Star Wars: The Hype Awakens | *Updated 10/31*
A long time ago in a land far far away (Picture Rocks, Pennsylvania)…
In 1996, my parents let me watch Star Wars: A New Hope for the first time while vacationing at my grandma’s house in Pennsylvania.
It’s the moment they – and I – realized that I was a nerd. A Star Wars nerd, specifically.
Since I was six years old, much of my personality has been defined by my love of the entire Star Wars universe. My parents rented a karate uniform for me to dress as a Jedi for Halloween. One of my classmates talked at recess about his favorite scenes from Star Wars; he instantly became my best friend (hi, Jake!). My room was decorated with X-Wing and Millennium Falcon models hanging from the ceiling, and bigger and bigger storage containers to hold an ever-growing collection of action figures. Even today, I work in an office adorned with works of classic art with super-imposed Star Wars characters (C-3PO in “The Scream,” Princess Leia as the Mona Lisa, etc)! I never go a day without making a pun or outright quote from Star Wars.
I’m not unique in fandom. Since 1977, the world of Star Wars devotees has spread internationally, across generations, and even enduring three pretty lackluster prequel films (I’m not going to pile on the prequel-hate). I’m one of the millions of people who love the Star Wars universe. And like many of them, I feel something deeply nostalgic, familiar, exciting, and satisfying about Star Wars.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18, 2015. You knew that. Because water coolers across the world have been buzzing with discussion.
“Did you hear who they cast as the bad guy in this one?”
“I hope J.J. Abrams doesn’t fuck this up.”
“The teaser they put out has a soccer ball-shaped droid!”
“…and then Han Solo goes, ‘Chewie, we’re home!'”
“I’m going to watch Monday Night Football tonight; that’s when the full trailer comes out.”
“I got tickets for the 7PM showing the night it comes out; I’m going to leave work early.”
There’s so much hype around this movie, and I am completely ensconced in it. I’m voracious with my hunger for more details, more speculation, more of the galaxy far far away. Even my obnoxious chatting with my roommates, girlfriend, coworkers, family, and friends hasn’t grown old for me. I’m losing productivity at work reading articles – and comments sections – about what awaits us in December.
So here at PorchDrinking, I’m inviting you all to obsess with me. For the next 7 and a half weeks, I’ll be posting here EVERY SINGLE DAY to report on what I’ve done to hype myself up for the new movies. I’ll be linking to articles, videos, fan theories, posting pictures, reporting on how many times I’ve watched the trailers….
It’s a real-time log of one fan’s obsessive anticipation for The Force Awakens.
Watch this space. It’s not a trap!
Sunday, October 25
I bought a Stormtrooper onesie. I was going to a pajama party, Target had one for sale, it had a hood that looked like the helmet… I had no choice. I got to the party, and was one of two people wearing onesies. Soooo I changed into regular people clothes, but now I’m a 25 year old man with a Stormtrooper onesie. I’m not one for taking selfies, so this will have to do in terms of showing you what the thing looks like:
Also, this weekend… my roommates watched A New Hope with a Star Wars padawan – someone who had never seen it before. One, how is it possible for someone not to have seen this movie by now? Two, how is it possible for my roommates to watch this movie without me? I’ve even promised to stop quoting lines before they’re delivered.
Interesting tidbit my roommate Beth brought up while grudgingly watching A New Hope; it’s a letter I had seen before, but chose to forget. Apparently, Alec Guinness (aka Obi Wan Kenobi aka Old Ben Kenobi aka Old Man Ewan McGregor) didn’t believe in Star Wars while filming it nearly 40 years ago. Here’s his commentary:
It’s a striking reminder that before Star Wars was a multi-billionaire dollar studio tent pole franchise with unlimited merchandising potential… it was a quirky little movie about spaceships and aliens and robots directed by a guy with a vision but not much money. If 25-year-old Drew had never seen Star Wars, the concept of A New Hope would’ve sounded like a bad B-movie. When I was six, it was the most ambitious and dramatic experience I had ever seen on a screen.
That’s one of the reasons Star Wars became the huge institution it did. In 1977, people weren’t inundated with CGI explosion-fests about saving galaxies. George Lucas managed to do something that impressed that audience and managed to cut through cynicism of movie audiences as recently as 1996 when a kid watched it on his grandma’s TV. So take that, Alec Guinness. What you called fairy-tale rubbish became something more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
Monday, October 26
Mentioned, but not visible in my desk shot above… I sit underneath a “Starry Night” van Gogh that has the Milennium Falcon superimposed (in the style of van Gogh). Like I said… I’m lucky to work with fellow Star Wars nerds. My department will be a ghost town on the afternoon of December 17th – I doubt I’m the only one trying to take in an opening-night screening of The Force Awakens.
