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.

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Haiku Me Friday! A formidable queen

Planet in distress Lovely, isolated queen So young for the role

Planet in distress
Lovely, isolated queen
So young for the role

Shout out to Queen Amidala.  I was supposed to do a Fan Art Friday with Mei-Mei and I completely dropped the ball.  First, I forgot.  Then, my daughter got very sick and all my attention was devoted on getting her well again.  So be sure to check out Mei-Mei’s coloring book post and I’ll be back with her in February for the next one.

But I wanted to give my own little homage to Queen Amidala because she is one of my favorite characters in the PT.  I like Padmé, but Queen Amidala and Qui-Gon Jinn changed my liking of Star Wars into an obsession when I was 11 years old.  Padmé and Queen Amidala are the same though, right?  Yes and no.  I don’t think the Barack Obama we see on TV is the same Barack Obama behind closed doors with his family.  Padmé from AOTC and ROTS was different than Queen Amidala as she was no longer ruling.  Though she was a senator, she was freer to be herself.

I loved Queen Amidala because she represented strength to me.  Though I am older and also see the way she got played by Palpatine, I hardly fault her for it.  Palpatine is one of the best characters in Star Wars because of how he plays everyone in the galaxy as pawn in his masterful game of chess, including Amidala.

I’m not sure I realized it at the time, but another reason why I loved her is because there was no man by her side.  The Jedi protected her, but they were not from Naboo, nor were they part of her politics.  I appreciated how she made the decision to return home to Naboo though every man advised her not to.  She appreciated the advice of counsellors, but led with her gut and made her own decision in the end.

It’s hard for me to relate to people who hate The Phantom Menace.  I understand where they are coming from as TPM is vastly different from the Original Trilogy, but by hating the movie, they miss out on some great characters, with Amidala being one of them.

Haiku Me Friday! Padmé’s Strength

A young but strong queen A vivacious senator Doomed to love evil

A young but strong queen
A vivacious senator
Doomed to love evil

It’s a long time since I’ve talked about Padmé.  I feel she’s been slightly forgotten with the addition of TFA to the saga.  Rey has taken over as the new, evolved, wonderful main female protagonist and Leia has been thrust back into the spotlight because of TFA as well.  So Padmé has been pushed aside.

Without Padmé, we wouldn’t have Leia, Luke or Kylo Ren (I still think Rey looks so much like her that I believe she could also be a Skywalker).  I know that goes without saying, but it’s something to remember as we head into this new era of Star Wars.  I wonder if we’ll see the future directors looking back at Padmé and using some of her traits to guide Luke, Leia, and Kylo’s actions.  I feel Abrams actually did that strongly with Kylo Ren and his temper tantrums.  They were so similar to Anakin’s that I’d like to believe it was deliberate, though Abrams has been known to shun the Prequels.

Though I didn’t love Bloodline, I did love this one section where Leia referenced going back into records and finding out as much as she could about Padmé so she could understand her birth mother.

padme 3Padmé is an amazing character.  She was queen of an entire planet at 14.  SO young.  What was I doing at 14?  I was a freshman in high school.  I had my first boyfriend who was a year older than me and we talked every day on the phone (he didn’t go to my local high school).  I hung out with the punks, one guy had pink hair and one had a bright green spiked Mohawk.  I only hung out with them because they were different and I was trying to find my group…I didn’t remain friends with them as high school continued.  Needless to say, my daily stresses only included getting homework done and trying to maintain a relationship that was cute at best, it didn’t have any substance (though I can’t imagine telling my 14 year old self that…I would not have taken that well).

Padmé was ruling an entire planet, and on top of that, ruling a planet when it was in a crisis.  The Trade Federation had formed the blockade and she had to escape the planet to plead her case to the senate.  Oh, and her ship’s hyperdrive broke while escaping.  She had to make a large decision to leave the safety and security of Coruscant to return to Naboo and befriend the Gungan race whom had previously ignored each other.

When she ended her stint as queen, she gravitated towards politics and became a senator.  By the time she met Anakin again at 24, she was a full-fledged senator of Naboo, weighing in on issues that effected the entire galaxy and her planet.  When I was 24, I had been married for a year.  The biggest stress I had was making sure we made enough money to save some and also pay all our bills.  Okay, that’s a pretty big stress, but I can’t imagine also having to make and participate in decisions directly effecting Massachusetts and the United States at that age.

So how can someone so smart not see that Anakin was turning to the dark side?

I went to an all-women’s college, Mount Holyoke, and while I loved the college and would go back in a heartbeat, it was sheltered in some ways.  A lot of the women went to a same sex college with the sole purpose of devoting their time completely to their studies with no distractions from men.

I imagine Padmé’s track a little similar…she focused so much on her career and politics that she may have not been completely attuned to the Padme1romantic part of life.  She hadn’t sharpened that gut feeling of when something is not right with your partner.  Sure, she had boyfriends (actually we only know of one other boyfriend other than Anakin) but like my 14 year old relationship, they were not substantial.  Her first serious boyfriend was Anakin, whom she later married.

I think a lot of critics and fan dismiss Padmé because she died of a broken heart.  But by doing that, you negate her amazing life and intelligence prior to her death.  I believe Padmé could have been smarter than Leia and Rey, though they are both quite intelligent.  But when it comes to book smarts, Padmé and Leia were probably on the same page, with Padmé inches ahead of her.

I hope that we see some homage to her in the upcoming movies because she is quite a woman and quite a character.

