May 19, 2005

So Star Wars is over. But even if you don't care about Yoda stick around, 'cause I'm gonna get preachy and you wouldn't want to miss that.

I'm gonna try and keep this whole thing spoiler free. First, the two cents, briefly: It was as good as it needed to be. Lucas has a couple of trump cards he can pull to make us collectively six years old again, all this movie ever had to be was a decent couch for those magic couple of things: Yoda badassery, the Anakin/Kenobi battle, Vader's first breath. The ultra-clumsy dialogue and people walking around in front of greenscreens giving intergalactic C-SPAN recaps were still in place, but trimmed back enough not to fuck with the magic. And we got a couple of legitimately awesome setpieces, battles, and "Order 66." I'm not angry. And my little-est brother (I just saw the 12:01 showing with both the brothers) said it was his favorite of all the movies, and the opinion of a real live Star Wars t-shirt wearing ten year old bests that of my inner ten year old any day. (Actual ten-year-old DC preferred Jedi was my favorite. The plot-obsessed, horny crank that has since replaced him reveres Empire. Just like we all grow up and start drinking coffee instead of soda.)

So, yea.

In improv there's sort of a piece of wisdom that you name stuff right away. You get all the details out there, because the more you keep something vague the more the audience will paint it with its imagination, and once propriety forces you to call that thing out, they will inevitably be disappointed with what you bring them. The same holds true, it's been said elsewhere and better, for storytelling. The Matrix trilogy got itself in huge trouble with this stuff. The Wachowskis gorged themselves on awesome vagueness and hints of bigger, badder stuff in the first movie, without knowing what any of that stuff was. We all shot the next two movies in our heads on the way home from the theater that day. And even if they hadn't fucked up massive in the second (and conventional-wisdomly in the third, though admittedly I haven't seen it), whatever they brought to the table would never, ever be as good as the movies we made in our heads.

George Lucas gave us 16 years to make the prequels in our heads. Collectively, we had more love for his creations than he himself seems to have been able to muster, all of it working away on set in our imaginations. Other stories we tell ourselves a million times a million different ways before life writes them for good: dating, love, graduations, freedom, our place in the world, they're written now, or in progress.

Anyway, you get where I'm going. Wondering is better than knowing. Anticipation beats reception every time.

Star Wars taught me the magic of stories. I didn't really get it until now but probably half of that lesson was leaving things in shadow. Promising the fantastic, promising the Clone Wars. The secret message in the way I shot the placing of the helmet on Vader's head in my head: Stories don't get handed down from the mountain. They belong to the people who love them and half of the telling takes place not on the set or in the editing bay but in the theater, in the dark, where those people sit, waiting, pleading, deserving to be wow-ed.

The creators are nobody special. They just let their affection jump its banks and become action.

Now that it's been written, I feel a little like I just opened the last present on Christmas morning. The last myth of our kid-hoods has been told. And initially that was going to be disappointing, in keeping with how drearily goddamn twenty I've been feeling for the past five months, but then I thought: Holy shit, it's ours now. Fuck Star Wars. I am going to play with the box it came in. It's always, always better because it's yours. You make it what it is.

This is on the trail of something I've been meaning to express for a little while, or at least an opportunity to let it fall out half-formed: We, and if you think I'm including you I am, are not owed opportunity, adventure, excitement. However, we owe it to somebody, and I'm not sure who exactly, maybe just ourselves, to live lives that are legitimate adventures. I think we might owe it to our grandparents, like my grandpa who told me he didn't know what he wanted to do when he grew up so he just picked engineering and he envied me my determination. None of us have to stay down on the farm or risk our hands in the factory. And probably we owe it to our ancestors who did have to stay on the farm to make our lives more than about tooling around our hometowns in cars that stand in for goals, picking lives of convienience, smugly certain that the future will come and we can waste today 'cause there will be more like it. All of us ought to prefer brave failure to comfortable success, because it's a hard fucking choice to make and therefore, probably right. No one will begrudge us living our dreams.

It's sanctimonious and schmaltz-y but I can't bring myself to pre-apologize for saying it. I am a sanctimonious and schmaltz-y dude, case in point, before I sat down I went out on the balcony, same one I had my first kiss on while my friends were inside watching Usual Suspects a year after Episode I came out, and listened to "The Last Days Of Disco" by Yo La Tengo and looked out at all the goddamn stars and the red-lit radio towers I grew up under and couldn't bring myself to be as melancholy as I thought I ought to be, all I could be was incredibly, incredibly happy. Alecia is happy too. We talked about this adventure stuff last night, in a conversation I started a few weeks ago with that all-purpose truth vessel, the drunken voice-mail, and if Alecia and I agree on something there's no way it can be wrong. She says she can't wait to see what everybody will do and she loves life. Absolutely.

I want to tell the stories my brothers will love, and, by extension, the world will love. And I'm going to.

This is ours now. Now.

Posted by DC at May 19, 2005 04:39 AM
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