It happened while I was teaching my Senior British Literature class.
One student called another student childish, and the student who might or might not have been acting childish replied, “I’m a kid? Look at your folder!”
The folder in question was a Disney-branded Star Wars one, the kind with a picture of a Stormtrooper on the cover.
All of sudden, my Third Eye opened and enlightenment washed over me like Bantham fodder on a rainy day.
Oh my old, tired gods—I’m done with Star Wars.
I’m sorry everyone.
I saw Return of the Jedi more than 30 years ago when I was four and then spent my formative years with one part of my brain soaking in George Lucas’ stolen, remixed monomyth while the other parts soaked in other religious imagery and lessons.
I watched, studied, memorized, and rewatched Episodes IV-VI, and then cheered on the re-releases.
I even gave Episodes I-III a chance, and had long, drawn out debates with other nerds about why they existed, and how they could be used to make our own children fans of the franchise.
Now, at age 36 and with three children of my own, I’ve also seen all six seasons of Clone Wars, two seasons of Star Wars Rebels, the three prequels and original movies in Lego variation (as well as the original Lego: Star Wars tales), and repeated viewings of the original trilogy.
As a youth I spent at least 10,000 hours playing with my own SW toys, and now spend good portions of my paychecks on SW Legos for my children.
Let’s not forget the hours of endless conversations about the franchise, many of them starting with the question of what order the series is best watched in, always starting with Episode V (as most will agree on), and going from there.
I should have admitted, years ago, what I now feel as the nagging pull from the SW universe: at best, I was a Christmas-Easter Star Wars fan, and never a true fanatic.
Episode One—the Imperial Menace, all around us, always
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?” (and, both fittingly and ironically, we’ve been retrospectively worshipping and learning Emerson ever since).
This original relation—substituting “God and nature” for “archetypes” or “episodes of Star Wars”—applies to my children as well as between other fans, humanities scholars, bloggers, and me.
But the Imperial Theme—the one we teach in Macbeth, Things Fall Apart, and just about every novel and screenplay about society—is one I’m done with in regards to Star Wars. It doesn’t excite me, and it’s like being forced to read pre-Revolutionary primary source documents all the time in relation to the Dark Side, Light Side, and new Jedi and Sith emerging in need of training.
There’s a big empire on the rise—oh no. Here come the rebels—oh, yay. Here we go again.
Episode Two—Attack of the doubting clones
I can accept the fact that Vader and the Sith are evil, and that the stormtroopers are modeled after Hitler’s S.A. and S.S. as well as Stalin’s Red and White armies. But the fact that we give these toys to children to play with, and that I have keychains of them, as well as browse with consumer-heavy lust—a whole Etsy culture of cute yarn-made Vaders and Stormtroopers— somehow has become bothersome, and tired.
I just don’t want any of it any more.
Episode Three—Revenge of the, well, never mind
Bad guys get revenge, and good guys return…something. But those good guys sure do kill a lot people, including bad guys, or clones, or people forced into being troopers. I’m mean I guess it’s good to kill stormtroopers, right? Even if they’re just doing their jobs?
Plus who fights with swords anymore? I was never into swords, not even as a kid. The whole spin-around-and-strike-fighting move never made sense. Maybe that’s why I was more of a Han Solo kid growing up.
Episode Four—there are many hopes, I hope
Then there’s the idea that only a small handful of people are special, that the Force’s “chosen ones” will damn or save us, and that the Force is both good and evil, and somehow needs an army to rule the galaxy, even though the Force is already inside every atom of the galaxy. Or something.
May the Force be with you? The Force sounds awful. The Force is also with the evil guys, right?
Episode Five—the Empire always wins, then loses
The Empire builds a Death Star, and the rebels destroy it. The Empire builds another Death Star, and the rebels destroy it. The New “Order” builds a super Death Star, and—you guessed it! The Rebels destroy it.
The characters—scrappy smugglers, farm boys and scrapper girls, lost princesses, abandoned children, and no-name nobodies who are chosen by the Force—are wonderful motifs, but they’re overused, even in the same series. And in most religions and cults.
Episode Six—teddy bears and ghosts? There is nothing to learn here
If everyone who dies and gets killed can exist in the spirit realm for training, then…what? Why fight and kill while you’re “alive” if being alive isn’t really a real thing for the Sith and Jedi, who can train and fight as ghosts?
I’m losing my damn non-Jedi mind.
Episode Seven—my ennui awakens
So it happened. While watching SW7: TFA I realized that I was done, that I had to break up with SW, but that I would probably watch the next 50 Disney-ordered SW episodes the same way I excitedly watch anything Marvel puts out without really caring about it in a deep, life-affirming way.
I love the stuff, I just don’t love the stuff the way I once did. I’m sorry. I got old.
So where do I go now?
The answer? Star Trek. I will never be done with Star Trek. Never.
Until my son becomes a fanatic about it.
Photo:collage from WCM 1111/Flickr
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