May The Nostalgia Be With You


Nostalgia: noun  a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

Does Star Wars rely too heavily on nostalgia? What makes something "feel" Star Wars? Do certain things just not feel like Star Wars to you? Can you articulate why? These are thoughts that I have been pondering recently: partly due to The Last Jedi hype train that has started in earnest, partly due to criticism that Star Wars isn't letting creatives create or take risks, partly due to backlash from increased representation of women/people of color/anyone who isn't a straight white male.

It doesn't need to be said that you can't please everyone. And I can appreciate the irony that while one group is criticizing Star Wars for changing too much, another group is objecting that it isn't changing fast enough.

I was born in 1980 and grew up watching Star Wars on our VCR in our living room with a younger brother. I can still feel the gold shag carpeting under my feet. I can still remember jumping when the Tusken Raider attacks Luke out in the Dune Sea. Decades later, showing A New Hope to my kids, telling them they were about to see a movie that literally changed the world, and vicariously living through them...these are all memories that evoke warm memories that I truly cherish. For me, the callbacks in The Force Awakens to A New Hope were like hugs from my childhood. But, admittedly, nothing is going to make me feel like watching Binary Sunset  and Vader vs Obi-Wan on the Death Star. Those feelings are strongly associated with my childhood. It's why A New Hope will always be my favorite.

Nothing is going to make me feel that same way again: and accepting that, treating Star Wars like a buffet where I take what I like and leave the rest, has put me in a place where I'm content with the Star Wars I take in. Because others have those same feelings of warmth and sentiment from the Prequels. Or Clone Wars. Or Rebels. Or the books, or comics, or Forces of Destiny. Watching The Phantom Menace with my kids and a subsequent tongue-lashing from my (then) seven-year-old about the merits of Jar Jar completely transformed my views on the Prequels. Attack of the Clones came alive for me when I saw my kids in awe of the grandeur of the plot. Experiencing the movies with them gave me a source of nostalgia associated with those films I never would've anticipated when I first saw them.

I have similar experience with Rebels. Watching Rebels with my kids and sharing that time with my kids elevates Rebels for me. It makes it more than a show: it's a part of our family identity.

Because while Star Wars has universal themes and elements: story, redemption, the hero's journey, Light vs Dark; these themes all resonate differently with us. We all get that warm, fuzzy feeling for different reasons. Many parts of the saga we cling to depend greatly on our point of view about what makes Star Wars, Star Wars. When I examine my own experiences, I find that who I'm sharing the Star Wars with is associated with my feelings about it. Like comfort food on a buffet, it tastes better at certain times for certain people. So, for my part, I'm keeping the nostalgia and looking forward to what is going to feel like Star Wars in the future.

What do you think about Star Wars and nostalgia? What about Star Wars gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling?