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?