Star-crossed: A Complicated Valentine to ‘Star Wars’

Anyone who has watched the Star Wars films likely has a formative memory for when they first saw any of the movies, or more recently, the shows in that universe. My memories started early in life, not long after the first movie arrived on the screen in 1977. I was three.

It left an imprint on me that lasted my entire life and ultimately resulted in my writing my own space opera. But I want to dig into the journey I’ve taken as a Star Wars fan.

Twin Suns, Walking Carpets, and a New Hope

My toddler eyes weren’t exactly sure what they were seeing in that movie theater back in 1977. But I was hooked. I became intrigued by the fact that a planet could have two suns. I loved R2-D2, didn’t like the remote Luke faced with his helmet on, I thought Chewbacca was very tall, and I wanted to fly into space. My older siblings ranged in fandom at the time from uninterested to obsessed, and I fell in the latter category also. I couldn’t get any action figures, though.

I took out of that first movie the adventure, the droids, the hope, and the sight of a strong girl character who wasn’t afraid to stand up to evil.

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Courtesy of Lucasfilm

Fandom on Ice

When The Empire Strikes Back debuted, I was primed and ready. I had seen the first film a few times in reruns, although my family did not yet have a VCR. After watching Empire, I became a superfan. I still couldn’t have action figures, but I could have books, so I bought those and practically wore them out rereading them and looking at their pictures. An idea began to form in my 6-year-old mind, about my own stories. It wasn’t long after that when I began to write.

I was disturbed most by Han Solo being frozen in carbonite. So when Return of the Jedi arrived, and I was a fully-fledged mega-fan, I was relieved by his rescue by Leia. And I was stunned by the revelation of Luke and Leia being siblings. At the end of it, I grieved the fact that we had no more films. But I was convinced there would be: that eventually, we would see sequels. And given that A New Hope was Episode IV, that implied we would get prequels too. But this would be a long wait, and as a fan in the 1980s, it seemed eternal. In some ways, I had come full circle, and I wanted to be frozen in carbonite until we got more Star Wars!

Shows and Books 

In the pre-Internet era, news about any new Star Wars IP was hard to come by. I took anything I could get: Ewok Adventures, Droids, and the Timothy Zahn books. I wanted more movies, but so did every Star Wars fan.

Once the 1990s rolled around, and I had grown into adulthood, my love for the series did not fade. When rumor grew of the prequels happening at last, I combed the rudimentary web pages and forums for any news about them. And I finally bought some action figures with my own money.

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Courtesy of Lucasfilm

The Prequels

Once The Phantom Menace (Episode I) began production, my excitement grew stratospheric. I built up a great deal of hope that it would be great. Once it arrived, I felt a strange mix of emotions. I felt thrilled by parts of it, underwhelmed by other bits, and altogether befuddled about it all. Did I not instantly love it because I had grown up and away from Star Wars? No, it wasn’t that. It was that it didn’t feel like STAR WARS had made me feel before.

So, I analyzed that. By this point, I had already written my books (but would rewrite and publish them a couple of decades later), watched many other films and fell in love with those, and came to a conclusion. I still loved Star Wars, but I recognized that it was evolving into something different than what I had grown up with.

This took some time to accept, and the path to acceptance grew more labyrinthine. Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith had become movies I would see, not stop-me-in-my tracks phenomena like their predecessors. There were many things to love about the prequels, as a lifelong fan, but I took issue with many other aspects. I found myself arguing with other fans, and since the Internet was well underway at that point, I discovered a pattern.

Everyone Is a Star Wars Fan Even When They Aren’t

There might not be a more provoking franchise than Star Wars. Its global fame and its enthusiastic fandom, combined with changes in how we consume media and how we share our feelings about it, have resulted in some rather spicy opinions.

George Lucas created a vast universe to play in, and then he decided to pass the baton to new generations of makers, and to Disney. Many fans were concerned about this development, and many others saw the potential. When the sequels (The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker) arrived on the scene, each was met with strong emotions by many fans. Everyone had an opinion about them. Some fans did not see them as truly canon, while others felt the films had breathed new life into the franchise.

At one point, I had to mute them from social media, because discourse became so volatile that it took on a life of its own. Sometimes it grew outright savage. I confess that I allowed it to affect my joy for Star Wars, until recently.

New Hopes on Small Screens 

Before the sequels hit the big screens, Clone Wars graced the small screen. I grew to love this series, as it opened up parts of the Star Wars universe I had always wanted more of: a more in-depth fleshing out of Anakin as an adult, his interaction with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme, and also the new character, Ahsoka Tano. It also introduced us properly to Mandalore, a fascinating place with rich dynamics.

When The Mandalorian debuted on Disney Plus, I was skeptical that a great live-action series could be sustained. I’m happy that I was wrong. While I did not find the first season perfect, I found that it felt like Star Wars, and it opened up the galaxy more. And not just because of a tiny little green fellow. Season 2 especially cemented the show, in my opinion, as truly great.

And when The Book of Boba Fett arrived, I was most curious where the show would go. I loved the first few episodes and how they established a redemption and evolution for the enigmatic character, Boba Fett. The latter portion of the series essentially became The Mandalorian Season 3-ish. It was a swerve, and I felt jarred by it. But everyone has narrative arcs they like or don’t, and sometimes it just takes time to grow into things. By the end of the season, I was thrilled with it all. I don’t know where the show will go, or if it will return, but I hope that it does. It opened up a different side of the galaxy in greater depth and brought us back to the twin-sun landscape of Tatooine. I love the triad of Boba, Fennec, and Din, and I hope we see them together again one day.

Star Wars
Courtesy of Lucasfilm

My Starry Valentine

Fandom undulated all over the place online during this series. I once again decided to step back again from it, before shrugging and letting those feelings go. I decided to enjoy Star Wars for what it is, not for what it isn’t. The franchise impacted my life in massive ways, and for the most part, positive ones as well. How can I feel anything other than gratitude? So I’m sending George Lucas and everyone involved with the films and movies over the years a big Valentine. Star Wars may not “Be Mine” but it’s for the whole galaxy, and I love it anyway.

More From Wealth of Geeks

This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm. 

J. Dianne Dotson dreamed up other worlds and their characters as a child in the 1980s in East Tennessee. She formed her own neighborhood astronomy club before age 10, to educate her friends about the universe. In addition to writing stories, she drew and painted her characters, designed their outrageous space fashions, and created travel guides and glossaries for the worlds she invented.

As an adult, Dianne earned a degree in ecology and evolutionary biology, and spent several years working in research. She published Heliopause: The Questrison Saga®: Book One (2018) and its sequels Ephemeris: The Questrison Saga®: Book Two (2019), Accretion: The Questrison Saga®: Book Three (2020) and her last novel in the saga, Luminiferous: The Questrison Saga®: Book Four (2021).

Dianne is also a science writer, content writer and manager, short story writer, watercolorist, and illustrator. She lives with her family.