My history with Star Wars is complicated. I was born in 1982. I was coming of age during that awkward period when people had forgotten about Star Wars. I have distinct memories of people my age saying things like it was old and outdated. Then the Special Editions happened and suddenly everyone was a Star Wars fan all over again. That’s what the Special Editions did. They didn’t erase your childhood, they breathed new life into a dying franchise.
I grew up in the days of VHS. I had Star Wars, as it was known then, on a recorded tape. Then one fateful day my dad recorded over it with a football game. Some stupid sports competition called the Super Bowl or something stupid like that. I hated football for the longest time for this.
I then recorded Return of the Jedi at the tail end of a VHS tape that was already full of other movies. Unfortunately the tape ran out right when Vader turned Luke’s lightsaber on the tape ended. I grew up for most of my life never seeing the ending of the film. I knew how it ended because I owned the storybook but still. My experience with Star Wars wasn’t tainted by nostalgia like it was for most people. I didn’t even get to see The Empire Strikes Back until I was in 3rd grade. Long after I had seen the first and third films a couple dozen times each. It was the missing piece of the puzzle. Yet I wasn’t a fan of the film. I liked it okay, it had a few key moments but for the most part I didn’t like it as much as everyone else. I don’t quite remember why.
Then in 1996 I got the Faces boxed Set on VHS. This was the last time the original unaltered trilogy was released on home video before the revised Special Editions would take their place. For the first time in my life I was able to watch the entire trilogy in order of release. This was game changing for me. The movies finally made sense. This was also around the time I discovered the books of the expanded universe. I quickly became a book nerd obsessed with those stories.
When I was 16 years old Star Wars returned to the big screen in the form of Episode One The Phantom Menace. This quickly became my favorite Star Wars film. It wasn’t long before the other prequels came out cementing their place in my heart while also locking me in as a life-long Star Wars fan. It took the special editions to get me to really become obsessed with Star Wars because they were finally more in line with the expanded universe which was alright with me. I also loved the newly inserted CGI special effects. The movies looked modern again. Breathtaking. I fell in love with CGI because of Star Wars.
I won’t recount my experience with the Disney fanfiction. I despise everything that has come since the Prequels. Okay that’s not entirely fair I liked the Disney Trilogy OKAY, especially The Last Jedi which was my favorite of the bunch. But I digress this is about the real Star Wars not the fanfiction.
What I learned over the years is everyone has their own vision of Star Wars. Everyone has their own preferred version of Star Wars. And that’s okay with me. I like that it has become such a phenomenon that people from all ages and all walks of life can get something entirely different out of it than every single other person. The larger community as a whole is extremely diverse. This has, unfortunately led to some division and derision in the fanbase but for the most part it’s kept the franchise alive, and that’s all that matters.