Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Gold amid the dross
Why was I reading a listicle at Cracked.com? No idea. But I liked what I read there.
I mean, "13 Photos That Shatter Your Image of Famous People (Part 2)"? Really? Didn't I have something better to do, like blog here at The Big Screen? Yes, yes I did. But first, it's sharing time.
Do you remember how old you were when you discovered that Star Wars was not a great movie? Heck, do you remember how old you were when you discovered that Star Wars was the kind of thing that could be subjected to criticism at all? (Grumpy Old Men like my partner Scott Marks need not reply, unless it's funny.)
I got my first hint sometime in the early '80s, thanks to the newspaper comic strip Bloom County.
That was some serious cognitive dissonance, right there. "How could my beloved Bloom County be going after my beloved Star Wars?" I asked my Luke Skywalker in Hoth Fatigues action figure.
But answer gave he none.
It was too awful. I buried the memory and didn't think of the matter again until freshman year of college, when I saw Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope again for the first time in a decade. And...the dialogue. And the delivery. Power converters! Oh, dear.
Of course, it only got worse from there. By the time Modern Humorist and its Star Saga Saga dealt the coup de grace, there wasn't much left to kill. (Not that any of this would keep me from sinking my own children into Lucas's sarlacc pit of aesthetics.)
Anyway, that brings me back to Cracked and its consideration of young Mark Hamill. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone put it this way before, but it struck me as pretty solid:
Understand, I saw the original Star Wars in the theater when I was 3 years old. I saw Return of the Jedi when I was 9. I don't know at what point in that span that I figured out these were fictional characters, but it was definitely a few years into it. So for a significant part of the crucial period during which my new brain was forming inside my skull, I believed that Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were real people living out in space somewhere. And sure, at some point I figured out they were just actors reciting lines on a sound stage, but I was still completely in awe of these people. In no way was I thinking in terms of how good a job they were doing acting, or how well they were cast -- the idea that someone else could ever have played Luke Skywalker, or played him better, was just unthinkable. It'd be like speculating if some other mother could have been more your mother than your actual mother.
So to go from that to accepting the reality of a struggling 22-year-old Mark Hamill scraping by in Hollywood, hopping from one audition to the next and trying to convince casting agents he was America's next sexy dreamboat ... is something I just can't wrap my head around. He is Luke Skywalker! The most heroic person who ever lived! Luke Skywalker didn't have unprotected sex at skanky '70s cocaine parties or pass out after puking in the pool! This is the mythology of my youth, damn it!
Yeah, that sounds about right.
More like this:
- Anatomy of an ad campaign: Our Gang comedies, 1922 - 1938 — Oct. 3, 2013
- Like a bolt out of the blue, Disney buys LucasFilm — Oct. 30, 2012
- Jammin' on the Force: Star Wars Rockers — May 29, 2012
- Local Celebs Who LOVE Star Wars! — May 13, 2011
- Sci-Fi Troopers — Feb. 23, 2006