Archive for prequel trilogy

The One About Jar Jar

Posted in Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , , on 18 February 2018 by Megan

A long time ago, I thought I’d have to do a post about Jar Jar for the “character everyone else hates that you love” challenge. I ended up finding another character, which was good because I don’t love Jar Jar and I like to be accurate.

But for the last month or so, I’ve been thinking more and more about Jar Jar as a character and about the structure of the prequel trilogy in general. First: I like everything about Episode I except the podrace. I like Jar Jar’s character, his role, and everything else. I don’t like that he’s in 2 and 3, but in every scene, he annoys me far less than Artoo does. I will vote Jar Jar over Artoo every day of the week.

People often accuse Jar Jar of serving no purpose. Actually, he is a tremendous character, and there’s a lot going on here that has to do with the old-fashioned style of storytelling Lucas prefers combined with Ahmed Best’s own acting style.

First, complaints about Jar Jar are generally unhinged. I did the math, and he carries 9% of E1’s dialogue; he’s onscreen about 30% of the time, but that’s every moment he’s visible, not every moment he’s the focus (I didn’t calculate that). People act like every single moment is him dancing around juggling senatorial bills or something.

Second, there’s great artistry going on in his performance. People who don’t get that Lucas is following a 1930s style aren’t going to catch how Jar Jar’s a Buster Keaton homage. But Ahmed Best worked hard AND worked well. Liam Neeson himself said “this guy’s gonna be the next Eddie Murphy.” He called him hilarious. No one in the cast or crew thought there was any problem with the character.

I had this idea a couple weeks ago that Jar Jar is supposed to be the “gateway” for the younger audience, to draw them into the action. I was thinking about the poignancy of his “I was banished for being clumsy” past. You know how the droids were the gateway for the OT–the films Lucas made for 12-year-olds (his phrase)–but he made E1 for his own kids, a younger audience. Little kids are always getting shut out for clumsiness, for being silly, for not being like the adults. And here’s Jar Jar, a big character who is just like them. He’s a simple guy. He just wants to have breakfast. But he gets whisked off with these people doing things too big for him to understand. He’s exiled for clumsiness yet he saves them all.

There’s the beauty in the story of Jar Jar: Even the most annoying or incompetent individual has value. This is a message our modern world desperately needs to hear, as genocide against Down syndrome becomes increasingly the cultural norm, as teenage suicide skyrockets, as kids start to question their meaning in life at younger and younger ages.

If you hate Jar Jar, if you weren’t a young child when you first saw E1, I encourage you to just take a minute and put aside all your first impressions of the character. Sit down and watch the movie, if not with the innocence of a child, at least without the cynical assumptions of an old crank. Keep your eyes on Jar Jar as much as you can, every moment he’s on screen. I did this for the first time last week and was amazed. In the OT, Luke is the only one worth watching every second because he’s the only one who is always reacting, always doing something. Fisher and Ford both kind of check out when the scene isn’t on them. But Ahmed Best and Mark Hamill are always doing something worth seeing. I watched how he stands in the background, rocking on his feet, swaying his arms, blinking, looking at people . . . and I went, “Sweet Maker, I’ve been Jar Jar my whole life. Staring at people I don’t get doing things I don’t understand, wondering what I can possibly do to fit in or help.”

Again, I’m not some huge Jar Jar fanboy and I don’t think he should’ve been in Episodes II and III, but I have always loved this: after the whole movie of Jar Jar breaking things when he wants to help (title of my autobiography right there), he has the courage to speak to the QUEEN. Think about that. He doesn’t know that’s Padmé! It’s a stranger, the leader of the people who universally hate his people. It must’ve been the scariest moment of his life. And then his sincere attempt to make her feel better, because he has no racism and can’t stand seeing anyone sad, actually inspires her with a game plan to both rid her planet of invaders and unite it more powerfully than ever before. And get this . . . It works! He did it right! The whole final focus of the movie doesn’t so much celebrate banishing the invaders as it celebrates a world of united peoples. Because Jar Jar worked up the courage to do something. Awesome.

Now think about being a little kid seeing this for the first time, a little kid who gets pushed around at school, pushed aside at home, who’s always being told he’s too clumsy, the wrong shape, or not smart enough to do things. “Nobody talks like that,” “Nobody looks like that,” stuff every victim of bullying hears. And then this kid sees Jar Jar, nonthreatening, funny Jar Jar. This character who goes through all the same stuff this little kid does–but Jar Jar never loses his good attitude, he never gives up, and then he saves everybody.

