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Jun 2, 05 11:17 AM

'Mudhole? Slimy? My Home This Is!'




After spendng the whole twelve-hour-marathon of "Queen Smabbalabba from Planet Boobylooby and the Lords of Shimmybimmy" stilted dialogue, just sitting there thinking, Will Darth Vader just please show up, please? Please?, by the time the climactic Obi-Wan v. Anakin/Vader lightsabre battle begins, I thought, "OK, so Anakin's gonna fall into the flaming lava and get all burned and then they'll have to enclose Vader in his tragic life-support scary-half-robot, black-shiny-monster suit that we all know and love him in." Roughly two and a half hours of swordfighting later, he finally gets all burned up in the crazy molten lava--by which time my eyes have turned to igneous rock.

Then--though it's awesome to see the helmet affixed to Vader's burned up face, and the boots and suit put on by robots, the first thing Vader says--in James Earl Jones' amazing voice--is, essentially, "What's up with my wife and kids?"


Talk about a buzzkill. George Lucas--harshing my mellow.

The precise moment I fell madly in love with Darth Vader is a crystal-clear memory. I was seven, and my Dad took me to see Star Wars, telling me only that there was a movie that I ought to see. I had never heard of the thing, and was slightly weirded out by his insistence.

So: the first scene: the Imperial stormtroopers blow out the door of Princess Leia's spaceship and go storming in. There's smoke in the doorway. I hear that omnious Vader breathing, and I see Vader's boot step through the portal. I am one scared shitless seven year old. I think, What the hell is my Dad putting me through?! and cover my eyes.

A moment later my curiosity gets the best of me. I open my eyes. I see Darth Vader striding through the iPod-esque white corridor of Leia's spaceship.

I am in love.

Jung said that in a dream, a black man is the "father in the dark"--the shadow-father. (nevermind what the fuck this means if you are a black man and dream of a black man--what's up with that, Jung?) I've always thought this to be a great explanation of white kids' fascination with black culture; they're looking for the shadow-father, the father in the dark.

Forgive me this tenuous analogy. But I believe that on that moment, seeing Darth Vader and falling in love with him, I found the father in the dark. Ironic that my Dad took me to see the movie, and on his own whim, almost as if he planned to introduce me to the shadow-father without my prior knowledge.

And that that was the seed of my lifelong identification with black culture, my yearning to mine a kind of life-force from it. As Sekou Sundiata--the black poet that I idolized in school, the teacher that put me on the path I'm still on--once sang, "Darth Vader was a black man!"


I discovered when I saw the first new Star Wars--in 1998? When was that? I don't remember--that no movie is going to magically make me seven years old again. A curious, existential disappointment.

I have this interesting memory from my childhood: I heard that rumour that there were going to be nine Star Warses. I was elated. Then I did the math. I realized it would be well into the 2000s by the time the last one came out; I'd be in my thirties, and the movies wouldn't mean that much to me. I remember so well this poignant feeling, desperately wishing I wouldn't grow up.

Posted by Mike at June 2, 2005 11:17 AM