Stars in my Eyes for Star Wars

8aff3745d8a74fa4600b_Star_Wars_Episode_VII_The_Force_Awakens.jpg
8aff3745d8a74fa4600b_Star_Wars_Episode_VII_The_Force_Awakens.jpg

                I was 11 years old in 1997 when I discovered my love of Star Wars with the release of the Special Edition movies in theaters, and I promptly started reading books and obsessively watching movies.  Therefore, when Phantom Menace was being released, I was thrilled.  I couldn’t wait for it.  I was in eighth grade, an immature middle schooler with obsessive tendencies towards things that I loved.  For fear of ridicule, though, I had to hide my love.  I had to keep quiet about my excitement for the movie’s upcoming release.

                Now, 16 years later, we stand on the precipice of a new Star Wars era.  In less than a week, I will have already seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.  This time, I am older (I just turned 30! Ack!).  I am more mature.  I have a job, a husband, a mortgage, and even life insurance. 

                But last week, I threw myself a Star Wars themed birthday party.  We served food with badly punned titles (like R2Potatoes and C3POnion Rings).  People came in costume wielding expensive FX lightsabers.  We bought a Happy Birthday! Banner featuring Star Wars characters at Walmart.  This could easily have been a party for someone turning 10 instead of 30. 

Sign Up for E-News

                My excitement level for Episode I was high, but my excitement level for Episode VII is off the charts.  I have literally been jumping up and down at home and pacing my faculty room at work in anticipation.  I recently realized and then proclaimed on Facebook that our last weekend without The Force Awakens in our lives is now over.  I am giddy every time I think about the upcoming release.

                Why is it that now, as I am older, as I’ve been unfortunately burned by Star Wars in the past, I am so much more excited about this movie than I was about the first prequel in 1999?  I had every right to be more excited then, but I wasn’t.  So what’s changed?

                First of all, what’s changed is that the Star Wars community has unfortunately been let down by the last set of movies that was released.  (I recognize that not everyone hates the prequels, but I think everyone has to recognize that most fans do.  Sorry.)  While some fans who saw the original trilogy in its original release (which I was a little unborn for at the time) felt that the Ewoks of Return of the Jedi would never have been able to defeat the Galactic Empire, more fans were disenchanted with George Lucas’s prequel trilogy for a plethora of reasons.  (Boring plots, uninteresting characters, wooden actors, creepy and unbelievable love story, plot points that happened just because they had to, annoying side characters – the list goes on.)  Even worse than that was that many of us actually bought into the hype of the movies at first, and in our naiveté of both youth and thinking, “Wow! This is new Star Wars!” we actually pretended that we enjoyed these movies.  Personally, I know that I always had a knot of unease in my stomach about a lot of the prequel sequences, but I looked past all that the first time around. 

Then, when I revisited the prequels years later, I made the disheartening realization that they were devastatingly terrible.  I had stood up for them for years only to suddenly be slapped in the face with the truth, and it hurt.  A lot.  When I discovered that Episode II, which I had so thoroughly enjoyed the first three times I saw it in theaters and several times I watched it on DVD, was among the worst movies ever made, I was heartbroken.  Time away from these movies had refreshed my point of view.  How could George have so thoroughly fooled me?  How had I been tricked into thinking that pretty special effects and being part of a franchise equaled a great movie? 

                Regardless of how it happened, I was fooled.  These days, I’ve had to come to terms with the reality of the Star Wars prequels.  I’ve had to be able to admit that there are three movies with the words Star Wars in their title that are boring and at times painful to watch.  And knowing that this true awfulness exists is one of the reasons that I am so looking forward to The Force Awakens.  Am I scared that it will be terrible?  Only slightly.  Could anything really be worse than Anakin and Padme’s forced love story, even after he admits to her that he murdered women and children?  A lot of fans are scared of the fact that Disney purchased the franchise, and they’re afraid of it becoming “Disnified.” To refute these concerns, I point to most Marvel movies (I know Age of Ultron was a disappointment to some, but at least no one could accuse it of being an animated movie with songs).  Disney has not by any stretch ruined that franchise, so the worry of them doing the same for Star Wars seems unfounded.  In fact, I am excited at the prospect of the franchise being in new hands.  George Lucas proved with the prequels that his filmmaking had gotten lazy and the spark of passion that led him to create Star Wars had burned out.  Whatever your opinions about JJ Abrams may be, at least when he speaks about the series, he does so with the joy and excitement of almost a child, of someone who loves and cares so much about the saga.  I do not believe that he would strive to create something that felt like anything other than a Star Wars movie.  Besides, thanks to George’s previous movies, we really have nowhere to go but up.

