Before I begin this story, you need to understand that I have been a hardcore Star Wars fan for more than half my life.
The little bud of my fandom first began to sprout when I was very young and my dad would show us the podracer scene from The Phantom Menace. Much later I would grow up and realize that this was objectively the only good thing about the movie, but at four years old it was wildly cool, and I felt like a real “big kid” listening to the grinding whir of the podracers. Soon it became an afternoon staple in our house, popped into the DVD player whenever my parents wanted a few minutes of peace from us.
When I was about seven, Mommy and Daddy decided that it was time we graduate to the full-fledged Star Wars. For three magical nights, we snuggled together as a family and watched the original trilogy. It was then that I truly fell in love with Star Wars, and it was no longer just because it was cool. As a budding writer, it was the story that captivated me – the drama of a modern epic, the saga of a mystical and dying order, the flawed yet lovable characters, the emotional tension of what has got to be the most fraught father-son relationship ever. Star Wars basically set the bar for everything a franchise must have to draw me in and make me a fangirl for life.
- Fast forward to middle school. Two of the roughest years of my life – socially, emotionally, and academically. After a week of busting my butt to finish ridiculously hard English assignments, navigating the drama swirling in my messy friend group, and putting up with the ever-present struggles of being the only black girl in a predominantly white small-town school, it was nice to come home on Friday nights and have the new Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode waiting to help me forget about all my troubles. Our entire family would curl up on the couch under heavy quilts and several layers of socks (okay, maybe that was just me) to watch. The Clone Wars helped me through a rough period of my life which, like the show itself, ended right before I went off to college. (Eerie, right?)
- Once Disney cancelled the Clone Wars (RIP) and collapsed the expanded universe, I was so disenchanted that I didn’t even bother to watch Rebels. But it turns out that the Star Wars love was still buried deep in my heart, and needed just the right excavator to unearth it.
- That excavator was The Force Awakens.
- Pre-Gaming: The Hype was strong in this family
- Unfortunately, the Star Wars premiere coincided perfectly with Yale’s exam period, making studying a bit stressful. (Because, of course, the movie was slightly more important than my exams – to me. But my parents did not agree.) Fortunately, I had exactly one free day between exams to go see it – on opening day!
- When I arrived home on Thursday after being picked up by my mom, I felt like I had stepped into a Star Wars madhouse. Toy lightsabers had been dismantled and their pieces were strewn across various places in the house. BB-8 ornaments were dangling from the Christmas tree. Kohl’s bags were piled up from last-minute swag raids. But none of that even held a candle to the actual premiere day.
- We went to the premiere with some dear family friends of ours. Because of the various scheduling obstacles to all of us arriving at the theater on time (read: 30 minutes before to beat the lines and get that coveted center seat), schemas and plans were made and executed with military-grade precision and timing to make sure that the pick-ups, drop-offs, being taken out of class, leaving office holiday parties, swinging by Kohl’s one more time, saving places in line, etc. all went smoothly.
- Okay, I’m joking. (Mostly.) It didn’t really all go exactly according to plan right down to the second. But that didn’t really matter in the long run because we got that center seat – in the IMAX theater, no less! (*fist pump*)
- The Event: We swaggered in looking cooler than Darth Vader
- Surprisingly, the theater was not as much of a madhouse as I had expected. (But then again, it was a noon showing.) Fortunately, there were still plenty of people there to see us look HAWT in our Star Wars gear. Some stared. I attributed it to them not being able to comprehend the sheer awesomeness radiating from my outfit (and my hair). In reality, I knew that some of the staring was due to the sheer melanin radiating from my skin…whatever. I held my head even higher. There are few things I enjoy more than disproving stereotypes at the movies. (Pssst – despite popular opinion, black people do like stuff like Star Wars.)
- Finally (FINALLY), as we were settled comfortably in our seats with our Cokes and overly buttered popcorn, the screen went dark for a moment and then the familiar theme song started to blast. (Please give John Williams an Oscar this year.) Cheers and applause went up over the entire theater. And then that’s when it hit me: I am in the theater, watching an actual, canon, original Star Wars movie, on premiere day. A shiver went up my spine. I never thought I would live to see this day.
- Think about it. Until now, the experience and nostalgia of seeing the Star Wars movies in theaters (not rereleased) was a precious, delightful, sepia-toned memory reserved only for the generations before me. Of course there are Star Wars fans of all ages, but somehow I still managed to feel that because I was born long after the original trilogy came out, I could never be the “ultimate fan.”
- But not anymore. Millenials, embrace this glorious age, where we get to see and claim our own trilogy!
- The Aftermath: No Spoilers, but overall It Was Good
- This is not a movie review, so here are the short takes: great special effects (very little CGI, so it had the same feel as the original trilogy), much funnier than expected, yet somewhat heartbreaking, lots of throwback references to the original trilogy, Finn is everything and John Boyega is bae, 10/10 would recommend.
- More than anything though, I am just excited that this series is getting a reboot. Maybe this will be my new Clone Wars – a simple pleasure to look forward to after trials and tribulations? Also I am glad to see that the franchise is finally taking steps (however small) to add more diversity.
- We all walked out of the theater in a trance – amazed at what we had just seen, a bit disappointed that the anticipation was over, but most of all, filled with hope for things to come…a new hope.
- Star Wars fans, comment below! Which was better: the anticipation, the movie, or the experience?