Crave writer Danny Gallagher is already at a Star Wars premiere in his head.
In case you haven’t heard the news (and if you haven’t, I hope the coma was restful), there’s a seventh Star Wars movie opening this week.
Millions of people from all walks of life will flock to theaters to find out what’s next in the saga. Star Wars fans have been down this road before, and it’s led to joy and excitement — and heartbreaking disappointment matching the pain caused by all odd-numbered Star Trek movies combined.
That emotionally charged history has molded fans into several distinct types. Here are some of the people you’ll see in the theater before the lights start to dim.
The Purist – A long time ago in a multiplex far, far away, these fans became fans after witnessing that opening crawl for the very first time. They are fiercely protective of the legacy of the first three films and their hearts sink a little deeper into their chest cavities every time they see something that tarnishes that image. They would take a bullet for the original movies, even though it’s not clear when they’d ever need to.
Purists use Episodes IV, V and VI as a cinematic yardstick to measure the strengths and weaknesses of every subsequent Star Wars film. They constantly remind you that you aren’t watching the original trilogy in case you’ve lost all sense of where you are in time and space. They point out scenes, characters and props that wouldn’t be worthy of being in the first movies. Most importantly, they are never going to forgive the new movie because it commits the crime of not being one of the original trilogy.
Most frequent sayings:• “The original movies wouldn’t do that!”• “That was different in the original!”• “Oh, how original.”
The New Hopeful – The prequels disappointed a lot of fans, but some dug down deep and mustered up a resilience that could carry them through all three sequels plus “Twilight.”
These folks have something that few who have seen “The Phantom Menace” were able to keep intact: hope. They have been eagerly awaiting the day when Hollywood could prove the cynics wrong about Star Wars’ best days being in the past.
New Hopefuls wear huge cheek-stretching smiles and keep their eyes wide open for every new detail about the new movie, no matter how tiny it may seem to the average fan. They plan their entire life around the release of this movie. It’s easy to identify New Hopefuls at the theater, as they will be the most optimistic and enthusiastic people you’ll ever meet outside of a beauty contest or some kind of cult gathering.
Most frequent sayings:• “This is gonna be so good! This is gonna be so good!”• “There’s no way I’ll be disappointed this time.”• “My cheeks hurt.”
The Soothsayer – Everyone has a theory about how “The Force Awakens” will unfold. A few of these fans believe they know exactly what’s going to happen to every character, despite the fact that they have no evidence, no ties to anyone who worked on the movie and no way to know what they are talking about. They base their assertions strictly on their gut feeling, which isn’t a smart move since people’s guts also feel that Hot Pockets have nutritional value.
Soothsayers think they cracked some secret code in that first full-length trailer for “The Force Awakens” and figured out the fate of Luke Skywalker and why he was missing from posters for the new movie. The truth is that they are guessing just like the rest of us and the only way to know for sure is to go see it and let the surprises pepper the experience. But even so they’ll refuse to act surprised.
Most frequent sayings:• “You wait and see.”• “I knew that was going to happen.”• “So, spoiler alert…”
The Jar Jar Hunter – Just saying the name “Jar Jar” can make most Star Wars fans quake in fear. He’s a big reason many fans don’t have a DVD of the first film in their collection. He makes the Ewoks look like Indiana Jones. Jar Jar Hunters don’t want a new generation of fans to have to endure the horror of a character designed only to sell toys to small children and turn a space epic into a Looney Tunes cartoon.
These Hunters joke about the ways they’d torture and kill Jar Jar to the point that other people actually feel sorry for the universe’s most annoying Gungan. The Hunters hate that Jar Jar was a cute and cuddly character seemingly designed only to sell toys to impressionable children, and they growl like dogs at the sight of any character that even looks like it could be turned into a plush toy. (Don’t mention BB-8 to them.)
Worst of all, they take people who had finally gotten over their first meeting with Jar Jar and make them live it all again in a horrific pop-culture flashback. It’s like when your mom reminds you about when you used to love “Hannah Montana” right in front of your new date.
Most frequent sayings:• “[grumble]”• “[growl]”• “[unintelligible muttering]”
The Lost – It won’t just be hard-core sci-fi nerds going to the theater to see “The Force Awakens.” Pretty much everyone who cares about pop culture will be seeing it so they aren’t left out of conversations at work the next day.
These viewers may know the basic idea of the previous movies but they won’t understand the nuances that define the protagonists, antagonists and everything in between. They’ll constantly ask questions before, during and probably after the movie — “Why is that guy wearing a mask?” “Where were they the whole time?” “What am I doing here?” — and they can make you lose your train of thought faster than an unnecessary nude scene. Fortunately, they’ll be easy to spot because they’ll look more confused than a recently unfrozen Neanderthal.
Most frequent sayings:• “I can’t wait to see what happened to Scotty.”• “I’m so lost right now.”• “…”
Read Rich Trenholm’s review of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” here and decide if he’s a New Hopeful or a Purist.