I am a fraud.
I know next to nothing about Star Wars. While I’ve seen all six of the films at one point or another, I don’t remember much about any of them. In fact, most of the knowledge I do have on the saga comes from Star Tours, programs like Family Guy and How I Met Your Mother, and various other outlets. These sources provide me with tidbits I can throw into conversation and get an easy high-five from fans (i.e. “Han shot first”).
Over the years I’ve tried to correct this glaring gap in my pop culture knowledge, but still haven’t really gotten around to doing any real research… or even taken to rewatching the films. Despite my apparent lack of progress (I shall double my efforts), I did make a small stride this week as I tuned in for the live stream of The Force Awakens panel held at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. And, of course, I saw the new teaser that came closer to “breaking the internet” than any bare butt or polarizing dress ever could.
From doing so, I learned that maybe I’m not as far out of the loop as I thought. It seems that what I would want in a Star Wars film is what the real fans want as well. When JJ Abrams mentioned that he was building as many practical sets as possible, the cheers from the crowd dwarfed any previous applause breaks, including the introduction of the director himself.
I completely agree with this excitement as I’ve always been a bit of a stickler about CGI. Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I prefer 2D to 3D, 35mm film to digital (for movies, at least), and hand drawn animation to computer animation. This doesn’t mean I don’t see the benefits of all these advancing technologies, I just think they’ve all been abused — much like autotune threatened to kill music earlier this decade — while the tried and true techniques (that may have been done a better job in some cases) have been abandoned.
Soon after this announcement, Abrams doubled down on his declaration by introducing us to BB 8, also known as the ball droid that was briefly featured in the first teaser for Episode VII. Most viewers had assumed the character was created by computers, but I and many others were shocked to learn that he was actually a functioning, practical robot. My friend Chris, who was in the audience for the panel, perfectly summed up the feelings of many fans in that moment:
— Cybergosh (@Cybergosh) April 17, 2015
As for the teaser itself, I was pretty much sold. When the prequels came out, I had zero interest in seeing them. I’m pretty sure I saw Episode I in a dollar theatre and fell asleep for most of it, saw Episode II only because it was my friend’s birthday and was bitter that I had to pay for the film despite working at the theatre, and saw Episode III at a church lock-in that I was chaperoning. Admittedly, none of these are the best way to have seen these films, but that just goes to show how little I cared.
The prequel trilogy isn’t the only cultural phenomenon I’ve slept on, either. I’ve never seen a Lord of the Rings or Hobbit film, I was forced to screen (and get paid to watch) Avatar and hated it, and it took my ex-girlfriend until the fourth Harry Potter to get me to watch any of those films. But that’s what’s interesting; once I did see the Harry Potter films, I found out that they were much more enjoyable than I would have guessed. In my defense, the first two films (which is where I drew most of my conclusions from) are easily my least favorites, but I’ve come to adore the rest.
My story is similar with Marvel. I’ve always been more into small, independent, “talky” comedies than large-scale blockbusters, and so I didn’t care too much about seeing Iron Man when it was released in 2008. But, as it turned out, the day before it was to be released, I was being transferred from the small arthouse theatre I worked at to the mainstream one up the road. My new boss texted me to say that, if I wanted, I could come a little early and screen the movie with them so it would be ready for the midnight show. I agreed and proceeded to fall in love. Not only was the film smarter and funnier than I could have imagined, but it set up a world I didn’t know much about, but wanted to.
I guess what I’m saying is it’s time for me to stop being a fraud and revisit Star Wars. If all the promise we’ve seen so far pays off, I’ll certainly be glad I did. So with less than eight months to go until Episode VII, I have a lot of catching up to do.
Kyle is a writer living in Springfield, MO. His deep love of Disney and other pop culture finds its way into his stories, scripts, and tweets. His first book “The E-Ticket Life: Stories, Essays, and Lessons Learned from My Decidedly Disney Travels” is available in paperback and for Kindle. http://amzn.to/1CStAhV