A plea concerning Star Wars: Episode IX
An open letter to J.J. Abrams
Dear Mr. Abrams,
I am proud to say I am a genuine, bona fided, second-generation geek.
May I present my credentials?
Like the Harry Potter fans that came after him, my father eagerly anticipated--and voraciously devoured--every ongoing installment of Tolkien's Sagas from Middle Earth. Later on, he got a job programing software (read: punching cards) for the computer science department at MIT in the late 1960s.
He remembers the entire place coming to a screeching halt when Star Trek was on.
My mother has been a TV junkie from the moment her gadget-loving father made their family the first in their rural Virginia county to get one. For time immemorial, she has been my IMDb before IMDb and to this day, she is still my go-to for all things classic movies and TV Westerns. I daresay most of those who enjoyed the acid-laced quips dished out by Olenna Tyrelle on Game of Thrones have not been milking the 50-year girl crush on Diana Rigg that she has.
Her OTP remains Perry Mason & Della Street.
These are the parents who took me to see Star Wars...A New Hope...Episode IV...you know the one...in the summer of 1977.
I went into the movie cold; I hadn't even seen the trailer for it. My parents, two younger sisters and I were holed up in a small apartment in Port Arthur, Texas while Dad was pulling a temporary assignment at a local power plant. We knew no one there so they couldn't hire a sitter, but my parents wanted to see it so badly they made the rare move of taking us all to a matinee.
And my imagination was instantly transfixed.
Even at seven years old, I could feel Luke's yearning to get off of that desert planet and see the galaxy and Princess Leia's abject terror as she was interrogated by the eternally-intimidating Darth Vader, whose dark, cloaked figure marched menacingly down those white hallways as if out of a child's worst nightmare.
And although I instantly fell for Han Solo's swagger, I shipped Luke and Leia before there was even a word for it. (Didn't know about the twin thing back then...but in my defense, apparently neither did they.)
(And yes, when Princess Leia first appeared onscreen, my mother pointed and said she was "Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds' daughter" before muttering something about a divorce and Elizabeth Taylor.)
That day, a life-long science-fiction fan was born.
That day, my life of eternal geekdom was cemented.
And I've never looked back. And I've never been sorry.
Since then, geek has become cool. Fandoms have come and gone. Some I picked up on my own (I read The Mists of Avalon at 12), some I tagged along with (I went to every LOTR/Hobbit movie on opening day--with my dad), some I even avoided (sorry--still a Harry Potter Muggle). In between, I've been a Beastie (Beauty and the Beast-the Original Series), a Gater (Stargate: SG-1), a Browncoat (Firefly, the best ship in the 'Verse), and a Sleepyhead (Sleepy Hollow--which had sooooo much potential).
That's where you come in.
In 2009, I went to see the rebooted Star Trek. First of all, there was no way I was missing a new Star Trek movie...I just wouldn't respect myself in the morning. Secondly, I had to pre-screen it for my mother, who has enjoyed every adaptation of Star Trek and watched the trailers with a mixture of intrigue ("That looks really good...") and trepidation ("...but what if they screw it up?").
Mr. Abrams, if I hadn't gone to the final showing of that evening, I would have walked out of the theatre, bought another ticket, and seen it again that instant. It is the only time in my life I can remember wanting to do that. But I did not even wait to get in my car before I called my mother, telling her I was not going to let her miss this and I guaranteed her she would love it. (I also texted every geek friend I have, giving the movie nothing but the highest praise.)
I saw it again with my mother that very weekend and sure enough, she was thrilled with it.
When my father saw it, the first words out of his mouth were, "That was excellent!"
Which brings us to the future and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX which has been entrusted to you.
So far, I have enjoyed The Force Awakens (which was all you) and The Last Jedi (which wasn't). I thought you treated the demise of Han Solo well and I accepted it because I understood Mr. Ford wanted out in real life. Not only did you make his final exit dramatic, you used it to advance the story. Bravo. For the record, I'm not one of these fans who spends a lot of time in the Expanded Universe; I'd rather let the movies tell the story and I strap myself in, hang on, and enjoy the ride...or not.
Mr. Abrams--in case you're too polite to have done the math--when Episode IX comes out, I will be 50 years old. I will have spent the vast majority of my life invested in the people and adventures of this long-ago galaxy far, far away. So I need you to do me a big favor.
Please, Please...Don't blow it.
Don't make me sorry that, sitting in that movie theatre in Port Arthur, Texas 40+ years ago, I chose the Way of the Geek.
Thank you, and as always...
May The Force Be With You.