Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Force

I remember the first three Star Wars films appearing in theaters. While those films appealed then (and still today) to a very wide audience, I was pretty much perfectly aged for them, given that all three were out by the time I was a freshman in high school.

I only dimly remember going to see each of the films in the theater. I know I liked them, but really in just the same generic way kids and preteens tend to like just about anything that is entertaining (and popular). My younger brother collected the action figures, I recall, and also had replicas of the Milleneum Falcon and some other fun stuff. I was more into sports and music and other things, though, and so never got caught up in any of that.

In fact, I can’t remember rewatching any of those original three films after having seen them in the theater, not even on television. Wait... I take that back. I helped cover the World Poker Tour Five Diamond Classic two years ago -- which just happens to be going on again right now -- and once B.J. Nemeth played The Empire Strikes Back on his iPad as a kind of ambient background for a late night game of open-face Chinese. Pretty sure that was the first time in three-plus decades I had seen it.

Perhaps it was college and grad school and marriage and other life stuff distracting me, but when the second set of Star Wars films began coming out in the late 1990s, I was actually a little surprised by how central the whole cultural phenomenon had seemingly become. Everyone was somehow interested in it, with nearly everyone expressing disappointment in The Phantom Menace, it seemed. (I never saw those films.)

Now with the franchise being revived once more this week with The Force Awakens, everyone is talking Star Wars again. And of course with the web and social media being what it is today, every available detail of the film’s production and marketing have already been chronicled and scrutizined endlessly as will shortly be happening with the film itself.

When considering the kind of “spell” the whole sucker seems to cast over so many, the title almost seems self-referential in a way, as though referring to the cultural “force” the franchise wields being revived once again.

Had a conversation with a buddy not long ago about it all. He was trying to convince me I needed to give myself over to the force -- or, rather, that I should sit down and watch all of the films and experience the kind of enjoyment and pleasure he and so many others have. I listened, but you can imagine how hard a task my friend had.

But then there are other things that exert a kind of force over me -- like poker, for instance -- for which it would be difficult to, well, force others to try.

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