As a childhood fanatic of Star Wars, it’s safe to say that this was my most anticipated experience of 2015. After a decade of desperately wanting to wash off the icky-ness of the prequels, I have been on the edge of my seat, waiting for the reveal of first images of Episode VII. Then in a moment of unreasonable resolve, I felt compelled not to watch any of the teasers, trailers, interviews, panels or specials leading up to Dec 18th. I’m not sure why- chalk it up to a bad burrito or the dark side of the force, but for some mysterious reason, I was determined not to spoil myself in any way. In a culture where we know too much, you can imagine, it was no small feat staying in the dark. Especially in the final month or two when every possible place with a square video monitor seemed to be playing the multiple trailers or interviews for The Force Awakens. Because of social media, I couldn’t avoid the still images or gifs, Heck, even Matt Damon on Mars couldn’t avoid the sheer magnitude of images that flooded our culture. Which was fine for me. I just didn’t want to see moving pictures with sound nor read any plot points or speculations. The only other time I attempted this was for the Avenger 2. That was my ‘half marathon’ training leading up to The Force Awakens. For that one, it definitely paid off not seeing previous trailers and overall it made a somewhat weak film a little more enjoyable in the theater. So I had that to lean on. So my lonely year journey began- a perilous quest along a spoiler filled media landscape. This is what I learned.
It’s good to be a virgin
I don’t know how many times I heard these two statements: “Your doing what?… How is that even possible?” and “I could never do that…”. In reality, I know that anyone is capable of going ‘off the grid’ if necessary. However, I was intrigued by the raw bewildered responses and looks of astonishment as friends and followers tried to comprehend the torture I was willingly putting myself through. The most hilarious part was how rumors began to spread as friends contacted me trying to confirm that I, was in fact, going in as The Force Awakens virgin. The most fascinating part was the type of conversations that it spawned- like why we need trailers, how much is too much and do the ends justify the means. I found myself unwittingly in the center of a strange little nerdy social experiment. Peer opinions swayed from genuine admiration to complete idiocy. But regardless of what a peer thought, it always sparked some interesting conversation- and for the most part, respect.
Less is more… and easier
The hardest time was naturally when the first trailer was released. I was at Star Wars Celebration and had to avert my eyes, ears and heart when the first trailer was released to the world. The collective nerd community celebrated in response… but sadly without me. As a result, the buzz, chatter and theories were EVERYWHERE. For someone like me that values being on the inside of culture, I was way on the outside- like a galaxy far, far away outside. Being at ground zero of Star Wars fandom yet still in the dark was very conflicting and many fellow fans diagnosed me of being mental or delusional (which maybe I was). The hardest season was from Star Wars Celebration to San Diego Comic-Con where the bulk of the new hype was released. However, once I got past that in August, the burden significantly got easier. The proverbial light was at the end of the tunnel and I knew I could make it. I discovered a real freedom in being ignorant. I didn’t have to do any research, form an opinion or express theories on Star Wars for over a year. Sure, I missed out on a lot of fun but it was oddly liberating. I didn’t read a single article or watch an interview about The Force Awakens and I didn’t die. In fact, I felt like I was able to redirect my energies in more constructive ways. I felt less anxious since I didn’t have to analyze and didn’t feel the need to be the Star Wars ‘expert’ to my circle of friends. The last 5 months was a breeze. Much easier than I thought.
The worst part
The only real negatives from my experiences was always being ‘that guy’ in the group. The one that didn’t know anything and didn’t want to know anything. I remember, someone mentioned one little piece about Luke (which ended up being false) but it sent me into a momentary speculative tale spin. I was also that guy that had to cover my eyes and ears during the Star Wars trailer at the movie theater about 2-3 times. To onlookers, I appeared to be a 8 year old trying to avoid the scary scene in a movie. No pain, no gain. More significant that how I appear in public, the hardest part was not being able to contribute content to the online community. I had to pass up some offers to write or host some things that were directly tied to Episode VII. I enjoy so much being a part of the online community and boycotting it really sucked.
