So, this weekend we watched this movie:
And it pretty much ruined my life.
See, up until this weekend, my Star Wars Nerdiness had largely gone into remission. Sure, I had played the Lego video game. And Knights Of the Old Republic 2 (but sadly couldn't beat it and finally gave up and walked away). And I watched the first two films with my four-year-old recently. Oh, and I got a sort of sick glee when that same four-year-old requested she be Princess Leia for Halloween. And yeah, it was sort of my idea to dress our year-and-a-half daughter like Darth Vader.
But trust me, this is mild compared to the depths of my nerdery for the Star Wars Universe.
I can name a dozen Star Wars species off the top of my head. Same thing for planets. I have read roughly one bazillion books from the Thrawn Trilogy (where an alien mastermind Imperial Grand Admiral steps out of the shadows to terrorize the Original Trilogy heroes and the newly-formed New Republic) to all the Tales Of... anthologies (Tales of the Mos Eisley Catina, Tales Of the Bounty Hunters, and Tales Of Jabba's Palace, all containing backstories to the characters who inhabit those brief scenes in the Original Trilogy) to the entirety of the New Jedi Order series (where an extra-galactic threat - the merciless Yuzzhan Vong - challenges the Original Trilogy heroes, their kids and all the new Jedi trained by Luke Skywalker and his wife). I have bought action figures, lusted after a replica of Luke Skywalker's Bespin fatigues and hosted/played/gamemastered a Star Wars Role Playing group. I read the comics, magazines and played (pretty badly) the trading card game. I saw all three Prequels at midnight showings. I was (literally) a card-carrying member of the Star Wars Fan Club for like three years. After the age of 20. I have a copy of a copy of a bootleg video recording of the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special.
I loved that universe and the limitless possibilities for fun, myth and adventure it promises. But I was done with all of that. I sold off the books, RPG materials, boxed up the toys for future generations. I don't own either Trilogy on DVD. Beyond the odd tug to write an Oceans Eleven knock-off starring Lando Calrissian, I couldn't tell you the last time I seriously thought about the Star Wars Universe; it's rules, vocabulary, mechanics and possibilities. I mean, I'm a grown-@$$ man, fer cryeye. I don't have time for this stuff.
I was (mostly) cured. Whole. Free.
And then I saw this dang movie. This cartoon that is just a glorified pilot for the Cartoon Network series. The same movie that got a whopping 19% positive reviews (ouch!) over on Rotten Tomatoes. This goofy cartoon with wisecracking battle droids, wooden CGI acting and a big gay Hutt.
But guess what? I don't care. I really liked it. Why? Because it was fun! And fun is something the Star Wars Universe has been missing since, well, since Return Of the Jedi (which is still a little ponderous at times, nowhere near as freewheeling as Empire or most of A New Hope).
The Prequels were too busy trying to be epic and mythic and the fun suffered for it. As much as the Original Trilogy was based on mythic structures (and it is, as a million high school essays on Joseph Campbell written by people like me - but not me, sadly - will attest), it merely provided the framework for adventure. The Prequels try to hint at it with banter that ultimately falls flat on its face, but Lucas is too drunk on his own Capital-"i"-Importance to allow it to really come to the fore. Remember, Empire and Jedi were both helmed and written by somebody not named "George Lucas."
And well, you can see how that worked out.
Even the previous Cartoon Network Clone Wars series by Samurai Jack guru Genndy Tartakovsky (whose name is impossible to spell without Wikipedia. And that's a scientific fact.) were a little too obsessed with their kewlness to really be "fun." They were cool, but not fun.
But this version, I dunno, I really liked it. It made me want more. Is that wrong? As I watched Obi-Wan and a bunch of Troopers jump out of those awesome drop ships, I caught myself thinking about how much fun it would be to play in an RPG campaign set in the Clone Wars. To be, like a Jedi General or something fighting off Separatist forces on Mon Calamari? Or a smuggler with a heart of gold stealing supplies from the Trade Federation and giving them to besieged communities? See? See how nerdy this gets?
I checked to see if I could watch any more episodes online (which I can, but not, um, legally). Then I cruised the Star Wars toys at Target (Okay, I always do that, but still). Then I checked out the Star Wars section at Barnes & Noble and, well, that's when things fell apart.
I saw the cover to this book and said, "Dang it. Jedi pulp? Oh man, I want to read this." I started weeping openly. In the middle of the store. Some old lady asked me if I was okay. I told her it was all Jar Jar's fault and she just backed away slowly as I writhed on the floor in agony. It was a mess.
Three hours later, I managed to pull myself together enough to made my way upstairs to the kids' section where Candace and the girls were browsing. I wiped my face clear of the tears and told Candace, "I think I want to start reading Star Wars books again." which felt like telling her, "I think I want to start snorting heroin."
To which she replied, very matter-of-factly, "Um, okay." Which is incredibly cool (she really is awesome), but at the same time unbelievably reckless. Because this could easily escalate to weekly pizza and gaming sessions in the living room again (Okay, probably not, but still). So yeah, I'm gonna read Coruscant Nights: Jedi Twilight and the other two in the series. And I'll probably read the Legacy Of the Force series because I gotta see what happens to the Solo kids.
Because I have the sickness again. And it's all The Clone Wars' fault.