I’ve always struggled with pop culture references. You should see the reactions I get from people when I tell them that I have never seen movies and TV shows like Star Wars, LOTR, Rugrats, Cheers, or TRL.
For example, I didn’t know that “I Want It That Way” wasn’t a Weird Al Yankovic song (or an N’Sync song) until age 27. My husband just informed me that it’s a Backstreet Boys song as I type this. (You will find that you are mistaken — about a great many things. Editor’s note: I’m just gonna drop some Star Wars quotes in here to make it interesting for the Jedi who are reading along. Sorry, Padawans!)
But since I’ve worked as a social media manager for the past six years, I have come to appreciate the power of major pop-cultural moments and how they bring people together.
It’s not something I grew up participating in, but as an adult, there’s something honestly pretty cool and beautiful about being able to tap into a Twitter conversation in real-time with people all over the world talking about the same thing. (Give yourself to the dark side. It is the only way you can save your friends.)
So I binged GoT in time for season eight. And I watched seven Marvel movies in three days before seeing End Game the weekend it came out.
Next on my list? It had to be Star Wars before the ninth movie will be released on December 20. (Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops!)
Grotto’s editor is a HUGE Star Wars fan, so you can only imagine the looks on his face when I told him that I had never seen a Star Wars movie (I find your lack of faith disturbing); and that I planned to watch them all before the release of the ninth. (Do, or do not. There is no try.)
Even though I don’t know much about the story, I do know Star Wars isn’t just a thin pop culture artifact. I have the sense that there is something deeper at work in these movies because of how iconic they are and how I’ve heard people speak about them.
It’s clear these stories mean something to my friends. One put it this way: it was the first movie that seemed to make an invisible “force” a real thing that made a difference in the lives of the characters — practice and training and discipline made people capable of amazing things. (Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.) It was encouraging to her because it’s not easy to commit to growing in things like faith, hope, or love — but they also make a real difference.
Another friend told me that the movies showed him what it looks like to have the courage to suffer. Pain and suffering isn’t something that the characters want or choose, but they don’t run from it. (Strike me down and I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.) He said the characters in Star Wars rarely see how everything will work out, but they make the tough decision to risk their future for each other and the common good. And that’s the definition of a hero, right?
The invisible realities that make a difference in life, and the courage to face suffering — that’s what I’m interested to experience in these movies.
On a surface level, I’m also curious to connect the dots to all of the cultural references that come from this saga. For example, I realized I just absorbed some peripheral knowledge about Star Wars, simply from being a millennial in the 21st century. (Editor’s note: spoilers ahead so stop reading here if you know nothing about Star Wars and want to watch the movies someday!)
- Luke Skywalker is a good guy.
- Darth Vader is a seemingly bad guy who is father of Luke; he wears a mask because he has scarring from an accident earlier in life.
- Yoda is an old elf man and talks funny.
- Rey is a female character and now has a red lightsaber, which is controversial because lightsaber color matters somehow.
- Princess Lea has braid buns and wears a white dress.
- Han Solo is a guy, I guess. No idea. But there’s also a furry man named Chubaka.
- There’s a gold robot guy and a giant slug creature.
- Stormtroopers work for the bad guys and have terrible aim.
- There’s another bad guy who is not Darth Vader but has a double-sided lightsaber and a red-and-black face.
- Obi Wan Kanobe is also a guy, but I don’t know who.
- There is a big spaceship called a Death Star.
- The movie begins with, “Long ago in a galaxy far, far away…”
- People say, “May the force be with you…”
- The movies are made out of order and the last one will be number nine.
- There are giant robots that look kinda like dogs walking around in a deserted place. Also, there are snowy planets and desert planets.
- Some people are “Jedis,” which is based on either ninja or samurai culture.
So tonight, my husband and I have carved out time to watch my first ever Star Wars. (Great, kid — now don’t get cocky!) It was the consensus (of my husband and editor) that I watch the movies in the order that they were released (though there are other theories to consider).
Who knows what this journey will teach me? I am excited to finally learn why everyone thought Darth Vader killed Luke Skywalker’s dad and the proper name for the gold robot guy.
Wish me luck.
(The force will be with you. Always.)