Adults get too cynical about the PT. But I guarantee you Jar Jar changed some little kid’s life when they realized that no matter what people yelled at them, they could save the world. We’re still watching the people grow up who grew up with the PT, they’re only just now beginning to find their voice and move into the public square where the folks who grew up on the OT have dominated. I think once these full-saga kids are adults who start speaking for themselves, we’re going to hear a lot about this whole different perspective on the much-maligned Jar Jar.

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It’s A Date!

Posted in Opinion, Questions, Spotlight with tags , , , on 22 January 2018 by Megan

Not a trap. But don’t eat ’em.

It’s the much-awaited (by somebody, I’m sure) post about RebeLibrarian’s BetterTimeline™ for all your Star Wars needs!

Let’s start with this: nothing within canon itself sets dates explicitly. Nothing ever says “In the year of our Sith Lord, seventeen hundred and twelve…” Or, “It has been three years since…” The only character whose age is stated in a film is Yoda, who may have been using 900 literally or figuratively (that is, that could’ve been the day of his 900th birthday or he could be 902, 914, or 938). So every fan who watches these movies is operating under an assumption of when the dates are. Some people unconsciously absorb or casually accept tidbits scattered around the resources. I just happen to have been a great deal more methodical.

The moment that made me realize I had to create and enforce a dating system occurred to me over a decade ago when I read an online article that offhandedly referred to “seventeen-year-old Luke Skywalker.” This threw me into a tizzy.

First, the earliest interviews with Lucas and Hamill put Luke Skywalker at 20 years old in ANH. Hamill–age 24–even had a cutely self-conscious moment of thinking he might look too old to play someone that age. So the creator’s intention at time of creation was not to have a teenager in the role. In fact, the 1976 novelization published by Ballantine lists Luke as “twice the age of the ten-year-old vaporator” (p. 13, book club edition). I know the Del Rey timeline and 21st century sources fell all over themselves assigning Luke the age of 18, but consider this.

By necessity, Luke is exactly the age of the Empire. Since the Republic was gone before he was born, his “empire as the eternal way of life” statements make sense, coming from him. But Palpatine’s empire is not presented as a teenage dictatorship. Yes, of course an empire doesn’t need to be old to be powerful or destructive; the Third Reich only lasted 12 years, and Lucas did use Nazis as models. But the language of the expanded universe and the presentation of the films wants a somewhat older Empire.

Furthermore, Luke’s frustration at being stuck on the farm makes more sense coming from an older youth. Notice he complains to Owen, “That’s a whole nother year!” That means he wanted to go to the academy the year before, and Tatooine high school functions anything like it does in the States, then he would’ve been 18 then and 19 now–minimally. That combined with the 1977 statements that Luke was 20 seems to me that he can’t justifiably be any younger. However, what about my supposition that he can easily be older? Since Hamill was 24, I honestly think you could have Luke be any age up to 25. More years just means more frustration for him; they also lend weight to Biggs’ argument that Owen is going to feed Luke whatever line it takes to keep him on the farm.

(As someone who was 25 and dying slowly of stagnation in my adolescent bedroom, I feel this deeply.)

Let’s turn to the prequels, since the dating of the OT depends on the dates in the PT. My PT dating scheme is the more risky anyway, as there’s no doubt about authorial intention here. But hear me out about these insertions and see if they don’t make for a stronger story.

There’s more concrete information about characters’ ages with the PT: at the time of the E1 crawl, Obi-Wan is said to be “mid-20s” (so 25), Padmé is known to be 14, and Anakin is nine. In E2, Anakin says “I haven’t seen her in ten years,” and the assumption (which Lucas intends, I know) is that it’s ten years after the events of E1. But what if Anakin is referring to some adventure that he, Obi-Wan, and Padmé had three years after the events of Episode I? What if Episode II is thirteen years later?

Consider that Padmé never even interacts with Obi-Wan in Episode I. How does Palpatine explain referring to him as “an old friend” of the senator’s? The events of E1 don’t cover much more than a weekend; would you be comfortable if your boss volunteered a random dude you met once a decade ago to come stay in your house because you’re “such old friends”? But say Obi-Wan, 12-year-old Anakin, and 17-year-old Padmé had some hijinks–perhaps involving those disgruntled spice miners Mace Windu thinks would try to kill her? This is enough to grant Obi-Wan “old friend” status and offers stronger footing for the defiant relationship of Anakin and Padmé in E2.

