Invitation2Artivism: This Time It’s Personal…
A SPACE-OPERA INTERLUDE – Part 1
A long time ago, in the Milky Way galaxy, I participated in THE cultural event of the latter portion of the 20th century.
It was 1977.
I was 10 years old and long overdue for the first genuine religious experience of my young life (sorry, Father P, but the hardest shoulder-squeeze in the universe did not introduce me to Jesus).
It happened at the Cine Capri Theater, a “movie house” our family had never gone to before. The Cine Capri was a good deal further than the theaters we normally went to — and, once inside, surprisingly ornate and fancy, with ginormous gold curtains majestically parting across the broadest pale-white football field of a movie screen I’d ever seen.
“Jumbo,” I gasped, still marveling at the elegance of the massive, self-folding curtains, neatly drawn to the sides of the screen’s end zones.
(Back then, there weren’t ads on the screen at all times. Were there previews? There must have been. But forty years later I have very little recollection of the events that came immediately before seeing… Star Wars. I barely even remember waiting outside the Cine Capri, in the Arizona heat, in the unprecedentedly long ticket line, which wrapped around the building and continued down the block… and the next block.)
Ensconced, at long last, in my luxurious/fancy movie theater seat, the mega-screen before me was soon filled with the blackness of outer space, scattered stars (very realistic, I thought), and bold, scrolling text — and my ears were filling with glorious, blaring, symphonic music (very rousing).
Before I knew what was happening, wave after electrifying wave (of midichlorians, I think) was rippling over and through me as I — gapingly, gogglingly, greedily — took in my very first Star Destroyers, BANTHAS, Artoo Detoo (C3PO/droids), jawas, tusken raiders, X-wings, the Death Star (that’s no moon), dewbacks, Greedo (“I’ve been looking forward to this a long time”), Gov. (Peter Cushing) Tarkin (a Grand Moff, if ever there was; pre-digitalization), DARTH FLIPPIN’ VADER!!!, the Millenium Falcon, hologram chess monsters duking it out, an awesome cantina band, blasters, lightsabers, the most “wretched hive of scum and villainy” I would ever find, Tie Fighters, CHEWBACCA the 200-year old WOOKIEE, one of cinema’s only self-rescuing princesses (and quite a lady, so far as this 10-year old was concerned), OBI-WAN Kenobi (“Old Ben?” “How many Kenobis do we know, Luke?”), Han (“He certainly has courage”) Solo, and Luke “Two-Sun,” “Womp Rat” Skywalker (“Huh?”)…
Fuckin’ A (and I didn’t even know that expression in those innocent days of tetherball, 3-Flies-Up, and marbles) — but the midichlorians made me feel it.
“Fuckin’ A,” said my youngling heart, gut, hypothalamus, spine, and everything else above and below the waistline.
Fuckin’ A!!! (Aka, “WwwowiewowWowWOW! Thanks SO much for taking us to this, Mom and Dad!”)
Certainly, STAR WARS was the best thing ever — way better than church, and yet proof that there really was a God… and God’s name was The Force.
(Sacrilege, I know, but I had to eventually move past my previous gods — Archosauria, Jehovah… and Godzilla, King of the Monsters, gifted to humanity by Ishiro Honda and Toho Studios, bless their hearts.)
With the events of 1977, everything had changed.
(They should’ve junked the Gregorian calendar, then and there, and started fresh.)
Now, there were Wookiees in the world.
And much, much, much, much more.
What a Christmas I was in for (hello, Lucas merchandising!)…
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Flash forward to Christmas 1977:
I’m absolutely devastated. The presents have all been opened, and apparently I’ve been the victim of an unfathomably cruel practical joke. I can’t quite figure it, but at this point I’m no longer waiting for my parents to announce that they’re putting us on.
This shit’s really happened. This is for real…
My younger sister, Bunky, has opened one Star Wars figure after another. She’s even got a frikkin’ Landspeeder… and she didn’t even LOVE the film! She liked it some — not a lot.
And I’m sitting on the floor with an orange Matchbox car, four new pairs of socks, and a crap-farting (st)Retch Armstrong doll. (That sucker was jelly in no-time.)
On the surface, I was calm — or blank-faced, at least — but inside, I was… imploding.
My thoughts were neither jolly nor festive.
What the HECK, Mom and Dad, do you even know me, at all???? My life was changed by the movie — not Lynne’s! I’ve been drawing STAR WARS for the last 13 weeks, ever since we saw the… flippity, mickeyf@ckity, GD, crappp—–aaaaarrrrgh!
As we tidied up the living room before transitioning to Christmas dinner, I remained outwardly serene and courteous. No matter how disappointed I was, I knew better than to voice my displeasure or make any kind of scene. The former would be seen as ungrateful, and the latter was punishable by death.
Long story short, it would take several weeks’ allowance to purchase all of those intergalactic Lucasfilm treasures from dear Bunky — who was a shrewd operator, even at 9 years old. She’d gotten what she wanted for Christmas: the upper hand.
She had no particular attachment to her Star Wars merchandise, but nor was she interested in trading it all away for some used socks and Stretch Armstrong-jelly.
I wanted the figures, and she wanted cold, hard cash.
(And I thought I was going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters! No, sir.)