Last week, when the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer dominated everyone’s lives, I thought it looked pretty cool while other people were literally crying over it.
After a ten-year hiatus following prequels that greatly disappointed original fans, the most powerful cultural franchise on the planet stormed back with an emotional trailer that balanced massive visuals with a potent, nostalgic homecoming.
Han and Chewie announcing their arrival back home gave credence to the idea that Star Wars had lost its way with little Ani Skywalker, podracing and overindulgent CGI and proclaimed loudly that the adults have returned to right the ship. The franchise is now presumably “back” in every sense of the word. Back to basics, back on track and back in theaters. It’s been more than 30 years since we’ve seen Han Solo, and the catharsis was unarguably overwhelming.
This is the kind of pop culture moment that makes me feel like a shitty fan. As you can probably guess, I wasn’t one of the ones crying.
It also isn’t exactly the tears that make me feel bad. I love Star Wars, but I guess I don’t really love it the way other people love it. I haven’t devoted even a fraction of a percent of the time that dedicated fans have, and I recognize that as a deciding factor in whether or not the trailer hit the Release Tears Button that all soul-owning humans have. If it were simply a matter of not getting misty seeing Harrison Ford, I’d chalk it up to being a less-than-obsessed Star Wars fan.
The real problem is that I can’t imagine myself ever crying over any movie trailer.
I’ve cried watching movies, I’ve cried reading some books, but I can’t foresee any scenario in which I’d tear up at an advertising promising me the ability to see a movie in the relatively near future. It’s just not going to happen.
For instance, I’ve seen O Brother, Where Art Thou? close to – no exaggeration – 30 times. I love the characters, the dialogue, the music. It’s my wife’s and my movie (yes, we have a movie), it played at our rehearsal dinner, and I have the WEZY radio tower tattooed on my arm, but if The Coen Brothers announced a sequel, and I got to see George Clooney as Ulysses McGill again, I cannot imagine in even the deepest parts of my brain that I would come anywhere close to shedding a tear.
Maybe it’s a matter of distance, but even with movies of the late 70s and 80s that mean a lot to me, I still can’t believe I’d cry over returning to them in trailer form. In fact, Indiana Jones is more important to me than Star Wars, and I already failed to cry at the trailer for its decades-later sequel. And that had Harrison Ford in it, too. Ditto for the Jurassic World teaser which represented a sequel to the absolute, most unforgettable movie experience of my childhood.
So, watching all these people bawl after seeing Ford roll up in a leather jacket makes me a feel like a shitty fan.
I get the same feeling in a smaller dose when I see people in Cosplay at conventions. That’s probably also due in part to the fact that I’ve never gone to a convention purely as a fan, only as a journalist. I don’t know that – outside of my profession – I would attend something like Comic-Con, let alone dress up as a character.
It’s impressive that there are people out there who feel the kind of connection to a piece of art that makes them want to proudly and literally wear their passion on their sleeves, and I get a little jealous that I don’t have that default setting.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that the problem lies entirely with me. These situations make me feel like there’s something lacking in my fandom. That it’s somehow lesser-than. No matter how much I love Doctor Who or West Wing and unrealistically hope for a crossover episode, I don’t have an internal drive to dress up like favorite characters or get choked up while watching them return to the screen.
I admire the Star Wars fans who put the new trailer on loop in order to feel all the feels on repeat because they have a connection to something on a primal level that can create a genuinely profound, personal response, and they’re living during an unparalleled filmmaking era where memories are the most valuable currency.
To cut through the cynicism, if you can scrape together 25 bucks, you can see the Avengers re-assemble, a new adventure with foolishly mutated dinosaurs and a new leap into the world of the Jedi all within 8 months. I’d be the first to yawn at the prospect of remake and franchise fatigue, but seen through the lens of pure fandom, there is no better time to be alive. Everything we love is getting a 16th minute of fame. It’s really amazing. I can see how seeing Ford tell Chewie they’re home is like seeing an old friend for the first time in years.
But, for me, it’s nothing to cry about.
Related Topics: Star Wars