This also makes Anakin a more respectable 22 years old in E2. Worth noting: Obi-Wan, at 25 years old, is not even under consideration for knighthood. Yet using the Lucas timeline makes Anakin have a tantrum about not being a master when he’s only 22 years old, three years before Obi-Wan barely attained knighthood! Yes, Anakin’s a prodigy and yes there are wartime exceptions, but that’s not enough to clear this hurdle: after a minimum of 24 years being raised by Jedi, inculcated in Jedi doctrine, with 12 of those years under the close personal tutelage of a veteran Master, Obi-Wan was not considered up for knighthood until an unusual circumstance intervened. The Council doesn’t even want to take Anakin in for training because he’s too old; even in wartime circumstances, it’s unreal that he’d be complaining about unfair treatment when he’s knighted after barely a dozen years of training with zero background.

Back to Episode II. Say Anakin is 22. He’s now at a much more reasonable age to be given independent assignment, and he’s now had at least as long of master-padawan training as Obi-Wan had by E1. Also, since Anakin was 12 the last time he saw Padmé, his feelings are less boyish than they would have been coming from a nine-year-old. Padmé (now 27) says “you’ll always be that little boy I knew back on Tatooine,” but that doesn’t negate the possibility of a slightly more recent adventure. People refer to when they met without it having to mean mean they haven’t met since.

I haven’t had any reason to quarrel with the Clone Wars being a three-year war. Anakin is knighted six months before Episode III begins. Depending of course on when his birthday is, that makes him somewhere between 24 and 25, which fits with the wartime conditions/prodigy element I acknowledged earlier–he’s now parallel with Obi-Wan’s evidently somewhat “early” knighthood (it’s easy to miss how against knighting Obi-Wan the council is in E1; you either have to assume he’s a remedial student or knighthood typically comes later than age 25!).

Padmé is now 30. The initially awkward age difference between her and Anakin is essentially erased by now. They’ve known each other on a fairly steady basis for a good 16 years, which highlights the deep emotional relationship Lucas wanted to give them but was unfortunately unable to capture on screen. And Obi-Wan, with gray in his beard, is 41, only seven-ish years younger than his mentor was at the start of E1 (Liam Neeson stated in an interview that he convinced Lucas to make Qui-Gon “about my own age,” or roughly 48). (I’ll also note here that E3 covers a period of six months the way there’s six months between E5 and E6.)

Having come full circle, I can now justify the 22 years I settled on for Luke: with Anakin’s adventure really starting in E2 at age 22, Luke launches on his father-finding quest at the same age, 22. And as Anakin was ~26 when he fell to the dark side, Luke is ~26 when he successfully resists, claims the light side, and saves his father. Anakin dies at age 51 (including the two 6-month periods), on a Death Star, as Obi-Wan had, as Anakin predicted he would.

Postscript: I regard the matter as settled there, but I want to pull the rabbit out of the hat. Keep reading!

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The Star Wars Heretic

Posted in Fun, Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , , , , , on 1 January 2018 by Megan

“Heresy” has a very strong meme life but I’d best start with a categorical definition so we all start on the right page: “Any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs.”

My favorite Christmas story ever is by J. Edgar Park and it’s called “The Christmas Heretic.” It’s about a man who believes human beings should be kind, generous, and good 363 days a year and self-centered and mean only two days a year. This makes him a “Christmas heretic” because the rest of humanity of course lives the opposite way–self-centered and mean all year except for on two or so holidays a year. The ironic twist is that he is, of course, correct.

In this vein, I discover myself more and more to be a Star Wars heretic. Quite simply, I believe things no other Star Wars fan does. And, like Mr. Jones in Mr. Park’s story, I am . . . correct (ironic smirk face).

These aren’t the same as my conspiracy theories, which are things I think are possible, however unlikely, based on circumstantial evidence within the films. I don’t actually believe they happened, but this post is about things I truly believe, that I take for granted as basic facts in the Star Wars universe.

Because I take Star Wars as actual events, a history of things that truly happened in a Galaxy Far, Far Away, I apply a methodology to the story that’s consistent with how I take Earth’s history. The foundation of this is my belief that Star Wars canon will necessarily grow out of itself and affirm itself; if something has the Star Wars logo but is inconsistent with what I know Star Wars is, I find it obviously isn’t canonical. I have no problem accepting that the humans who tell these stories about another galaxy will make mistakes. After all, our own historical texts have mistakes; it’s just a matter of gathering as much information as possible and then deciding what is the most logical version of events.

