Why I Haven’t Seen Star Wars and Probably Never Will

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”¦ it is an era of over-saturation of Star Wars references in pop culture. Driven by the desire to prove their geek-cred and relive childhoods long since left behind, television show writers fill episode after episode with inside jokes and nods to their favorite epic film series, spoiling the plot, point after point, for the uninitiated. One girl, armed with nothing but her laptop and four gallons of coffee, strikes back.

I have never seen any of the Star Wars movies. I think one of the old school ones with ewoks was on during German class one day, but it was in German and all of us were too busy playing cards and gossiping while the teacher graded our finals to really pay attention. It’s not that I had a bad feeling about it,  it’s just that things happen and watching classic movies from the ’70s and ’80s was always pushed back in favor of things with more explosions and/or Sean Connery.

It turns out, there is a very limited window in which one can watch a movie like Star Wars ““ there’s a sweet spot between when being old enough to appreciate it and being so bombarded by pop culture references that it feels like it’s already old news. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not complaining about spoilers. It’d be ridiculous to expect that the general plot of the movie would be kept secret through generations.  But there’s a line between spoilers (“Luke, I am your father”) and plot points that while significant, are not part of the trim-and-slim central storyline (Captain Needa dying). And it’s not just knowing what happens ““ it’s seeing it, too, as homage after homage exposes not just the story but also how the story is told.

It’s funny that the whole reason Star Wars no longer feels fresh and exciting is that it was so fresh and exciting to such a large group of people ““ hoisted on its own petard! It was thoroughly remembered when we all loved the ’70s and the ’80s with VH1’s help. It inspired a parody in Spaceballs (which I saw without knowing beforehand from where Mel Brooks was drawing inspiration). Movies from Back to the Future to Stepbrothers include nods, and TV shows as varied as Futurama, 30 Rock, and Arrested Development (OK, I watch a lot of comedies) include references and jokes. While it used to be that seeing Star Wars was a necessary prerequisite to get the joke, these references are now so ubiquitous that they code each other.

Clearly, there is a lot more to the six movie series (deny the existence of any of them all you want, the fact remains) than can be gathered through pop culture references, no matter how saturating. But I’ve missed the boat on experiencing them. I come in with too much baggage, too many expectations. For me, when it comes to Star Wars, maybe what’s in there is what I take in there with me.

What say you? Should I see Star Wars? Are there any things you’ve felt you’ve missed the boat on?

12 thoughts on “Why I Haven’t Seen Star Wars and Probably Never Will”

  1. I was exposed to Star Wars in utero – my Mum was several months pregnant with me when they went to see it. The first SW movie I actually saw, though, was Return of the Jedi when I was six. I was horribly confused by the plot, but I thought Princess Leia was amazing, and wanted to be just like her. I didn’t see the original movie for another couple of years after that, and it wasn’t til I was a pre-teen that I saw Empire Strikes Back, which is now my favourite of the three.

    I really didn’t care for the prequels, except I thought Ewan MacGregor was spot-on as Obi Wan Kenobi.

    I’d say give them a try. It’s ok if you don’t like them : )

  2. You’re not the only one. I actually have another friend who’s never seen Star Wars, and her boyfriend and I are constantly trying to make plans to sit her down and make her watch it. It’s worth watching at least the first two of the original trilogy, and the third if you’re home sick, or bored, or drunk or otherwise intoxicated (just so you know why people make fun of Ewoks all the time). Luke’s is the archetypical hero’s journey, and no plot twist exactly comes as a surprise now that we live in a world where Star Wars is referenced constantly, so if you watch with those things in mind you can hopefully put the hokeyness aside and try to see why it became such a cultural milestone. Plus it’s fun, and silly, and Harrison Ford is hot, and it will also teach you how to recognise when it’s a trap (yeah, that was an Ackbar shout out to my fellow Star Wars nerds – http://barackbar.com/).

