At the corner of 12th and Main Street in downtown Kansas City sits the Empire Theater. I am standing near 13th and Main Street in a line that has wrapped around the block. The year is 1977. It is a warm day in late May. The kind of day that is a preview to the sweltering Kansas City summer. I am five years old.
I remember my dad holding my sister, three, on his hip waiting for the line to move. We purchase three tickets and take our seats, walking under the giant chandelier in the lobby of the theater. Prior to this day, my movie going experiences had, mostly, been Tom and Jerry cartoons at the Antioch Theater, or catching a Herbie the Love Bug flick at the Paradise Theater in North Kansas City. My mind was not fully prepared for what would happen to me over the next two hours.
From the opening chord of that famous John Williams score, the gigantic words STAR WARS splattered across the biggest screen I’d ever seen, and the opening crawl – I would never again be the same. Stormtroopers. Robots. Laser swords. Wizards. Spaceships. What else could a five year old want in a movie? Star Wars was everything.
I went to school the next day during the final week of the school year and the teacher simply had no control for five straight days. The boys were talking about Han Solo and shooting stormtroopers. The girls were talking about putting their hair into cinnamon bun rolls like the beautiful Princess Leia. The energy spilled into the summer and nearly every day since. There is something magical about Star Wars.
I sit here writing this on the eve of the night I will see my eleventh Star Wars movie, the ninth in what they call the “Skywalker Saga.” I will barely sleep tonight thinking back to playing “Star Wars” with my friends on the playground, and then buying my son his first Darth Vader action figure 30 years later.
Like anything these days, however, there are critics. Everyone is a critic because everyone has a Twitter account. Everyone’s opinion is given volume. Everyone has something to say about Star Wars. The middle three movies were controversial because of this or that. The last movie was a dud because of whatever. The whole things reeks like politics has seeped into the enjoyment of a movie designed around laser swords, princesses, robots, and mean villains in capes. It will not deter me. Haters can hate. Twitter can tweet away. You’re not going to ruin this for me.
Tomorrow night, I will take my son and his friends to a midnight showing of a Star Wars movie. There will be spaceships. There will be lightsaber fighting. There will be explosions, and princesses, and swashbucklers, and bleep blooping robots. I will be five years old again.
Nobody gets to tell me how to enjoy my bleep blooping robots. The force is strong with me, and may the force be with you. Always. Just keep your tweets to yourself.
(Talk Star Wars with Chris Kamler on Twitter where he is @TheFakeNed. Search for him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)