinds of different cosplay on shapes and figures of all sexes. The problem is with the trolls, not LFL or Disney.)

By starting early, when our children are under our care, I think this would help prevent bullying in adults.  Is it so hard to put rules around your children’s social media accounts?  I look at ARM and I think about social media and the rules that will be placed in our household revolving around it.  I know a family where the dad allowed social media, but insisted he have the password to all his 14 year old daughters accounts.  When she changed it once and refused to tell him her password, he took away her phone and shut down the internet at the house.  Is it so hard to be strict nowadays and monitor your children?  Combating any form of bullying should not just be left up to the school but should start at home.

I will be monitoring ARM’s use of social media as well.  I hope and pray that she is never one to bully others online and I intend to educate her very early about bullying.  But on top of that, I hope I raise her to be a confident woman, so much so that if she is ever bullied, she knows that she is better than any comment on an internet page.

Haiku Me Friday! 1987

My birthday was yesterday.  I have always loved my birthday but I feel like as I get older, they kind of fade into the background.  I miss my mom making a big deal out of everything I do when I was younger, I miss my locker being decorated by my friends when I was in middle school, and I miss skipping all my classes in college and watching a bunch of TV in bed.

I bet someday I’m going to miss being childless and having time to do little things like my Star Wars blog, haha.  So maybe I should just enjoy this.

I’m due in a month and half, by the way…kind of cray cray, right?  I went to an ultrasound last week and they said my little girl is going to be small and has long legs – just like me!  I was a little baby with really long legs too.

She does have a few Star Wars things, a cute BB-8 dress and and Ewok onesie along with a crocheted Yoda hat and leg warmers.  My boppy pillow also has a Star Wars cover…the room is not Star Wars themed though.  I’m trying my best to let her decide what she will like and dislike and not force Star Wars on her but there’s only so much I can do since my whole life is Star Wars.  She is going to be brainwashed to some extent. 😉

 

Another year gone Time passes so quickly now Twenty nine years old

Another year gone
Time passes so quickly now
Twenty nine years old

Yes – I’m one year away from the big 3-0!  That’s me yesterday getting my cake (I’ve had a major craving for anything with fruit lately so I got a fruit tart instead of cake).

I decided to take a look back and see what memorable events happened in 1987 with Star Wars.  Good thing Wookieepedia has a whole page devoted to it.

Most notable:

It’s strange to think that next year is the 40th anniversary of A New Hope.  40 years since that movie came out and changed so many of our lives…I’m still hoping my little girl will be born on May 25th, the same date that ANH was released in 1977.  I think that would be quite fitting.

How Star Wars Made Me Who I Am Today

On the surface, Star Wars is a story about good versus evil.  It can seem simplistic to anyone who does not delve into the lair of the Sarlacc to find out as much as possible about the saga.

But it’s so much more than that as any fan can attest to.  It’s changed our lives to a varying degree or has been a guiding point for some of us throughout our life.

I was faced with a tough situation recently that brought the wisdom of Star Wars to the forefront of my mind.  I began to think about the way Star Wars has helped me throughout my years since I began to be obsessed with it.

 

Ages 8-10

This was when I first started getting into Star Wars.  Only the OT was available at that point and I used Star Wars to understand the classic good versus evil.  I was more simplistic back then and when I thought about “life” as a whole, it was black and white.

luke yoda training

What helped me the most was the part in ESB where Luke asks Yoda:

“Is the dark side stronger?”

“No… no… no.  Quicker, easier, more seductive.”

“But how am I to know the good side from the bad?”

“You will know.  When you are calm, at peace.”

So simple, but just what I needed at that point in my life.  Luke asks the point blank question on if the dark side is stronger and Yoda doesn’t give a wishy-washy answer.  The answer was no.

 

Pre-Teens (10-12)

I began to get restless at this age.  I understood there was more out there but I couldn’t quite grasp it yet.  I got antsy and frustrated.  Middle school was crueler, harder.  TPM came out when I was 11 and that’s when I began again to look at not just good versus evil, but being a better person as well.

qui gon and obi wanIt was the Jedi who guided me at this point.  Being introduced to the Jedi Council and hearing Qui-Gon Jinn’s advice to Obi-Wan encouraged me to pretend that I was also a Jedi Apprentice.

I also watched Luke’s journey more closely, understanding that he took a hard journey to become the Jedi that we knew him to be at the end of ROTJ.  It’s not always easy to do right, but it’s what you should do.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but during this time I kept a “Jedi Journal”.  Each day I would write down ways where I failed to live up the Jedi standard and how to improve.  Looking back, it sounds a little extreme, but it did help me become a lot more aware of my actions.

 

Angsty Teens (13-18)

I think this was one of the hardest parts of my life as the bullying began in middle school and I tried to find my place in high school.  I was different, nerdy, strange, and openly known as being obsessed with Star Wars.  Getting up and going to school was so difficult in the beginning, but gradually it became easier as people realized I didn’t care what they thought.  My friends were my friends because they liked me, not what I wore or what I loved.  That’s not to say I didn’t struggle – but I think this time period taught me to find myself and remain firm.

I had my first boyfriend whom I went out with for 2.5 years in high school and I remember he struggled with going out with *me*.  He was more padme leiapopular than I was, fit in more, and many people couldn’t understand why he would want to be with me.  (Yes, I know, looking back, I’m not sure why I stayed with him that long but hindsight is 20/20.)  In turn, that made me feel more out of place because I wasn’t necessarily accepted by his friends and my friends also felt uncomfortable around him.  It was a strange, isolating experience.

