Since it’s my blog and it seems like there’s only so many posts I can write about its star, my dog, Katniss, before I drive myself crazy, occasionally I will veer off-topic in a new series I have named Off the Leash.
“Everyone’s posting about being a huge fan of ‘Star Wars.’ …
You know what I’m a fan of[?] … REAL LIFE.”
One of my best friends posted this on social media recently, and I found myself chuckling along with him in agreement.
I was already sick of the hype for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the latest installment of the film series, before the movie even opened this past weekend, and I had even been posting ridiculous fake spoilers on Facebook to mess with my friends who are “Star Wars” fans. Posts such as “I saw the new ‘Star Wars’ movie, and spoiler alert: the main villain is unmasked as Eddie Murphy. The whole film is a buddy cop comedy.” garnered virtual eye-rolling from some of my friends.
And as the movie’s premiere date approached, I couldn’t help but think of droves of nerdy fans waiting in line for hours or even days to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” while “the rest of us” were busy living life—or the time Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a cigar-smoking rubber hand puppet from “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” appeared several years ago before fans waiting for a previous “Star Wars” film.
Triumph had been harassing fans and their nerdiness the entire day and approached a fan dressed as Darth Vader and asked the man about his costume in what has become a somewhat classic joke.
Fan: “This would be my chest box that helps me to breathe,” he said in character, indicating the costume’s black box with red and blue buttons on it.
Triumph: “So this is to help you breathe, yes? Which of these buttons calls your parents to pick you up?”
Just like Triumph, I had lumped all the “Star Wars” fans into one geeky category.
“What nerds,” I uncharacteristically thought. “Who cares about a dumb movie?”
Normally I like to keep my words—and even my thoughts—soft and sweet just in case I have to eat them later. Ridiculing “Star Wars” fans, even in a not-very-mean way, was still ridicule—which I usually like to avoid doing at all costs, as no one deserves to be made fun of just because they like a certain thing. Besides, I’m the guy who’s obsessed with Batman. Isn’t Batman in the same nerdy realm as “Star Wars?”
After all, I’m the guy who dressed as Batman for our company employee directory photo, I have multiple Batman Christmas ornaments, I’ve seen the newer Christopher Nolan-directed films multiple times each and love the old TV show from the 1960s, I own several toy Batmobiles and a Batman encyclopedia, and I also own Batman video games and comic books—and that’s just scratching the surface of my fandom. I’m every bit the nerd of these “Star Wars” freaks. To me, Batman is the “real life” my friend wrote about at the beginning of this post, just as “Star Wars” is reality for the films’ fans. In other words, what would my life be without Batman? I think it would suck.
Ironically my own dog, Katniss—the star of this blog who often sounds like Chewbacca of “Star Wars” fame when she communicates with us—is named after a science-fiction character. Talk about nerdy!
And as for the “Star Wars” fans waiting in line and dressing up as the franchise’s characters, think of it this way: They’re having fun, they’re not hurting anyone, and could be doing far worse things with their time and money.
I remember watching “True Life”—a show that depicted various young people and their uncommon/awkward circumstances—on MTV several years ago, and a young man was really embarrassed that his family dressed up as “Star Wars” characters and went to conventions together. This was before the more recent phenomenon of cosplay—or people dressing up as video game, movie or other fictional characters and attending events—was cool, in the days of Triumph making fun of “Star Wars” fans. The term cosplay is even now in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the official dictionary of my fellow journalists.
Anyway, the young man on “True Life” seemed to be at a stage in his life in which he was going to the conventions just to make his family happy, and he wanted to stop going, if I remember correctly. In the end, his family said that one of the main reasons they dressed up and spent time roaming the events was to enjoy time together as a family. One of the attendees who tagged along with the family even broke down crying, saying that he wished his family cared enough about him to go to those lengths to spend time with him. I bet that young man, now likely in his 30s, is old enough to realize how much he misses those days with his family in hindsight.
So may the force be with us, fellow nerds, as we indulge in our fandom¹ and participate in weird yet fun activities that make us happy. I promise not to harass “Star Wars” fans as long as they promise to respect Batman and other superheroes.
Because if it came down to it, Batman could totally beat up any “Star Wars” character².
¹Speaking of fans and nerds, sports fans are maybe the hugest nerds of all. The statistic-spouting, jersey-wearing fan at any sporting event who has his or her face painted and starts “the wave” is really no different from the folks in line outside the movie theater waiting for “Star Wars.” So I guess many of us are nerds whether we realize it or not.
²My wife, whom I do not consider a nerd, became surprisingly defensive recently when I claimed that Batman could drop into the world of “Lord of the Rings” universe and kick anyone’s butt there, not to mention he would find the ring in about five minutes, as Batman is also known as the “world’s greatest detective.” “They’re different worlds!” she argued. Seeing as how I have next to zero knowledge about “LOTR,” she might have a point. But does anyone in the “LOTR” universe have a utility belt like Batman does? How about a Batmobile? Bat Shark Repellent? A Batcomputer? I didn’t think so.
UPDATE: As an editor, I’m also a grammar nerd, and this story impacts perhaps both grammar and “Star Wars” nerds.