The most obvious point where I’m at variance with Star Wars fans is how I treat the timeline. Yet I’m only going to briefly mention these two points here because they deserve their own detailed posts: one, that I created my own dating system that especially impacts the films (they cover a period of 42 years from E1 to E6). Two, the timeline of known events ends at Timothy Zahn’s Vision of the Future. Infinite events may have taken place up to that point, but after that point, we on Earth can know nothing of what happened.

Now! Done with telling you what I’m not going to talk about. On to the juicy stuff–eight things I believe about Star Wars that most fans would never have even thought to question.

  • The Rule of Two does not exist

Think about it. The first time we heard of the “Rule of Two,” it was a from an 860-year-old Jedi Master speaking “a millennia” after the Sith were supposedly wiped out. Even in the Bane Trilogy, where the Sith who conceived of the Rule of Two was shown putting it into effect, the whole point of the plan was that the Jedi would never know the Sith weren’t extinct. For a Jedi to learn about the Rule of Two is the Rule’s most ultimate failure. It’s also unlikely that this very tight master-apprentice-master-apprentice-master-apprentice chain could have survived for 1,000 years unbroken. Again, in the very first duel of the Rule of Two, both Sith nearly wipe each other out, and it’s a fact of life that no one remains as dedicated to a concept as the first person on that concept. It’s also illogical for Sidious to have spent twenty-odd years training Maul only to lose him and replace him within three years with the quite elderly Dooku. It makes more sense that Tyranus and Maul were simultaneously Sidious’ apprentices–and for Tyranus to have planted the abandoned “Rule of Two” concept among the Jedi as a diversionary tidbit.

  • Palpatine killed his master decades before Episode III

Speaking of supposed proponents of the Rule of Two, Darth Plagueis is clearly described by the films as having been dead for a very long time when Sidious first tells Anakin the “Sith legend.” Luceno, late to the party with his 2012 book on the subject, makes a mess of the film continuity and contradicts the “Rule of Two” that everyone but me believes in. Maul is about 25 in Episode I; Sidious trained him from very early childhood; if Sidious and Plagueis are supposed to canonically adhere to the “Rule of Two,” then Plagueis must’ve been dead before Sidious started in on Maul., twenty-odd years before Episode I. “But Rebel,” you might say, “That only helps your point about the Rule of Two being a red herring. Why deny Plagueis was still alive until the morning Sidious became Supreme Chancellor?” Because the structure of the films takes for granted that Sidious has been the Master Sith from before Episode I. Obviously Sidious takes dramatic license when he tells Anakin the story of Plagueis is “a Sith legend,” but it’s just as obvious his master has been dead for decades by that point. If Plagueis was responsible for Anakin’s conception, as the films hint, the very latest date for his death is 10 years before Episode I, which still helps prove that the Rule of Two doesn’t exist, since Sidious was training Maul 20 years before Episode I.

  • Dooku did not train Qui-Gon Jinn

Speaking of people getting trained by people and the very elderly Count Dooku . . . from the day I first saw Attack of the Clones on May 16, 2002, at the 4:30 PM showing (first showing of the day) at Bellefontaine’s Chaker’s 8 Cinema . . . I never once believed that this was Qui-Gon’s master. Qui-Gon has always fascinated me, been my favorite character in the prequels and 2nd favorite character in the saga, so I would naturally be ecstatic to learn who trained him and who he shared his youth and adolescence with. But it never occurred to me that he was being truthful when he said, “I was once Qui-Gon’s master.” I may have scoffed out loud in the theater the first time; I don’t remember. I do remember that I came home and did the math on whether that was even physically possible. One of the main factors preventing it? There was simply no opportunity where Qui-Gon would have been hanging around with Dooku, after apprenticing Obi-Wan, where Obi-Wan would not have had a chance to meet the man. It never made sense; Obi-Wan seems to treat the assertion with some skepticism; and I always took for granted that Tyranus was telling the first of many lies.

