Revenge of the Blue Yoda Society

Revenge of the NerdsI was 6 years old when Star Wars film hit the silver screen. The weekend of Memorial Day 1977 I stood in line with my mother for an entire afternoon outside the Woodland Theater hoping to get in. Jimmy Carter was president. My parents were still on their first marriage. There was no internet. Cable TV was an extravagant luxury which only afforded you 10 extra channels. In our house music was played from vinyl records or 8-track tapes. The most popular radio station in town operated on a rock and roll album format. My favorite toy was a 12″ GI Joe action figure. Life was great!

The two hours I spent in the theater that day in 1977 changed my life. Star Wars, later subtitled Episode IV, A New Hope, turned my imagination inside out. I don’t need to explain this to any child of the 70s. The impact of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, released between 1977 and 1983 is now, for better or worse, part of humanity’s collective consciousness.


Almost all my memories of childhood up until High School are somehow wrapped up in Star Wars. Every Christmas, every birthday, every trip to the store was an opportunity to escape into the films. Likewise, every uncomfortable moment during my childhood sent me daydreaming. By fourth grade all I wanted to do was become a comic book illustrator. With the help of a friend that year we created our own illustrated accounts of both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. By the sixth grade my obsession with the films had gotten out of control. I was 12 years old, nearly 6 feet tall and living in a bedroom with Star Wars wallpaper, draperies and bedspread. With a Super 8 camera I attempted and failed to create my own sequel to the Star Wars trilogy. At one point I stopped being friends with someone because he dared to tell me that Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan was better than The Empire Strikes Back. I could have killed that fucker!

In 1984 I realized, after getting the shit kicked out of me for wearing an Ewok T-shirt to school, that my obsession with all things Star Wars needed to end. At about this time it was becoming clear that my room full of toys and my 400 Star Wars action figures, once the crowning achievement of my life, would seriously hurt my chances of ever scoring with the chicks. The next year, as I entered the 8th grade I focused my attention on rock and roll, parachute pants and any girl that would bother to talk with me. Within the three months that spanned the summer between junior high and high school, all vestiges of George Lucas’ epic were neatly tucked away, either in my little brother’s room or deep within my teenage mind.

Through the better part of two decades I never looked back. College was a time for political awakening. My main hobbies were drinking beer and building up my music collection. Despite a brief relapse into comic books my sophomore year, all was well. With adulthood I had left childish thoughts behind.

When The Phantom Menace opened 16 years to the day after Return Of The Jedi, I was married, had a mortgage and was in a perfect position to get clobbered. The pre-hype run-up to the movie had caught me off guard. I got into the spoiler hunt. I spent hours online at theforce.net arguing with other geeks, a passion which also led me to other obscure online associations, such as The Blue Yoda Society. At work I started doodling Tie Fighters and Storm Troopers on my Power Point Presentations during meetings. When Toys R Us rolled out the first toys in the Phantom Menace line, my friend Jake [Um, Jake who? - ed.] and I were there, digging through the mountain of Kenner shit looking for the “rare” action figures. My life had degenerated and I was living in the 3rd grade all over again. Except now I had the money to buy what I used to have to beg for. I was a God damn mess.

I managed to get passes to an early screening of Menace. Jake and I drove across the state to Pontiac, Michigan. It was a pilgrimage of sorts. Alas, The Phantom Menace sucked ass. Although I went on defending the film for years, it was an enormous disappointment. Within a few weeks I’d given up on the every expanding line of new Star Wars toys. And although I took my mother to see the film over Memorial Day weekend (as we had every single other Star Wars film in years past), the experience fell flat. I came to realize that the expectations of childhood and the fantasy life of my younger years didn’t fit in my adult life. It was a marketing ploy, a let down, a great big joke punctuated by “Jar Jar’s Big Adventure.”

