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.

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?

TONIGHT

If you are seeing the movie later than today or tomorrow – stay away from my blog.  I will not be keeping this place spoiler free after seeing The Force Awakens.

In the meantime, this is playing in my house:

 

Also, there are already 2 people lined up at the IMAX I’m going to!  Call the wambulance because I’m sulking.  I don’t think I can get there until 2pm.

A “review” will be coming up tonight or tomorrow.  That’s in quotation marks because I always love movies the first time I see them.  It’s only after 2-3 viewings that I start seeing flaws.  So my review might be along the lines of, OMG THAT WAS AMAZING *BRAIN EXPLOSION*

Tonight is the first viewing, tomorrow night the second, next week the third.

May the Force be with us.

Confessions of a First Time Star Wars Viewer

You all might remember, back in February, that I was going to watch the entire Star Wars saga with my friend who had never viewed it before.  She wanted to see what the hype was in regards to TFA and get all 6 movies done prior to December.  I solicited advice and questions to ask her after watching ANH.  Both Star Guy and Mei-Mei were kind enough to throw in some questions and I had a list as well.

Instead of asking her after ANH, I decided to wait until we completed the entire saga, which happened last month.  She was kind enough to give a thorough answer to all my questions.

Be prepared for some surprising answers that might make you think about Star Wars in a new light.  This has not been edited by me!


 

1. What was your favorite movie out of the saga (all 6 movies) and why?

My favorite movie out of the saga was “Return of the Jedi.” I’m not sure I have a specific reason, but some of the things that I like are: the Ewoks, the redemption of Vader’s/Anakin’s character, and Leia’s infiltration of Jabba’s lair disguised as a bounty hunter.

2. Least favorite and why?

It’s probably a toss-up between “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones.” I know real fans’ least favorite is  usually “Attack of the Clones,” (My note: I believe most fans least favorite is TPM but this girl has been hanging around me a lot, which may be why she thought AOTC) but I actually kind of enjoyed it, other than maybe it was a little long, and the romantic scenes with Anakin and Padme were so bad! But on the other hand, the romantic scenes were at least entertaining because I found them comical :). Alternatively, there were definitely parts of “The Phantom Menace” that I really liked. I enjoyed the building of the “backstory” for Anakin, and of course the legendary Qui-Gon Jinn, but to be honest, I fell asleep during some parts of this movie :-\ so it obviously didn’t really capture my attention that well… [And I don’t care what anyone says about Jar Jar Binks – he’s ok in my book! :-P]

3. Favorite character?  Least favorite?  Why?

I think my favorite character is R2D2. He just seems like he knows “what’s up.” For a character that doesn’t talk / you don’t know what he’s saying, r2 and ewokhe has an integral part in all the movies. He’s intelligent, has a great sense of humor, is often saving the day, and is an all around reliable pal and good guy to have around (I’m attributing the masculine pronouns…but I suppose a robot would be agender?).

Would it really upset Star Wars fans everywhere if I said my least favorite character is Luke? I have to say that I find him a bit one-dimensional. He’s a real “goodie-two-shoes,” if you will. I prefer the characters with more depth and ambiguity, like Han Solo or even Anakin. As bad as Hayden Christensen’s acting is, at least the Anakin character has real internal conflict. The big turn might have been a little out of left-field/ sudden onset, but it was there none-the-less (and they definitely used lots of obvious foreshadowing to try to back-up the sudden shift that came at the end).

4. Was there anything that surprised/you didn’t expect about the movies?

I don’t know if there was anything that surprised me, but most of my previous impressions/knowledge of Star Wars was related to the older movies, so I didn’t really know what to expect from the newer ones. I knew that Natalie Portman was in them, but I didn’t know much about the story line/characters, etc. So, I guess I didn’t realize that I was going to find out about the whole “pre-Luke/Leia” story and the development of Darth Vader.