Also… would my dog still love me if I put him in one of these for Halloween?
An insane theory in the form of this image macro, shared by Tristan…
Now, that’s just crazy. Just because this movie has a black protagonist, we’re gonna start guessing that he’s related to the only other black character we know in the universe? That’d be like saying that a character must be Leia’s mom just because she’s the only other female in the universe to get a name, which would be absolutely insa—
Tuesday, October 27
Slate published an article – in typical Slate fashion – about how people are wrong. There’s a lot of speculation that Luke Skywalker will turn (or have already turned) to the dark side in The Force Awakens. The only sign of him so far in leaks & trailers has been that shot of a robotic hand on R2-D2, which is supposedly Luke. With all the secrecy, is it possible that JJ Abrams is about to show us evil Luke?
No, according to Slate. And the thesis for why Luke won’t be evil boils down to this: he’s wearing light robes in that shot. Forrest Wickman, the author of the article, cites Google Images — yep, Google Images — to point out that, like, duh, the good guys wear light colors and the bad guys wear dark. His photo evidence:
I don’t know all the Star Wars lore, and I doubt most of you care, but here are three points that are just silly about this article.
1) Flashbacks and dynamic story arcs happen. Luke could start out a Jedi but turn bad either in flashback or during a movie. (I don’t think he will)
2) The brown robes argument is stupid. Luke wore black in Return of the Jedi. His fashion choice has very little to do with any potential turn to the dark side. (I don’t think he will)
3) The use of Google images as evidence of what JJ Abrams, Lucasfilm, Disney, etc are thinking in storymaking is laughable. I’m pretty sure those Google image results are there for dudes to get inspired for cosplay. I’m not even making fun of cosplay – I just actually think that’s what some of those photos are. Maybe Forrest Wickman should try Bing images next time. (I don’t think he will)
So… like… how long ago is “A long time ago?” I don’t even care how far the “galaxy far far away” is. I’m never going to space. But was a long time ago… like… the 1950s? Was my grandpa my age when the events of Star Wars happened in that galaxy?
Okay. Back to work.
Wired did an analysis of the speed of TIE fighters in the teasers we’ve seen so far. It’s sort of dense, despite obvious efforts to make the language more approachable to those of us who got B-minuses in math class. Short answer: most of those TIEs are going about 450 mph. I always thought the TIE was a pretty cool fighter, even though it was for the bad guys. Even the screeching noise they made was well-designed.
Watched the trailer again today, and I noticed something new. If you look VERY closely, there’s a subtle hint that maybe Luke Skywalker DOES show his face in the trailer.
Wednesday, October 28
Just finished watching JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot.
Well, I was going to finish reading the book “S.” by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst that was given to me as a gift. If you don’t know the book (and don’t feel like following the Wikipedia link I just made), here’s the basic premise: The book comes as a library copy of “Ship of Theseus” by a mysterious (and fictional) author. You read that novel, but then you go back and read the plethora of notes in the margins between two characters written over time as they take turns reading the book. There are also inserted maps, notes, articles… it’s several stories wrapped in one.
I was GOING to try to finish that book. And I still will. But goodness gracious, that book is dense. I have enough of an attention deficit that I find it difficult to read text when there’s a bunch of handwriting all around me.
So instead, I watched Star Trek. And damn, that’s a good movie. It’s fun. That said… I don’t know the mythology of the Star Trek universe. So I don’t know how faithful it was to its original source material. I get that “live long and prosper” and “beam me up!” and “damn it, man, I’m a doctor” are things from the original show that satisfy fans. But did people have beef with JJ Abrams taking over their beloved institution? And, hence, will Star Wars nerds like me have problems with the way he takes over THAT universe? Everything I’ve seen so far consists of JJ Abrams saying he’s a diehard Star Wars fan and he’s going to be loyal to the vision of the worlds created by George Lucas. And furthermore, I think I’d be okay with a movie that’s really fun like Star Trek even if it doesn’t look stylistically like what came before.