  • Qui-Gon did not return from “the netherworld of the Force” or teach anybody to do anything with being a blue ghost

Lucas, bless his heart, is not good at pacing. A New Hope even suffers from uneven pacing, and Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith would be better if events were smoothed out between them. I’ve even advocated that it should have been a prequel trilogy with The Phantom Menace as a standalone–I think E1 is an essential film and I love it, but Lucas wanted E3 to do more than it could reasonably do, even if given 4 hours. And one of the most painful bits is the ridiculous tacked-on “an old friend has returned from the netherworld of the Force” comment, which Yoda doesn’t even say in his own messed up dialect. Let me stop you right there. The Force does not have a netherworld. Blue ghosts are standard issue for powerful Force-users who have unfinished business. The idea that Qui-Gon is responsible for Obi-Wan’s “if you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine” comment is so hastily crammed in there, I remember facepalming the first time I heard it. Yes, Qui-Gon may apparite from time to time. No, he did not communicate with Yoda. Yoda did not have training for Obi-Wan on Tatooine. The body-vanishing trick was new among Jedi, but it did not come from Qui-Gon. Move along.

  • Anakin didn’t kill younglings in the temple

I had no idea how emotionally attached people were to this “bit of evil” until I started casually saying, “I don’t think that happened.” On three separate occasions, more than three people at a time came down on me like a bag of hammers for daring to think that. To be honest, I’m more shocked at how desperate people are to believe Anakin killed the annoying younglings than I am that people do believe it. I understand that’s what the film wants to depict and I understand a PG-13 American film by George Lucas is not going to show a child getting lightsabered in half. But the fact is, there are more overt ways to get it across if that’s what happened. All we see is Anakin showing his lightsaber to some kids. Obi-Wan lies about seeing that on a security holo; there’s no holo-camera in the freaking council chamber. Some young Padawans are shown dead, but Padawans aren’t younglings. I have no spiritual problem with the newly-minted Lord Vader chopping down some seven-year-olds–I just see no evidence for it happening and find a more logical alternative is available. The child with the irritating voice says, “Master Skywalker, what do we do?” And Anakin ignites his saber. After the scene fades to black, he says, “Come with me. I’ll save you from the Jedi.” And he takes them to Palpatine where they are trained to be Dark Side Inquisitors. We know the Force-sensitive Dark Side Inquisitors exist. Where did they come from, and for what reason would Anakin destroy a dozen malleable Force-sensitives when the new regime would need their skills? In fact I believe Inquisitor Loam Redge in the book The Ruins of Dantooine was one of those kids, if not the kid.

  • Mara was Palpatine’s only Hand

This from Episode VII, the Thrawn Trilogy. Mara Jade, of course, was a Force-sensitive child Palpatine picked up and trained, not as an apprentice but as a Force-sensitive errand girl. He gave her the title “Emperor’s Hand,” reminiscent of the “Emperor’s Wrath” designation of millennia before. Vader is his right hand, the obvious agent of his will, but she is the left–the one in secret and silence. At least this is what she believes until Thrawn tells her she was merely “one of the hands.” To be honest, I never once took this seriously. I think people should be cautious what they take for granted as truth in a bad guy’s speeches, and Thrawn had every reason to want her off balance–which is exactly what telling her she was “one of many” accomplishes. So I automatically dismiss any suggestion that Palpatine had other agents in a Mara-like role. She was the only one.

  • Wedge Antilles ends up with Qwi Xux

I didn’t know this was a heresy until recently, because of course, I don’t read past Vision of the Future and the last book I read with Qwi Xux in it had her solidly set up with Wedge. So I spent close to 20 years rereading those books and getting warm fuzzies about their relationship. Wedge, of course, is the hot hotshot pilot and good friend of Luke Skywalker’s, the eventual commander of Rogue Squadron and the only man with two Death Stars tallied on his X-wing. Qwi Xux first appears in The Jedi Academy Trilogy (Episode VIII); she was kidnapped into Imperial service as a child and put to work on the Death Star project due to her technological brilliance. As an isolated but extremely intelligent individual, she is very naive when first freed from her cage. Wedge becomes her protector and the two form a deep bond over the course of several books. However, Qwi is not human, and apparently that was too much for Aaron Allston, who wrote a shabby one-off breakup scene in the first chapter of The Starfighters of Adummar to get the scummy nonhuman out of the way so he could pair Wedge up with a human who was already freakin’ married. (Yes, Iella was a widow at that point, but she obviously wasn’t over her husband by I, Jedi and she and Wedge had no chemistry apart from matching human genetics.) The relationship with Iella is so pointless, so abrupt, and so human-centric that I don’t consider those chapters canon. Wedge and Qwi forever. End of story.

