It’s weird being born in 1981. I missed the first two Star Wars films being released in cinemas as I was not even born (inconsiderate parents) and I was only two when Return of the Jedi was released. I’m too old to be a part of the prequel generation but neither am I one of those millions of kids who lined up outside cinemas to see the original trilogy on the big screen.
The first Star Wars film I saw at the cinema was The Phantom Menace when I was nearly 18 years old. I wasn’t young enough to want a lightsaber or Jar Jar Binks doll and I definitely didn’t queue up for hours and hours to see the film on opening night. And what is more, I was not keen on catching Attack of the Clones in the cinema and am bloody glad I didn’t.
When The Force Awakens trailer was released earlier in November 2014, I was chatting to my 16/17/18 year old media students about it. I realised that they were born in 1997 or 1998 and that most of them were too young to have even seen the prequel trilogy in the cinema. Many of them said they loved Star Wars when they were younger but hadn’t seen the films in a cinema. What is really crazy to me is that many of them experienced the Star Wars saga, not in the order of their release (4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3) but in chronological order, as George Lucas possibly wishes we all had.
So as an early 80s baby I find myself in the strange situation of being between Star Wars trilogies; a Star Wars Inbetweener if you will. I’m not one of the uber-dedicated, super-geeky fanboys or one of the legions of filmmakers like Kevin Smith, Edgar Wright and J. J. Abrams who worship the original trilogy and have been inspired by it. I saw Star Wars first on TV, probably in 1987. I then had it taped on VHS so I could watch it over and over again. Of course, it was just ‘Star Wars’ to me; none of this A New Hope nonsense. It took me a long time to get through Empire and Jedi as I found Empire strangely off putting as a child. It was much later as a teen that I was strongly advised that I had to complete the trilogy, Ewoks and all.
I didn’t see the 20th anniversary George Lucas re-releases in the cinema but I did buy them on VHS. I was mildly excited to see The Phantom Menace, but not as much as those crazy-obsessed, heading-for-middle-aged men who grew up witnessing the majesty of the original trilogy on the big screen. It’s strange to be between fan bases when so many people that are older than me and younger than me claim Star Wars to be the biggest and best franchise ever. The fans seem to own Star Wars. Anyone born in the early 70s will have grown up with these films as the definitive blockbusters of their generation. Anyone born in the early 90s will also likely feel slightly similar. Us early 80s babies are just stuck somewhere in the middle, floating around aimlessly in limbo.
What is more, I was too young to see Terminator 1 and 2, Die Hard 1 and 2, Robocop 1 and 2, Back to the Future and A Nightmare on Elm Street at the cinema. Despite not getting to see Back to the Future in a cinema (as I was only 3 when it was released), I still consider myself the Back to the Future generation. Back to the Future Part 2 was the film that blew my mind on the big screen. Had I not seen the first film on video beforehand, I’m sure it would be a different story. Even if I’m stuck in Star Wars limbo, thank God I’m part of the video generation!
The reason I write all this is that I always felt kind of alone in this Star Wars apathy. It seemed like most people my age loved Star Wars just as much as the fans who are a decade older than them. But then I spoke to a guy the other day who is also 33 and he said he felt the same. Star Wars just wasn’t his thing... he was too young for the hype of the original trilogy to have affected him and too old to have cared much about the prequels.
Do any other early 80s babies out there feel strangely disconnected from the whole Star Wars phenomenon or is it just me?
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