Quick Google search for “how faithful was jj abrams star trek” gave me a funny result:
So either websites sensationalize headlines drawn from moderately different statements by the same subject, or JJ Abrams managed to win over William Shatner.
I’d like to think I’m a lot more open-minded about sci-fi than William Shatner.
John Boyega & Daisy Ridley (aka Finn and Rey, aka the black stormtrooper and the lady [if you want to be that reductionist about it]) posted photos of themselves with John Williams after sitting in on him scoring the film.
Now, I’m sure that two months from now I will geek out about anything John Boyega or Daisy Ridley does. I am likely to have a crush on Daisy Ridley that surpasses my crush on Emma Watson. But as of right now – given that I haven’t seen their contributions to the Star Wars universe – I’m more jealous of THEM than I am of John Williams.
I mean, they got to hang out with John Williams!!!
Thursday, October 29
I’ve been asked twice this week whether I’m going to be a Star Wars character for Halloween.
Not dressing up at work. And my costume will be a character from a DIFFERENT sci-fi movie that came out years before I was born. A movie that takes place in the ’80s. And the ’50s. And the present.
Stephen Colbert shared his theory on last night’s show regarding what he believes will happen in The Force Awakens. For those of you who don’t like watching videos (ain’t nobody got time for that), the basic premise is this: the good guys have gradually turned to the dark side, and the bad guys – embodied in the Stormtrooper Finn – are turning to the light. Colbert explains below:
Not that Star Wars needs an advocate like Stephen Colbert, but it really is nice to see how ardent and seemingly authentic his fandom is. Back in December 2014, the first teaser for The Force Awakens came out, and people had a lot to say about Kylo Ren’s cross-guard lightsaber. Stephen addressed that as well. What makes this video great isn’t just his funny comments about Star Wars or his professorial and thorough breakdown of the lightsaber’s efficacy… it’s his enthusiasm. The guy clearly has an authentic passion for these films. He’s just a grown up nerd kid talking about a subject he loves.
I want to be Stephen Colbert when I grow up.
Shout out to Mike Woeste for sharing a link on my Facebook timeline today. I appreciated the article he posted for two reasons.
1 – This article argues that the destruction of Adleraan (Princess Leia’s home) in A New Hope was a justified move by the empire.
2 – This article was published in The Washignton Post.
That’s right. The same publication that broke the Watergate story published what essentially amounts to a pro-Vader op-ed.
There’s a whole lot here. If you like political journalism or Star Wars, I advise you read the article. Just a few of the author’s assertions that I wish to contest. And yes, I realize that Sonny Bunch – in addition to having the worst porn name ever – is probably being tongue-in-cheek. But these things I cannot abide:
Bail Organa, was one of the original members of the rebellion, conferring with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda in an effort to undermine the democratically elected Chancellor Palpatine shortly after his ascension.
Bro, I know the prequels weren’t great, but did you even watch them? Palpatine was not a democratically elected chancellor. He was a G.D. SITH who himself undermined the fabric of the Senate to gain power, using the guise of an ambitious and cunning politician as a slightly-less-evil cover for his true dark nature.
The destruction of Alderaan, then, is more analogous to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki than it is to a “genocide.”
Even beyond the initial insensitivity of this historical allusion, it’s not even congruent with Star Wars. The Japanese were openly engaged in war with the United States in 1945. The people of Alderaan, as far as you or anyone knows, were peaceful. It’s not their fault that Leia called Alderaan home. Technically, she wasn’t even FROM there! She was adopted! You wouldn’t hold the US accountable for the actions of Justin Bieber, would you?!
keep in mind that the Empire was, in all likelihood, the good guy this whole time.
Good guys aren’t usually allied with people who explicitly talk about “the dark side” of things.
On the other, you have a band of religious terrorists whose leaders include a drug smuggler in the pocket of slavers and a pair of incestuous twins working to restore a broken republic held hostage by special interests that tolerated its citizens being treated as chattel.
Look, don’t make me defend the super weird Luke/Leia thing… but the Alderaan destruction was a whole big chunk of the movie before Luke and Leia had ever even met, and 2 full movies before they knew they were related.
Bottom line…. this was a serious tragedy that deserves to be treated with respect, not inflammatory remarks insulting the late people of Alderaan.
Friday, October 30
Watched this Harrison Ford interview from Kimmel last night. Again, I know a lot of people don’t want to watch a four-minute video, so I’ll just summarize a few points:
Firstly, I want to make a Star Wars pun about Harrison’s costume. Hotdog Solo? Han Sodium? Millennium Frankfurter? Okay, those are all bad. Sorry.
