Believe me, I’m test case zero for this material. In the summer of 1977, my sister and I were taken to the (now demolished) Century dome at the old Century theaters complex in San Jose, CA. We were captured by robots. And Princesses. And mythology. We were handed a new version of the oldest subject matter in the world and it worked like a charm, a magic portal that led us into a whole new world that, for decades, Sci-Fi writers already had their finger on, the collective pulse of a nation ready for such a thing to manifest in such a hugely influential way. It may be difficult to understand for someone born after 1990 or someone who considers mixed martial arts the apex of popular culture, but there was a time when there was so little magical, world-changing content available that we stood in lines that wrapped around blocks for hours just to see the one ‘space’ movie a year that was released. In the long summers we would wait day after day for the postman to arrive and only then finding out if we’d received the latest issue of Bantha Tracks, the fan club newsletter (yes, I still have all my old issues). George Lucas’ ability to recontextualize and reframe ancient stories like the hero’s journey through a cinematic lens was testament not only to his vision but to the times that they were born out of. The 70s for kids was a wasteland. People like to use words like cultural landscape today, but in 1977 there literally wasn’t one. We lived in a world largely unknown to the titans of industry, unavailable to the adult masters of the universe. It was real, uncaptured magic. We raced through our neighborhoods in privacy and excitement. But no more.
“We know the pattern: watch six months of trailers leading up to the event, see the movie, watch that new Disney show, retell the Adam Driver story you read in Variety, stay in the loop, we can talk about this shit forever…”
Today, we are watched over and monitored by machines of loving grace. Benevolent, Palpatine-like overlords that can grant our every wish, our every desire. There is nothing we may ever want nor need in this reality that the machine will not provide. It is all knowing, all encompassing, all powerful. We are aggregate. Ours was the first generation to be offered up, test cases all; coarse material that taught the masters how to capitalize on the dreams and desires of youth, how to build their pillars of doom. It’s sometimes seems impossible to stop. Honestly ask yourself, which is easier to imagine: the end of capitalism, or the end of the world? We live on the Death Star, and as proof I offer you this fact: in 2017, over fifty thousand people spent one hundred dollars on lightsabers that can’t even kill someone.
We love to swim in our own nostalgia, our experiences and knowledge form the backbone of all our friendships and discourses. But here we’ve become totally okay with a generation who was taught that wearing Obey or Black Sabbath shirts isn’t ironic, they’re not even sure what any of it means. Who cares who Black Sabbath is, anyway? The shirt looks cool, isn’t that enough? We know the pattern: watch six months of trailers leading up to the event, see the movie, watch that new Disney show, retell the Adam Driver story you read in Variety, stay in the loop, we can talk about this shit forever. I’m just saying that, as an adult who was more influenced by Star Wars than anyone I’ve ever known, it’s time to put down the lightsabers. Walk outside. Get on a bus. Go see the world. Turn away from the machine. Star Wars will always be my all-time favorite film, hands down. It set me on a course that changed my life, in the best of all possible ways. Like Frank Zappa said, we was born to have adventures. But that was a long time ago. And when you go see The Rise of Skywalker, which you must, do something different afterwards. Walk away from it all, if only for an afternoon. I’m sure we’ll all have a lot to talk about.