*Disclaimer: This guest post is written by Tall Dad. The following article is Rated R, and is not representative of Mary Larsen’s thoughts or values. She is not liable for the views expressed in the following commentary. Chances are, however, that if you're reading this, regardless of your tastes, we probably have at least one thing in common - we're both parents. And you know, just as well as I, that being a parent, either new, or grizzled veteran, is tough on anyone. So, take whatever you like from this article – good, bad, or ugly – and try to enjoy.
Star Wars Episode VII is a reality. It's happening. It will be directed by JJ Abrams - Luke, Leia and Han are back - and it's going to adorn the silver screen in December of 2015. It will be glorious.
I intend to introduce my son to Star Wars when the new episode comes out, and I am literally counting the seconds until I see those sultry words: "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" appear on a building-sized IMAX screen. But, why? Well, of course, there are the obvious answers: lightsabers rule, Darth Vader kicks ass, the Millenium Falcon may or may not be my dream vehicle, and Yoda... fucking Yoda, bro.
But, after the announcement of Episode VII, as my gleeful-fanboy-adoration of all things related to the Force and JJ Abrams died down into reality, I got to thinking - Star Wars provided a lot more than just awesome characters, tantalizing special effects, and General Akbar's all-to-late recognition that, holy shit, "it's a TRAP!" Inspired by everyone's favorite tiny green Jedi Master, I recognized: luminous wisdom is Star Wars - not those crude affectations of Hollwood movie-making matter. It is a living, breathing, mythology on the collective we. Holy Christ, what does all that meta bullshit mean?
In other words, what draws me to Star Wars are the life lessons it taught me as a kid. Of which, there are many. Trust me. (A future post, perhaps?) But, this profound discovery has reminded me why Star Wars is still relevant (even in a post Avengers, Dark Knight Trilogy, and Hunger Games world), and why I've concluded that if there is only one thing I could teach Itty Bitty in this life, it would be Star Wars' most important life lesson:
Han shot first.
Yup, Han Solo shot first alright. And it's imperative my kid, your kid, the neighbor's kid, and even the kids in Uganda know this as they go forward in life.
Let's set the scene:
After meeting Luke and Obi-Wan in the Cantina on Tattoine, Han Solo is rudely interrupted by an ever so slimy green Puffer Fish-esque bounty hunter by the name of Greedo. Threatening to take Solo back to Jabba the Hutt for the money he owes him, Greedo makes a not-so-subtle threat against Han's life. Not one to take lightly to this sort of intimidation, with one leg casually on the table, Solo nonchalantly unclips his blaster on his other leg below the table, pulls it out, shoots and kills Greedo, gets up, leaves a tip to the bartender and says, "sorry about the mess." He calmly walks out of the Cantina and carries on with the rest of his day. Unbelievable right?! The definition of cool.
Hold on - why is this (let's call it for what it is) murder the most important life lesson for your kid? Seems a little morbid on the surface, right? Well, yeah, that's why I'm writing this article -to get your attention. (And, no, before you go there, I don't want little kids offing each other with guns either.)
But, as always, there's a little bit more to it than just that. Willem Dafoe says it best in The Boondock Saints, "I believe the word [we're] looking for [is] 'symbolism.' What is the ssss-ymbolism there?" The idea behind "Han Shot First" is built, in my eyes, around 5 important life lessons from which we should all learn:
1. If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It - in 1997, George Lucas released re-mastered special additions of his Star Wars saga. He changed a lot of scenes in the re-release, and most of it was needed. But, the one alteration that sent geeks into rage fits across the globe...
...the holy grail of double crosses against all dorkdom...
...the coup de gras of Nerdacide...
Lucas infamously digitally modified this scene to make Greedo shoot first, miss, and Solo retaliate. He completely changed the entire dynamic of this scene! And when people question him on it - Lucas' response is, "you were confused. Greedo always shot first."
Ok pal, I'm into having artistic license, but don't make me look like an asshole by lying right to my face. You can't re-write history. I seen that shit. Han popped Greedo at that table, and I felt damn good about it. We all felt damn good about it. Alas, now, Greedo pulls the trigger first.
Of course, Star Wars is Lucas' creation and he can do whatever he damn well pleases with it. But, he should have left it alone. The original scene was a perfect introduction to Harrison Ford's eponymous alter-ego. It's like adding that final brush stroke to a nearly perfect painting, and then proceeding to take a giant shit all over that perfect painting because, well, fuck you, that's why. In other words, Lucas got greedy, and he pissed off a lot of his sworn advocates. So, don't get greedy. If it's perfect, leave that shit alone.
2. Be Who You Are - Lucas eventually admitted to redacting any semblance of Han shooting first because he didn't want Solo to be known as the cold blooded killer he was portrayed to be in the original 1977 version. So, in changing this scene, Lucas fundamentally re-wrote the character of Han Solo and made him something he is not. A monumentally lucky nice-guy-pushover.
True, he may be a "scruffy looking Nerfherder," but Han Solo is also a fucking smuggler! The best in the galaxy! He ain't supposed to be nice. He ain't your buddy. You want a beer with Han Solo? No problem. But you ain't talkin about your kids with him, and he sure as shit ain't gonna be in your little fantasy league.
