Earlier this afternoon, a coworker came to get me so that we could go to her desk and bask in the wonder that is the new Star Wars trailer. It got me thinking about my lifelong relationship with Star Wars.
Although Doctor Who is my primary fandom, Star Wars is my Ur-fandom. My parents are just crazy enough to have taken their 3 year old daughter to see Star Wars in the summer of 1977. I remember the feeling of sitting between my parents in the Ultravision, watching the trash compactor scene. Not only is this moment is my first memory of Star Wars, it is my first memory of anything.
For a long time when I was little, the movie posters of Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back were thumbtacked to the back of my bedroom door. Someone gave me Kenner’s plush Chewbacca with his delicate plastic belt and a Princess Leia doll, which I played with until they fell into bits. The action figures, ships, and Darth Vader storage container were all detritus of my childhood playtime at school and with the neighborhood kids.
I remember sitting with my parents in another theater, seeing the pivotal scene at the end of Empire. Word had gotten around to fans of course, but we must have gone to see the film on or just after opening weekend, because there were loud gasps in the theater from folks who hadn’t heard about The Plot Twist.
Throughout the 1980’s I watched reruns of the movies on HBO, Ewoks, and clips on the making of the movies on Nickelodeon’s Lights, Camera, Action hosted by Leonard Nimoy. It feels like I’ve always known who made the movies, from James Earl Jones and Harrison Ford to Dennis Muren and John Williams. And so when I found Doctor Who, I knew the drill. I was ready to become an actual fanatic about something, and that show was it for me.
Needless to say, I had tears in my eyes watching this trailer. Star Wars has shaped the way I think about story, myth, and fannish behavior and it has direct access to the center of who I am as a person. The sound of Luke’s voice, the hum and crackle of light sabers, and the sight of the Millennium Falcon in flight have the power to instantly return me to the moment when I was an awed three-year-old tucked into a seat between her Mom and Dad, worrying that Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie would be squashed in the trash compactor.
May the Force be with you. I can’t wait until Christmas!