Armagideon Time

Not so long ago

December 26th, 2014

Barring some planet-shattering asteroid strike, page I think its safe to say that the Star Wars has established a permanent berth in the mass-merchandised geek-o-sphere. This was the reality even before the IP was assimilated into the House of Mouse, angina which makes it really weird to consider that span of years when the franchise had fallen into a fitfully fallow state…

…as chronicled in the above snippet for the August 1986 issue of Starlog.

I grew up alongside the original trilogy. The first film dropped when I was in kindergarten and Return of the Jedi wrapped things up just prior to me entering junior high. My interest in things Star Wars may have fluctuated based on other distractions (G.I. Joe, Star Blazers, videogames), but it was a constant presence which overshadowed all other kiddie fandoms.

The relationship between Star Trek and Star Wars was akin to the one between Warner Brothers’ cartoons and Disney’s. The former were familiar staples of UHF programming blocks. The latter, by holding off on maximum medium exposure, had a air of exclusivity about them. When they did get broadcast airtime, they were events to alter life schedules for.

This aura of mystique faded rapidly in the wake of Return of the Jedi. A decisive finale to the cinematic narrative, no announcements about future installments, and the general sense of fatigue that permeated the entire business gave the franchise the impression of a done deal, something to be milked with kids’ cartoons and a diminished flow of merchandise until the trickle of diminishing returns stopped flowing entirely.

My peers and I barely noticed because we’d already moved on to other fandoms. Blade Runner, Watchmen, Robotech, Aliens — stuff made possible by the success of Star Wars, but more effectively dovetailed with an adolescent’s will toward outward-facing “edginess.” At the same time, Star Trek was experiencing a resurgence fueled by a streak of decent films and the “New Generation” TV series.

The only place where Star Wars became a subject of discussion was around the gaming table, where West End’s Star Wars RPG got props for its production values if not its playability. This was the situation up through my early experiences with the college sci-fi club. Sure, there’d always be some die-hard fan or three raring to drop “that’s no moon” into a conversation (whether it made contextual sense or not), but Star Wars was treated as a done deal, a remnant of childhood whose time had passed…

…until the flow of merchandise began running again, a trickle of novels, comics, and videogames which became a full-on torrent during the lead-up to the controversial “digitally remastered” (or “mutilated,” to some eyes) re-release of the original films to theaters, which itself was a dry run for the trilogy of “prequels.”

It was interesting for a while, but it was difficult to work up any real enthusiasm. The closest I probably came was when the pre-prequel lull led to huge markdowns on the reissued toys at K-B, thus allowing me to fulfill my childhood dream of owning an AT-AT…which I threw into storage after my dogs kept trying to hump it. The new stuff doesn’t do anything for me, except to serve as reminder about how old I am.

On closer contemplation, my love of Star Wars was never a thing unto itself, but rather a conditional consequence of being a budding geek who happened to land in specific generational bracket. And, honestly, I’m fine with that.

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5 Responses to “Not so long ago”

  1. Tom Hartley

    The death of Star Wars didn’t really hit me until I saw Spaceballs. That Mel Brooks was doing a Star Wars parody in 1987, a whole year after Return of the Jedi, convinced me that the old man was completely out of touch with popular culture. But obviously he knew something I didn’t. Now anyone seeing Spaceballs for the first time, nearly three decades after Return of the Jedi, wouldn’t see anything odd about it being a Stars Wars parody.

  2. athodyd

    I was HUGE into Star Wars as a kid, but I always liked the encyclopedias of places and spaceships (and the technical guides) more than any of the actual expanded universe stuff, because even back then I thought stuff like SUPER AWESOME MEGA-SMUGGLER TALON KARRDE who is SO COOL THAT EVEN HAN SOLO IS IMPRESSED BY HIM and has TWO SPACE DOGS NAMED STURM AND DRANG was a little much. The semi-official Star Wars wiki (Wookieepedia, natch) is still a fun read, if only because I don’t think any article has ever been deleted for irrelevance ever, case in point: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Belt

  3. Tim B.

    According to that wookiepedia entry, there are no belts in New Hope, so that explains why Han didn’t shoot first, simply because he had no item of clothing that could hold a holster…

  4. Snark Shark

    “My interest in things Star Wars may have fluctuated based on other distractions (G.I. Joe, Star Blazers, videogames)”

    …girls, rock n’ roll, girls…

    “owning an AT-AT…which I threw into storage after my dogs kept trying to hump it”

    BWA-HA-HA!

    I still want an AT AT. and a Millenium Falcon!

  5. EAG46

    Mel Brooks has had his rough spots, but he’s been right more often than not. And the picture with the dogs is adorable.

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