Wednesday night I found myself sitting in a packed movie theater, counting the minutes to Midnight and the opening of Star Wars Episode III, Revenge Of The Sith. I was excited. But I’d long since let go of the kind of exuberance that led the 40 year old man sitting behind me to dress up as Darth Maul. The late hour was getting to me when opening crawl appeared. I’d been through this before. But this time was different.

George Lucas finally made the movie I’ve wanted to see since 1983. Right away the movie grabbed me, and for the next two hours I was back there again, not back in time but back in a place in my head where I could just plain let go and enjoy the experience. The genesis of all my geek fixations was laid out in front of me anew and I loved it. The CGI effects that plagued the last two films blend almost seamlessly with live action this time around. The story moves along at a pace not seen in a Star Wars film since Return Of The Jedi. The characters have life again, and the agonizing path they follow towards their inevitable fate left me heartbroken. The film’s greatest achievement is that it keeps the audience captivated despite the fact that we all know the outcome.

Revenge Of The Sith won’t turn every prequel hater into fans again. There are a few weak moments that critics will dwell on. It will not have the impact of the groundbreaking blockbuster that opened in 1977. It won’t make every idiotic and embarrassing thing you’ve ever done vanish from memory. It won’t justify all the time and money you’ve wasted on science fiction crap. For those of us who came of age in the 70s nothing can replace or touch our memories. But if you are willing to ante up the $10 ticket charge, this time around you will probably be more than entertained, and things might just for a moment come full circle.

21 thoughts on “Revenge of the Blue Yoda Society”

  1. Attaboy, Scott. I knew you were “one of us”; you’re just as stanky with the scent of geeky fanboy as us music geeks who post obsessively on the GloNo boards. Frankly, I trust the opinions of Star Wars geeks better than I do mainstream media critics when it comes to the quality of a given prequel. Since for once, the consensus on this seems to be that Episode 3 kicks ass, I’ve gotta schedule myself a date at the multiplex now…

  2. If you have a Digital theater in your city, make an effort to see the movie there. Word is that the digital version of the film is amazing to see.

  3. I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight! I’m going tonight!!!!

    And I’m excited!

  4. great piece. you manage to sum up my childhood. except i didn’t have all the toys and what not. i did have the glasses and the soundtracks on lp. the new one really kicks ass. as a fan of the old i can say that this is very close to being the best. up there with jedi. go see it at the imax if you can. the experience makes it worth the extra hassle and money.

  5. about the toys…..

    I actually had a room on our basement that my dad remodeled to hold all my Star Wars toys. He put counters and shelves along three of the the four walls so that I could display everything. You have no idea how into this I was as a kid. It was disgusting.

  6. When I was a kid, I bought my dad an 8-track tape of the Star Wars soundtrack for his birthday. I’m sure he was thrilled.

  7. nice article. my story is quite similiar (minus the sheer volume of collectibles). i remember the odd feeling when things shifted away from star wars in my youth and moved toward music (though, it’s been a constant, ahem, force in my life up to this day wtih “gag” star wars related gifts from my sister every christmas). one summer it was return of the jedi, by the next summer it was van halen’s 1984. though, if it were luke balancing yoda on one leg upside down or david lee roth doing a jump kick off the riser, i approached it all wtih the same passion. no matter how the critics will treat the legacy of star wars, it forever will have a place in my heart. that goes for both the trilogies.

  8. No, [url=http://www.starwarz.com/tbone/cut_scenes/trash_compactor/missing_episode.htm]the opening crawl was changed[/url] after the original theatrical release.

    Subsequent prints of the film include the “A New Hope” subtitle. I think that was added by Lucas immediately after he knew that the sequels were a lock. Keep in mind that in 1977 almost no one thought the movie would be a success. Lucas had a nervous breakdown trying to get it made, and several people at the studio almost lost their jobs over the film.

    Unfortunately, no copys of the original prints of Star Wars exist (that we know of). Most have long sense been destroyed. When Lucas rereleased the films in the 90s they had to do massive restoration work and build a digital copy of Star Wars. All film stock of the movie was in terrible condition.

