Friday, December 18

May the Force (of a good book) be with us all!

I’m writing this on the eve of a movie premiere I have waited over thirty years to see. By the time you read this, I will probably be ensconced in a comfy seat, snacking on a large tub of buttered popcorn, reading the scrolling prologue narrative on a large theatre screen. If you remember I’m a Sci-Fi geek, then you know I’m talking about the much-heralded newest Star Wars chapter: The Force Awakens.


Don’t worry, I’m not going to spend this blog musing about the many facets—good and bad—of the Star Wars enterprise. But, as I’m re-watching the movies, refreshing the ole memory bones in and bringing my children up to speed, they are asking questions. When does Anakin Skywalker become Darth Vader? Why does Luke Skywalker kiss his sister? Why isn’t Jar Jar Binks in the last three movies?

In trying to answer their questions, it occurred to me that so much about Star Wars was utterly life-changing. And not just for me, but for a large portion of my generation, among others. This is no doubt part of the reason behind the broad and loyal—and growing—fan base. Star Wars also changed the culture of movies, and thus our social culture. As my hubby and I try to explain to our kids (um, spoiler alert): “There was a time in the history of our world when we did not know Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father.”
 
There was a time when Yoda was a wise Jedi Master, and not just an internet meme. There was a time when Darth Vader was epic-song-plays-when-you-enter-the-room cool, and not just an angry victim of his own whiny hubris. There was a time when Stormtroopers were badass, and not just the butt of jokes about their shooting accuracy.

Star Wars altered my entire existence. It sculpted me. Left an indelible mark on who I am today.

In this, Star Wars is not unlike other enormous, cataclysmic events. The fall of Rome. The Gettysburg Address. The first moon landing. Miley Cyrus twerking on an MTV Awards show. Even some less-global yet still meaningful game-changers such as the first color movie, the microwave, sliced bread. There are milestones every day of our lives, either personally or culturally. They redefine how we, as either individuals or as a society, view the world around us. They sculpt us. They leave an indelible mark on who “we” are.

And anyone who comes after the milestone—anyone who was not around to experience it—simply cannot grasp its significance. Because, to them, the world has always been… post-milestone. We have always had the internet. The island of Manhattan has always had two enormous square holes near its southern end. Darth Vader has always been Luke Skywalker’s father.
 
I sure wish my children could have experienced Princess Leia’s confession of love for Han Solo like I did. I wish we could all un-experience the Jar Jar Binks character. While I can only try (very poorly at that) to explain to them what it was like see that first imperial star destroyer overwhelm the movie screen with its ominous presence, I take comfort in the fact that we get to share the unfolding of the next chapter together. It will be a new world for all of us, and I look forward to sharing this milestone with my children. And one day they will say, “I am a Star Wars geek, like my Mother before me.”

 
Books can also have this sort of impact on us as individuals and as a culture. "Harry Potter" comes to mind, as does "50 Shades of Gray" (so when does that book get it's own theme park?). We, as writer's, often hope our books will have this meaningful impact on our readers (or at least one of them). It means we have truly built our world and our characters so that our readers can lose themselves within the pages. We want our readers to finish our books, slightly different people than they were when they opened to Chapter One. We want our books to provide a life-altering experience for our readers. We want our books to leave an indelible mark on our readers.
 
Today, my mind is on a movie. But when I return from that galaxy far, far away, I will return to the books which help sculpt me. Until then, let me know what books have rocked your world.
 
 
 
 

8 comments:

  1. Fun post, Ava! RadioMan and I can't wait to see the new Star Wars movie...but we probably won't make it until New Year's Eve. The only thing that has ever bugged me about the franchise is the whole Luke & Leia thing - its just blecky! Leia and Han? YUMMO, though. :)

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    1. Yeah, Luke was always a little to whiny in my opinion to hook up with Leia :-)
      Enjoy the movie, and your holidays!

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  2. I love your post, Ava. I've never "caught" the Star Wars mystique, but I love how you explain the life-changing aspects of it.

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    1. Star Wars is definitely not a franchise for everyone, Liz, and that's okay (I'm sure there are life-changing things for others that I similarly don't understand ;-)

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  3. Love it! I was fortunate to see it last night and can not wait to see it again!!! When the DVD arrives in stores, I will be one of the first to get it:) LOVE this franchise sooo much!!

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    1. Molly - I sense a kindred soul :-)
      So glad you got to see it. Hubby and I have been looking forward to this next chapter of the story for many years, and are happy to pass along the enthusiasm to our kids!

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  4. We're going on Christmas Day. I remember waiting in line to get tickets for the premiere of Return of The Jedi.

    When my nephew started reading the Harry Potter books this summer, I was jealous because he got to read them for the first time, and I'll never get to do that again. And they, like Star Wars, are the milestones of our geek life :)

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    1. Yes, there is something so very special about our "first time" (in so many aspects of our life :-)
      Hope you get to relive a little of that wonder on Christmas Day when you see the movie!

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