                But, if we’re being really honest, I truly believe that the reason for the massive amounts of extra excitement that I, and hopefully others, am feeling is the explosion of fandoms.  While fandoms have technically been around for about a hundred and twenty five years (if you consider Sherlock Holmes to have inspired the first group of diehard fans), they have grown almost immeasurably with the growth of the internet.  Now fans can meet, talk, share ideas, discuss their interests, etc easily and with people from all over the world.  Conventions have also sprung up, and the amount of people going to them has increased tremendously.  Though the first official San Diego ComicCon was held in 1970, the convention did not begin to sell out until 2010, and the convention did not spread to New York until 2006.  In 2011, New York’s convention matched the attendance of San Diego’s, and in 2014, the amount of people in New York even surpassed the amount in California.  These numbers illustrate the degree to which fandoms in all have wheedled their way into pop culture.

                Was there the internet in 1999 when The Phantom Menace was released?  Of course, though it was much less accessible to people than it is today now that everyone has a smartphone.  There were less fan sites and less access to even official information about topics around which fandoms exist.  Sure, there were sci-fi conventions, but nothing near the degree that conventions reach these days.  In middle school, when my love for Star Wars was born, I was embarrassed by it and had to hide it from anyone besides my closest friends.  These days, as a middle school teacher, my heart is warmed by the comfort level of the students I teach and their loves of all things nerdy.  No one is really embarrassed anymore if they love Harry Potter or Star Wars or Dr. Who.  They wear it on shirts, they sing theme songs down the hallways, and they talk about their loves with me, one of their teachers, as well as with their friends.  These fandom lovers aren’t ostracized, either.  They are present in members of every clique.  I often think about how this would have been a much easier time for me to be a middle school student than when I was in middle school, hiding the Timothy Zahn trilogy books in my locker to avoid ridicule from classmates.     

                In other words, there are so many more outlets for fandom love today than there were in 1999, or even in 2005 when Revenge of the Sith was released.  These outlets allow fans to express their love for their fandom to the fullest and even allow it to nurture and grow because of all of these outlets.  Fans of all ages can be proud of their passion and wear that love on their sleeves – literally.  (Have we all seen the wonderful lines of Star Wars clothing, particularly for women, which are now available?  My favorites are Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe and the Rockin’ Rebel line that Kohl’s released.)  Excitement can be discussed openly with old friends and new at conventions of thousands.  Podcasts can be heard, spoilers can be searched out, fanfiction can be read and written, groups can convene in person or online.  The internet has made the word of fandom a smaller, and, at the same time, much larger place. 

                It is this growth of fandom that has kindled the flame of my Episode VII excitement.  It is being part of a larger world in which loving a story with so much of your being is acceptable and encouraged.  Sadly, this is most likely the last time that a Star Wars movie will have this amount of excitement around it.  This movie is one that fans did not see coming when Revenge of the Sith was released.  We thought the movie universe was a closed one, and this amazing treat, when it was announced three years ago, brought to life something that so many of us thought was dead.  From now on, though, thanks to films that will be taking place outside of the main saga, we will have a new Star Wars movie about once a year.  At some point, the excitement will ween a bit.  We won’t have to wait years upon years for a new story anymore.  So this is it.  This is our last chance to feel this intense level of excitement in the Star Wars fandom possibly forever.

May the force be with all of the Star Wars fans as we, this week, pass through the last several days that we will have to live without Episode VII in our lives and as we all enter the theaters to see the movie that has everything to prove and nothing to lose this weekend.  

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Marc Giordano Wrestling

The South Plainfield Wrestling Team continues to have a very successful season.  The team not only won a Group III State Championship for the third consecutive year, but they also won a state record 34th consecutive District Championship.  The top three wrestlers will go on to compete in Union in the Regions for the opportunity to wrestle in Atlantic City for an individual state ...

The Athlete of the Week Joe Sacco Wrestling

The South Plainfield Wrestling Team finished their dual meet season with a deceiving 20-7 record.  This past week saw the Tigers defeat Ewing (69-4), Bordentown Regional (49-9), and Ocean Township (54-6) to win the Central Jersey Group III Sectional Championship.  This advanced South Plainfield to the Group III State Championships yet again.  The wrestling team defeated Voorhees ...

Obituaries

South Plainfield – Jean Louise Walter, 84, died suddenly Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at JFK ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

South Plainfield Middle School Student Council Thanks Supporters

February 21, 2018

The South Plainfield Middle School Student Council would like to express our thanks for the support of local businesses and organizations in our fundraising efforts.  A spaghetti dinner was hosted by the South Plainfield Elks Lodge #2298 on January 13th.  Mrs. Sharon Reuter and members of her Youth Committee and kitchen crew provided dinner for family, friends and staff of South ...

Local Student on Dean's Commendation List at Gettysburg College

February 23, 2018

GETTYSBURG, PA -- Gettysburg College students take pride in their work, and we are likewise proud to announce their recent academic achievements.

