Like many my age, I grew up with Star Wars. I wasn’t old enough to see the first film at the cinema, but The Empire Strikes Back is one of my earliest cinema-going memories. Actually, my dad got hold of the book before we saw the film, and he used to read it to me in the car on the way to the train station in the morning. I remember my horror on hearing those six fateful words: “No, Luke, I am your father.”
I had the wall-paper, the action figures, the t-shirt reading ‘Mark of the Jedi’. The second short story I wrote, in Miss Zachulski’s Year 1 class, was a summary of Star Wars. (The first one was something to do with dinosaurs). When the action figures for The Phantom Menace were released, I was at Toys R Us in Westfield Parramatta at midnight with a handful of other bearded, bloated tragics. Star Wars gave me my passion for the epic struggle between good and evil, for space ships and lightsabers. It also delivered my first crush – Princess Leia.
I was chatting to my uncle the other day about a couple of oil paintings I bought while we were in Shanghai last year. Both of them are reproductions of Communist propaganda images involving Chinese women in military uniform holding a machine gun. He wondered where my interest in women with guns came from. At the time I had no answer, but tonight I’ve realised we need look no further than a feisty princess with long dark hair and a quick wit.
There are two types of boys – those who identified with Luke Skywalker and those with Han Solo. I was a Skywalker kid. Along with Luke, I fell in love with that hologram asking for help. I was a little cut when she quipped I was too short to be a Storm Trooper. I blew up the Death Star for her. I knew there was competition from Han, but when she kissed me in the hospital bed on Hoth, I knew I was on a winner. Even when they were thrown together on the Millenium Falcon, and in Bespin, even though she told him he loved her, I knew I was still in with a shot.
And then she’s my bloody sister! How unfair is that?! Why does the bad boy always get the girl?! This, not the Ewoks, ruined Return of the Jedi for me. I was absolutely gutted. Sure, since then I’ve distanced myself from it, justified the plot twists as integral to the story, but I still get sour when I think how poor old Luke had to settle for the life of a monk – bringing balance to the force, big bloody deal – Han Solo scored the only chick in the galaxy!