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There is No Death-There is The Force: How the Jedi Code Prepared Me for the New Era of Star Wars

December 17, 2015

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Hey Folks,

We’ve reached the tipping point haven’t we?  In a matter of hours, some of us will be sitting in a theater, watching a certain opening scrawl as (if we’re being honest) the most iconic theme in cinema history blares around us.  The Force Awakens is now upon us.  For the next week, we’re going to be even more inundated with Star Wars than we already have been this month (sorry you got upstaged this year Santa) as critics and everyone with a functioning social media account will tell us all how amazing the film was, how their childhoods have been restored, and how JJ Abrams should probably be made king.  Before the flood gates burst forth, I wanted to take this chance to say my piece finally and forever as to my personal journey leading up to this movie, and how some key moments of Jedi Teaching helped me navigate a rather “Dark Time for the Rebellion” in my life.

 I: There is No Emotion-There is Peace

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October 30, 2012.  A day that will live in infamy.  The day George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney for a cool $4 Billion.  The day that the film we now know as “Force Awakens” was announced.  The first time I ever deleted my own facebook post for containing far too many four letter words.  You have to understand, as a lifelong Star Wars fan, I grew up with a barrage of quotes from George Lucas that there would BE no sequel trilogy.  Read for yourself.  In 2008 interview he stated, “I’ve left pretty explicit instructions for there not to be any more features. There will definitely be no Episodes VIIIX. That’s because there isn’t any story. I mean, I never thought of anything. And now there have been novels about the events after Episode VI, which isn’t at all what I would have done with it. The Star Wars story is really the tragedy of Darth Vader.”

Part of my love for Star Wars is based on the idea of the closed story when it comes to the films.  The elegance of it.  I-VI.  Part 1, Part 2.  Old and New Testament.  There was an electric feeling that night in 2005 when Revenge Of The Sith came out.  Cause we all knew…it was over.  The circle was now complete.  I remember saying goodbye to a guy dressed as Obi-Wan I had never met before after the film.  We were standing in the parking lot and saying “Well, See you around.”  We knew we wouldn’t though.  Because we had finished the journey.  It was the single most electric moment of my highschool career.  Sorry to both my prom dates.

So suddenly, there were going to be more films?!  And the director I had always respected for protecting his independence above all else had sold his brain child to The House of Mouse?  I felt like the woman I had been married to for my whole life had suddenly announced she wanted a divorce and she was leaving me for Mickey.

To make matters worse, April 25, 2014 rolled around.  The date that The Expanded Universe was dissolved.

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Always canon for me.

If you don’t QUITE know what The Expanded Universe (now known as Star Wars Legends) is, it refers to all the spin off comics, novels, video games and other such products that continued the Star War saga throughout the 90s and 00s. The creative powers behind the new films decided to completely go their own way with the new trilogy, overriding existing story material detailed in these books.  I felt like JJ Abrams was coming into my house, snatching away my favorite comic book and going, “Oops sorry you read that for twenty years, here’s what REALLY happened.” To continue the marriage metaphor, I felt like my wife was not only asking for a divorce, but now she was telling me that all the good times we had together never even occurred.  It was a dark time my friends.

II: There is no Passion-There is Serenity

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This part of the Jedi Code deals with learning to let go.  Time has passed, and I’ve thought about these words as well as Qui-Gon Jinn’s teaching to Anakin, “Your Focus Determines Your Reality.”  I now believe Lucas sold Star Wars for reasons of Legacy.  He wanted to make sure that his baby would live on in the right hands for future generations.  Sure Disney is incredibly exploitive with their creative properties, but they ARE respectful.  For decades, they can have milked Mickey Mouse and his cohorts for all they were worth with a quite dignity, and look, those characters still matter to kids.  The  same can’t (sadly) be said about something like Looney Tunes.  Bugs Bunny appears to be lost on this generation.  As I said earlier, my love of Star Wars is really a personal thing.  It’s not based on fan conventions or belonging to some some local chapter of a collecting society. It’s about me and a 12 hour movie I love with other works thrown in that deepen the mythology. That being said, I can’t get over seeing the next generation fall in love with a galaxy far, far, away.  Those moments when I see a kid who wasn’t even alive for Revenge Of The Sith, much less A New Hope, wearing a Darth Vader shirt.  When a youngster who doesn’t even come up to my elbow thanks me for playing the Star Wars Main Title Theme at a gig.  Moments such as these cause my cold, bitter nerd heart to melt.  As I discuss in the essay I wrote for Pennlive (I was selected as one of 4 Ultimate Star Wars Fans in Central PA) Star Wars gives us a unique playground for our imaginations.  It is a place where we meet our most foundational elements of story and myth in an environment that’s new and strange and wonderful.  I want this 3rd generation of Star Wars fans to have what I experienced throughout the 00s.  The Universe (I-VI) as it was will always be there for them to love, but this new trilogy of films will be all their own to anticipate, experience, grow up with, and dream about.  These Star Wars films are for them, even if they’re not quite for me.

III: There is No Death-There is The Force

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Wired recently ran an article with the headline “You’ll Never Live to see The Last Star Wars Movie.”  While that statement does instill in me some fear that the quality of output associated with The Star Wars Universe may one day wax and wane, I am excited that in a kinetic, vital way, something that has meant so much to me for so much of my life will continue to inspire people far beyond my mortal reach.

So tonight, I’m going to suit up in my Storm Trooper shirt, sit down and experience the dawn of a new era.  I’m frightfully zen about the whole thing.  Steven King was once asked, “How do you feel when TV and film directors ruin your books?” to which the master replied, “They didn’t ruin my books, my books are right behind me on the shelf.”  Disney and Abrams have neither the power to save nor ruin Star Wars for me.  Star Wars sits on my shelf as I write this, a gleaming and perfect 12 hour plus epic of fathers and sons, angels and demons, wisemen and fools, loss and redemption.  It is is joined by a collection of comics, novels and that sweet ass Clone Wars cartoon by the samurai jack guy, all of which have come to enhance and deepen the story for me over the years.  That for me is what has come to mean “Star Wars.”  Though, like all truths we cling to though, I admit that it depends greatly on my own point of view.

 

May The Force Be With You All,

 

Peter Winter

 

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Star Wars as I see it. Expanded Universe, and characters from all six chapters intermingled together.  Thanks to James Robinson for taking this shot.  Originally included in the piece about Ultimate Star Wars Fans for PennLive.

 

 

Peter Winter tweets @peterwinter38

 

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