Gettysburg College students with a quality point average in the range of 3.300 to 3.599 for a semester's work are placed on the Deans' Commendation List. The following students from your area have been placed on the Fall 2017 ...

Community Happenings

Harlem Wizards are Coming to Town!

February 23, 2018

The Harlem Wizards are coming to town to play against the SP Teaching Tigers (team made up of SP Educators) on 3/24 at 6 pm at the South Plainfield Middle School.  Buy tickets online @ harlemwizards.com. See flyer for prices

Special halftime performance by Pop Warner National Cheer Champions as well as a special cheer performance from some teachers!

Volleyball Fundraiser for the Eggert Family on March 11, 2018

February 18, 2018

WHAT:

Two divisions, Co-Ed High School and Co-Ed adult

Guaranteed two games per team

Double Elimination

8 people per team

 

COST:

High School teams = $50 per team

Adult Teams = $100 per team

12 Teams Max for each division

Please mail checks to 1107 Worth Drive, South Plainfield NJ 07080

High school - please submit your teams and payment to Justin ...

Holy Savior Academy hosts appreciation luncheon for Deanery Pastors

February 16, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The students and Board of Limited Jurisdiction of Holy Savior Academy (HSA), South Plainfield hosted a special luncheon to honor and celebrate the Pastors of twelve local Catholic churches that sponsor the school.  

The event was held at HSA on Tuesday February 13 and included a festive lunch featuring a home-cooked meal prepared by members of ...

Holy Savior Academy Cheer Competition

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Holy Savior Academy’s cheerleading squad is on winning streak.  Competing at the Biddy Level in the CCCANJ League, the girls took 1st place in the first two competitions of this cheer season. The 12 girl squad competed in the Immaculate Conception and the St. Mary’s competitions and came out on top beating fellow Catholic Schools, Immaculate ...

Bios, Photos of Past Labor Day Grand Marshals Needed for Eagle Scout Project

February 21, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Joseph Kelly, a senior at South Plainfield High School and member of Boy Scout Troop 207, is seeking the community’s help to see his Eagle Scout project come to fruition.

Kelly is looking to compile a ‘wall of fame’ honoring the men and women who have served as honorary grand marshals of the borough’s Labor Day Parade since 1961. The ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_160974dbc9379a0238f6_meet_the_mayor

Sat, February 24, 8:00 AM

South Plainfield

Meet the Mayor at the Senior Center

Carousel_image_01278d9d6764037b0a59_children_s_march_flyer-page-001

Sat, February 24, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

The Children’s March being shown at the South ...

Sat, February 24, 4:00 PM

American Legion, South Plainfield

Boy Scout Troop 207 Spaghetti Dinner

Food & Drink

Carousel_image_4d7f13f1bac1e8a84adb_races_flyer_4-page-001

Sat, February 24, 7:00 PM

South Plainfield

Night at the Races - Tricky Tray

Carousel_image_9f909feb9ba5e44bff20_img_3263

Sun, February 25, 1:00 PM

South Plainfield

Open House 312 Elissa Court South Plainfield

Real Estate

Carousel_image_5a8b641c938a30a61d34_img_2324

Sun, February 25, 1:00 PM

South Plainfield

Open House 171 New York Avenue South Plainfield

Real Estate

Columns

Diegnan: Computer Science Now Required in New Jersey Schools

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick Diegnan to require school districts to offer course in computer science and Department of Education to adopt changes to NJ Student Learning Standards in computer science has been signed into law.

“To flourish in tomorrow’s digital economy and society, our children should be learning computer science,” said ...

South Plainfield: A Heart for Giving

South Plainfield received over two inches of rain this past weekend. Fortunately, Mother Nature has cooperated, and the precipitation was not of the frozen variety. Despite the rain, nothing could put a damper on South Plainfield’s spirit of helping those in need.

On Saturday a few Borough employees and I had the opportunity to deliver funds that have been raised for a family that has ...

Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb

Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb (Altria, 2015)

 

Years later, after the tragedy, someone remembered the Dumb Supper and what had happened there. That was the cause of it, they said, because the ritual wasn't a game after all. It really was magic, but magic has rules, and she broke them. Even when they call it a 'senseless tragedy,' people always try to find a ...

Bookmarks

What, February is nearly over already?  No doubt you were just getting used to it.  So, before March arrives like the proverbial lion, let’s look at upcoming events at South Plainfield Library:

            With a couple of additions and one cancellation, we’ve got a usual slate of children’s programs next ...

Press Releases

South Plainfield Democrats Reaching Out To Those Interested In Running For Mayor Or Borough Council

February 24, 2018

It is important that everyone be given a voice in the future of our great borough. With that in mind the South Plainfield Democrat Organization is opening up the selection process to anyone who is considering becoming Mayor or a member of the Borough Council. The only requirement is that you must be 18 years of age and live in town. Municipal Chair Bill Tankiewicz summed up the selection process ...