Sunday, February 24, 2013

Why I've Never Seen STAR WARS

I have never seen Star Wars.  Or any of the sequels.  Or prequels.

I realize that this makes me something of an oddity.

First off, let me say that I’m sure Star Wars is an excellent movie.  Please don’t write to tell me that I’m crazy or un-American or a bad mother.  I am unquestionably certain that any movie that manages to burrow its way into the popular culture with the tenacity of Star Wars has much to recommend it.
I know a few things.  I know about Princess Leia and the hair, about all the robots.  I know James Earl Jones was the “voice” of Darth Vader.  I mix up Yoda and Jabba the Hutt.

In order to explain why I’ve never seen Star Wars, I’m going to have to write for a second about Ronald Reagan.  This is the first (and probably the last) time I will ever do this on my blog.
Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative was promptly dubbed “Star Wars” in the press, a fact that apparently irritated him. His Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle was more sanguine, telling colleagues, “Why not? It's a good movie. Besides, the good guys won."

Here’s the thing.  I don’t believe in good guys.

The movies I like to see, the books I like to read, are about real people, who sometimes do good things and sometimes do bad things.  Some of my favorite characters in literature (Soames Forstye, from John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga and A Modern Comedy trilogies) and cinema (Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey in American Beauty) do some very, very bad things.  I still find them lovable.  Why?  Because I get them.  And why is that?  Because I do bad things.  So does Tracy, my best friend of many years, who is as close to being a saint as it is possible for a human being to be.  So does everyone.  People are complicated.  Anytime I read about people who aren’t, I get bored.

Here’s another thing.  Winning.

If you’re one of the good guys in Star Wars, then presumably, you’re trying to win something.  Since I haven’t seen the movies, I can only surmise just what that something is.  Perhaps you are killing bad guys, or saving the world, or maybe even saving the Universe.  That’s wonderful.  I applaud you.

My life, as a person who is sometimes a good guy and sometimes a not-so-good guy, doesn’t look like that.  The challenges of my days include being a good girlfriend to my partner, being a good mother to my adult children, trying to take care of my Alzheimer’s-afflcted mother who thinks I’m after her money, making sure I run every day, making sure I write.  Each evening, the way I know I’ve won is if 1) the people I love still love me back, 2) my Achilles tendons aren’t throbbing, and 3) I’ve got at least two more pages of whatever manuscript I’m working on safely stowed away on my computer.

I don’t know from saving the Universe.  And when I'm reading books or watching movies, I want to learn about people whose challenges, while not identical, bear some sort of resemblance to mine.  Similarly, I'm more attracted to stories in which "winning" is more private--and possibly more ephemeral--than is an intergalactic journey to rid the world of evil.

Just in case you think I’ve never even tried to like a movie about good guys winning, I will let it be known that early in our relationship, Robert took me to see 300, and after ten minutes, I rested my head against the wall of the Orinda Theater and fell asleep.  I snored So Loudly that he had to wake me up, for fear I would distract the other moviegoers.

If I were going to have given the good-guys-winning genre a fair shot, I probably should have started with Star Wars.  But I already had a 30-year record of not watching it under my belt, and I just couldn't convince myself to break it.

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