EDITOR NOTE: If you haven’t seen “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” yet, do not read the following story…
OK, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!
IS IT OKAY TO TALK ABOUT HAN SOLO NOW? YOU BET!
HERE’S A 21 BLASTER SALUTE FROM JIM KNABLE!
In Memory of Han
We first met in the cold early months of 1981. I was four-years-old and he was about four inches tall. He was in his black vest, white shirt, and I think he was holding a blaster. When I moved his legs, his unhinged knees made him easy to stand up but hard to sit down. We’d seen each other fleetingly across the TV screen of some neighbor kid’s house and again, from afar, in a darkened movie theater. I’d heard his voice on a rare public radio broadcast; his repartee with a princess about a “walking carpet” sticks in my mind. But now, with his plastic body firmly in my hands, with my imagination’s fire stoked to take him on endless adventures across the kitchen table, we became inseparable.
As the years went on, we saw much more of each other, sometimes through a hazy veil of carbonite, sometimes in his leather jacket or bulky Hoth parka, often posed in curious positions with a similarly winterized princess. They talked about their futures. They fought. They kissed—both on my living room floor and across the blazing screen. We grew so close in that halcyon half-decade. I never thought I would ever lose him.
But then, last Sunday, while my own children were at Fairytale Town, with my brother sitting beside me in another darkened movie snow-globe, he…
I can’t even bring myself to say what happened. But, dare I speak these words: He is gone.
My first instinct was to hate his creator. How could G—-e have let this happen? But how can you blame someone for letting go of his creation when he feels it has outgrown him?
Then I hated the new one who orchestrated his fall.
I cursed what little I knew of his name. I damned him for taking my hero and turning him into… I can’t even write the words.
Let me forget. Let me dwell in memory. Let me remember when he was immortal, invincible; every doomed event was met with talk of bad feelings about this, but a gentle smirking reassurance that everything was going to be okay.
It WAS okay. I saw it. I saw him standing with his future bride and her brother and all those dancing furry friends, recounting their adventures around the fire. They would never die. He would never die. He would…
I promised myself I wouldn’t do this.
But it’s not fair. It’s not right. It goes against everything that is good.
YOU DON’T KILL HAN SOLO!
Especially not in the midst of a cheap, sentimentalized, unearned, one-time moment with a son that we never saw grow up, just so J.J. could draw a parallel with another witnessed Death Star event from 1976 and milk tears from an audience so afraid of being disappointed that they’ll buy anything remotely resembling what they knew they loved before.
I really promised myself I wouldn’t do this.
Because it’s useless to decry the crass Force behind his demise. It’s not his original creator. It’s not really J.J. It’s not even that great old Satan: Walt.
It’s the love of Darkness.
It’s the critical accolades guaranteed for going “dark.” It’s this apocalypse-loving age, when every preview before the feature shows another city getting wrecked by aliens, super-heroes, natural disasters, or all three. It’s this time of uncertainty, when we want to know that anyone can get killed off at any time because that makes us feel real. Or something.
There was a time, a long time ago, when the galaxy was in need of saving and the guy who was going to save it was a whiny kid who needed a swaggering older brother to help him do it. And that older brother was my hero.
So I’m going to remember my friend as he was when I first met him. When we first played in a shag-carpeted fields of dreams. He was flawed. He was perfect in his flawed state. His floppy-elbowed spin in the Death Star hallways, blaster blazing, wookie wailing at his side. This is how I see him. Nice shooting kid he says to me. I mean, Luke. I mean, the new guy. No, I mean me.
I don’t know what to say beyond this. I’ve lost something. It’s my childhood.
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Jim Knable is a playwright, singer-songwriter, and prose writer who has had his plays produced at MCC Theater, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Soho Rep, and various other regional and university companies. His play Spain was included in Smith and Kraus’ Best Plays of 2008 anthology, published by Broadway Play Publishing, and a collection of three of his plays was just published by Samuel French as The Imaginary Plays: SPAIN/SALTIMBANQUES/GREEN MAN. He has written essays, reviews, short stories, and published part of his novel Sons of Dionysus in Frontier Psychiatrist, Newyork.com, and The Brooklyn Rail. His band The Randy Bandits released three albums that are available on iTunes. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and sons. His next projects include a Shaw adaptation to be staged at a kombucha factory in Brooklyn and a podcast of his latest play, The Curse of Atreus, to be produced by 12 Peers Theatre in Pittsburgh.