Star Wars Celebration Episode IV: The Costume Menace

I’m not someone who likes to poke fun at people who wear costumes to conventions.  The way I see it, as long as they’re not putting on their wookiee suit to run down to the 7-Eleven, they’re entitled to a little fun.  Besides, we all paid at least sixty bucks just for the privilege of setting foot inside a Star Wars convention.  Far be it from me to throw stones.

Although there is one group of costume-wearers that deserves some scorn.  It’s the ones you see in the incredibly detailed Boba Fett helmet — and the rest of the outfit is a t-shirt, a pair of camo shorts, and some flip-flops.  Or the ones wearing a Jedi robe, underneath which is a pair of Levis and some Nikes.  Chances are pretty good they bought that at the store on the way to the convention center, although maybe their good armor is at the cleaners, I don’t know.  It’s just when you plop these lazy bastards down next to some of the incredibly elaborate and detailed costumes I saw, it makes me wonder why they even bothered.

At a convention with such a specific theme, it wasn’t unusual to see dozens of versions of the same costume.  Nowhere was this more evident than when the members of the 501st Legion gathered for their group photo.  The 501st is a world-wide costuming organization whose purpose is to show their love for everyone’s favorite fictional dictatorship, the Empire.  Members dress as stormtroopers and other members of the Imperial forces, and when not doing it just for the fun of it, they visit children’s hospitals and do tons of good work for charity. Anybody who makes fun of these guys around me does so at their own peril; they’ve taken something seemingly frivolous and done some actual good deed with it.

Anyway, at one point in the day all the various attendees in Imperial garb started gathering beneath the giant inflatable Death Star that hung over the main entrance to the con.  Now, having dozens and dozens of stormtroopers, clone troopers, TIE Fighter pilots, Imperial officers and Sandpeople made sense.  But when about a eight Darth Vaders all lined up at the front, well, it was a little amusing, as if Scooby and the gang were going to come out and unmask the real culprit.  But it was definitely an impressive sight; easily two hundred people in full costume (including a full-sized Wampa) standing in rows, with hundreds of con guests bunched around trying to get a photo.  If anything drove home the impact that the saga has had on people, that was it.  These weren’t slapped-together outfits bought from some costume shop; there was a lot of work and a lot of love put into these things.  And probably a lot of kids asking, “Mommy, why is Daddy always in the basement?”

Speaking of kids, there were plenty of them in costume too, and a damn lot of them in Clone Wars gear.  I’ve really underestimated how huge that show is.  It seemed like anyone under the age of 20 was there because of it and not the original movies.  I’ve sort of put on my grouch cloak and poo-poohed the whole thing — I waited since 1977 to see the Clone Wars on a movie screen and got about twenty actual minutes of it in the prequels, so to hell with your little cartoon — but the fan response I saw here got me to put the first season in my Netflix queue.  Damn you, Lucas, damn you.

And, of course, there were Slave Leias everywhere.  A lot seemed to have been there as a favor to their boyfriends/husbands, and a good handful were there as eye-candy for some of the booths, but quite a few seemed to rocking the gold bikini simply for the sheer joy of rocking a gold bikini.  Including Adrianne Curry, who lately seems to be making a career out of looking better than Carrie Fisher ever did.  I literally turned around and there she was standing next to me doing an interview.  And the sad thing is that it took me until later that night to figure out it was actual her.  Not that my attention was all that focused on her face, mind you.

What was really surprising was that the expected (and feared) hideous over-weight Slave Leias really didn’t materialize.  In fact, overall, there was quite a lot of acknowledgement of body type when it came to female costumes, with spandex mostly reserved for those who wouldn’t look like sausage in it.  Not so for the guys.  Han Solo would have had little trouble casually strolling away from some of the Boba Fetts I saw, and being a little short was the least of the problems for many a stormtrooper.  I mean, it could have worse, they could have gone shirtless and done the Jabba the Hutt thing.  Come to think of it, that may have actually gotten the Slave Leias to hang out with them.

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