Until this month, most of what I knew about “Star Wars” was from Weird Al Yankovic’s parody, sung to the tune of “American Pie.”

“A long, long time ago/In a galaxy far away …”

Now, I’m not trying to claim that knowing the lyrics to any (or all) Weird Al songs is any less nerdy than loving “Star Wars.” But there are many kinds of nerdy, and sci-fi has never been mine.

In fact, if someone had asked me to watch “Star Wars” at some point in the past 30 years, I probably would have said, you’d have to pay me. Fortunately, that’s just what happened when my editors were looking for someone to give a first-person account of seeing the original “Star Wars” trilogy for the first time, nearly four decades after its release.

So, I took a Friday to work from home, traded my desk for my futon and watched the films.

Tough job, some might say. I say, indeed.

These movies are long. And there are three of them. And they start in the middle of a story. There are countless characters and, except for Luke, none with familiar names. Many aren’t human or any recognizable species and several don’t speak English.

Struggling to read and digest the opening crawl of Episode IV, I was already lost by the time it scrolled off the screen. But as a result of Star Wars’ inescapable presence in pop culture, I knew enough to keep up.

I knew who Princess Leia was with her side buns – though I was surprised to see that she wears her hair other ways.

I knew Darth Vader was the bad guy. Unfortunately, I also knew, from the movies being so frequently referenced in real life, that he was Luke’s father.

But there were other aspects of the film I was surprised I didn’t know.

I couldn’t have picked R2-D2 from C-3PO in a line-up, and I didn’t realize Chewbacca was basically Bigfoot.

And Darth Vader? Not that scary. He looks like he’s wearing a Halloween costume. Sure, that may be because I saw the costume before the real thing, but still, there appears to be little difference between them. Frankly, I found him much more terrifying when he took his mask off at the end.

Jabba the Hutt, along with everyone in his lair, however, were so repulsive to me I had to look away when some of the characters were on screen. That’s not my idea of being entertained.

The worst part of the films for me, though, was probably what has driven my disinterest all along: the fighting.

How much ducking, swerving and shooting should a person be expected to sit through?

Through those scenes in the first film, I was really trying to pay attention and only turned to check Facebook on my phone a few times. But, at several points during the second and third films, I straight up fell asleep. And I’m not a napper.

Maybe it’s not sci-fi I mind as much as action, but that’s what makes up the majority of the movies. I did find several of the characters endearing and enjoyed aspects of the plot. Leia being Luke’s sister came as a welcome explanation for my confusion over what seemed to be a Luke-Leia-Han love triangle. The music is pretty good, too.

Overall, as expected, I didn’t have the interest or attention span to appreciate these movies the way many people do. But I’m pretty sure that puts me in the minority. So, I have to ask myself, what am I missing? (Or, maybe more accurately, what’s wrong with me?)

I think it’s mostly a matter of timing. For a lot of people who love these movies, at least those around my age, watching them and rewatching them made up a considerable part of their childhood – a time when the idea that this world might have existed a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away probably seemed more plausible. And what come across as kitschy special effects and simple space scenes today were groundbreaking in their own time.

Plus, along with the ritual of watching the films was the anticipation of new ones coming out, knowing that there was going to be more to the story.

All of this has made “Star Wars” a decades-long part of the cultural conversation, which, until now, is something I haven’t been privy to.

Although I may not share the zeal of a fan, I have to say, I’m glad to know what everyone’s been talking about.

Now I can see the new film and sort of know what’s going on. I may even pay for a ticket.

 

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