What Keeps Me Calm: (Re)Watching and Playing Everything Star Wars
The pandemic has been the absolute best time to start being a Star Wars fan because there’s just so much content to play and binge watch!
Welcome to What Keeps Me Calm, a series of movies, television shows, albums, books, and other works of media that are comforting us during these incredibly stressful times. On particularly sad and disheartening days, there’s nothing better and more consoling than to turn to our favorite things to read, watch, and listen, as these offer a respite from the hardships we face collectively and individually.
I’d say I got into the Star Wars fandom a little bit late. Many people started getting into Star Wars during the release of the original series and the prequels, but back then, I was too obsessed with Harry Potter, countless anime, and Harvest Moon to have time to spare to get into a sci-fi series that’s at least a decade-and-a-half older than me.
Enter Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 2019. My boyfriend is a huge fan of the original and prequel movies, and insisted we marathon the prior movies in preparation for the last film. There was a lot of weight riding on The Rise of Skywalker because it will be “the end of an era,” so to speak. And he wouldn’t dare let his girlfriend miss that.
And so the marathon began. Painstakingly at first, since the first movies were so difficult to watch. I found it so hard to not keep sleeping through the first two movies because they were just so… old. It was a personal weakness that I am not particularly proud of (which stopped me from enjoying good films from the past), but watching old graphics and cinematography was just not my usual cup of tea.
But of course, in the name of love, I soldiered on and kept watching with him. And by the time we got to the prequels, that’s when I finally started latching on to the series. I started to develop a hate-love relationship with Anakin Skywalker and his actor, Hayden Christensen. I started lurking on Reddit for Star Wars memes. And I began to get attached to the politics and the lore of the series, movie after movie after movie.
When we got to the sequels, I was in love with Star Wars as much as I was with Harry Potter—and that was saying a lot because I spent so many years re-reading the books, rewatching the films, browsing for fan fiction, and just overall gushing about houses and spells and lousy Harry Potter-themed games. And even though many fans hated the Star Wars sequels, I loved every bit of it. I loved how good an actress Daisy Ridley was as she portrayed Rey; I hung on to every Luke, Leia, and Han moment; and I was deeply in love with Adam Driver and his character Kylo Ren, as I saw my own moments of anger, vulnerability, and confusion in him.
I say the pandemic has been the absolute best time to start being a Star Wars fan because while many people stop at the movies, the Star Wars universe is such a huge world to discover and enjoy. If the pandemic left you with so much more time on your hands, then that’s just more time to invest in the massive lore and content that Star Wars has built over the years. There are so many books to read—books that dig deeper into more interesting characters, comics to help you understand the beginnings of the lore, a couple of animated series that makes the world so much more vibrant and huge, and games to let you experience what it means to be a Sith or a Jedi yourself.
So, amidst the crazy and anxiety that the pandemic has brought, I created for myself a little world where the light and the dark side were in constant battle, where planets of different species and language and culture were within reach, and where races and genders didn’t matter because in a vast universe where the concept of humanity has been blurred by the array of alien species, two individuals from different planets getting married should be the least of your concern.
In the midst of the network shutdown, the non-improving pandemic situation, and the countless of crap bills that were being fought over, I locked myself at home (gladly!), silenced them all, and escaped to my own little bubble of science fiction. It wasn’t me, trying to become apathetic to the real world (because I couldn’t, no matter how hard I try). It was just giving myself a little bit of sanity, a bit of calm, to keep myself centered and clear-headed because the last thing you want in a health pandemic is losing your mind and succumbing to mental ruin, which then makes you more vulnerable to health attacks.
If you’re reading this and you liked the Star Wars movies, I recommend you jump into the Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) animated series right away, because that was by far the best piece of animated fiction that has kept me alive through the last few months. What started out as a children’s show eventually got darker and deeper, lending us a more in-depth appreciation of the characters that we knew from the movies. And of course, it gave birth to my favorite character in the entire Star Wars universe: Ahsoka Tano. It gave much more gravity to the descent of Anakin to the dark side, and questioned even further the ways of the Jedi, which eventually led to the order’s ruin.
For me, watching The Clone Wars was like watching Avatar: The Last Airbender (I wasn’t be surprised since Dave Filoni is one of the two show’s common denominator). There is so much more that animated storytelling can do than live action that many people are missing out on, just because of their preconceived notion that animated equals cartoon equals kids show. The animated medium is the only medium that can perfectly pull off a lighthearted tone, while conveying a deeper message and character development that most live action shows could easily jeopardize with the wrong choice of actors.
I’ve also started investing time in playing Star Wars games like the Knights of the Old Republic port on mobile, which follows the story of Darth Revan and Darth Malak and their quest to use the Star Forge to amass great power for the dark side; and Star Wars: The Old Republic, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game where you can create and play out your own character in the Star Wars universe.
What’s beautiful about these two games is that both are set in the old days of the republic, where you get a glimpse of the glory days of the Jedi order. In stark contrast to the darkness and helplessness of the resistance in the original and sequel trilogies, you get to experience and play as a Jedi (or Sith!) in a world where the balance between light and dark were being constantly challenged—and it’s up to you tip that balance to favor whatever side you’re on. You can customize your character, too—like Sims 4 but much, much better. I personally try to be an Ahsoka Tano-kind of character, a force-wielding character who made her decisions based on her inner goodness and desire to help other people, but is not afraid to draw the line and reject orders from the Jedi council when they’re making decisions that put them too high on their metaphoric moral pedestal.
I can go on and on about what I’ve been watching and playing this quarantine, but just like the Star Wars universe, there really isn’t no end to the things that you can experience and discover. Especially with the games, it’s like literally living in a different world and becoming a different person, away from all the stress and disappointments of the real world. And I believe that in small, healthy doses, yes, letting yourself become who you could be in a world that once only existed in our imaginations just might be what we need to survive this global ordeal.