What does Star Wars mean to me? Difficult to say. It means two very different things, depending on what point in my life you asked me.
I was born in 1978. I did not see Hope or Empire in the theaters. I did see Jedi as a five year old and worshipped it as a five year old would. Why wouldn’t I? It’s all plush freedom fighters and speeder bikes. I didn’t understand that Han’s heart of gold was finally shining through. It didn’t occur to me that Jabba was a slaving crime boss. He was a bad guy, sure, look at him, but what did I know?
All I knew about was lightsabers and spaceships. I’m pretty sure that I knew Luke was a toolbag. Well, maybe I didn’t realize that until I hit ten or so. It didn’t matter. My world of Star Wars started and ended with the toys for a good many years. It was all stiff-limbed, three and a half inch, original run action figures. My brother and I had dozens. For me, though, an action figure was only as cool as the vehicles you could put them in.
That’s the first thing Star Wars ever really meant to me. Flying cars. My fondest memories of the original trilogy were of all the crap that was always flying around. Land speeders, Star Destroyers, TIE fighters, snow speeders, speeder bikes, the undeniably cool X-Wings, and the last word in spaceships the Millenium Falcon. In short, Star Wars was the future. There was never any doubt in my mind that repulsorlifts would live under my car one day. Why wouldn’t they? How could engineers not be working on this?
Now that I’m older and I’ve endured the prequels, Star Wars has come to mean something different. While always a pop cultural touchstone the franchise has become something more. Star Wars is a brand now. Star Wars is the unofficial sponsor for geek culture. There is a new rule 34. If it exists there is a Storm Trooper parody of it.
I’m doing my best to not sound like a nostalgic codger, especially since I wasn’t even alive for the release of Hope. I’m also well aware that ‘moichendising’ has been part of Star Wars since day one. I know damn well where my monstrous Millenium Falcon toy came from. Star Wars used to mean the future for me. Now it means misguided Leia cosplayers and endless Lucas flamewars. It means LEGO and Jar Jar and Boba Fett spray paint stencils. It’s not all bad, though. It did give us Triumph the Insult Comic Dog interviewing the Star Was movie line.