A Great Disturbance in the Force

It’s Friday, so of course I spent most of the morning thankful that today was the end of the work gauntlet and looking forward to lounging around, maybe watching some more Mad Men, and probably swearing some more at NCAA 11 on my 360.

Then I had to remind myself that I have a ticket for the Star Wars Celebration tomorrow.

When they first announced it was going to be in Orlando, I couldn’t contain myself.  I got my ticket the day they went on sale.  I watched the guest announcements with ever-mounting glee.  And when they announced that George Lucas would be there, and on-stage with Jon Stewart no less, I was like a newly-turned Anakin in a room full of baby Jedi.

But then they announced that the Lucas/Stewart summit would be limited to around 2,000 tickets.  With about 4,000 additional tickets to watch on video in a different room.  Less, of course, VIP badges, who would get in without a ticket.  So out of an event that could draw upwards of 30,000 people, maybe a tenth of that would actually get to see this so called “Main Event”.

Then I saw Mark Hamill was going to be asking $125 for an autograph.  Now I don’t begrudge the guy making a living, but between Star Wars and Batman, is he hurting so bad he needs to charge $125 to scrawl his name on something?  I mean, he’s effectively ruining something and charging you for the privilege.

I’m going to this thing because I love Star Wars.  I’m starting to feel like they’re holding this thing because they love my money.  And I’ve spent enough of that on Star Wars over the years.  I’ve bought four different versions of the movies on home video.  I’ve bought two different runs of action figures.  I’ve bought books I’ve never even read.  And now it’s all gone.  Sure, I have a few stray tchotchkes around the house, but nothing like the array of Micro Machines and action figures I used to have.  Because I realized I didn’t need them to be a fan of the films.

But it seems like the Celebration, rather than being an actual celebration, is being geared more towards trying to move as much product as possible to an audience who can’t help themselves.  I’m sure some of you will say, “Well duh, that’s the point,” and maybe I was fooling myself to think it wouldn’t take that turn, but it’s certainly affected the way I’m approaching the event.  I’m not going to camp out overnight in hopes of getting a golden ticket to see Willy Wonka.  I’m not going to rush around trying to get every last con exclusive so I can point to them on a shelf a few years from now.  I’m going just for the experience.  To meet other fans, to see others’ expressions of their love for the franchise, to let my inner ten-year-old run around for a little while without worrying about who’s watching.  And if I buy a t-shirt or a poster, it’s going to be because I want it, not because I feel like I have to have it.

I’m long past the “Lucas raped my childhood” stage (I’ve come to accept the prequels as separate from the original trilogy, something I don’t have to watch or even acknowledge), and maybe that’s helped temper my fanhood into something less frenzied and more considered.  Just because it has that gold and black logo on it doesn’t mean it’s an essential part of my existence.  Besides, no physical object can compare to the feeling I still get when I see that Star Destroyer take forever to crawl across the screen at the beginning of Star Wars.  That’s something Mark Hamill can’t scrawl his name on, no matter how much I pay him.

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