Still worn out from the epic 2015 PopCult Gift Guide (check out the Master Index HERE), this week your PopCulteer will bring you a weekly column that is mostly Stuff To Do.
However, last night the pop culture event of the year happened, and I really need to acknowledge it. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens opened, and I’m certain that we will learn that box office records were shattered. I wasn’t there.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Star Wars when I saw it on opening day (in Charleston) back in June, 1977. The Empire Strikes Back is another movie that I greatly enjoyed. In those days I was definitely in the thrall of Star Wars, seeing the movies, reading the books and comics and buying up magazines about what was, at that time, my favorite movie.
Then Return of the Jedi came out, and the Ewoks showed up, and my interests turned to less disappointing fare. I observed with slight amusement the way that Marvel cancelled the comic books and Kenner discontinued the toys in the late 1980s, and then watched with a twinge of nostalgia in the early 1990s as the toys returned to stores, and the property became robust again, having attracted a new generation of fans who weren’t born when the original movie opened. It was cool to see Star Wars back in the mainstream again.
But then a few things happened that tempered my enthusiasm: George Lucas was emboldened to make the “first three” chapters of the Star Wars saga, which not only weren’t very good, but which also marked the transition of Star Wars fandom from relatively dignified fans of SF to clownish mainstream cosplaying Sci Fi party-goers. Add in Lucas tampering with the original cuts of the first two films and an ex-in-law who took Star Wars fandom to irritating heights, and I lost all interest in following the Star Wars franchise.
A few of my friends were shocked earlier this week when I mentioned on social media that I had no intention of seeing the new Star Wars movie the first night it hit theaters. I’ve mentioned before my distaste for seeing movies in the theater these days. I hear people talk about the joy of seeing a movie with an enthusiastic crowd and to me, that seems like the words of the clinically insane. Sixteen years of reviewing animated features for The Charleston Gazette with my lovely wife cured me of any desire to see a movie in a crowded theater again. I realized a long time ago that my favorite movie-theater memories all come from seeing a film in a deserted room.
I fully expect The Force Awakens to be a great movie. It will still be a great movie when it hits Blu Ray and I will be able to watch it in the comfort of my own home on a massive TV with no cellphones or folks dressed as Jedis to distract me. Maybe it’s old age creeping in, but I have no sense of urgency to see this movie.
I’m not writing this to crap all over anyone else’s good times. By all means, if you are still in the thrall of the Star Wars magic, go and enjoy it to the fullest. I’m not looking down on you and I’m not judging you. I do get a bit of a chuckle out of folks who want to pretend that they’re society’s outcasts because they’re rushing to see what will probably be the highest-grossing movie of all time. You can’t get any more mainstream than Star Wars. Its appeal exceeds that of The Super Bowl. I’m not a hater, I just don’t go to that church anymore.
I just wanted to explain why this blog has not been all Star Wars crazy this week. I figured that other folks on the internet who have a genuine enthusiasm for this new movie would do more than an adequate job of telling you about it. In closing, I think back to the words of a wise Jedi named Brian Posehn, and offer this greeting to all the Star Wars fans: “Live long and prosper.”
STUFF TO DO
That’s it for this week’s PopCulteer. With the gift guide out of the way, our regular features will all return, unless I can figure out some way to coast during Christmas week.