It’s hard to put into words how much of an impact Star Wars had on me. 40 years ago, my 8-year-old self sat in a theatre seat in a suburb of Toronto and when I came out, the world was different.
Star Wars is so deeply rooted in pop culture now that it’s hard to remember that when it came out, Star Wars was really weird. It’s incorrect to say that no one had ever seen anything like it before — after all, Star Wars wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve — but at that place & time, in that configuration, it was a quantum leap. As we all know, Star Wars changed everything, for better and sometimes worse.
As an 8-year-old, it galvanized me in ways that are still with me. I knew what I wanted to do with my life: tell stories. It opened up whole universes of possibility that I never dreamed existed.
At the most recent Celebration, George Lucas said that the essence of A New Hope (as it would eventually be named) is a coming-of-age story, and that is one of the many keys to understanding the breakthrough of Star Wars. To kids in that theatre, it represented giant, undreamed-of potentials that were on the horizon. We were Luke walking into the cantina and getting a glimpse of worlds we never imagined could exist. Moreover it gave us a moral center. It said “Things are about to get weird. There is darkness out there. Don’t be afraid.”
It’s totally fair to say I wouldn’t be doing Operation PUG if it weren’t for Star Wars. The first film project I ever did was an early Star Wars fan film in 2001, back when a Pentium, a copy of 3D Studio Max, a borrowed camcorder and hastily rigged green screen were all you needed. It gave me my first experience in creating a piece of media for mass consumption, and the lessons learned still inform everything I do today.
Star Wars has become something quite different in the past 4 decades. As we go forward I am comforted that the custodians of the franchise understand and revere it with the same deep love that the fans do.
Thank you Star Wars. You introduced me to myself.
The Force will be with you. Always.