Next, can you imagine how many times the cast members from The Force Awakens must be asked “hey, can you tell me ANYTHING about the new movie?” I’m sure they get it from friends & family all the time, but they also have to imagine that every time they’re in front of a camera, it’ll be coming.
And at this point, I don’t think I want to know spoilers. I spent a little bit of time (before I started writing here) trying to get leaks or plot summaries or even descriptions of what might happen. And I probably know more than I should already. So I’m quitting spoilers, cold turkey. Everything that I currently don’t know about the movie, I want to find out on December 17th, when the movie is on the big screen.
That’s what I like about Harrison Ford’s interview here. “Why would you want to say anything?” he asks. “I want the audience to experience it.”
I want to experience The Force Awakens. If one of our original heroes dies, I don’t want to be sure until I SEE it with 200 strangers (who hopefully will express their shock quietly, so I don’t miss anything). If Kylo Ren is someone’s son, I want to gasp in a theater, not staring at my phone. Of COURSE I want to know what happens in the new movie. I just want to find out in the way that’s the most satisfying.
When I saw Interstellar last year, I had NO IDEA that a certain A-list actor would show up halfway through the movie. And it was an awesome surprise. I’m glad I didn’t know. Because the experience of going “wait… is that… is that [redacted] in that sleep chamber thing?” was way better than going into the theater going “I hear [redacted] makes a cameo.”
So no spoilers for me. And I also won’t be writing about any spoilers in this space. Thanks, Harrison Ford, for validating and affirming my philosophy of acting like this emoji for the next 50 days:
Here’s a video you SHOULD watch. It’s not 4 minutes long. It’s 4 seconds long. But I watched it about 60 times, so it’s sort of the same thing.
The author of the Alderaan article I linked to yesterday had a small objection to my commentary, and let me know about it on Twitter.
Yet when I pressed Sonny to come up with 3 names that are worse than that… he admitted I was right.
Speaking of Jimmy Kimmel, here’s a DVR alert for 3 and a half weeks from now. Kimmel is going to do an all Star Wars-themed show on November 23rd. Damn, Disney is really nailing this cross-promotion thing. First Monday Night Football, and now they’ve found a way to get me to watch Jimmy Kimmel.
Saturday, October 31
I saw something while driving around my neighborhood that made me smile. A quick observation that lasted a few seconds on my drive hyped me not only for the new Star Wars movie, but for the future of the whole franchise.
I live in an area of LA that’s home to working-class families with just enough money to occupy cute ranch houses with narrow strips of front lawn which, frankly, all look the same. It’s the sort of community where I know what my neighbors’ Christmas lights will look like because they’ll be identical to last year. I know whose dogs will try to bite my ankles as I walk by. I know where on the street to expect “SLOW CHILDREN AT PLAY” signs — if ever there was a case for punctuation in signage, that would be it.
So it was no surprise to me when I saw a kid AT PLAY in the middle of the street as I was driving home. That’s a frequent occurence. I’m used to going SLOW for KIDS in my neighborhood. What hyped me was that this kid was wearing a Darth Vader helmet as he ambled across the street.
Not a full Darth Vader costume. Just the helmet. He was a sort of chubby kid, maybe 11 years old or so, wearing a tie-dye t-shirt, blue athletic shorts, and flip flops. And a Darth Vader helmet.
I chuckled as I drove past him. This kid was so pumped up for his Halloween costume that he was hanging out in the front yard and in the street wearing his Vader mask. He wasn’t just going to dress as Lord Vader for Halloween. That badass kid was gonna be Lord Vader for Halloween. I pictured him accompanying his mom to the grocery store, sitting in the cart as Vader, pretending it was a TIE fighter. I imagined him swinging a stick around in the front yard, making the swooshing sounds of a lightsaber as he chased his sister. If he’s anything like I was at that age, he’d probably try to clean his room by moving things around with the Force.
The next generation of Star Wars nerds is out there. And they’ve had a few animated series – the Clone Wars stuff, this new Rebels show – to feed them new content. And when this new film comes out, I imagine we’ll see Kylo Rens and Finns and Reys for a few years. But this year in North Hollywood, there’s a kid wearing a Darth Vader costume who just can’t wait to embody the same character that generations of kids before him have embodied.
I welcome him to the fold and I wish him a very happy Halloween.