  • There are only 3 lightsaber colors

Finally, briefly . . . this isn’t that important, but I was arguing with someone about it the other day so I’ll throw it in. In 2002, George Lucas stated that there are only 3 lightsaber colors because there are only 2 kinds of crystals: natural and synthetic. Natural crystals give off blue or green light; synthetic crystals are red. Because Samuel L. Jackson is a special needs pile of specialness, Lucas let him have a stupid purple lightsaber, but that’s due to circuitry modifications in the hilt and not the crystals. Corran Horn is able to make a white saber using diamonds. But you will never get me to believe that traditional Jedi sabers exist in any other colors because George Lucas said it. It is his universe and he should know. You could say George Lucas said other things in my list that I object to, but no–those are outcomes based on interpretations of the films. This was something the Maker said himself about the films. There’s no arguing with that. Yeah, I have a rainbow of lightsabers in video games, but video games aren’t canon, honey. There are only three colors. Accept it. (Oh, and I don’t believe lightsabers are plasma weapons, either. Yeah, go have a panic attack about that. Whatever.)

Really Is the Best

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , on 9 November 2017 by Megan

In a day and age that makes it easy to take cheap shots at George Lucas, even while glorying in his imaginative creation, Ahmed Best tells it like it is in a refreshing change of pace.

Quotes to note:

“George Lucas really does things that he believes. He has an incredible conviction behind every decision that he makes. That’s not the way Disney does movies. Disney does movies in a way that has to please stockholders, and that has to please a wide swath of people, a huge general audience”;

and,

“I appreciate filmmakers who have that type of vision, I appreciate filmmakers who really go out on a limb and take a risk. With these new movies, these filmmakers are different. They’re not George Lucas.”

via Ahmed Best ‘wouldn’t change anything’ about The Phantom Menace

Phantom Menace Day

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , on 19 June 2017 by Megan
Or, “A Hypothetical Baby Born On the Day I First Saw The Phantom Menace Is Now Old Enough to Buy Cigarettes in the United States.”
Or, “I Feel Really Old, Oh, My Gosh, How Am I This Old.”
On May 19, 1999, t̶h̶e̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶l̶d̶ the US exploded with the sensation of “The Phantom Menace.” (The UK didn’t get E1 until July 14, which makes me feel better about the story I’m about to relate.) I only exploded with impatience, however, because I was 14 and my parents had declared I was “too interested” in Star Wars and therefore would have to wait to see it until it came to our small-town movie theater which typically got new releases five or six months after the general release.
The story of why June 19 is “Phantom Menace Day” in my mind can be traced through a series of increasingly frantic diary entries, which I thought would be entertaining to share with you, since 2017 is apparently the year of me sharing my decades-old diaries with the internet at large.
First, a few entries to set the mood:
“Tuesday, May 18, 1999. The thought of the day: IT’S COMING OUT TOMMOROW!!!! AGGGGGGGG! UNO DAY UNTIL ITS OUT IN THEATRES!! AGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!”
“Wednesday, May 19, 1999. The thought of the day: Guess. SW: E1: PM IS OUT. I am SOO Psyched! It opened at midnight this morning. I am SOO dying to see it. M thinks it will be the same movie in June or July, but I don’t agree. It will be different and is liable to disappear if I don’t go see it NOW!”

“Thursday, May 20, 1999. It’s (SW:E1:PM) been out for a day. Nobody’s talking about it yet. I’m going to check the Urbana weekender this week to see when it hits Urbana or Bellefontaine or something. It isn’t fair I’ve got to wait 2 months for it to come to Urbana’s ‘small’ theatre. I want to see it NOW!”

“Wednesday, May 26, 1999. It’s been 1 wk since SW:E1:PM came.”

Offsetting the intense agony of the “no Star Wars until it comes to Urbana” announcement, my mom did buy me the Episode I Visual dictionary on June 16. It was a surprise because I hadn’t even known such a book existed, let alone asked for it, but it became my favorite possession and I spent the rest of 1999 taking it with me everywhere. (Well, not the bathroom. Books do not belong in the bathroom.)

By the way, that’s what eventually happens to a Star Wars visual dictionary that you carry with you everywhere for a year. The cover comes off and half the pages fall come apart.

