If there’s one article of clothing that gets me more comments than any other, it’s my Star Wars hoodie.
The garment itself is nothing special, but something about it just seems to draw people out. I get people all the time that will scan the logo, look me in the face, and give me that knowing nod.
I even had a guy approach me in the parking lot a few weeks ago, all serious:
“Excuse me, sir?”
“May the force be with you.”
I smiled and said the only thing you can say in such situations: “and also with you.”
He then got all quizzical and asked me if my mask had a cat on it, which it did at the time, but this is not a story about how I had to wear my wife’s cat mask to the grocery store, it’s a story about my Star Wars hoodie.
Thing about Star Wars lately — as is the thing with so many things lately — is that it’s polarizing. With the new movies out, people put themselves into camps, and you’re either on team “love new Star Wars omg YAY” or “new Star Wars is 100% bad and Star Wars belongs 40 years in the past”. (For the record, I’m on team StarWarsYAY.)
And you know what? Fine. Everybody gets to have their opinion, and if the new Star Wars aren’t your thing, well, you’re wrong, but that’s ok.
But for some reason, because I was wearing my Star Wars hoodie, the guy sweeping the floor at the Kroger decided I was his buddy.
(Detour. I make no prejudgments about the guy based on the fact he was sweeping the floor at the Kroger. I myself started my working life sweeping the floor at Kroger. But I would never have done what this kid did, and for that, and that alone, I judge.)
He approaches me: “Nice sweatshirt.”
“Glad to see it’s for the old ones, too, and not the new ones.”
I mean, I get he was making an attempt to be cordial, but you can see he’s made some rather large assumptions right from the go. (The first of which is that I am interested in his favorite Star Wars movie, which, no offense, but while shopping for my family’s dinner for the week, I am not.) ‘The old ones,’ he said, ‘and not the new ones.’ As if this were obvious, as if nobody could conceivably feel any other way, as if We Two Dudes are connoisseurs who know what Real Star Wars movies are and anybody who feels otherwise deserves worse than ridicule. Never mind that he’s expressing nostalgia for a thing that existed decades before he was even thought of. This is the equivalent of your eight-year-old telling you that Fraggle Rock is far superior to Muppet Babies. What the hell do you know about any of that?
But I have a special sort of disdain for the sort of person who goes all elitist about their favorite intellectual properties. So I engaged.
“Actually, I’m quite a fan of the new movies. In fact, I think The Last Jedi may be the best Star Wars movie.”
(I don’t believe this, not really — though I do quite like it and I think it’s top-3 — but this is guaranteed to bait a Star Wars Snob.)
“Are you kidding?”
“Nope, I think the new saga is great.”
A moment of silence from my new friend, who stood agog. “Even though the writers themselves said that, after the second movie, they realized they’d written themselves into a corner and wished they could re-do the whole thing?”
I don’t know if this is true, and I don’t care. “Did they? I dunno. Certainly nothing in the new movies is any worse than Ewoks.”
He’s shaking his head, now, aware how badly he’s miscalculated and trying to figure a way out of the conversation while saving face. “I just felt like we deserved better.”
Here I could have gotten on my soapbox and given a lecture to this young whippersnapper about how The World Owes You Nothing and Beggars Can’t Be Choosers but I went with a rather tame “Man, just be happy you’ve got this thing you love, and you’re getting more of it. When I was your age, we got the Prequels.”
Which is true.
It was a dark time.
He walked off shaking his head, and I did the same.
Star Wars is this weird thing, now. It used to be you could spot another fan in the wild and have a great conversation about the movies, the characters, your favorite moments.
Now even a thing so pure as Star Wars is poisoned with snobbery and holier-than-thou thinking.
Harry Potter is the same. (Ask me how I feel about my Deathly Hallows tattoo now that J.K. Rowling has become a font for ethically dubious statements on Twitter.) And so are so many things.
Can’t we just like things anymore? Isn’t it enough to see another fan and say, “hey, I love Star Wars too,” and let that be the end of it? I could’ve walked away feeling good, he could’ve walked away feeling good.
But no. It’s not enough. You’ve got to pick a favorite, and that means you’ve got to pick a side, and if you’re on the other side, you’re dumb and stupid and probably a socialist or a nazi to boot.
Man, I’m tired.