Han's his own man, on his own time, and no one's gonna tell him otherwise. Especially Greedo.
By having Han shoot first, it served as the perfect example of how dangerous he could be. Solo's clearly traveled the galaxy a few times, and survived on nothing but guts, wits, and having the ingenuity to know when to take action. But, then, all of a sudden, this little piece of shit bounty hunter with bug eyes and a penis for lips gets a one up on the great Han Solo?
It just doesn't fit the character. The change completely mitigates Solo's smart, proactive, self-centered, criminal character who makes shit happen, and remodels him into a reactive do-good pantywaist, who got lucky because Greedo missed his impossibly easy shot at point-blank range. On a macro level, the change made Solo's character arch completely different. As such, his journey of being the anti-hero throughout Star Wars became a lot less poignant and transformational.
So, if you're a bad mother fucker, then be that bad mother fucker. Own it. If you're a good guy, own that shit too. Just be who you are and no one can change your scene.
3. Life's A Journey - One minute you're killing a bounty hunter in a bar, and then before you can blink, you're being honored in front of thousands of people in the Rebellion. You may be a bad mother fucker, but there's always room for improvement. And even though you may initially rescue a princess for, "more wealth than you could imagine," and you, "could imagine quite a bit," there is still always something in you that wants to to do good because you can. It's wise to listen to that calling.
Redemption comes from many unexpected places, including friends, family, and loved ones. Maybe even hokey religions and ancient weapons too. You can be the hero if you let it happen. Ride the wave and life will happen regardless of how many bumps you run into, or how many bounty hunters you have to kill.
4. You Control Your Destiny - In response to Solo saying it would be over his dead body that he would go back to Jabba, Greedo proclaimed, "that's the idea, I've been waiting for this for a long time..." OK, regardless of the story Lucas intended on telling originally, it's pretty clear, based on what Greedo says, that he planned on shooting Solo from the get-go. Han's action is easy to understand from a logical standpoint that Solo knew Greedo wasn't going to let him see the light of day, even if Solo had Jabba's money. So he threw his hands up in the air, said, "fuck it," and disposed of Greedo as if he were Bantha fodder. Basically, he dropped the mic before dropping the mic was cool.
In light of this self defense measure, Han probably would have been killed if he hadn't shot poor little Greedo first. Which, means that that Solo would have never met back up with Luke and Obi-Wan. In turn, Leia would have died at the hands of Darth Vader because she wouldn't have been rescued, and Luke wouldn't have been able to reach and destroy the first Death Star.
Thereby making the Jedi extinct, and allowing the Empire to crush the rebellion with total ease.
So, by Han shooting first, he saved the rebellion, ushered in a new era of peace, resurrected the Jedi, and got the girl in Princess Leia.
So, unless you run into a terrible bounty hunter, and that bounty hunter has the worst aim in the ENTIRE fucking galaxy, and you're subject to terrible digital enhancements, and you're in a beloved movie whose fans are slave to the whimsy of a greedy-money-grubbing-writer, you control your destiny.
Which leads me to my final thought...
5. Women Love Badasses - Han Solo gets the girl. He gets her because he's cool and he's a little dangerous. While watching Star Wars to begin with, (and extrapolating this kind of advice from one movie scene) makes you inherently the opposite of a badass, women liking the bad boy is an undeniable truth.
It's as time tested as death, taxes, and the Cubs never winning the World Series. It always plays out that way.
C'mon girls, you know it. Just admit it. Women will always take the dark and dubious guy over the nice nerd who has a Star Wars: Episode I poster in his living room. (The only exception to this rule is Tall Mom. And, yes, we do have the aforemention poster in our living room.)
Think of this, the first time we meet Han Solo is in the Cantina when he kills that dumbass Greedo. Han Solo is immediately established as a man not to be trifled with and it set women's loins ablaze. Instant sex icon. Yes, it's counter-intuitive to think of a Star Wars character to be a badass, but if there is one guy who could pull it off, it's Han Solo. If you want the girl, even though you may be a Star Wars geek, you're gonna have to be a badass like Han.
Oh, another small piece of advice - if a girl says, "I love you" to you, never, EVER, under any circumstances, say it back. Just say, "I know."
You will have gained eternal badassery and a perpetually secure love life.
Say what you will, but it is a fact that Star Wars is pure Americana. It's bigger than you and I. It's more than just a movie. It's the defining vehicle for all that it means to be young, eager, daring, amazed, good, evil, crushed, and, yet, full of hope. It's an all encompassing chronicle of what it means to be human, and all the confusing nuances that come along with being. Don't wanna take it from me? No problem - take it from the United States Government.
In 1989, Star Wars was among the first movies to be recognized in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry. What does that mean? Well, Uncle Sam realized that Star Wars is so important that they deemed it "culturally, historically, [and] aesthetically significant," enough to preserve it's existence for as long as the Library of Congress stands.
Which basically means fucking FOREVER.
The people who make the serious decisions in this world, see Star Wars as such a pillar of American society that they want to guarantee every future generation of Americans has the opportunity to pop George Lucas' creation into the Blu Ray player, and marvel at its greatness.
Or, at the greatness of Han shooting first.
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