I tried not to read any of the text so nothing would be “given away,” and the movie I came up with in my head based on the pictures is pretty amusing. Let’s just say that I thought Jar Jar was going to be a lot more “bad cop” than Buster Keaton.

So, maybe my parents had a point and I was “too interested” in Star Wars, because after a month of not seeing the movie, and only about thirty hours after getting the visual dictionary, my diary records an amusing descent into hysteria.

  • June 13, “Got my SW books (SWE1PM).”
  • June 14, “Jamie gave me a COOEL poster.”

To clarify, Jamie was a friend of my sister’s who was always giving me stuff for no discernible reason. Since she always took all my sister’s money, I suppose I could make a better argument that all the random Star Wars junk Jamie gave me actually came from my sister instead ;)

Anyway, this was the poster, the catalyst of the next few days:

Tuesday, June 15, 1999. I WANT TO SEE SWE1PM!!! This sucks. Put my poster up. I am so. . . something. I’m going to DIE if I don’t see E1PM this weekend. I feel ill.

Wednesday, June 16, 1999. I SOO have to see E1:PM this SATURDAY w/ Corey (Heather & Racheal have already seen it.) Racheal accidentally confirmed my suspicions that Qui-Gon Jinn gets killed. I DON’T KNOW HOW IN THE — I”LL BE ABLE TO WAIT UNTIL THIS WEEKEND TO SEE IT! IF I HAVE TO WAIT ONE — MORE WEEK, I AM GOING TO A) DIE, B) KILL SOMETHING. AGHWEWAK:HABSFPIUASFPIUADSFUJOQFQEGEFNEEOEGNO!!!!!!*

 *This particular diary was kept in a text file on the computer so these kinds of outbursts were made just slamming the keyboard…also you can tell I was just holding Shift down because of double quotes for apostrophes…

Friday, June 18, 1999. The thought of the day: It’s Friday. Like DUH. But tomorrow is Saturday, and I’m going to see E1 on Saturday, no matter what. So today I have to be agreeable, and do what I’m told so mom won’t have a reason to keep me home.

Several hours later…

Today was bad. M threw a fit over my poster. Really stressed out. Seeing E1PM tomorrow. I will NEVER get rid of my SW things, not ever. I just LIKE IT.

Ah, teenagers.

No suspense necessary. The very subdued next entry for June 19 was “Saw E1PM.” I must have begged, bribed, and/or cajoled my sister into taking me to the movie theater in Bellefontaine (a mere 3 miles further than the one in Urbana). I remember I wore a yellow tank top and a bead necklace; she sat with her arms crossed for most of it and I cried my eyes out when Qui-Gon died. For some reason, I didn’t write anything about it until June 24, “Its one of the MOST AWESOME movies I’ve ever seen.”

What else can I say? That’s June 19 for me. The day I saw The Phantom Menace for the first time. And it was 18 years ago. Oh my lord. We all got very, very old somehow, didn’t we…

15 Years of Attack of the Clones

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 16 May 2017 by Megan

Even though E4 turns 40 this year, which is a more significant anniversary than 15, the E2 anniversary is really hitting me this year. Several reasons for this, probably, not least of which is that I have no memories of E4 as it predates me by almost a decade. I was 16 when E2 came out, I waited the full three years for it (as opposed to E1, which I only found out about six months before it came out–although I did have to wait a month to see it), and I remember every bit of the build up to it. I collected more stuff around the advent of E2 than any other Star Wars movie; I actually went to unrelated movies to see the trailers, which I never did for the others. And I saw it more times in the theater than any others.

There’s something about 2002 in my memory that really sticks. Metallic blue nail polish, hours playing Sims, waiting for Quicktime downloads of the E2 trailer over dial-up. I had an email newsletter called The EmJay Zone, which I began on August 8, 2000, and eventually racked up 43 subscribers at its peak, though I can’t imagine why as I look through its incoherent rambling for something to share today.

So I wanted to share with you my first review of Attack of the Clones, which I wrote exactly one week after its theatrical release. I apologize in advance if the formatting is a nightmare–a 16 year old wrote it in the early 2000s! Now, I wrote approximately once a week for almost eight years:

You are about to enter a different place, and yet one that isn't so different. It is a place of sight and sound, and of mind. It is a land of shadows, substance, and a lot of weirdness. You've just crossed over into... The EmJay Zone.

Continue reading

How Loving Star Wars Made Me Stronger

Posted in Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , , on 11 May 2017 by Megan

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.