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.