Dennis O’Neil: “Star Wars. Nothing But Star Wars…”
Yo, fellow geeks! Are we holding our breaths? Can we squirm with anticipation for another day or two? Because, as you well know, this is the week. The latest Star Wars flick is about to open and hey! I thought the fuss surrounding the release of the last Batman movie was a big honking deal, but that, compared to the Star Wars fuss, was a third grade talent show.
At what point will we see it (and be assured that, despite our extreme maturity, we will see it because under our wrinkles live, well, geeks.) Will we be waiting at the 21-plex when its cute little machines and pleasant humans begin ticket-selling on Friday morning? Or will we exercise a little self-restraint and avoid the mall for another little while until the dust settles and maybe there’s a few more parking spaces? (But who am I kidding? It’s the holiday season and there will never be enough parking spaces, at least not until January. Then maybe.)
Television commercials and magazine covers and news stories…
Yep, big honking deal, all right and a stark contrast to the release of the first Star Wars entertainment, way back in 1977. I saw that almost be accident. I was doing something or other in Los Angeles when I encountered David Gerrold, science fiction writer and editor who had, bless him, published an early sf story of mine in an anthology. David was going to a movie screening and had an extra ticket and was I interested and… why not? I knew virtually nothing about the movie but David was pleasant company and the screening was in a theater owned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – the Oscar awarders – which made it the toniest theater I’d ever visited. I was going to pass that up? Nope.
What followed was a great afternoon in the dark.
And Star Wars quickly became a hit (and helped spawn an interest in mythology) and, along with its sequels, has been in our heads ever since. All to the good? Shrug. I’m a pop culture guy – read: geek – and you’re not about to catch me knocking the stuff that’s given me so many good moments and, not incidentally, kept me warm and nourished for about a half century.
But I look at the news media and behold the shabby state of the world and wonder if, as a civilization, we aren’t paying too much attention to our amusements and not enough to matters that make us squirm, not with anticipation, but with dread. Global warming. Terrorism. Mass shootings. Mutating microorganisms. Racism. Education. You know. To find relief from the planet’s woes we engross ourselves in all things pop culture, and let’s include athletics and gossip in that category, and we neglect what’s genuinely important and when the world worsens from the neglect, we again run from the fear the neglect causes by seeking refuge in the trivia that, arguably, has been contributing to the worsening. Round and round and round…
But, you know? Maybe if we get to the mall early, before school lets out, we might find a parking space…
(The editor would like to thank Nick “Winters” for inspiring today’s headline. His Christmas special presently airs on Netflix.)