I have a confession to make to you guys. It’s a big one. This isn’t something I tell most people. Ready? Here goes.
I read Star Wars novels. And I really like them.
Yes, once again. I’m one of those people.
I’m a closet Star Wars fanatic, is what I’m saying. I’m not usually ashamed of any aspect of my nerddom, as you will realize if you talk to me for five minutes, but my relationship with Lucas’ massive franchise is a little different. Star Wars has such a massive hold on our culture, and yet people who are really into it are typically looked on as a little nuts, in the same way Trekkies are. I think it might be because it is, in fact, so popular, so all the cultural ambivalences toward the “nerd” stereotype get foisted upon those fanatacisms that we sort of understand. At any rate, it’s not something I talk about much.
Suffice to say I got into the franchise when I was pretty young. I remember I was like seven or eight, watching my uncle’s old copies of the original trilogy on VHS. I fell in love. I collected action figures. I read the comic books and played the video games (they mostly sucked– the good Star Wars video games didn’t start coming out until a bit more recently). And I still have a good amount of passion for the franchise: I know more trivia about it than anyone rightfully should, and I occasionally return to a couple of the novels (particularly this one, which I contend is a rather mature meditation on war from a science fictional standpoint, a vague adaptation of Heart of Darkness in space, and one that proves that this author ought to be writing more than Star Wars novels, but I digress) to relax from my heavier school reading.
But I suppose the question is, why does it captivate us so much? I’ll be the first to admit that most of the movies (with the exception of The Empire Strikes Back) are not particularly well-written movies, and sometimes watching them gives the English major in me headaches. I think the reason is that, as our reading suggests, the films were crafted to contain big, mythic structures– good vs. evil, the Hero’s Errand, the call to adventure, etc. The films evoke ideas that are, I would argue, imbedded in Western culture, stories that have been told over and over again as far as we have record of the stories we’ve been telling. Star Wars is in our cultural DNA. When we watch it, or read it, even if we know that the works themselves may not be the highest quality, we feel a connection to the ideas at the heart of them, because they’re ideas that have been bred into us by socialization. Not to mention that some of the ideas are just, frankly, cool. Who doesn’t want a sword with a blade made of light? Or be a member of an order of superhero space monks?
And as to the question about who I would kill, that’s easy, and I think I’ll let my dear friend Deadpool speak for me here.
But seriously. Jar Jar was annoying, a fairly offensive caricature based on the old-school minstrel shows (compare the way a man in blackface talked in the ’20s, and the way Jar Jar talks. It’s pretty bad), and was frankly a tumor to the plot of The Phanton Menace. Which was bad enough without Jar Jar’s help.