I gravitated towards the women of Star Wars during this time period: Padmé and Leia.  I liked how Amidala was in TPM, strong and just didn’t give a hoot what others thought about her decisions.  I loved Leia’s spunk and how she was a princess, Han a smuggler, and yet they still ended up together.  Each woman knew they were smart and didn’t care what people thought of them.

 

College (18-23)

For the first time in my life, I don’t think I stayed true to myself during my freshman year of college.  I had a roommate who loved to party and I thought that was what I was supposed to do too.  I went out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights…even when all I wanted to do was stay in and watch a movie.  I dabbled with different men and learned how to look “hot”.  She was cruel, judgmental, and selfish, yet I thought that somehow translated to confident when it was anything but.  By hanging out with her so much, I also became similar to her than I like to admit.

star wars saga

I remember being home in between freshman and sophomore year for summer and feeling so much more relaxed.  I realized I hadn’t watched Star Wars once during that freshman year.  I had given up on my Hyperspace/starwars.com blog and had let my love for Star Wars fade.  I began watching the movies again and also realized how far I had strayed from whom I was.  Me…who had always prided myself in staying true to my roots.   Yes, people knew I loved Star Wars, it’s not like I hid it, but I had forgotten why I loved it.  That’s the most essential puzzle piece to being the level of fan that I am.

I went back into sophomore year with an effort to be more of who I was.  I had the same roommate (really bad call) and it hit the fan pretty fast, but I’m proud that I stuck to my gut feeling that I wasn’t the person I wanted to be when I was with her.  Our “friendship” fell apart and our time together was an icy standoff for the remaining 5 months of sophomore year.

As I separated myself from her and her lifestyle, the rest of my college ride went pretty smoothly.  I did not party as much, I studied more and had a few boyfriends.  The nicest of those men was a scoundrel who is now my husband.

 

The Dawn of Marriage (23-28)

Being married has come with way more difficulties than people ever tell you.  Or perhaps they try to tell you but you believe your love is the strongest ever and it’s not hard at all.  Marriage is hard work and it’s hard work every single day.  Some days are not so hard, but other days are the hardest thing in the world.  Yet, it’s rewarding and gratifying at the same time if you give it patience and watch it grow like a young plant.

anakin and padmeI’ve realized in the past 5 years that good and evil are not so clear cut as I may have thought when I was growing up.  Being an exemplary Jedi is not as easy as I thought either.  Sometimes we struggle or don’t do what we know we should do.

Rewatching the saga during my marriage has made me realize more than a few things, but it’s been Anakin’s turn to the dark side that has always stayed with me.

Anakin goes to the dark side to save Padmé.  I might not have seen the significance of this when ROTS first came out, but I get it more now.  Anakin is not really doing what is wrong in his eyes because to him — it’s an act of selflessness.  He will do anything to save the woman he loves and is there anything wrong with that?  Yes, obviously we know there is, but it makes me feel for him.  I realize that sometimes our choices seem right to us and they make sense, but you’re caught up in a mess of mynocks before you can change your mind.  At that point, you just roll with it and it gets harder and harder to get out.

Which is why it’s good to have a support system and be truthful with your spouse.  Whenever Padmé and Anakin began to get into a conversation where honesty could have changed their future, it flat lined and they avoided digging deeper.  The secrets they hid from each other, never mind keeping their relationship a secret from the outside world, put a large strain on their marriage.  I see that and am reminded of how fragile a marriage, or any relationship, is unless you are both honest and keep communication flowing.

 

Present Day (28-?)

Recently, I’ve seen some of my friends go through hard times in their own marriage, with discussions of divorce and counseling circulating.  They ask for advice, but really, who am I to give it?  It’s not my relationship and the problems they have are not ones I have so it’s hard for me to relate.  The one line I keep coming back to is when Luke wants to change Han’s mind in ANH but Leia says,

He’s got to follow his own path. No one can choose it for him.

I can only be here for my friends, I can’t fight a war for them and I most certainly cannot give advice.  Nor do I want to.  They have to follow their own path and make their own decisions, no one else can do that.

There are also a few things already at work within me since TFA was released.  I find myself emulating Rey in the most random of circumstances.  As I work on moving things out of the guest bedroom to make way for a new family member, I find myself doing a lot more than I used to.  I’ve been trying to figure out power tools, installing shelves myself, and I even did half of the diaper changing table before my husband woke up!  It’s this small voice in the back that says, “I bet Rey would have been able to do this herself.”

rey at home on jakku

I’m entering a new stage of my life right now.  I can feel my little Jedi kicking within me and wonder how Star Wars will continue to shape my life.  How can I show her to be self-sufficient like Rey?  To be smart like Padmé?  To not care what other people think?  To work for justice and peace in our galaxy?  To know good versus evil?

How will I pull from Star Wars to continue to change my life and possibly hers, even if it’s indirectly?

 

This is cool…

I don’t know if you guys have seen this yet, but I fell in love.  So much fun!  It’s a Star Wars Where’s Waldo with all geeky wonderfulness.  And no Waldo…at least, I haven’t found him yet, but tell me if you do!

P.S. I have no idea how to make images attach to a separate page to see them larger with this new WP posting thing, so to see it really large, go here: http://www.wired.com/2015/11/building-the-star-wars-universe/

SW wheres waldo

Source: Wired