Saturday, May 4, 2013

How "Star Wars" Changed My Life

Today is May 4, known by fans across the world as Star Wars day, based on a play of the iconic space opera catchphrase: "May the Fourth (Force) be with you." All over the planet, the saga of the deeply flawed Anakin Skywalker who eventually gets redeemed by his twin children, Luke and Leia, is well-recognized; television shows, popular songs, novels, and even other movies have made more allusions to that Lucasfilm production than probably any other media franchise in existence.
Love it or hate it, you can't deny the lasting influence of A New Hope and its sequels and prequels. Most of you who are reading this probably have a favorable opinion of the saga, but can any of you say that it changed your life? I can; just like Lizzie McGuire, Star Wars helped wake me up to something that was missing in my life...something that has since become a big part of who I am.
Let's start at the beginning: In 2000, I had my official introduction to Star Wars when I watched The Phantom Menace with my brother-in-law around Easter.  Before that, my experience with it was limited: a TIE fighter shooting game and an app that could play the theme song on my Commodore 64, a RoseArt art set that had coloring pages with scenes from the films, and, of course, the allusions in countless different pieces of entertainment.  Still, prior to seeing the first prequel, it all meant nothing to me.
In fact, I was a bit hesitant to try the franchise, only because I saw a Star Wars video game in a catalog that was rated "T," which--I assumed--meant that it was in the style of GoldenEye for Nintendo 64, which freaked me out so much, I never wanted to play it, even though my friends adored it.  When a kid in my neighborhood told me that the only human death in TPM was Darth Maul being cut in half--which, as fans know, isn't quite true--I imagined a creepy scene that made me even less willing to try it.  It wasn't until I actually experienced it that I found out my assumptions were quite off. 
In 2002, again thanks to my brother-in-law, I saw the original trilogy on video, as well as Attack of the Clones in IMAX.  It wasn't until seeing Return of the Jedi that I knew how everyone else already knew Anakin Skywalker would become Darth Vader before any of the prequels even came out.  As you'd expect, I saw Revenge of the Sith in the theater, this time with some people from my church's high school group.
Now, let me get into a completely different realm of my life.  Most people know that I'm a longtime lover of computers and television--well, certain shows, anyway--and that I am currently an avid reader.  What you may not know is that, during my middle and high school years, I was a bit rebellious and chose to read as little as possible, despite reading anything I could get my hands on throughout elementary school.  My favorite video/computer games, television shows, and the Internet were all I needed; I hardly even cracked open God's Word outside of a church service or Bible class.  My mom even once wanted me to read a book she had checked out of the library for me, and I chose to take a punishment instead of doing so, because I just didn't want to bother with that book.
That really doesn't sound like me, does it? It did happen, though.  What changed? Why did I become a bookworm again? I'll tell you what and why: In June 2005, I was at a yard sale in my neighborhood, and some guy had a bunch of Star Wars books for sale.  I'd tried my hand at them before; I once attempted to listen to a SW audiobook and quickly gave up, not to mention buying a bunch of kiddie novels--that is, the Jedi Apprentice series--and didn't get that far before quitting.  Still, they called me, so I bought two of them, just to see if I would like them.  The first one of the two I happened to read was I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole.  Did I like it? Well, let's just say: I was BLOWN AWAY! An original story, great writing, enthralling plot...what wasn't to like? After that, I read quite a few other SW novels, and, after a while, it lead to me discovering other books as well.  Suffice it to say: I would not have rediscovered reading if it hadn't been for I, Jedi at that yard sale.
I will end by saying this: Most of you probably already know that Disney bought Lucasfilm, and they are planning a seventh episode of Star Wars.  Numerous fans of the series have wondered what the Mouse House is going to do with the series; some are fearing the worst.  However, as usual, I think differently: As a longtime fan of various Disney productions, I think they're going to do the franchise justice.  The Mouse House has given me fun throughout the years, ranging from George of the Jungle to reruns of Growing Pains to Monsters, Inc. to Lizzie McGuire to Austin & Ally, so, frankly, I don't know of any major movie corporation who would be better suited to the job.  We'll see how the movie actually is when it comes out, though; still, I think even the naysayers will be surprised.
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