(contains spoilers, and tree-nuts)
Lots of people are posting their criticisms and complaints about the new Star Wars movie. They’re right. Everything you say about it is probably right.
And I don’t care.
Recycled plot points? Fan service? Yes. Remember Return of the Jedi? “We have to blow up ANOTHER Death Star!” Blowing up Death Stars is pretty much what Star Wars is about.
“Not as good as…” what? I like Star Wars as much as the next nerd, but here’s a thing we have to admit: There is no perfect Star Wars movie. The Platonic ideal does not exist. They were all flawed, silly, ham-fisted sometimes, awkward, and gloriously imperfect. The originals hold a special place in our hearts and minds, but because we’ve been buying the toys, showing the movies to our kids, dreaming of owning of lightsabers for the last 38 years, we’ve invested our own blood and breath and soul into it. That thing that no other movie ever seems to live up to is a thing that you and I have invented, by filling a simple story with our own set of meanings. Star Wars is bigger on the inside, because you and I have lived inside it, and made it our home.
A few years ago I came across this article (it’s a lazy Saturday morning, do your own search) about the act of remembering things. It’s as if, after a while, we are only remembering that we remember an event in the past. Our stories get taken off the shelf and hand-copied into a new journal. We are comparing Star Wars to the idea of Star Wars that we’ve grown up with, from when we first saw it with young, uncritical eyes. It can never compete.
What I really want in a Star Wars movie is “Star Wars Feels.” Spaceships! Sassy pilots and Princess-Generals! Romance! Swashbuckling! Magic, not midi-chlorians. A simple story about good and evil and doing hard things and facing down darkness. This is what I show up for, every time. Nerd-splaining how The Force works doesn’t make the stories better. Fictional genealogies and debates about who decides what is canon don’t draw me back the way seeing the Millennium Falcon does.
There’s a whole other point that I realize I want to make here. I don’t want to double the length of this post, so here’s a take-home exercise: Apply everything I’ve said so far (powerful, simple stories, arguing over the extra meanings and details that we’ve brought in ourselves) to your favorite religion.