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Posted at 11:37 AM ET, 10/31/2012

Essay: On the new ‘Star Wars’ and coming to terms with passing the Wookiee torch


Our “Star Wars” heroes. (AP)
Almost a day has passed since Walt Disney announced its plans to purchase Lucasfilm and make three new “Star Wars” movies, starting with a seventh chapter in 2015 once the transaction is complete.

But longtime worshippers of the George Lucas saga — the ones who collected the original Kenner action figures, and wore R2D2 Underoos, and remember watching the “Star Wars Holiday Special” unironically when it originally aired on CBS — are likely still struggling to process this new chapter in the Skywalker narrative.

Oh, sure. This is just a business transaction, and the “Star Wars” saga is just a movie franchise. Except it isn’t. It’s “Star Wars,” a pop culture phenomenon that has defined the childhoods of billions of light saber-fixated individuals, but especially those who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s. We so-called Xers, that often neglected group of Americans squeezed between the massive Baby Boomer and Millenial armadas, are the “Star Wars” generation. We don’t claim the Beatles as our own, nor do we boast enough people power to alter workplace politics. But Wookiees, by God, Wookiees are our thing. (Wookiees, and also early MTV and the grunge movement.)

Basically, for some people, that Disney announcement was like finding out in the same day that your parents are divorcing, and that you have a new father, and that your mom and new father are planning to have three more children. It’s the sort of moment that makes one pause for a long while and then, after that prolonged pause, start tweeting a lot.

Social media platforms, predictably, burned up with “Star Wars 7” commentary in the wake of the big announcement. There were snarky jokes involving Snow White and Ewoks; expressions of optimism about where the “Star Wars” franchise could go from here (What if Christopher Nolan could direct the next movie? Imagine the greatness!); and just plain melancholia from some who noted how weird it will be to see a ”Star Wars” movie without the 20th Century Fox logo in front of it.

Digesting all this may have led to that classic internal dialogue with the angels and devils in our nature. Except instead of finding an ethereal, haloed figure on one shoulder and a red, pitchfork-wielding monster on the other, we heard the voices of Mickey Mouse and Yoda, taking turns whispering in our ears.

“Episodes I through III were bad. If George Lucas isn’t directing, maybe there can be a really great ‘Star Wars’ movie again!”

“Bad idea this is. Also, part in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ where I fought with Palpatine? Pretty awesome that was.”

“There are already ‘Star Wars’ attractions at Disney World. This is just formalizing what’s already been in place for a while. So let’s sing: M-I-C-K-E-Y, J-E-D-I-S...””

“For kindergarten babies, Disney stuff is. Jedi toys for big kids are. Also arrested adolescents.”

“You always wanted nine ‘Star Wars’ movies, your whole life. Now look: it’s happening! Because you wished upon a star, like that cricket told you to.”

“Maybe Mouse has point. Accept you must and not fear. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to not spending money on Star Wars. Economy, and especially Disney, want that not.”

We’ve always known that “Star Wars” movies are made primarily for kids. Lucas himself reminded us of that when Episodes I, II and III were released and subsequently pummeled with criticism from the media as well as longtime fans.

When the seventh film arrives in theaters three years from now, accompanied by its inevitably deafening hype, we “elders” will still feel some connection to it, whether the movie turns out to be fantastic or horrendous or somewhere in between. But it won’t be George Lucas’s or 20th Century Fox’s “Star Wars” anymore. And it won’t be ours anymore, either. We already knew that “Star Wars” no longer belonged to us. We knew it when “The Phantom Menace” came out, and when it became a Lego Wii game, and definitely when Han Solo turned 70. We realize it’s now been commandeered, to our delight, by our children. But Tuesday’s announcement made it feel more official.

Our chapter has ended. A new one is beginning. All we can do, aside from airing our angst on Twitter, is hope the Force will be with it.

By  |  11:37 AM ET, 10/31/2012

Categories:  Movies | Tags:  Star Wars

 
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