Sorry, I Can’t Relate – I’m a Younger Star Wars Fan

Ever since The Clone Wars came out, I’ve considered myself an “in the middle” Star Wars fan.  I’m not one of the original Star Wars fans who got to see the Original Trilogy in the theaters, nor am I the youngest who have fallen in love with Star Wars through the TV shows and, now, the release of new movies.  I’m smack in the middle…one of the younger fans who grew up on the Prequels.  Maybe we’re not so young now, but I always feel young when I talk to the fans who were there when it all began.

As such, when I do happen to talk to the Star Wars fans who have known a world without Star Wars, I find that there are some things I just can’t understand in terms of experiences and annoyances.

I compiled this list in my head during the past week of feelings I can’t relate to as a Star Wars fan born post-Original Trilogy.

Midi-chlorians

For some reason, this is one of the strongest differences I find between myself and older fans.  I’ve read articles and talked to people who were absolutely heartbroken that Lucas “scientized” the Force.

qui gon jinn and anakinMy understanding is that when you watched ANH, it gave the impression that the Force was so mystical and anyone could use if they had the proper training.  It spoke to fans because they realized that they could have this power.  By the end of ROTJ, fans realized it could be genetic but it was still something completely supernatural.  It couldn’t be explained why someone had the Force and someone didn’t or if it always gets passed down through generations.

When TPM came out and introduced midi-chlorians as the reason for the Force, a lot of older fans were outraged.  They were, and still are, upset that the Force became something you could track and measure by taking a blood sample.

I’ve never been able to relate to this.  I was 12 when TPM came out and even though I had seen the OT beforehand, I never thought much about the Force.  It was just there.  Luke had it.  Vader had it.  It was implied Leia might have it.  So when Qui-Gon starts telling Anakin about midi-chlorians, I thought, “Ah, okay, that makes sense,” and it became part of my Star Wars knowledge almost instantaneously.  I accepted it and moved on.  When people get upset about it, I almost can’t remember a time before midi-chlorians so it doesn’t get me worked up.

Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s Father

Alas, I wish I could relate to the shock everyone felt when that was revealed.  But I can’t . I knew Vader was Luke’s father before I watched the movies for the first time.  Even if I was never directly told, it’s such a part of our pop culture that the misquoted, “Luke, I am your father,” is almost I am your father vaderomnipresent.

This is one of those things where I really wish I could have had that older fan experience.  I wish I could be in the theater watching it for the first time and think, “Wait, what?  Did I hear that right?  What did he say?”

But nope.  It’ll never happen like that because I was born post-1980.

Jar Jar Binks

Jar Jar binksThis may come as a surprise, but I don’t hate Jar Jar.  Like the midi-chlorians, since TPM came out when I was 12, Jar Jar became accepted into my Star Wars love with no issues.  It wasn’t until I was older and rewatch the movies that I think he’s annoying.  Yet in 1999, he was just a different alien that, in the end, helped the Jedi and Amidala obtain victory over the Trade Federation.

Even now, I can’t relate to the extreme hatred older fans have for this character.  The cruelness at which fans crucify this character and George Lucas for creating him is baffling to me.  I’ve read that people think he’s a Jamaican stereotype and cruelly berate Lucas in articles for it.  Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not, but I don’t get it and I can’t relate to it.

The Feeling That Star Wars is Done Forever

I kind of felt like Star Wars as I knew it was over in 2005 after ROTS was released.  I didn’t know where my love for Star Wars would take me.  But even as it ended, there were rumors of an animated Star Wars TV show being released (keep in mind the original TCW, was an animated microseries,star wars comic 1985 ended in 2005 as well).  By 2008, we had a completely new Star Wars to watch, albeit a very different format, but enough to keep the spark there.

I don’t know what it feels like to feel like there is NOTHING.  Sure, Star Wars continued in the form of board games, comics, and some old school video games after ROTJ, but no one thought there would be new movies, TV shows, etc.  The Thrawn Trilogy wasn’t published until the early 1990s so there was a good 8-10 years where all fans had were comics and games.

Props to the older Star Wars fans.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be in a Jakku-like planet with absolutely no knowledge that there would ever be more Star Wars movies.

Practical Sets/Effects vs. CGI

This has become a huge debate in the past few years since Abrams was brought on board for TFA.  Any time he or Kathleen Kennedy was interviewed, they stressed about bringing back real sets, real costumes, real locations for the new Star Wars trilogy.  It’s clear that what they were saying is practical = Original Trilogy = what most fans love and CGI = Prequel Trilogy = what most fans dislike.

coruscantI disagree.   The PT is a large part of my life and I don’t think CGI is bad.  What I could possibly concede on is that a) too much CGI was used, and b) the scripts were not well done in the PT.  If you don’t have a good script or storyline, then the CGI is going to be more noticeable.

I loved seeing the planet of Coruscant, the ships in space, and all the interesting planets we got to see because of Lucas’ work with CGI.  One of my favorite scenes is when Artoo fixes the hyperdrive on Queen Amidala’s ship.  Can you imagine how crude that would look without CGI?  I also loved Utapau and the scenes with Obi-Wan riding the Varactyl.  That would not have been possible without CGI.

So I can’t understand where this aversion of CGI comes from.  It also baffles me that KK and Abrams went to such lengths to talk up their practical sets when the movie has a lot of CGI in it.  I’ve said this before, but if you are going to go in one direction or the other, go all the way.  I thought Snoke was one of the most out-of-place characters/moments/scenes in TFA and I know it was due to the CGI.  He might not have looked so out of place in the PT because our minds were used to the special effects.

 

If you’re an older fan, do you disagree with some of what I said?  If you’re a younger fan than me, is there something that perhaps you can’t relate to that I’ve written about?  If you are close to my age, do you agree with what I’ve written?

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?