As a card-carrying nerd (perhaps dork and geek as well, with some tendencies towards dweeb and freak), I am a fan of the Star Wars universe.
Of course you are, I can imagine you saying to yourself, shaking your head slowly.
I don’t deny it. I can’t deny it. The movie that, since around 1981, has been known as Star Wars: A New Hope, but was just called Star Wars when I saw it the first time in 1977, changed the movie-watching experience for me for the rest of my life. To date. I was eleven-years-old, soon to be twelve, which is the age that popular culture seems to have the most impact in your life. And Star Wars blew my young mind, expanded my imagination and raised the stakes for every form of entertainment that followed. Empire continued that trend for me, becoming my favorite of all the movies (again, to date). And then Return of the Jedi, which came out the year I graduated high school and which I watched for the first time in Myrtle Beach, SC, while buzzing on grain alcohol, initially disappointed me. I’ve gained some affection for the movie, but the initial disappointment never fully left me. For years I called it that muppet show. Ironic, considering I liked The Muppet Show.
Until Star Wars: the Force Awakens came out, I never experienced the same sense of joy and wonder that I first felt in 1977. Even with Awakens, the experience was tempered by everything that preceded it.
Like legions of other fans, I think less of the prequel trilogy than the original. But, I celebrate the fact that it is Star Wars and that it exists. Plus, time has mellowed my anger over what I first considered to be a total mind-rape of my childhood. There’s plenty to like in the prequels as well. I have just begun a viewer’s odyssey of watching the animated The Clone Wars.
As a creature of the early 21st century, I’ve gradually caught up with technology and have become an avid fan of many podcasts. I’ve listened to several podcasts dedicated to Star Wars, which should come as no surprise. I highly recommend Alastair Stephens’ entire Story and Star Wars series, even though (minor criticism here) he treats the subject more academically and seriously than even I think it deserves. There have been plenty of others, most of which are apparently forgettable since I have forgotten their names. But, my favorite so far, and by far, is one called Star Wars Minute.
Here’s the premise of the show: two fans—Alex Robinson and Pete the Retailer—talk about each and every minute of all of the movies. I say all of the movies, even though a cursory search of the Internet shows me that they are still on Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Even that is still far into my future. I’m only at minute 71 of the original Star Wars. That’s 71 podcast episodes. Each minute of the movie (these guys are watching the original edition and are pretty snobby about it) is examined in detail. One minute in each episode. If this sounds excruciating to you, avoid it. You may not have a good time. But, Alex and Pete are entertaining, often funny, and they have guest hosts that add their own individual Star Wars memories to the mix. And the podcast has allowed me to see the original movie in a new light. The hosts aren’t just Kool-Aid-drinking fanboys. They can be openly critical of many things and they point out flaws that I’ve always missed. But even their criticisms come from a place of admiration.
I’m assuming that Alex and Pete are still the hosts of the program in the present, but I honestly don’t know.
At my current listening rate—coupled with the pace at which the SWM episodes are being produced—I will be listening to this podcast for many years before getting to the end of the prequels, let alone to The Force Awakens or Rogue One (assuming the podcast continues). As the Star Wars movie collection continues to grow, I may never get to the end of the podcast. And this gladdens my heart. Perhaps you’ve heard me repeat the stolen wisdom that happiness is having something to look forward to. This is something.
The podcast has inspired imitators as well. I understand that there are other movies-by-minute podcasts dedicated to Goodfellas, the Indiana Jones movies, the Back to the Future movies, and, I’m certain, countless others. There was also one called Gutterballs about the movie The Big Lebowski that actually preceded SWM. I may one day listen to some of these others, but I doubt it would be with the same pleasure I get from hearing about Star Wars.
It has inspired me as well. I plan to begin a new writing project in a couple of weeks. I’ve been looking for an excuse to watch all of the Star Wars movies again (I still haven’t watched Rogue One, although I’m not sure why—it’s sitting on my shelf). I don’t have the patience to write about the movies one minute at a time, so I’ve reached a compromise with myself. I’m going to watch them in 15-minute chunks, and write about each segment. I think, as with SWM, this will force me to pay closer attention to details while I’m watching the movies, and maybe, just maybe, will increase my enjoyment and appreciation of the material. Also, I won’t have to sit through a solid two hours of the movie before writing about it. I have a notoriously short attention span. I know this seems unlikely since I watch untold hours of entertainment content, but I assure you that it’s true. I switch off between television episodes, movies, books and video games because of my short attention span.
I’m still debating titles for the series. Some contenders: Short Attention Span Star Wars; Star Wars A.D. (for Attention-Deficit); Fifteen-Minute Force.
Considering the amount of Star Wars content alone out there, let alone everything else vying for our attention, I realize this may appeal to only me. I’ll admit, selfishly, that I’m doing it for my own enjoyment. If you like any of it as well, that’s a bonus. I’d appreciate feedback, positive or otherwise.
I’ve decided to watch the movies chronologically, as related to story timeline, rather than in the order they were made and released. This means I will begin with the prequels, which I haven’t watched in a long time, then move on to Rogue One, before moving on to the original trilogy and Force Awakens. This will keep me from plagiarizing the SWM guys any more than I already am. At this time, I don’t intend to include any television specials or the animated series. I’ll write about the animated series separately.
I’m not sure how many segments this will be in the end, but divide the total running time by fifteen-minute intervals and you’ll get some idea. I’m thinking about writing one essay a week, so this will take a while. Big project, I know. I hope I’m up to the task.