5. Do you think Star Wars is relatable to our lives?

In the sense that all art is a reflection of life in some form, yes. Will I take from it real lessons to apply to my own life; probably not.

6. Do you have any questions about the movies that you don’t think was explained enough in depth?

Not really, but I’d love to know more about the Ewoks! 🙂 Well, I guess ewok wicketwhile we were watching the movies, I was sort of confused about the age difference between Padme and Anakin, but we already addressed that in conversation. With that said, I’m sure that there are plenty of nuances that I missed. I’m sure I’ll need to watch the movies several more times in order to catch everything.

7. Why do you think Star Wars has such a large following?

It’s a cult classic. What’s not to like about spaceships, interesting planets, unique creatures/aliens, robots – excuse me – “droids”, the struggle between good and evil, and a little bit of romance thrown into the mix for good measure as well? Not to mention a little play on incest… [just to be clear, that was a joke. I don’t want your readers to think I am some sort of sicko!]

8. Do you think the movies are catered to children or adults?  Why?

I think they are catered more toward adults because of the themes and more adult nature of the plot lines (and the violence too, I guess). However, I think it makes sense that kids like it too in terms of the fantasy, characters, and of course all the toys/marketing :).

9. Do you think the movies are catered more for men or women?  Why?

I think that they are catered more toward men. In each of the series there is really only one major female character (Leia in the old ones, Padme in the new ones), so men definitely dominate the saga. I also think the earlier movies are particularly objectifying of women (i.e. Leia as Jabba’s prisoner…). While Leia and Padme are both strong female characters, they obviously need the help of the men to survive. And Padme’s not strong enough to live on once Anakin has gone to the dark side? And no female jedi? I suppose the romance was probably added to appeal to the female nature, but as mentioned above, it is laughable and largely unbelievable.

10. What sci-fi elements did you like?  Dislike?  Why?

Is it cheating to say all of them? 😛 I really don’t have an answer to this question. Of course “The Force” has to be a likable element (unless you outright dislike the movies), and all the different planets and creatures, the droids, and ships. I can’t think of anything I particularly disliked.

11. What action scenes did you like?  Dislike? Why?

Again, I’m not a huge “action” scene person. The one that sticks out in my mind is the one where Anakin, Padme, and Obi Won are tied to posts in aobi wan geonosis colosseum and have to fight the creatures that are sent out to kill them. Though, I’m not sure if that’s just because it’s from one of the movies we saw more recently. Oh and if you can count the scene where Anakin and Padme are “frolicking” in the meadow and Anakin gets up and rides whatever that creature was – probably doesn’t count as an action scene, but I love it for the pure comedy! 🙂 For real, though, since I love the ewoks, my favorite action scene probably has to be when they come to save the day in “Return of the Jedi.”

12. What did you think about Star Wars prior to watching the saga?  What do you think now?

My thoughts about Star Wars before watching the saga were that it was a sci-fi classic with a cult (dare I say “nerd”) following [and I don’t mean that offensively – while I am not a Star Wars “nerd,” I do consider myself a “nerd” in many other respects]. I’m not sure that my thoughts have changed that much, other than that the plot lines were actually much more simplistic than I thought they would be, which does not detract from it’s greatness, as there are many other factors that make the saga complex including the various species of creatures, planets, characters, etc., which would probably take actual study to fully know and understand.


 

I’d like to say that my friend actually really enjoyed Jar Jar and couldn’t see why everyone disliked him when she first watched TPM.  I wish she put more of that in there because I thought that was really fascinating.  Jar Jar is basically the symbol of hate for many people regarding the PT…and yet my friend thought he was funny and liked his character.  Same with the ewoks…some of her favorite characters were those that people disliked the most.

Another interesting note – her choice of action scenes.  The PT does excel at action scenes over the OT, especially if you are watching Star Wars for the first time.  The PT is closer to what we see and expect in movies nowadays.

Anyone else find anything interesting?