Star Wars 40th Anniversary — It Changed Everything For Me
I’ve posted the picture of my younger sister Christina and I before. I posted it years ago before there was any talk of an Episode VII or an animated series (or two) based on the films. I posted it before I was lucky enough to interview George Lucas on a red carpet or visit Skywalker Ranch. Friends saw this pic before I was on social media — before there was social media. I was in love with Star Wars long before I started Legion of Leia or had any idea I’d do what I do for a living. Star Wars was just something I loved.
I remember seeing the first film, though I have no idea if it was in a theater or on TV. I was very little, but I remember seeing Princess Leia. I remember grinning like a fool when she took over her own rescue. I remember being so young that I thought the Stormtroopers were droids, so shooting them was okay. I remember the moment that I realized that this put them in the same category as C-3PO and R2-D2 and the moral dilemma that caused for me. When I realized the Stormtroopers were people, that changed my understanding of the film as well. I remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back in the theater in my footie pajamas and my parents’ friend freaking out at the cliffhanger. I remember being just the right ages for the Ewoks in The Return of the Jedi. I remember the play sets and the large children’s book and playing with my Leia figure. I remember how much I envied my friends who had the trash compactor toy and thinking they just should have made friends with the creature inside. I would have. I remember the commercials and seeing it all when it was new.
It’s the Star Wars 40th anniversary today and it’s hard to believe it’s been that long…until I remember that my birthday is in five days and I’m just as shocked at the number of my own anniversary as I am about Star Wars. And yet…I don’t remember a time without it. I didn’t know as a little kid watching Episode IV over a hundred times on my VCR that someday it would change my life. I could never have imagined that someday I’d be talking about it on television or writing about it for a living. I couldn’t imagine a time where Carrie Fisher wasn’t around or that of all the people in the world, I’d be the one a news program called to discuss her life. I’m still not sure I believe it happened. Heck, it’s still hard for me to believe that the first hero I had is gone. When those beautiful pictures came out yesterday, it was still a few minutes before I remembered. Star Wars and Carrie Fisher (as much as Princess Leia) taught me that I didn’t have to be a girl the way the rest of the world saw them. I could be Leia. I could be strong. I didn’t have to play second fiddle to any guy. I could be Luke, off on an adventure that would change the course of the galaxy. I could be Han Solo, unafraid of anything. I could be Obi-Wan, wise and calm. I could be Darth Vader if I chose a different path, and even if I did, I could come back from the Dark side someday. There was more to the world than the block I played on.
It’s been 40 years and there is so much Star Wars still to come. Now I can look up to General Organa, not that her Princess title was ever the important thing about her. Now my younger friends have Rey and Fin and Rose in the new film. It’s not just nostalgia from my youth anymore. It’s not this thing I remember fondly that a younger generation never saw. 40 years in and it’s still going strong. 40 years in and I’m still inspired. Happy anniversary, Star Wars. May the Force be with you.