The important thing to remember is that the stakes for this movie, your personal stakes for this movie, should be very, very low.
Let’s talk for a moment about sacred cows. I’m talking, specifically, to the children of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s here — do we seriously have any pop culture sacred cows anymore? I know we all grew up with these movies that we loved, that we’ve mythologized to an insane degree, that we regard as the sacred texts of our childhoods.
Those movies will always exist. We will always love them, no matter what – even IF they are rebooted, remade, or sequelized in horrific ways.
With that in mind, let’s ask the question – what happens if J.J. Abrams has made a BAD Star Wars movie?
Answer: We’ve already had bad Star Wars movies. Three bad Star Wars prequels and three special editions that made tone-deaf, completely unnecessary alterations to the originals.
Question: What if Harrison Ford ruins one of his most iconic characters of all time?
We have already seen the worst that Star Wars can throw at us and guess what? The world keeps spinning, the sun keeps shining, Empire Strikes Back is still the best, no matter what.
The grown-ups of today have already watched almost all of their pop culture sacred cows slaughtered and thrown to the wolves. We’ve had boring Tron reboots, the slime-drenched Ghostbusters 2, Michael Bay’s Transformers and Ninja Turtles, Joel Schumacher’s Batman, Terminator Genysis, Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan, and so, SO many Lethal Weapon and Die Hard sequels that were just painful, painful to watch.
There are hardly ANY beloved film franchises from our youth that haven’t already been ruined or tainted in some way, even if that “next chapter” hasn’t actually been made yet. (Even just the online discussion about what Goonies 2 might look like pre-emptively bums me out.)
I am not saying this to make you think that The Force Awakens will suck.
I am saying this to let you know that there is no way that The Force Awakens can suck enough to ruin your childhood.
YOU hold all of the power here.
We have not had a good Star Wars movie since 1983. You weren’t owed this new movie. It didn’t have to exist.
Take the movie in and judge it for what it is. If it’s great – fantastic. What a treat. If it’s bad – well, that’s happened before. I guess you shouldn’t have bought that $200 BB-8 toy so early. Ah well.
And, if it’s somewhere in-between – as it probably will be – try to enjoy it for what it is.
Because Star Wars isn’t perfect. And it sure as hell isn’t sacred. We’ve all lived through watching shallow imitations of our childhood icons – Indiana Jones, John McClane, Sarah Conner, and, yes, even Yoda – paraded onto the big screen and, as hard as they’ve tried, they have not once, not ever been able to kill our love for the material that inspired them.
So, keep this in mind when you’re watching the new Force Awakens trailer or when you sit down in that darkened theatre on December 18th.
J.J. Abrams cannot kill your childhood. Harrison Ford cannot kill your childhood. Poe Dameron cannot kill your childhood.
All they can do is make something new, offer it to you, and ask “Do you like this?”
That’s a pretty low-stakes question for a sacred cow.
If the answer is “No,” you’re out the price of admission and a few hours of your time. That’s it.
Personally, I’m trying not to have any expectations for Episode VII. It seems like an impossibly hard thing to pull off. There have been so few successful movies that have been inspired by the films of our youth…how can it possibly work?
I think that’s my key to enjoying The Force Awakens – realizing that Star Wars isn’t sacred anymore. It’s a vast storytelling universe, created by extremely fallible men and women, and sometimes those fallible people… well… fail.
And that’s OK.
So, when I see Force Awakens – even with all the hype surrounding it – if it represents one of those times when those storytellers fail, I’m going to be all right with it. It happens. It’s happened before. It’s just a movie.
And if it’s great, I’ll regard as a gift, a pleasant surprise. A happy reunion that I wasn’t expecting.
Because, at the very least, I can know that, no matter what, it can’t be worse than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, right? I mean, WOW.