Friday, February 10, 2012

This week I finally made a decision that's been weighing on my soul for many, many years. I came to this conclusion based on a lot of inner-searching, catchphrase mining, Wii-playing, and record shopping:

Back to the Future is better than Star Wars.

I was in Binghamton last week, cashing in on a bet I'd made with my arch-nemesis Mike (Happy Birthday, by the way) and scouring big-box stores from the Monster High Operetta doll I've been coveting but am too cheap to pay $30 for on ebay and, not finding it, Ian bought me Back to the Future for the Wii, which I had also been coveting because Telltale Games is awesome.
So we played it for all of Super Bowl Sunday, which then got me thinking about how awesome Back to the Future is.  It's funny, it's intelligent, storywise, it's filled with wonderful callbacks and repetitions that aren't just shoehorned in for the sake of selling more toys.  The friendship between Doc and Marty seems so damn genuine, and everyone has known a Biff (mine was Chris Hampel, and he was as big and dumb a neanderthal as any incarnation of Biff ever was).  And, as I pointed out before, "The Power of Love" is the awesomest way to start your day short of getting shot out of a cannon. (and Alan Silvestri > John Williams any day)

In watching the trilogy again, as an adult (I always had a soft spot for III, probably because, at 11 years old, I had a weird sweet little crush on Doc.  No, I do not have daddy issues, unless you count that it was my dad who sat through endless viewings of these and who still occasionally calls me "McFly" when he's not calling me "Godzilla.") I realized that it was time to admit that there was only room for one sci-fi trilogy in my life, and Back to the Future was it.

It was a relief, really.  I felt like a real grown-up, leaving behind a devastatingly geeky childhood.  Remember, this was the 90's, and the films hadn't been re-released yet.  You had to buy Star Wars Insider in a brown wrapper.  Wal-Mart didn't stock an endless array of action figures.  Oh yeah, I was soon-to-be cutting edge, but translated, that meant that my sister Hilary and I were pretty much alone in our universe.

My obsession with Star Wars came very close to ruining my life. For all of high school and a good chunk of college, I dated a boy I'd fallen in love with solely for his great love of Star Wars.  We saw The Phantom Menace, in theaters, ten times.  In all fairness, we lived in Cobleskill and there was nothing to do other than go to the Park Theater, which still only costs $3.50.  Aaron was a prequel defender, despite the fact that I pointed out the inconsistencies, such as: 

-Leia remembering her mother (as she tells Luke in Jedi)
-Obi-Wan being Ben Lars' brother (I knew this because I had the official Star Wars character guide, which explains why I was capable of getting up at 9AM on a Saturday morning to watch MST3K . . . easy to get up when you haven't been out late the night before).
-Obi-Wan apparently forgetting Leia existed, despite, according to Sith, being there when she was born.
-Midiclorians, anyone?

Aaron sort of scoffed these off, forgetting that just because he had all the Star Wars tee-shirts (which he wore with tapered-leg jeans, white crew socks and Nike running shoes) did not means that I was not just as much of a Star Wars nerd as he was.

(Side note: Last night I impressed/depressed my boyfriend Ian by speaking in Hutt, which I remember more of than I remember of four years of high school French--je suis un ananas to you too)

I almost married this man.  And when I mean almost I mean ring on the finger, engagement party held, wedding books at hand.  It's a decision that I realize, in hindsight, would have destroyed my life and probably his.  And I blame Star Wars.

I tried re-watching Star Wars with a Rifftrax last fall (original trilogy VHS, baby--no Greedo Shooting First bullshit here!) and I couldn't do it.  It all seemed so stage-y and weird.  But watching Back to the Future didn't feel awkwardly nostalgic, it felt like seeing an old friend.  It filled me with such joy, such rapturous bliss in a way that I remembered Star Wars did when I was 13.   Because good-vs-evil doesn't seem like a fairy tale to me anymore.  I look around and I see various shades of evil every day--like Rick Santorum.  Or the owner of dogs that were starved to the point of eating their own feces that I had to grit my teeth and listen to make excuses for why he shouldn't be charged with animal neglect because my editor believes in the full story.   And that's not to say I don't see good in the world too--there's my minister, the Rev. Mark Montfort, who is a beacon of all that is good and light and kind in the world.  Or my editor, Jim Kevlin, who fights daily for justice and freedom of the press and who more-than-occasionally buys me lunch.

But it's a battle so commonplace that it's not a fairy tale anymore.  But what grown-up doesn't wish she could go back in time and make things right?  Who doesn't wish they could alter the circumstances of their families, their fate, history itself?  That's a fairy tale I need to believe in.

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