How much Star Wars is too much?

How much Star Wars is too much?


I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan you’ve ever met, but I’m probably in the top five percent. I’ve seen all the movies a bunch of times, I have strongly negative feelings about the Special Edition, I have moderately positive feelings about the prequels, I have the Vanity Fair cover with the new cast members pinned up in my cubicle. I used to have a lot of the toys, and subscribed to the fan magazine. I’ve read several of the books, and I’ve even tried the role-playing game and collectible card game. Okay, maybe I’m in the top two percent. I don’t want to claim membership in the one percent…it gets crowded up there.

That said, when I read that Disney is getting ready to break ground on Star Wars theme parks, I found myself feeling dread rather than excitement. I can’t help wondering whether the world is about to reach Star Wars saturation—maybe not to the point where the world in general stops buying it, but to the point where I do.

I can’t pretend to know any more about The Force Awakens than anyone does, but even from the limited information that’s been released so far, it’s clear that J.J. Abrams is ready and willing to do what everyone wished George Lucas himself would have done to a much greater extent with the prequels: trade on nostalgia for the original trilogy.

No doubt there was a fair amount of that in the creation and marketing of the prequels, but by and large, those were movies about entirely new characters—or younger versions of existing characters, played by different actors. Abrams is bringing the entire Holy Trinity back: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher (and even Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker). The trailer features the Millennium Falcon, X-Wings, and a sandswept Star Destroyer.

I’m excited about it—of fucking course I am. Still, the original Star Wars characters and settings, which have never been exactly underexposed, are about to be trotted out in an unprecedented blitz of publicity. I’m sure I’ll be right in there with everyone, glorying in the trumpet fanfares and tossing back blue cocktails at the Disney Cantina, but I’m worried.

I’m worried that eventually, the forests of Endor will become mere wallpaper (figuratively, not just literally) and that the Cantina will become just another bar. For me, like many (many) others, the Star Wars universe still glimmers in a way that’s inextricable from my early memories of being overwhelmed by the original movies in the theater, from the feeling that Lucas had created a boundless alternate universe with infinite possibility.

In the world of Star Wars, it seemed, anything could happen—but now it’s been 38 years, and the same things keep happening over and over again. Luke and Leia keep swinging across that chasm, the AT-ATs keep stomping through the snow, the Emperor keeps cackling. Now that this is all about to be recycled yet again, at what point will it all become simply too corporate to be cool?

For some, of course, Star Wars passed that point long ago—way back in 1977, when glasses like the one at the top of this post started showing up at Burger Kings all over the country. For others, it never will—they’ll happily watch the movies on endless repeat, and sop up the antics of costumed performers at the new theme parks. Still others seek refuge in official and unofficial extensions of the films’ universe—many of which have now gained indie cred by being thrown under the bus to make way for Episode VII.

As for me, I’m still a fan, and I’m pretty sure I’ll continue to be. I ate the Wookie cookies, and I’ll probably drink the Boba Fett bubble tea. Still, there’s a part of me that wants to slow this all down, that misses the days when I was absolutely certain that Star Wars was something I could never, ever possibly get enough of.

Jay Gabler