Or maybe in this case, it should be nerds, since I proudly call myself a geek at times. Anyway, Celebration III, the George Lucas-backed Star Wars convention, is in town. 25,000 nerds, most dressed as their favorite Star Wars character, have descended on downtown Indianapolis. Never have I been so proud to live in the suburbs.
Listen, like most males (and some females) of my generation, Star Wars had a profound effect on me. When I was seven. In fact, I recall being so overwhelmed after seeing the movie for the first time that I couldn’t talk for hours afterwards. I remember the next day still being in a state of shock and sitting on our front porch, propping my head on my knees as I tried to make sense of what I had seen the night before. For the next three years, arguably nothing other than the Dallas Cowboys demanded as much devotion from me as Star Wars. I had action figures, comic books, pajamas, sheets, t-shirts. You name it, I had it when it came to Star Wars gear.
When the Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980, I remember waiting in a line that wrapped around the block to see it at the old Midland Theater in Kansas City. But by then, especially with living in the city, I had other things on my mind. The Royals. Little League. KU basketball. Later, Dungeons & Dragons. The other 1000 things that I was interested in over the course of a calendar year. Upon Return of the Jedi’s release, I was excited, and saw it the second day it was out, but ultimately let down. Even at 12, I could tell Lucas had sold out and made a kids movie rather than something that broke conventions, established genres, and would stand the test of time. I was supposed to see The Phantom Menace the night it came out. Had a ticket and everything. But I got stuck at work and missed the show. I still haven’t seen it, nor did I see The Attack of the Clones. Don’t have any desire to see either of those or episode three when it is released. I’ve moved on. Now, Star Wars seems pretty cheesy to me, although it does still make something deep inside me tingle at the memory of how it dominated my life, and the lives of all my friends back in the late 70s. I’ll watch Empire every now-and-then, and still think it’s a phenomenal movie. Jedi still sucks. The brilliant social critic Chuck Klosterman, in his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, has a great section on the effects of Star Wars on our generation. I found this line very telling, "Any normal child was going to be drawn to Skywalker more than Solo." See, I always wanted to be Han Solo. I’m not sure what that explains more: my personality quirks or my ability to leave the fantasies of a seven year old behind. Maybe both.
Anyway, the majority of the people who are at the convention remind me of people who take The Da Vinci Code a little too seriously. Remember, folks, works of fiction aren’t real.