Star Wars is a franchise that spans generations, and if you’re like me, you were introduced to that galaxy far, far away by your parents. To be more specific, it was my mother who sat me down to watch the original trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) when she found out I didn’t know what Star Wars was. It was during one of our weekend visits (my parents got divorced a lifetime ago) and she was, like, SO appalled that I didn’t know who Darth Vader was, y’all, like I think she thought she’d failed as a mother!
Let me set the scene for you. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon and my mom made us lunch. She laid out a blanket on her bedroom floor and we sat together, ready to watch the entire trilogy. Initially, I thought I’d lose interest because I thought it was SO LONG (oh teenage me, if only you knew that you’d grow up to marathon entire series in one sitting with ease).
Then? We got to the text crawl, that epic music, and an immediate space battle.
In hindsight, what a way to kick off a story, huh?
I will fully admit, here and now, that if I’m really into a thing I will ask questions out loud. “Who is this?” “What is that?” I’m that kind of viewer, and Star Wars is something that lends itself to world exploration and digging deeper for answers. My mother didn’t answer a SINGLE question, instead, she told me to “watch the movie.”
At the time I thought she was annoyed, but looking back, knowing what I know about the original trilogy’s big twists, I realize she was waiting for me to get to one of the biggest WTF moments in cinematic history.
So yeah. We get to Empire Strikes Back. I’m emotionally compromised because the good guys are losing. Then suddenly? Darth Vader says it.
My jaw landed somewhere on the floor and I looked at my mother for validation.
She nodded. “Yep. He’s Luke’s father.”
This is the part where I tell all of you that I can’t give you a play-by-play of what happens next in the movie. All I can remember is the shock to my system and, well, my mother’s somewhat gleeful face because she’d just provided me with such a feeling of cinematic devastation. I DO remember feeling relieved that we could play the next movie immediately because she had to wait YEARS for the next part back in the 80s.
Well. Kinda immediately. We took some time to discuss what happened in the movie, or rather, we took some time for me to sputter out variations of “what” and “huh” and “AH!!!!!”
To me, Star Wars is the perfect example of remembering a feeling more than an overall story. I can tell you the major plot points, of course, but when it comes to delving into the lore I’d have to consult some online page that’s taken the time to break down the entire series. However, I can tell you how I felt, and honestly, I think this franchise has so much staying power because of how it’s made so many of us feel in the moment.
It’s not just a joy to watch, it’s a joy to show to others just so you can see how they react to it.
When I used to think about my introduction to Star Wars I would always remember how I felt, but now that I’m older and introducing more people to the fandoms I love, I realize that I’ve basically become my mother. I look forward to seeing their reaction when they decide to watch or read something I tell them about. If they start to ask questions I default to a generic “you just have to wait and see” or, if I’m feeling extra spicy, “do you really want to know?” I’m not just excited to engage with a media property I love for the umpteenth time, I’m excited to share it with someone new and wait for their response to it.
There’s a different kind of feeling you get when you’re showing someone a media property that you’ve seen before. It’s like you’re re-experiencing all of the emotions you felt, but you’re experiencing it through them. When the big moments come, instead of watching the screen, you watch them in anticipation of how they’re gonna react. Will they react the same way you did? Are they gonna interpret it differently, leading to a brand new conversation you haven’t had with them before? It creates a new viewing experience, one that keeps spanning years and years of fandom.
I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten to have reverse moments like this with my mother, the big Star Wars one being that Vader scene in Rogue One since my mama is a Vader fan.
It wasn’t in person since we don’t live in the same state, but after I saw Rogue One and she asked how it was, I left her the vague synopsis of “you’re gonna love the ending.”
Let’s just say I got an extremely lively phone call after she watched it, keeping the Star Wars tradition going in our family.
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