Ever since the news in late 2012 that Disney was acquiring Lucasfilm, something inside of me that has long remained dormant began stirring; at least that is when I began to recognize a difference. To be honest, ever since I was surprised with the Blu-Ray collection of the complete movies and the Old Republic online game in 2011, the change began, I just failed to recognize it for what it was. I credit my wife for the catalyst that reignited my fervor and obsession with a story that I had began to take for granted as being equivocated to a static state the likes of which are ascribed to the Latin language. I didn’t think that STAR WARS would really offer me anything else than what I first enjoyed as a child and my attempts to capture that feeling in 1999 with the release of the prequel trilogy.
When I was young, I ate, lived and breathed STAR WARS. I tried to learn all I could about it in a world that had only recently enjoyed the convenience that microwave ovens offered in a mass scale. I lived in what I thought was the Earthly incarnation of Tatooine and only heard rumors of the supporting fandom, but being only a child, there was no way I could engage with it. I have seen every movie in the theater but RETURN OF THE JEDI was the first one I remember getting excited about with my friends. I don’t know if I did join the fan club, but I recall getting one newsletter before the release of JEDI that showed a black and white picture of Lando & some other crazy alien I would later learn was Nien Nunb. My mind was blown! What is that thing? Why is Lando in the Falcon?
Then I got my hands on the storybook through my Scholastic book order in school. Little Taxus poured over and over each picture dissecting each one as much as possible with the tool of conjecture. After the release there was a time of continued rapture with it all, but that gradually began to fade.
Although STAR WARS was not all-consuming as it once was for me, I still had an interest in learning what I could along the way. I bought all the West End Games material and learned it. I read “Heir to the Empire” as soon as it was released while on a very long flight to Israel. In my school, I was regarded by my classmates as the go to for STAR WARS debates (e.g. What’s the shelf life of blue milk on Tatooine vs. Hoth?). My friend Aaron Lea (@AaronLea) and I held Star Wars roundtable discussions at our local Science Fiction Club meetings. Later he and a few other friends (including @Darthweiser, @montepittman and @celindsey) and I joined the rest of the fandom community to stand in line all night long to be first to see The Phantom Menace.
Of course I saw the rest of the prequels after, but I met none of them with the fervor of the level of a child or the diminished amount as an adult in 1999. Although I knew that this was just the back-story to our original beloved, I think I just didn’t “get it.” Everything just looked too new and shiny. I didn’t understand even what THE PHANTOM MENACE referenced as a title until much later. Maybe part of my tepid acceptance was due to the fact that just like the movie TITANIC, I knew how this would end.
Fast forward about twelve years, and you’d see me beginning to break out of my slumber. The Blu-Ray was simply amazing. And I began to understand better the universe that George intended to portray pre-Empire with the Old Republic game. Everything was supposed to look new and shiny, but life under the Empire is a tyranny where everybody flies 1950’s Chevys since there are no new models available or if there were, people are hard-pressed to afford them. But online there was my namesake awestruck by simply activating my in-game lightsaber over and over again.
I used my friends’ Twitter handles above intentionally since this is an extension of the growth I’ve experienced in my fandom. Since the announcement of the new movie, my hunger for all things STAR WARS has been insatiable even though I have a feast of fandom before me (especially with STAR WARS REBELS). I am enthralled by all the mediums involved with continuing the story of STAR WARS, but best yet, I can connect with others who are like me in ways I never imagined to discuss and digest! My friends I grew up with are largely spread across the country and social media allows us to keep in touch as if we all lived down the block from each other. Podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, et al has brought the entirety of fandom together like never before and I have fun with it all. (Special thanks to @OldZorah who suggested I begin listening to such.) I’ve even made new friends in the process, some of whom I have been able to meet in person.
But there is another aspect beyond all of us who can find each other with a hash tag. I notice people in my everyday life have taken notice of the new direction and life that Disney has brought to the franchise. Even at my office, there are those who stop and ask me about the latest news, cosplay questions or what’s happening in the fandom community. Occasionally, those who know my secret identity will pass me in the hallways, nod and quietly say a greeting of “Lord Taxus.”
Thank you for following my retrospection on my journey to my current awareness. I am sure there are those out there who have had similar experiences. To me, all of this can be summed up with the very appropriately titled Episode VII. Unlike Episode I, which I was a bit bewildered with, I think I really get it now. Not only has The Force Awakened, but the fandom has too.
@DarthTaxus: Greetings Taxolytes! It’s your Dark Lord of Tax, Darth Taxus, the Lord of the Schtick with my fandom story.