Ladies and gentlemen of the jury! I have a confession to make. I have never seen a single Star Wars movie, and if I am to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I ever will. And yes, I do appreciate the irony of being a pop-culture writer and a self-professed geek who has avoided the galaxy far, far away all his life. I know it doesn’t make me special by any means, but it does make me a curious oddity amidst my peers. For the most part, I have avoided their judgments by nodding and occasionally blurting, “yeah, so awesome,” before directing the conversation to a topic I’m more familiar with. Now, however, I think it’s time I admit that I am, in fact, a Star Wars virgin and not at all excited by the movies. But before you whip out your glow sticks and take a swing at my arm, I hope you’ll briefly indulge me in my madness and allow me the chance to explain myself.
It’s Difficult To Take Star Wars Seriously
I was born after the original trilogy was finished, and as I grew up old enough to appreciate pop culture, the prequels were released too. Though I never watched any of the Star Wars films growing up, I was constantly reminded of its imposing cultural legacy. Nearly every movie and TV show I watched seemed obligated to shove in a Star Wars reference, whether to pay homage to the franchise’s greatness or to spoof it for quick laughs. And don’t even get me started on the memes that flooded every social media site and forum I visited. While the references did inspire a sense of FOMO within me, they also gave too much of the story away. And now, despite not having watched any of the films, I’m vaguely familiar with the story and its elements. For instance, I know that Stormtroopers are horrible marksmen, that Han Solo shot first, that Luke kissed his sister, and that Vader is Luke’s father, which I believe was supposed to be the biggest twist of the century? And now that I am well aware of most major plot points, I see little point in sitting through hours of space adventures that, frankly, don’t seem all that appealing. I know! I know! It’s not just about the destination, it’s also about the journey. But how much can you really enjoy Sixth Sense after the ending has been spoiled for you?
But more than that, I believe it’s Star Wars’ colossal popularity and influence on pop culture that eventually became an ill-sheathed saber that cut its own Jedi. Since the movies have appeared in so many spoofs, sketches, and parodies, they are my primary reference points for the Star Wars universe. And since my head space is filled with Star Wars skits and my perspective of the movie entirely clouded by memes, it’s difficult for me to take the movies seriously and enjoy them sincerely. Just look at Dearth Vader, who is supposed to be one of the most iconic and menacing villains, now reduced to the “I’m your father,” punchline in the larger pop-culture narrative.
The Grandness of Star Wars’ Story Is Overwhelming
My first hesitation to sit down and catch up on Star Wars begins with its sheer vastness. One can’t help but be overwhelmed by its exceedingly large number of movies, TV shows, animated series, and comics that only seem to get multiplied over time. The mythos surrounding its world is so large that each character, location, and element of the story has never-ending pages of Wikipedia articles dedicated to them. There are Jedi knights, Sith lords, droids with personalities, and creatures that defy imagination. There are multiple planets, each with its own unique inhabitants and languages. And then, there’s the Force, which just sounds like a suspiciously convenient plot device to bail the protagonist out of limbo. It almost feels like I have to carry out rigorous research across the web and consult the die-hard fans before I finally begin watching. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy myself an extensive homework just so that I can watch a movie.
But what baffles me the most about the Star Wars affair is that, apparently, there is a proper order to watch the movie and that there’s a raging debate as to what the correct sequence is. Do I watch them in release order, chronological order, or maybe in the order of how good the memes are? I don’t know, and no one seems to agree. Every fan has their own holy script dictating the dive order, and most suggest starting with Episode IV. And that sounds absolutely bonkers to me. Who the hell starts with the fourth episode?
Star Wars Taught Me an Important Life Lesson
Despite my grievances, however, I admit I have been tempted to watch Star Wars films, and I have made two separate attempts to get through the first movie, confusingly labeled Episode IV. My first attempt at Star Wars was as a teenager, recently introduced to the wonderful world of pop culture. It was the 2010s, and still, the hype surrounding Star Wars was inescapable. Most of the content I consumed talked endlessly about how awesome the entire franchise was, placing it in an almost unassailable status. And the communities that I looked up to talked about people who didn’t watch Star Wars in unfavorable terms, often portraying them as uptight and uncool. So, it’s only natural that the teenage me wanted a rite of passage into this fascinating, elite world of Star Wars fandom. After all, the lightsabers looked really cool and the people cosplaying stormtroopers seemed really happy just geeking out. So, during my winter vacation, I finally downloaded all six movies released till then and started with Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. About 30 minutes into the movie, I shut it down. It felt incredibly slow and dull, like a relic from a different time that didn’t quite fit into the world of cinema I knew and loved. A part of me wanted to force myself to sit through the movie, hoping that the exciting parts would kick in, and I would start enjoying it. But another part of me was scared. Scared of not being able to enjoy the Star Wars universe and being shunned by a community I desperately wanted to be part of. It felt like there was some divine secret to Star Wars that everyone but me had been privy to. In a way, I was ashamed of my own taste. But I didn’t want to burn down the bridge to its enticing inner circle. So, I concluded that perhaps it was one of those movies that demanded maturity to be truly enjoyed and that I would return to it once I was a little more grown-up.
My second attempt at Star Wars was sometime around the late 2010s, after Disney acquired the intellectual property and released a couple new movies. I was a young adult by then, and the hype surrounding Star Wars had gained new momentum, so I thought it was about time I jumped into the bandwagon. Again, I downloaded the original 6 movies and started with Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. And yet again, I absolutely hated it. But this time, there was no trace of guilt surrounding my dislike for the movie. In fact, it was almost a liberating feeling — I didn’t like the movie, and it was alright. My worth as a person was no longer determined by my acceptance into a fandom. This was one of the first times I truly owned up to my tastes and opinions, and it felt empowering. So, while I never got a chance to fully geek out as a Star Wars fan, the franchise did afford me the opportunity to embrace my individuality. And though I will probably never watch any Star Wars movie, I am thankful to the franchise for the important life lesson it taught me.