The best part
The obvious benefit was experiencing the moving pictures with sound for the first time in the theater. It was a breath-taking experience to say the least. As we know, not only was the movie fantastic but it was that much more so when seeing everything for the first time- with the most rewarding part seeing the old cast again. I am more convinced that ever that it’s the only way to experience a film as epic as Star Wars. Because of my self imposed embargo, I had more time to express my fandom in other ways like contributing to my #30DaysofStarWars countdown on Instagram. It was a fun way to share my fandom as we went into the final few weeks before the release. I also had so many friends and follows tag me in similar posts celebrating our retro love for this wonderful universe. I also made a gingerbread Millennium Falcon which I enjoyed sharing on social media. Lastly, an unexpected benefit was the chance to finally watch all the content after seeing The Force Awakens. For the past month, I have immersed myself in an endless amount of trailers, clips, interviews, reviews, etc. It has been never ending and a blast working through the sea of content.
Would I do it again?
Are you crazy?! No way!! Just kidding- but that is a good question. Now that we are beginning an era where we will have 4 more Star Wars movies over the next four years, I’m not sure it’s that realistic given my role on social media, as a blogger and being a host at comic cons. It’s also not as necessary since the universe has been revealed and the surprises will be more story than the visuals. Being in the dark for 4 more years might leave me with post traumatic stress disorder. I might just do it for the Episodes and not for the Anthology films. Not sure yet and will have to process my experience further. Perhaps I will have to trust the force again and let it choose me verses the other way around.
I hope you had a chance to read my review, listen to my review podcast or my theories podcast I posted recently. In the end, ‘saving myself’ for someone special was worth it. Not only was The Force Awakens that much better but it really forced me to see my pop culture world in a new way. Not only did it make me feel like a new fan again it helped me tap into how I felt as a kid when I knew almost nothing about the original trilogy. Feeling like a kid again is something we can’t experience often so while many more Episodes may come, I will cherish Dec 17, 2015- when I came a 8 year old again.
How about you? Did you hold out on the trailers and what were your thoughts? Did you suffer from knowing/seeing too much? What would you have done differently? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks and may the force be with us all!
I too took on the challenge (with you as my Yoda) and imposed a Force media blackout. It was difficult when the trailers were released, not being able to join in on the hype. It was torture being the one who had to explain time and time again why I am avoiding it (bring the ‘nerd’ of my office/home). It was a Herculean effort to avoid tv spots and Facebook posts in the month leading up to it. My family enjoyed the display of me running out of the room with my eyes closed when I heard the Star Wars theme on the tv (later turning out to be a Star Wars themed car commercial).
All in all though, it was totally worth it. Walking into the movie, not knowing anything was so refreshing. In a world where every movie has 4-5 trailers/teasers released, by the time you get to the movie, you have seen too much and probably already spoiled some key plot points. Not to mention the ‘hey that scene from the trailer I was so excited about wasn’t even in the movie’ disappointment. I was a giddy at the opening scene for this movie as I was as a kid seeing the original. This being said, I’m not sure I could do this with just any movie, but for Star Wars, it was well worth it.
Thanks for the inspiration and helping to make the movie experience that much better for me. And a hearty congrats to you for doing the same!
Congrats to you my friend! I’m glad that you found the experience worth it. It was strangely cathartic. Almost like being cleansed of any preconceived ideas. I know even if I watched everything that I would have been just as emotionally moved seeing it for the first time. But going in cold was totally worth it- and it was kinda fun bragging to my friends. It was like I was denying chocolate because of the ironman I was doing ;P Thanks for leaving your comment!
It’s funny because I was about to ask you out of the blue if you were going to go blind again for Rogue One or even Episode VIII ? Question answered 😉 and congrats on quite an achievement !