by guest blogger Kiri Mohan
Star Wars Anonymous
To say Star Wars changed my life would be cliché. If you’re any kind of Star Wars fan, the movies changed your life and you were never the same.
Maybe it would be more appropriate to say that Star Wars made me a stronger person. Loving Star Wars made me less afraid, gave me more confidence, and helped me care less of what others thought of me – all at a young, impressionable, need-to-please age of 12.
I wrote once about how I fell in love with Star Wars when I saw the Hoth scene in the Empire Strikes Back. Though that is true, I would say it’s The Phantom Menace (TPM) that caused me to become obsessed with Star Wars. I was raised on the generation where the Original Trilogy had been out for a while and I hadn’t seen the Special Edition in theaters because my parents weren’t interested. The only reason I had seen that Hoth battle was because my parents had decided to re-watch the Original Trilogy in preparation for Episode I being released. By the time TPM was out in theaters, I had watched the Original Trilogy and was prepared.
But it was such a different world from the Original Trilogy – and I loved it! I remember being so surprised when I learned people hated TPM. It was amazing! The Old Republic looked glorious, I loved the Jedi, the droids were so cool, and the music by John Williams was the icing on the cake.
However, there was a problem with me loving Star Wars so much. Even with these new Star Wars movies, Star Wars was something for “geeks”, “losers”, “nerds”, and whatever other labels kids in my middle school decided to tag on.
I wanted to be cool so badly. The year before TPM came out had been 6th grade and I had successfully navigated my way into the “popular” crowd. I had worked hard at it…I wasn’t naturally popular as I was awkward looking, read a lot of books, and – the worst – my parents wouldn’t let me go to the mall to “hang out”. So I worked hard to be in the popular crowd and tried hard to remain there, which basically meant abandoning my own things that I loved in order to be liked.
Then a fortuitous event (though not fortuitous at the time) happened right before I discovered Star Wars and saw TPM. I made a faux pas and the popular girls abandoned me. I was ruined.
You might laugh and, by all means, please do. It’s laughable now that I am older. But by laughing, we also forget what it’s like to be that age. We forget how cruel other children can be and how children have taken their life because of bullying. At that age, we have not yet quite built up the resilience that we have as we get older. By laughing and dismissing what happened, it takes away from my summer where I evolved into a different, stronger person because of my love for Star Wars.
After watching TPM nine times in the theater that summer, I took it upon myself to become like a Jedi. To me, they were the ultimate “good guys”. I kept a Jedi Journal where I wrote down anything that was, well, bad. If I pushed my brother, snapped at people, lost my patience, swore — anything even remotely Sith-like was written down and recorded. If I had fewer instances one week than the previous week, I felt a sense of personal satisfaction. This was before I knew about the Jedi Code – all I was going off of were Yoda’s words from TPM:
Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
As the summer crept toward fall, I knew I would have to make a choice. Do I choose Star Wars and know my chances of being popular were ruined? Or do I try to get back into the popular crowd?
My love for Star Wars won out.
I was bullied. I was ridiculed. Children made fun of me. You can read about it here. For a boy to like Star Wars was one thing, maybe slightly accepted, though they were still a geek. In my home town, for a girl to like Star Wars — she was a pariah.
But my love for Star Wars won out…and that’s an amazing thing at that age, especially for someone like me. I still look back at it as one of the hardest decisions of my life. I chose to go a different path. I found better, truer friends who didn’t mind that I loved Star Wars to a scary degree. I still remember walking to school with one of my new friends and telling her, “Hey Kate? I really like Star Wars.” And she went, “Yeah, they’re pretty awesome movies. My brother likes them.” And I said, “No, Kate, I mean, I really like Star Wars.” At which she laughed and kind of reiterated what she had just said. It was as if I was revealing to her who my latest crush was, I was that reverent about it.
Star Wars made me stronger. In a small way, I’m glad I was bullied because it taught me a priceless lesson: how to stick up for something you believe in and love.
Star Wars changed my life, cliché or no. I will always and forever be in debt to George Lucas for making these wonderful movies, especially returning to the Star Wars universe to create The Phantom Menace. So I tip my hat to you ol’ George, wish you a wonderful month and hope that wherever you are — you know your work is appreciated, loved, and life-changing.