  9. werent the sequels a denied rumor until a few years before that crappy movie about jar jar was made? i know they SAY these are teh last of the sequels but i still wonder of theyll finish the trilogy of trilogies as has been rumored for 20+ years

  10. Maybe it’s because I was a little older when I saw them, but I’ve never understood this ‘cult of Star Wars’ thing. The first three films were great, mindless entertainment (not a slam – I love mindless entertainment when it’s well done, like Star Wars), but c’mon! People are approaching this thing as if it were capable of restoring their misspent youth. I mean, fine, enjoy the movie, enjoy the ‘closure’ or whatever, but let’s move on. I’m already sick of it and I haven’t even seen it yet.

    Let it go, people! Nostalgia is a form of regret!

  11. I wonder what the age range really is for Star Wars freaks like us… I bet it’s pretty narrow, because you’d have to be a kid who played with toys between 1977 and 1983. Right? Kids stop playing toys around the time of puberty (13) and I’m guessing they don’t really start caring about their toys until age six or so.

    So if you were born after 1977, you were probably too young to be exposed to the massive hype machine. But if you were born before 1965, you’d already be old enough by the time the first one came out to be obsessing about other stuff.

    I would bet that the majority of Star Wars freaks were born between 1965 and 1977.

  12. I’m not a hater – I like Star Wars. I’m just kind of sick of the obsessive worship it’s getting. Look, it’s just not that great – it’s good clean fun, and everyone should enjoy it as a first-rate piece of escapist entertainment. But people are making it out to be like Woodstock or something.

    Besides, I’m always ready to play the devil’s advocate in the face of a popular mass movement.

    Well, I’ll just hole up in my grumpy-old-man den and watch ‘The Hidden Fortress’ instead. And you kids stay off my lawn!

  13. I’d say that there’s actually another age range for Star Wars freaks: those born from 1986-1991. I’m not going to argue that the Phantom Menace was anywhere near as good as Star Wars, but that group of kids came of age at the right time for Episode I to convert them into full-fledged Star Wars nerds. Add that to the fact that some of those kids are the offspring of the original Star Wars freaks, so they were actually encouraged to embrace the movies.

    They were also at pretty much the only age, when the Phantom Menace was released, at which Jar Jar was amusing. That helps a little too.

  14. 24 May 2005

    LIGHT-SABRE DUEL PUTS TWO IN HOSPITAL

    TWO Star Wars fans are in a critical condition in hospital after duelling with lightsabres made by filling fluorescent light tubes with petrol.

    The pair – a man aged 20 and a girl of 17 – are believed to have been filming a mock fight when one of the devices exploded in woodland on Sunday.

    They were rushed to West Herts Hospital before being transferred to the specialist burns unit at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, in Essex.

    Police say a third person present at the incident was questioned.

  15. Great article. I look at Star Wars as one of the defining moments of my life, one which led straightaway to plunging headlong into imaginary worlds: Designing spaceships, devising maps, plans for secret hideouts, inventing monsters, making stop-motion Super-8 movies, comics–all this because of the wildfire Star Wars set in my imagination. And it led to that other, related pinnacle–Lord of the Rings.

    I remember totally going over in ridiculous detail the possibilities of what might have happened in the early days between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan with my fellow fanatics. Possibly the only thing close to that level of intese consideration post-childhood was trying to figure out Michael Stipe’s lyrics in college.

    Sure it’s all a bit geeky, but we were kids and, after all, the geeks won, didn’t they?

    I think that age range for Star Wars freaks is exactly right: 1965 would have been the “old end” for playing with the toys.

  16. By the way, saw this movie and really, really liked it. Overall, for the Star Wars fan, very satisfying.

  17. Wow, I’m commenting on a super old blog post.

    I remember TBYS…didn’t someone post on jedicouncil forums that yoda would be blue in the prequals? I was never a member of the society(i was a HoJo Knight in fanfic though!)

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