I'm embarrassed to admit this. After all, a grown man in his thirties should not be crying. Not over Star Was anyway.
To be clear, it wasn't sobbing. Not even sniffling or lip trembling. But what I felt creeping up inside me was undeniable, that much is clear.
Thick, wet, pools of glistening tears were forming in my narrow blue eyes. I attempted to thwart my emotions, even commenting to myself that this was ridiculous. I mean, the guy making me cry even had a lisp. The type of lisp that I use when impersonating an idiot. Which isn't to say that I think people afflicted with a lisp are idiots, I most assuredly don't. But I will say that for some reason, when telling a story involving a pretentious idiot's explanation for parking in TWO spots at the local supermarket, it helps to adapt a lisp to said moron's voice. It's an excellent storytelling technique that helps amplify his stupidity.
I think I'm digging myself deeper.
The point is, this man on my television screen, the one with the lisp, is making me tear up.
Several weeks ago, the Star Wars movies finally came out on Blu Ray (Sidenote, why isn't it spelled BLUE-Ray?) Curiously, I didn't buy them right away. This had less to do with the controversy revolving around the ahem 'enhancements' George Lucas added to the films and more to do with a promise I made to The Angel. See, my obsessive need to have what I want, when I want, can occasionally cause friction with family members and their gift giving ways. Basically, I pretty much buy every movie, CD, and action figure I want the day it comes out. Apparently, this type of behavior is frowned upon. It can downright suck to buy me birthday and Christmas gifts because I tend to have everything I desire before those occasions come out. Or so I've been told. In those words. "It sucks Kurt."
Considering my birthday was right around the corner, she implored to me to hold off on getting the Star Wars movies.
Let me explain to you how difficult this was for me. It's the Star Wars movies. On Blu-Ray. With deleted scenes. Are you fucking kidding me????? This would be like calmly telling someone with a compound fracture in BOTH legs that they need to wait for the morphine just a little longer.
Needless to say, I've been sulking ever since.
Alas, in a showcase of my undying love for her, I waited.
And although calling off the engagement was not entirely out of the question, I'm happy to report that the greatest film franchise in movie history is now sitting pleasantly in my bedroom. No, not next to my pillow you ass clown.
I started with the documentary disc, first relishing in the 97 minute Star Wars Spoofs collection. In truth, I might have added the Star Wars Christmas Holiday Special instead, but I was happy nonetheless. For my money, the Robot Chicken spoofs are absolutely brilliant. I hope Seth Green and company continue to make these wonderful episodes, as they bring so much joy to those of us that love Star Wars. Below are two of my favorite moments, and I'm happy to report that both are on the Spoofs documentary.
After laughing myself silly, I moved on to Star Warriors, a lovely 84 minute doc on the 501st Legion. If you're not sure who the 501st Legion is, don't fret. You actually totally know them, you just weren't aware of their moniker These are the people you probably snicker at. The people Triumph the Insult Comic Dog famously berates on Conan. Essentially, to common folk, the 501st are people who dress up in Star Wars costumes and go about cavorting around in public with them on.
Which, unlike you, I think is about the most awesome thing in the world, even if I've never done so myself (but secretly really, really want to).
Now, to clarify, the 501st Legion is not just anyone in a costume. Far from it. This may help you give the 501st more respect, or possibly make the situation worse depending on your hipster level of toxicity. See, you can't just get into the 501st. You have to be approved. Or more importantly, your costume has to be approved. It needs to be movie authentic (something called canon for those unaware of the lingo). That's right, these brave Star Wars soldiers wear their own costumes... the ones they meticulously work on for months... the ones that cost thousands of dollars... because they want to. It should be emphatically pointed out that the 501st is also incredibly well run, with chapters throughout the world. It's also not just a costuming club, as the 501st does a wealth of charitable work, often appearing over 100 times in any given year. They are fantastic ambassadors of goodwill, bringing joy and humor to millions. Yes, they are better human beings than you and I. They just are.
And of course, dorky fans like me think they rule. Mostly because they do.
The Star Warriors doc tells the story of several individuals over several continents coming together to march in the Annual Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, CA. George Lucas was the honorary Grand Marshal, and so it goes without saying that Star Wars needed to be present and represented. And who do you think Lucas asked be the symbol of his global universe?
That's right, the 501st Legion.
Which is where the documentary begins, recounting various 501st members and their attempts to be selected to march in the parade. Right, I probably need to elaborate for those of you reading this and thinking, didn't they just take everyone? How many 501st members could there be?
There are more than 5000 members. In 40 countries.
And the Rose Bowl would only allow for roughly 200 stormtroopers to march.
And no, they weren't getting paid. They were marching for hours on end in the hot southern california sun, with no breaks and no water. And just to do that, they had to make it into the parade by receiving one of the 200 invitations available by auditioning.
And this is where the crying begins.
First off, the people they showcase in the documentary are all endearing. They're strange and odd and funny and just so damn beautiful. I love them instantly for who they are. I want to drink beer with the Belgium boys. I want to hang out with the lads from England. I want the lone stormtrooper to find his fellow friends in California. I want to share dinner with the couple from Japan. I even develop a crush on two of the girls they spotlight.
But then there's this one guy. The one with the lisp. And he wrecks me within a matter of minutes.
Other than his obvious speech issues, he's a big guy. I think they might have even said he was a firefighter. I can't recall for sure. At any rate, I gather that he could be an outside linebacker. Or MMA fighter. He isn't ripped, but he looks fit. He definitely doesn't look like the geeks you're probably imagining in your mind. I think he could kick my ass. He starts to tell his story...
His son was into Star Wars. Way into it. He was just like any other kid who sees Star Wars, whether the new or old trilogy. He loved it.
Only he wasn't like every other kid.
He had leukemia.
And after he was diagnosed, this brave, heroic little boy told his Father that going through his Leukemia battle was his own 'jedi trial', after which when completed would mean the boy would be a full-fledged jedi.
His Father and he had bedside lightsaber duels, all while battling the very real evil inside him.
When his son passed away, the man wasn't sure where to turn. He didn't know how to handle his grief. Who would? There's no manual on this situation.
His Father stumbled upon the 501st Legion, and slowly he started participating in their events. It was a way of coping.
You can see where this is going, and the man inevitably started donning his own stormtrooper armor. Hearing him tell his story is breathtaking, and suddenly I remember why I love Star Wars so much. Especially when he receives a gift that has become his prized possession, a real action figure of his son in jedi fatigues.
The man goes to hospitals now, helping other sick kids smile for the day.
He gets selected for the Rose Bowl, and he marches alongside other Legion members as a way of announcing to the world once again how important Star Wars is.
He does it for his son, the one he no longer gets to spend time with. Only he does, every time he throws on his custom-made Imperial Empire armor.
And if that doesn't make you cry, nothing will.
Kurt Edward Larson just published his first book, Finding the Super-Hero Within. Star Wars and his fascination with the its universe is a central theme to the book. As is a Wampa rug. He also has decided to not make fun of lisps anymore. You can buy his book by clicking anywhere in this highlighted text.