So for the past 40 years I have been a huge “Star Wars” fan. I can remember the first time that I sat in the theater and the screen came up with the title in the opening sequence of John Williams’ brilliant score and absolutely being blown away. My eyes widened and I completely dropped my bottom jaw in awe as the drool began to run from the sides of my mouth. I think a full two hours later they had to shake me back to reality and check to see if I was still giving off a pulse. That was my experience and I can truly say that it was the beginning of the end, or is it the beginning of the beginning, or whatever you call it, it changed my life forever.
Well, what I mean by changed my life is that it created an obsession that I have not been able to shake for the past four decades. But sometimes I wonder just how much is too much when it comes to the phenomenon known as “Star Wars”. I mean, is it normal for people to dress up as their favorite characters or to have countdown timers on their websites and personal blogs of when the next movie is coming out even though it may be a couple of years away? Is it normal for people to dress their children up against their will like a “Star Wars” character and force them to attend all these different conventions just for the sake of having to celebrate their parent’s total obsession with such a phenomenon? Or is it even normal that people have sat and watched any given episode more than 50 times? I know some of these examples sound extreme but I have to admit that I’ve seen “The Empire Strikes Back” at least 50 times if not more. For a long time, that is years, I was absolutely obsessed with watching it and would find myself sitting down on a daily basis, or when I didn’t have anything to do, just pop it in and watching it a couple times that day. Admittedly I got talked about by my siblings and friends because I could recite the movie word for word, something I feel no shame for.
Perhaps the worst part of all of this is the fact that as viewers we always seem to have to wait at least 2 years, and these days throw an extra year on top of it, just to receive the next rendition of the “Star Wars” saga. This creates massive amounts of anticipation and sometimes it just can’t be quenched by some of the extended universe material that is readily available for our consumption as fans. Don’t get me wrong, some “Star Wars” is better than none, but there’s nothing like a mainstream “Star Wars” movie to quench your thirst for sci-fi and fantasy.
Let me just point out before I go further that this article was spurned by the constant reminders and ramblings of my co-workers, friends and family about the fact that December was right around the corner and that meant “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. Not as many people were freaking out about “Justice League” or “Thor: Ragnorok” or even “Murder On the Orient Express”, but lots and lots of reminders as to how many days are left before the release of the new main saga movie by my eager fellow “Star Wars” fanatics. I promised myself that this go around I would take it easy from the last bout with “The Force Awakens”, because that anticipation really ate away at me when I first saw the teaser trailer. I mentioned this in another article where I talked about seeing that trailer for the first time which, for some reason, snuck up on me. I think primarily it’s because I had finally gotten over the years since the prequels were released and had come to the acceptance that we may not get any more movies for a while. As a matter of fact, George Lucas had promised we’d never get another. I know Disney had bought the property though and was currently in production, but I still didn’t allow myself to get too excited about the prospects. But again, like I mentioned before, my roommate shoved his giant screened Nexus 6 into my face and there it was, the trailer of the force awakens dead in front of me. By the time I was finished watching that minute-and-a-half trailer, I ended up finally taking another breath after holding it for the entire time and felt so excited (yet stressed) that I vowed that once I had seen this movie I would take it easy on any previews or trailers or other possible spoilers for the next one. So, that’s what I vowed but seriously, do you think it really worked? Absolutely not! As a matter of fact it didn’t work and really had gotten worse since Disney decided to continuously feed us movies on a yearly basis despite the fact that in reality our minds and hearts, and possibly the rest of our bodies, needed a serious break from such intensity.
I guess this brings me to my main point, the fact that there’s so much overload in today’s media that often times it can become confusing and cause a measure of emotional stress and anxiety. “Star Wars” is no different. There’s been so much material of the beloved franchise over the past few years that there is no break from it and what we find in today’s reviews and comments about many of the movies that are coming out is that they aren’t what they used to be, or don’t evoke that same feeling of what it was like the first time they had seen it. Like I said before, when I saw “Star Wars” for the first time I was five and it was an original movie without the “A New Hope” on the end of it. At that time it was unexplored territory and Incredibly imaginable with lots of groundbreaking special effects in a story that was hobbled together from many legendary sources to create something extremely special. But today, we have so much of that juicy cinema goodness that I think people are really starting to go through withdrawal and are constantly looking for that first high. Sounds a lot like an addiction doesn’t it? Well let’s look at some of the signs of addiction below.
As defined by The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the following symptoms of addiction are described as:
- The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended – (A movie promised once a year by Disney along with TV shows and tons of extended universe stuff).
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control use of the substance – (What fan has ever said “Hey, I’m done with this crap…good riddance!”).
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance, use the substance, or recover from its effects – (Just visit Comic Con and get back to be).
- Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use the substance – (Huh…Am I not writing an article about this right now?).
- Recurrent use of the substance resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home – (So, I’ve never lost it to this point, but I’ll betcha folks have taken their kids out of school and played hookie from to go to a viewing on opening day, bright and early Thursday morning. Or better yet, 5 dollar Tuesday. I’ll put money on that one).
- Continued use of the substance despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of its use – (LOL…ok, so I admit that I actually got into a fight with the wife cause she said something less than savory about my beloved franchise. She’s since decided that it is best to maintain silence and sacrifice for the sake of marital solidarity).
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of use of the substance – (All other events are cancelled on “Star Wars Movie Day”…I’m just saying).
- Recurrent use of the substance in situations in which it is physically hazardous – (Toy lightsaber mishaps anyone?).
- Use of the substance is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance – (One day I will get rid of all of the little Jedi running around in my head).
- A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect – (Binge watching “Star Wars Rebels” left me in a state of despair and wondering why they keep teasing with the cartoons that they’ll never finish).
- A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance – (Seriously, the next movie is 2 and half hours and I feel it just ain’t enough).
- The substance (or a closely related substance) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms – (I find myself filling the void with other scifi franchises that feel like more of a snack).
Seriously, don’t some of these symptoms sound familiar when it comes to our love of “Star Wars” and lots of other things sci-fi fantasy? There’s so much content available at this point that we really lack for nothing, at least for mainstream shows. We can stream all the movies, we can watch all of the cartoons/animated shows, we can read all the books and we can consume as much content as we can get our hands on, but we seem to not be able to reach that high that we originally experienced. Honestly, what I feel right now, and as of this date of posting (which falls in the week of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, I begin to experienced a tremendous amount of anxiety and desperation as I get closer to the viewing. I begin to feel fear that as I purchase my tickets there will be no seats left within the theater. I continue to feel that all haters of Star Wars and their comments should not go unchallenged. And I feel jittery and nervous as I write this post. I can tell you folks that for certainty this is definitely not normal behavior, but the reality is I would not trade these feelings for anything in the world for another opportunity to view my beloved sci-fi fantasy series. With all this said, I would like to submit a new condition that is plaguing the world in 2017 and beyond. This condition will be known forever more as S.A.D. – Star Wars Addiction Disorder. And as of now, there is absolutely no cure.