The incongruous images flashed across my melon like so many Splinters of the Minds Eye…
Flannel and Fairies, Boba and Bambi, Droids and Dwarves, Broomsticks and Banthas, and the Death Star looming over a picturesque Disney castle. Confusing. Confusing wrapped in a disjointed, jacked-up What the Force Just Happened burrito del grande.
My reaction to the news of this Change of the Imperial Guard was not, as we say in kindergarten, play-pretty. But that’s old school Star Wars for you, isn’t it? Just when you think you have it figured out about who is who’s girlfriend and who killed who’s spice freighter pilot father, Sith gets weird.
And then to add incredulity to insult to injury, the news breaks that not only does Vader wear Mouse Ears, but there WILL be additional Roman numerals to add to my DVD library. I had defended for years the wisdom The George had dropped from on high – there was no Episode 7. This was the biggest “Or Not” of my Star Wars fandom experience to date. The Star WarsPurist in me was…offended. How dare you sir! How dare you sell your privately held company without my permission! How dare you hand over Star Wars to the same studio that gave usHannah Montana! You keep Miley Cyrus away from my fandom! Gonna…pass out… from all the cuteness… The center cannot hold… the center cannot hold….
Lemme tell ya. When you find yourself in the darkest corner of your own neurotic fanaticism clutching action figures and reciting the opening crawls to yourself like an occult prayer… well… it’s time to seek perspective. So I says to myself, I says:
“Self, sit down and STFU. Bad news, this ain’t.” I slowly realized that I was having the same reaction I have when watching a scary movie. I wasn’t terrified. I was thrilled. Something horrible or wonderful might be lurking around every corner now in Star Wars. When’s the last time we felt like that?
I remember the Dark Times, see. That long stretch between Return of the Jedi and Truce at Bakura. The first hints of further life with Shadows of the Empire. And then the Thrawn Trilogy came, and then finally rumors of new movies. It was an agonizing gestation period full of new promise. Like you, I hated waiting, but I loved passing the time with the wondering.
It was then that I realized the real story I was missing wasn’t that Star Wars was being taken over, or that there were new movies in the works. I was shocked as to why it had not occurred to me, but then I realized that maybe that was part of the plan. That old illusionist had done it again. He tricked my eyes, made me believe, wowed me with dazzling vistas of the imagination, and did such a good job of it that I never realized the one thing that really does bother the 8-year-old in me that first saw Star Wars.
We knew it was happening, but it didn’t really seem real. After all, even though he handed the keys over to Kathleen Kennedy, he continued to have a hand in The Clone Wars series. It made it easier to believe what people tend to believe about their heroes – they never fade away, they never stop saving the day, and they never die. But this is not the truth. And ultimately, no matter how much magic and myth make up the fabric of Star Wars, ultimately George Lucas was telling us a truth through his art. Some of it is uplifting. Some of it is foreboding. In the end, all of it is meant not just to entertain, but to teach, to enkindle, to enlighten, and to make us believe in something more about ourselves.
George Lucas is leaving us to take up the rest of his own life, and as is the way of all families, we have to let him go. But he didn’t leave us empty-handed. He handed down his legacy, bequeathed his imagination, and provided us a future. Like a kindly patriarch, he painlessly plucked the splinter out from our fandom while we weren’t looking.
Mr. Lucas, May the Force Be With You Always…