May 19 1999
The Star Wars thing has sort of taken me by surprise, as it did in 1977 when the first one came out. As a college freshman and someone obsessed enough at the time with playing drums and collecting records (and getting laid), I somehow had missed all, and I mean all, references to the movie until, at freshman orientation, I asked a fellow student who I was sitting next to what the meaning of the button was that he was wearing. It said "May The Force Be With You," and I thought, ah shit, the first person I'm going to talk with is some religious nut. But then he told me what this new Star Wars thing was, and I thought, oh, a variation on a Trekkie.
I honestly don't remember seeing the movie back then, though I know I did at some point during the initial run. I was a sci fi fan, had read a lot of it, and adored 2001 since I'd seen it as a kid with my parents when it first came out, but the action/adventure style of Star Wars, though fun, wasn't something that drew me back for repeated viewings. I do vividly remember seeing the second Star Wars installment, at a press screening I got tickets for from someone who I worked with at that point at a classical radio station (WFMT here in Chicago). I called the father of a friend to invite him along, because he was a sci fi and fantasy fan going back a generation or so, and a commercial artist (used to do a lot of stuff for Downbeat ages ago). He loved it, and I thought it was fun. The third episode, like the first, I saw when new but under what circumstances I don't recall.
When all of the Star Wars hype began reving up again over the past couple of years, I really thought that it was completely manufactured, that there wouldn't be all that much real interest in it, that they were fun movies, but nothing to take all that seriously. I honestly didn't realize they were entertainment milestones for so many people.
But now, I've come to see them through the eyes of one of my own kids. He'll be six this summer, and after renting and re-renting and paying late fees on the movies, I finally just bought the set for him, and I swear he knows these things in greater detail than I know anything I ever studied in grad school. And it has really been fun watching him get into it, and damn if, because of him, I'm not into it more now than I ever was before. And if it weren't for that, I'd probably wait and catch the new one on cable, but now I can't wait to settle back with him next to me in the theater (in about a month once the lines die down) and see it through both sets of eyes.