My parents weren’t really big into spanking. And even when they did spank me, it didn’t hurt physically. Like, at all. It was embarrassing, sure, but it was over quickly.
I’m afraid to say that spankings really didn’t stay with me. No, of all my childhood punishments, there is really only that really stuck with me, really made me rethink what I had done and resolve never to do it again.
I was about seven, we were at Nana and Papa’s and we were putting in The Empire Strikes Back to watch.
Maybe I should mention now that Empire was then and remains to this day my favorite of the Star Wars.
Anyways, something happened–I’m not sure what, but I’m going to take an educated guess that it involved the words “Hannah” and “no”–and I threw a world-class temper tantrum. I’m quite good at making a scene when I want to. Dad told me to stop or I wouldn’t be allowed to watch the movie. I can quote you word for word what I thought: he wouldn’t dare. It’s Star Wars! You don’t miss Star Wars!
Safe in this utter conviction, I proceeded with my tantrum. Dad proceeded to pick me up and carry me out of the room. I was astounded…though not quite dumbstruck, I’m afraid. No, my outrage was vocalized at extreme decibels.
“I want to watch The Empire Strikes Back!!” I howled.
“You should have thought of that a minute ago,” Dad told me.
“We can watch it later,” Nana said, probably thinking that with me carrying on like that, nobody was going to be hear anything anyway.
“No, we will watch Star Wars now, she won’t,” Dad said firmly.
Maybe he should have said “you will watch it” and not “we” because he spent the next several minutes keeping me downstairs. I was quite furious at being kept from The Empire Strikes Back. It was cruel and unusual punishment and I was convinced if I yelled about it enough, Dad would recognize the utter injustice and let me back up to watch it. But the movie kept on playing without me. Unfortunately, I had watched it so many times that I knew exactly what I was missing. Luke was calling on the Force to retrieve his light saber when I gave up yelling and just sobbed. Han and Chewie were blasting the Imperal probe droid when Dad finally purposed a compromise: I calmed down and he would let me watch The Return of the Jedi tomorrow. I can tell you, the thought of this experience being repeated with another Star Wars stopped me cold.
Even then, Vader was storming the Rebel base before I had quite cried myself out. No stubbornness was worth this, I thought. I resolved that, when Star Wars was on the line at least, that I would behave myself.
I actually had a point with this post.
Growing up, Star Wars was almost sacred ground. Watching Star Wars meant everything was alright in the world…or at least that they would be, eventually. It was our chicken noodle for the soul.
Then it was 1999 and The Phantom Menace was released–and I thought: Okay…
Then it was 2002 and Attack of the Clones came out–and I thought: Wait, what?
Then it was 2005 and The Revenge of the Sith premiered–and I thought: Excuse me?
They were decent, shot through with sometimes horrible and sometimes great…but they were missing that Star Wars feel. I wasn’t sure they were soup and I definately knew they weren’t chicken noodle. In the last ten years, I have held on to my love of Star Wars, I’m proud to say. But I was a fan despite (or maybe to spite) George Lucas…because really, how can you so misunderstand your own story? Star Wars is about Luke Skywalker and the scrappy underdogs. It’s about the a Princess who can fire a blaster and take charge of her own rescue. It’s about loyalty and love from people who can’t properly speak to us. It’s about a not-so-selfish scoundrel with a not-so-reliable ship. It’s about a cute green thing smacking a stick against a cute blue and white thing. It’s about the warrior who won by throwing away his saber and putting his faith in his friends to do what they said they would do. It’s about the man behind the mask smiling at his son. It’s whatever I need it to be: rollicking good fun, witty one-liners or an almost metaphysical tale about how love is the greatest power you could ever have. It’s a safe place to hang my imagination and recharge. It’s part of my image of home.
It’s been rough, loving something so brutalized by its creator, so CGI-ed out of its soul.
Then it was 2012 and Disney bought Star Wars–and I thought: Can’t be any worse than Lucas.
Then it was 2013 and J.J. Abrams was named director–and I thought: He’s got a Star Wars soul.
Then it was April 2014 and the cast photo came out–and I thought: This could be something.
Then it was June 2014 and Harrison Ford broke his leg–and I thought: At least the Falcon’s real enough to break bone.
Then it was November 2014 and the first trailer came out–and I thought: It actually looks like Star Wars !
Then it was April 10th, 2015 and I bought the Original Trilogy on iTunes–and I thought: Can I really bear to be disappointed again?
Then it was April 18th and I finally brought myself to watch the second teaser trailer.
Now it’s today and I’m still on a sci-fi high the likes of which I’ve never been on before. I’ve heard Mom talk about how it felt to watch Star Wars for the very first time and I remember how that was the biggest disappointment in ’99–that I didn’t get sense of blown-away awe. I thought I’d lost my chance. I thought I would not get to experience that feeling myself. I felt cheated out of falling in love with something I’ve known all my life.
To quote Obi-wan, I was wrong. This is how it must have felt to be alive in ’77 and seeing Star Wars for the very first time. (Minus the hair, because ’70s hair was kind of weird.)
Yes, Chewie, we are home. Star Wars is once again chicken noodle soup…because even if the movie sucks, I’ll always have that trailer.
Now please don’t suck. Please continue to be chicken noodle soup.