    I actually had a panic moment the other day when I thought, what if my future children don’t like Star Wars because they’ll be so much cooler and more technologically advanced than I was at their age? What will I do? But then my friend assured me that his 4-year-old nephew likes it just as much as we do, and was thrilled to get a lightsabre for Christmas. Phew.

  3. I saw the original 3 back in the day, like when they came out, and loved them then. While I do agree with you that they have become overly represented in pop-culture, I think it is because the first 3 were such GREAT films and the story is so archetypal. Like many things of such greatness, once they became popular, they became overdone and trite. If you could separate yourself from that and try to watch the original 3 and see them for what they were, you might be pleasantly surprised.

  4. I watched the first Godfather with members of my family when I was about 15. I had never seen it before, mostly because I had never been allowed to see it before, but they were quoting the movie at the movie the whole time, the only things I remember about it are James Caan getting killed and Marlon Brando in a puff of smoke in a dark room. I don’t even remember Pacino being in that movie. Sad, no? Never did see the other two, either. I don’t suppose I’m all that interested, but maybe if I’m ever alone and borrow the DVDs from my parents, I’ll see them.

    I fell asleep when I was forced to watch the four hour slog of Lord of the Rings part 1. I was not watching the theatrical release but rather the deluxe DVD release with a friend who thought since I liked Harry Potter, I’d love LotR. Oh my stars was I bored, so bored I fell asleep, which is very hard for me to do during daylight hours.

    I never saw the Terminator movies, but I saw about ten minutes of it just last week. I recognized it because of Schwarzenegger and also that part had been in The Simpsons. I’ve never seen Citizen Kane, either, but I have seen The Simpsons, and holy shit are there a lot of shots taken from that movie in The Simpsons.

    Definitely missed the boat for Star Trek, and couldn’t be interested in Doctor Who, but I’m not much into sci-fi.

  5. My Ex and his family were Star Wars freaks…literally. So, just to appease them, I sat and watched them for the first time, about 9 years ago. I was bored out of my mind. Oh there were certain charcters I liked, such as Yoda…I thought he was cute. But as for the overall movie, I was bored to tears. I rememeber falling asleep and him getting pissed…but thats another story. Anyway, I dont think you are missing much. They were really into Lord of the Rings as well. I was bored with that too…but not as bored as i was with Star Wars. Maybe I am just not “cultered” enough or something. I grew up on Married with Children and The Simpsons.

  6. You should at least watch Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, which are genuinely good, entertaining, classic movies. And, both are actually quite a bit darker than pop culture advertises. The others? Eh. You already know how the original trilogy ends and Return of the Jedi is a crappy movie, and the prequel trilogy just is unnecessary all around (unless you enjoy some bearded Ewan MacGregor).

  7. I think it would make a fun mini-movie-marathon night if you have never seen it before, but I will not hold it against you if you don’t. I think everyone has at least one iconic movie that they don’t like/don’t want to see. For me it’s Clerks and Titanic. I hated the first and refuse to see the second.

  8. I didn’t see most late 70s/80s movies until the 90s, when I was in my late teens/early 20s; that was about when I saw Star Wars and the first Alien movie (didn’t see the rest). I never saw most of the John Hughes corpus, or any of the Rocky or Terminator movies. I’m pretty much okay with not seeing any of those.

    Star Wars I never felt like seeing, until one day I decided “Eh, why not.” For me, it wasn’t about geek cred, it was just… well, as I said, why not? And, you know, I really loved the trilogy. If you’re looking for original cinema, look elsewhere–it’s Lucas, after all, and there’s a reason why Joseph Campbell uses the trilogy as an example of archetypal storytelling and the Hero’s Journey. I imagine watching SW now is a bit like reading Shakespeare: they’re so much a part of the cultural lexicon that it can be hard to appreciate what makes them so enduring and iconic.

    Then again, don’t we–in an era of spoilers, instant gratification, and rampant speculation when it comes to the next hot book/movie/TV show–almost always carry our expectations into the text or the theater or the living room?

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