Sunday, January 30, 2011
My time in the Empire or how kissing your sister, even in a galaxy far,far away, is still nasty.
Back in 2005, a few months before Halloween I had an epiphany. I wanted to dance. But not just dance, I wanted to dance dressed up as a Storm Trooper from a movie franchise I had little interest in. I had seen clips of men or women shaking their money makers under the white armor and I knew I should purchase a suit of trooper armor to do just that. So I found a suit, assembled it, then got invited to a party where I stood amongst 5 guys wearing the same mask from the Scream movies, and several young girls who kept pointing at me. Alcohol can do amazing things but it cant change the fact that you're in Storm Trooper armor and several women are in front of you pondering the likelihood of whether your virginal status is still active, or in some cases, elevated. And with that, the armor went in a box for several years.
Sometime around 2007 I read an article about a local Star Wars costuming group that functioned as a charitable entity. The costumes were all self made, high quality suits and all functions the group attended were done under the premise that the functions host would make a charitable donation to Shade Tree, a charity for women and children. I made contact with the groups Boba Fett who was a great guy simply trying to bolster the groups somewhat meager ranks. Boba invited me to meet with the rest of the group and so I did.
The initial feeling I had upon entering the house where the meeting was being held was that I was a CIA operative attempting to infiltrate a nerd cell operating in Las Vegas. I knew the nerds would recognize my poser smell and reject me for the non-Star Wars fan I was. At the core of the group was Darth Vader. A man of undetermined age who was a later-life trust fund kid who spent all his time covering his nerdy bases ranging from a fascination with dragons, renaissance fairs, Star Trek and of course, Star Wars. I didn't begrudge Vader for his lifestyle. I begrudged him for being an asshole. Vader sized me up and without any provocation called my bluff by asking me "why am I here?" He explained I didn't seem too interested in Star Wars and he found my interest in the group puzzling. I explained to Vader i was simply trying to get some use out of an expensive costume. He said he could understand that.
I figured that if I was to join this group, I should familiarize myself with the original trilogy if only to be able to differentiate between Jango and Boba. And so I bought the dvd box set and formed a few thoughts about the movies while working my way through them.
1. Vader is a bad father with severe anger and self-esteem issues.
Vader fails on almost every level of child rearing throughout these movies. He cuts his kid's hand off while attempting to kill him. In Jedi, as a last ditch effort to redeem himself as a father, he stops his buddy from killing his kid, only to be killed by the buddy. Shortly before dying, Vader's helmet is removed to reveal a man that looks like Jonathan Winters whose sinister, baritone voice was provided by Eddie Murphy's dad in Coming To America. And in a classic managerial misstep, Vader is fast to choke his employees rather than simply point out their errors and follow up with some positive reinforcement.
2. Luke kisses his sister.
I couldn't see tongue, maybe that's visible in the Blu-ray versions, but I did see a guy kiss his sister. Nasty. People seem to gloss over this, but even in a galaxy far far away, incest is wrong. Yes, even intergalactic incest.
3. C3PO and R2D2 are a couple.
This might be far fetched, but I'm feeling a sort of life partnery vibe from these two. C3PO is the passive bottom. R2D2 is the aggressive top.
4. Hahn hooked up with Chewy, at least once, maybe twice.
I only say this because there's similarities to Chewie and Hahn's relationship and R2 and C3PO's. Contentious yet passionate. Stern but loving. I don't know if the Millennium Falcon had auto pilot features, but you have to think they might have made use of it and had a tryst while smuggling from doomed planet to doomed planet. Nothing big, a little Wookie on reckless mercenary experimentation while paying off debts to Jabba.
So I joined the group, not a difficult feat to accomplish, you just have to have a decent Star Wars costume in your possession and be willing to participate in a few functions per year. One thing I quickly noticed while walking around in public dressed as a storm trooper is that drunks and children respond about as well as you'd expect drunks and children to respond to Star Wars characters. The drunks like to antagonize us and the children like to start off being friendly only then to join the drunks in antagonizing us. I once saw two drunks try and jump Vader. Vader is quite tall and stout, so he held his own even when the drunks sucker punched him, making his helmet do a 360 while still on his head.
Another time I was at a charity golf tournament sponsored by Zappo's and unbeknownst to me, Zappo's had been plying their employees with alcohol the entire day. The antagonistic drunks were now armed with golf clubs. You know how in Braveheart, if Mel Gibson was running at you with his sword drawn chanced are you were about to be taken out by a man wearing a kilt but not underwear, who also had his face painted blue? Well, the guy charging at me had underwear on, I think, but instead of a sword he had a golf club. He swung it at me, knocking the wind out of me. Then shortly after that, the Zappo's office drunk came by and felt my cod piece at the same time my thermo detonator dropped on the ground. The Zappo's office drunk had a buddy who apparently was irked by her placing her hand on a member of the Empire's codpiece enclosed nether regions and tried to diffuse the awkwardness by asking if the thermo detonator on the ground was "my cock".
Drunks and Vader aside, I enjoy being in the group. Its a great way to interject a bit of joy into a little kids world, or the world of a man on his 10th Pabst Blue Ribbon. I do my best to absolve myself of any of the politics of the group and in an awkward moment that had me, Luke, jumping through the nerd looking glass while responding to Vader's asking me "Luke, why are you here", I thought "Why am I here?" I guess I'm here because the galaxy is big enough to accommodate even those who feel Lucas is a one trick pony and his movies are little more than Pink Flamingos in space, minus the dog doo.
Love your decidedly non-nerd, occasionally embedded in the ranks of Dungeons and Dragons lovers friend,